USA Today, not the Guardian, gets ‘1000 acres of land’ story right

Cross posted from CAMERA’s blog Snapshots

picNews media often refer erroneously to the West Bank as “Palestinian land” or “Palestinian territory” and Israeli acquisition or development there often get reported as “land grabs.” For example:

Referring to Israel’s decision to declare almost 1,000 acres adjacent to the West Bank community of Gva’ot as state land, The Guardian (U.K.) wrote, “Israel has published tenders to build 283 homes in a West Bank settlement, days after announcing its biggest land grab on occupied Palestinian territory [emphases added] for three decades.” (“Israel to build 283 homes in West Bank”, Sept. 5, 2014)

USA Today, by contrast, eschewed hyperbole for context. Special Correspondent Michele Chabin reported of Gva’ot and the newly-designated state land that “this community of 17 Israeli families, apartments for disabled adults, a school for disabled children, several horses and a petting zoo is accustomed to solitude. So [Rachel] Pomerantz, who rents a small prefab home here, was surprised by the sudden international attention on the settlement since … the Israeli government announced it would designate a swath of land next to Gva’ot as state-owned property.”

Gva’ot is close to the 1949 Israeli-Jordanian armistice line and the adjacent 988 acres at the center of the media-diplomatic dust-up lie between it and the Gush Etzion settlement bloc just south of Jerusalem. As USA Today tells readers, “the Gush Etzion bloc’s core communities [in the West bank] were founded before Israel’s establishment in 1948 on land purchased by Jews in the 1920s and 1930s.

“Arab soldiers destroyed the communities when they fought against Israel’s founding during the 1948 war” (“Quiet strip of land, a loud dispute”, USA Today, Sept. 5, 2014)

“To Pomerantz,” Chabin wrote, “the international outcry doesn’t take into account Jews’ religious and historical ties to the West Bank. Gva’ot appears in the Old Testament [Hebrew Bible], and ‘the biblical land of Israel is inseparable from the state of Israel,’ she said.

“ ‘On a practical level,’ Pomerantz added, ‘there is an acute shortage of housing, so construction is vital.’ ”

A picture of Pomerantz walking with her children [seen above] helps personalize the story for readers.

Additionally, a map accompanying the article showed Gva’ot’s location sandwiched between the Gush Etzion block and Israel proper. Most Israelis expect the block to remain part of Israel in any agreement with the Palestinian leadership. A small inset map showed tiny Israel in comparison to the rest of the Middle East. The two maps together amount to a visual commentary that perhaps there has been exaggerated international focus on Israel’s designation of the adjacent land territory, about the size of four or five Midwestern farms, as state land.

The Guardian’s “Palestinian territory” description contradicts the basics. Since the end of Ottoman rule in 1917 no country has been recognized as sovereign over the West Bank. It remains disputed land taken by Jordan in a war of aggression in 1948 and which Israel won in a defensive war in 1967.

U.N. Security Council Resolution 242, passed following the ’67 Six Day War, required withdrawal of Israeli armed forces from some but not necessarily all territories gained in the conflict. The authors of Resolution 242, U.S. Under Secretary of State Eugene Rostow, U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Arthur Goldberg and British Ambassador Lord Caradon made clear at the time and subsequently that Jews and Arabs had claims in the disputed territories, which included the West Bank (Judea and Samaria). Hence the need for Israeli-Palestinian negotiations.

News media err when, prematurely assuming the results of such negotiations, they mislabel the land as “Palestinian” and Jewish settlers and settlements as illegal when “close Jewish settlement on the land” west of the Jordan River is encouraged by the League of Nations’ Palestine Mandate, Article 6 and perpetuated by the U.N. Charter, Chapter 12, Article 80.

Independent cites ‘EU source’ in baseless claim on Gaza import restrictions

A Sept. 5th story on post-war Gaza reconstruction in The Independent by Natasha Culzak, titled “Israel-Gaza Crisis: Reconstruction of flattened Gaza will cost £5billion, Palestinian officials say“, included the following claim:

Continue reading

Times of London: ‘We were wrong. Tel Aviv is NOT Israel’s capital’

Tel Aviv is not Israel’s capital. That distinction of course belongs to Jerusalem.

Yet, time and again, newspapers have gotten this fundamental fact about Israel wrong, before eventually being forced to acknowledge their error. 

One of the most well-reported instances of a media group being forced to apologize after making such an egregious error occurred on August 7, 2012, when the Guardian finally accepted that they were ‘wrong to state that Tel Aviv…is the capital’ of Israel.

A more recent case involves the Times of London, in a blurb in their print edition on June 28th (about the 2003 terror attack at Mike’s Place in Tel Aviv) that we were going to post about at the time – before the Gaza war broke out and our blog’s coverage naturally shifted focus.

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click to enlarge

The Times later corrected the false claim:

Tel Aviv

Finally, we’ll leave you with this short video of Tel Aviv’s mayor patiently explaining that his city is NOT Israel’s capital.

UK media headline fail: Telegraph’s five comically misleading words

Here’s an Aug. 3rd headline (left column) from the international news section of the British paper, The Telegraph, accompanying an article by their Jerusalem correspondent Robert Tait which is quite possibly the most misleading headline we’ve come across during the war.

telegraph

However, the online version of the article (which was accompanied by a different headline) demonstrates the print headline is especially misleading, as the article actually revolves around an announcement by Israel that the army had begun staging “its first withdrawal” from Gaza, after the IDF had nearly reached its goal of destroying Hamas’s terror tunnels.

The print headline was presumably based on a solitary passage in the over 800 word article in which the Israeli Prime Minister reportedly vowed that continuing Hamas rocket fire would be met with further Israeli strikes:

the Israeli prime minister said “all options” remained on the table and threatened to make Hamas “pay an intolerable price” if it continued firing rockets into Israel.

Of course, an accurate headline might have read:

Israel announces withdrawal from Gaza.

But, why should Telegraph editors be bothered with such messy journalistic principles as accuracy, fairness, and context when they can instead continue feeding their readers the desired UK media narrative about the conflict?

 

Guardian’s Jerusalem correspondent takes aim at ‘hasbara goons’

Here’s a Tweet from earlier today by the Guardian’s Jerusalem correspondent Peter Beaumont:

Though we’re not sure what his Tweet was specifically referring to, the word ‘hasbara’ (a Hebrew word which merely means ‘explaining’) is often used by anti-Israel activists to characterize, in a pejorative manner, those who defend Israel online.

Tellingly, if you Google the term “Hasbara Goons”, the first two results show posts from the hate site, Mondoweiss.

goons

Interestingly, Beaumont received some flack from his swipe at pro-Israel activists, in the following replies:

reply

Beaumont perhaps should refer to the Guardian’s Social Media Guidelines for Journalists:

The Guardian has created a set of guidelines for staff on the use of blogging, tweeting and the use of social media in order to maintain editorial standards and help create effective communities on the web.

staff are asked to remember the former editor CP Scott’s famous dictum that “comment is free, but facts are sacred” by not blurring facts and opinions, and to exemplify the Guardian’s community standards in contributions.

The community standards, which Guardian journalists are asked to exemplify, include 10 guidelines, and summarizes their suggestions as follows:

In short:

- If you act with maturity and consideration for other users, you should have no problems. 
Don’t be unpleasant. Demonstrate and share the intelligence, wisdom and humour we know you possess.
Take some responsibility for the quality of the conversations in which you’re participating. Help make this an intelligent place for discussion and it will be.

In addition to being shrill and unprofessional, it seems clear that Beaumont’s Tweet was thoroughly inconsistent with his own company’s community standards. 

Palestinian Envoy more honest than the Guardian on Hamas ‘war crimes’

The Guardian’s Jerusalem correspondent Peter Beaumont reacted angrily to rather mild criticism directed towards him, and his paper’s coverage of the war, in a Times of Israel report by Raphael Ahern.  Beaumont protested Ahern’s piece in a series of Tweets yesterday, which included the following:

However, it’s the Guardian who has consistently be “suppressing” the news, by filing report after report on Palestinian suffering in Gaza while erasing the context of Hamas war crimes – both what the Islamist terror group commits by use of Palestinian human shields, and those committed each time they fire a rocket at Israeli civilians.

Though the media group never tires in characterizing every Jewish home built across the 1949 armistice lines as “illegal under international law” (despite the specious legal logic of such an argument), their reports which note rocket fire from terrorists in Gaza – prior to and during the current conflict – never explain to readers that each deadly projectile aimed at civilians is “illegal under international law”, and constitutes a war crime. 

Interestingly, the Palestinian Envoy to the UN Human Rights Council, Ibrahim Khreishesh, was much more honest during an interview on Palestinian Authority TV on July 9th, per a clip translated by MEMRI. 

 

Since 2005 – the year Israel evacuated every last Jew from the coastal strip – more than 8,000 rockets have been fired by Gaza terrorists at residential communities in Israel.  Thus, as the Palestinian Envoy himself acknowledged, each and every such attack represents a war crime – an uncontroversial fact which the Guardian continues to ‘suppress’.  

 

UK journo uses subjective word ‘terrorist’ for Jews, but not for Hamas

The Independent doesn’t appear to have a permanent Israel correspondent in the region anymore, but often employs the services of a freelance journalist named Ben Lynfield, who took it upon himself to pen an op-ed at the paper on July 8th (Conflict – a weapon for Hamas in its fight for survival).

Whilst the op-ed itself – which attempts to explain the cause of the current war between Israel and Hamas – is largely unproblematic, his piece included one telling omission, an obfuscation, and an inconsistent use of the word “terrorist”.

terrorist

Here’s the omission and obfuscation:

Lynfield:

Today’s devastating Israeli strikes on Gaza and Palestinian rocket fire at Israel have their roots as a spin-off from Israeli-Palestinian confrontation in the West Bank, where Israel responded to the kidnapping of three teenagers, which it blamed on Hamas (without proof) with a military operation in which Hamas’s West Bank civilian infrastructure was targeted and hundreds of its members arrested. Six Palestinians were killed.

Though Israel didn’t release proof of Hamas’s involvement in the abduction to the media, US security officials who were given the evidence (since one of the Israeli teens had American citizenship) confirmed that there is “strong evidence that Hamas is culpable”. 

Additionally, it’s quite interesting that Lynfield failed to note that the teens were murdered, and not merely kidnapped. 

Now, for the selective use of a ‘loaded’ term:

As we’ve noted, UK news sites like the Indy almost never use the term “terrorist” when characterizing Hamas or other Palestinian groups who murder Israelis ‘in the pursuit of political aims’ – opting instead for the ‘less judgmental’ word “militant”.   And, in fact, nowhere in his op-ed does Lynfield use the word “terrorist” (or, interestingly, even “militant”) to describe ‘Hamas’, even though the Islamist group is considered a “terrorist” group by most of the West. 

However, he did make the decision to use the term in another context.

Lynfield:

Another motive [for Hamas] is that it wants to appear as defender of the Palestinian people against Israeli actions, including the murder of a teenager by terrorists in Jerusalem.

While nobody denies that the Jews who murdered Mohammed Abu Khdeir are cold-blooded terrorists, it’s interesting that Lynfield reserved that term only for Jewish killers, and not for a group which openly targets civilians for mass murder –  part of a disturbing ideological proclivity (within the UK opinion elite) to impute moral equivalence between a progressive Jewish democracy and reactionary Islamist extremists.

Times of London leads the pack with worst headline on murdered Palestinian

The UK media continues to churn out stories about the brutal murder of Mohamed Abu Khdeir, the Palestinian teen whose burned body was found near Jerusalem last week, with most reports focused on the police investigation and, most recently, new videos of the abduction (from CCTV) which show the faces of the likely perpetrators.

However, though the coverage to date has been decidedly one-sided – in focusing almost entirely on the possibility that the Palestinian was murdered by a Jew in a revenge killing in response to the murder of three Israeli teens – almost all reports have qualified their claims by noting that this theory hasn’t yet been proven.

Typical is the following passage by the Guardian’s Peter Beaumont’s in a July 6th report:

The Palestinian teenager was kidnapped and murdered on Wednesday in what many suspect was a revenge killing by Israeli extremists in response to the murder of three Israeli teenagers.

Similarly, Guardian headlines have been relatively restrained.  When the word ‘revenge‘ has been used, it’s surrounded by “quotes” indicating that this is still only an allegation.

However, The Times (of London) displayed no such restraint in a story written by Josh Mitnick and published in the print edition of the paper on July 3rd.  

Here’s a photo of the article:

times

Times, July 3, page 27

Whilst it may very well be that the Palestinian was indeed killed in a revenge attack by Jews (or even ‘settlers’), the headline takes an unsubstantiated claim, blaming Israeli ‘settlers’, and sells it as a proven fact. 

Though the subsequent online edition (titled ‘Appeal for calm after Palestinian boy murdered in ‘revenge’ killing, pay wall) softened the charge a bit, the damage – per the nearly 400,000 Times print edition readers – has already been done.

UK media report 200 Israelis chanting racist slogans, but fail to cover 1,000 at peace rally

Since the bodies of Eyal Yifrach, Naftali Frankel and Gilad Shaar were buried in a Modi’in cemetery on Tuesday, UK media coverage has pivoted from some degree of sympathy towards the victims and their families to more familiar territory – obsessive focus on reports of Israeli vengeance, racism and intolerance.  

Thus, though support for the terrorist kidnappers/murderers expressed by many Palestinians during the 18 day ordeal was (to the best of our knowledge) not mentioned by any of the major UK dailies, multiple news outlets have subsequently seen fit to report every Israeli expression of intolerance towards Arabs since the teens’ bullet-ridden bodies were discovered near Hebron.

A perfect example of this skewed coverage can be found by comparing ubiquitous reports on a march by a couple of hundred racist Israelis in Jerusalem on Tuesday, who chanted hateful slogans, including ‘death to Arabs’, vs the absence of any coverage devoted to the pro-peace, pro-tolerance rally held the following day in the Israeli capital. Here are the relevant passages from UK media reports about the racist march. Guardian, July 2: (‘Live Blog’ edited by Matthew Weaver)

Gangs of right wing Israelis have been chanting “death to the Arabs” in the wake of the killing of the three teenagers, Footage has emerged of Israeli youth chanting in Hebrew “death to the Arabs” following the killing of the three teenagers.

Telegraph, July 3 (AFP)

After the three were buried on Tuesday, more than 200 Israeli extremists rampaged through Jerusalem, dragging people out of cars and chanting “Death to Arabs”.

Times of London, July 2 (Catherine Philp)

In Jerusalem, several hundred right-wing Israeli youths, many of them skullcap-wearing Orthodox Jews, shouted for revenge as they marched through the city.

Independent, July 1 (Ben Lynfield)

In Jerusalem, a demonstration organised by anti-Arab activists that drew hundreds turned violent.

Financial Times, July 2 (Joel Greenberg)

On Tuesday night, crowds of militant Jewish youths rampaged through the centre of Jerusalem, shouting “Death to Arabs” and assaulting Palestinian workers in the area.

However, UK media sites have thus far failed to report the pro-tolerance rally last night in Kikar Hahatulot in Jerusalem which drew up to a thousand Israelis who were attempting to undo the damage of the anti-Arab rally a night earlier.   Here are a few photos of the event, which this writer attended. first 2 3

herzog

Chaim Herzog, center

The rally included politicians (including Labor Party Chairman Chaim Herzog, seen below), public figures, Rabbis and (mostly) ordinary citizens.

We’ll update this post if UK media sites subsequently do file reports on the pro-peace event. 

CiF Watch prompts improved Indy headline in story of murdered Palestinian

Earlier, we came across an Indy headline in a report about the Palestinian riots taking place in east Jerusalem over the death of a Palestinian teen who many believe may have been the victim of a revenge attack. (Note, Elder of Ziyon and Harry’s Place also posted on this earlier.)

israel

We then emailed Indy editors to ask about the strange wording.  Specifically, we asked if the first three words (Israel murdered teenagers) indicate the topic of the article, as in “regarding the murdered Israeli teenagers…”, or, rather, if it was supposed to support the theory that the Palestinian teen in question – 16-year-old Muhammad Abu Khdeir – was in fact murdered by an Israeli in a nationalist attack.

An Indy editor replied and told us that it was meant to convey the former, and wasn’t intended to suggest that the Palestinian was definitely killed in a revenge attack by an Israeli. 

Then, Elder noted that that they tweaked the headline to this, merely changing “Israel” to “Israeli”, and making it equally unclear.

israeli

More recently, they changed it again, to something more understandable. 

new change

Whilst UK media coverage of the Palestinian teen’s death has thus far been extremely one-sided in embracing the yet unproven theory that he was murdered in revenge, we’re at least glad that the Indy headline in question no longer suggests that this is a proven fact. 

Update: Harry’s Place also contacted Indy editors over the original headline.

If Palestinians don’t respect 6 million murdered Jews, how can they co-exist with 6 million living ones?

UK media coverage of the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict typically imputes good faith to Palestinians – operating under the premise that most truly want a peaceful resolution with the Jewish State.

However, what if this assumption is misplaced?  

How would media coverage of  boycotts, lawfare and other forms of Palestinian ‘resistance‘ change if journalists took seriously the possibility that the Palestinians’ end goal was not to live in peace with their neighbors, but, rather, perpetual war, the only desirable end result being the elimination of the Jewish state?

Well, an independent Catholic news site asked that very question (Do Palestinians Want Peace?, June 19), in the context of linking to a Guardian report by their Middle East editor Ian Black about the forced resignation of a Palestinian professor who led a group of his students on a trip to Auschwitz.

Black – as Guardian editors are wont to do – framed the depressing episode, in which a Palestinian professor was vilified for merely attempting to evoke sympathy amongst Palestinians for Jewish victims of Hitler’s genocide, as a story of ‘competing narratives of victimization.

Black:

Dajani resigned from his post at Jerusalem’s Al-Quds University this week after failing to win the unequivocal support of his employers in a row which highlighted the darkest taboos of the conflict with Israel and each side’s enduring sense of victimhood.

The visit to the concentration camp was part of a project to study the Holocaust and teach tolerance and empathy. “It is about understanding the other,” Dajani told the Guardian during a conference in the Qatari capital, Doha. “You need to understand the other because reconciliation is the only option we have. And the sooner we do it the better. Empathising with your enemy does not mean you sanction what your enemy is doing to you.”

Organised in conjunction with three other universities, one German and two Israeli, the project also arranged for Israeli students to meet Palestinians living in refugee camps.

Dajani faced abuse, intimidation and death threats over the visit. Al-Quds dissociated itself from the project but defended his right to be involved. It insisted he had not been dismissed and supplied him with bodyguards. But in the end it accepted his resignation.

Implacable in the face of the uproar, he rejected accusations that he intended to promote the Zionist narrative of the conflict rather than respecting the primacy of the Nakba (“catastrophe” in Arabic) – the flight, expulsion and dispossession of hundreds of thousands of Palestinians that was the price of Israel’s independence in 1948.

Black then adds his own spin:

Propaganda that conflates antisemitism with opposition to Israel has also played a role. Israel’s foreign minister, Abba Eban, famously talked about the country’s “Auschwitz borders”. Menachem Begin, the prime minister who invaded Lebanon in 1982, described Arafat “cowering in his bunker” in Beirut like Hitler in Berlin.

Indeed, it’s the line about ‘conflating antisemitism with opposition to Israel’ where Black loses the plot and promotes the Guardian narrative – one which suggests that Jews cry antisemitism in the face of ‘mere’ anti-Zionism, or, in its more troubling form, that Jews cry antisemitism with the cynical intent of deflecting criticism of Israeli policies (The Livingstone Formulation).

However, a more holistic understanding of Palestinian attitudes – one which takes into account empirical data on Palestinian attitudes about Jews and Israel – would lead those not swayed by such pronounced ideological biases to contextualize the Palestinians’ “resistance” to Holocaust education in a much different way.  

We’re alluding to a recent survey commissioned by the Anti-Defamation League demonstrating that Palestinians have the highest rates of antisemitic attitudes in the world – a survey consistent with polls about antisemitism conducted in previous years by Pew Global .

Here are the highlights from the ADL survey which, let’s remember, did NOT ask any questions about Palestinian attitudes about Israeli policy:

  • 88% of Palestinians believe Jews have too much control over global affairs.
  • 88% of Palestinians believe that Jews have too much control over the global media
  • 78% of Palestinians believe that Jews are responsible for most of the world’s wars.

But, perhaps most troubling – even worse than the belief that Jews are responsible for most of the world’s wars (an attitude consistent with libels found in the Protocols of the Elders of Zion) – is the following:

  • 87% of Palestinians believe that people hate Jews because of the way Jews behave.

Of course, on one hand, it likely stands to reason that those who believe that Jews control the world would justify ‘hatred of Jews’ by explaining it as a rational reaction to Jewish villainy.  However, there’s a more important point about the 87% of Palestinians who believe that Jews are hated because of the way Jews behave, one which relates to Black’s article about Palestinian rejection of the ‘Holocaust narrative’.

Even the most parve forms of Holocaust education begin with the premise that 6 million murdered Jews were innocent victims of a grotesque manifestation of anti-Jewish racism, and that there is no justification whatsoever for the crimes committed in the name of Nazi ideology.

So, it shouldn’t come as too much of a surprise that Palestinians – who believe, per the poll results, that their own acceptance of historic antisemitic canards about Jewish perfidy is justified as a rational response to Jewish behavior – would reject efforts to encourage them to accept a Holocaust ‘narrative’ premised on Jewish innocence.

The manner in which Palestinians relate to the Holocaust has significance for those who wish to understand Israelis’ nuanced views of efforts to achieve a two state solution.  Though the overwhelming majority of Israelis accept in principle a two-state solution, most are also skeptical, in light of the persistent problem of Palestinian incitement, terror glorification and antisemitism, that two states will actually result in peace.

Even if a treaty is signed by the two parties, why are we expected to possess confidence that Palestinians will stop inculcating their children with the values of resistance, and truly see the agreement as a final end to all historical claims?

Finally, what, in light of the Palestinian rejection of even the most benign efforts to humanize six million murdered Jews, should provide us with hope that a piece of paper signed by Palestinian leaders will actually result, after seven decades of hostility, in a diminution of Palestinians antipathy towards the Jewish other, and create a society which humanizes – and accepts the existence of – six million living Jews?

Whilst it is perhaps not surprising that UK journalists – those with the luxury of dealing with such matters as amorphous political abstractions –  uniformly ignore such questions, those of us who will have to live the real-world consequences of Palestinian sovereignty cannot breezily dismiss this seemingly immutable Palestinian enmity, nor allow ourselves to be seduced by the chimera of peace.

Disputed legal territory: Guardian assails Australia’s right to dissent on Jerusalem

h/t to international law expert, Eugene Kontorovich 

Though Guardian contributors often complain that pro-Israel forces instill a ‘enforced orthodoxy‘ over the debate about Israel in the media and in Western capitals, they suddenly lose their passion for dissent when encountering views at odds with the Palestinian narrative on the disputed territories in the West Bank and east Jerusalem.

Thus, shortly after the Australian Attorney General issued a statement declaring that the government would no longer refer to east Jerusalem as “occupied” – arguing that the term is “freighted with pejorative implications” – the Guardian published their predictable denunciation in the form of an op-ed by a lawyer (and anti-Israel campaigner) named Ben Saul.

Saul begins by complaining that “Australia’s new view” on Jerusalem “corrodes the international rule of law and violates Australia’s international law obligations”. He then cites international legal conclusions which purportedly back up the claim that east Jerusalem is “occupied” – including the 2004 opinion of International Court of Justice (ICJ), which he even acknowledges was only an ‘advisory’ opinion – and therefore is not binding on Israel, let alone Australia.

Further, despite their position on east Jerusalem, Australia’s policy vis-à-vis the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict has not undergone a substantive change.  They merely decided to avoid using a term they believe is unhelpful in the context of efforts to reach a two state solution. As Australia’s Ambassador to Israel, Dave Sharma, explained (per an article by Yair Rosenberg at Tablet) in response to questions about the Attorney General’s decision, “the government’s policy hasn’t changed at all”. Sharma also noted that the Australian position is still that “final status issues as identified by Oslo—and that includes the status of Jerusalem, borders, right of return—are all amenable only to political negotiations and a political solution”.    

Rosenberg summed it up thusly: In other words, Australia’s policy is not intended to endorse one side over the other, but rather to maintain neutrality and avoid prejudging the outcome of negotiations.

Later in his Guardian op-ed, Saul misrepresents a key element of the history of the city.

In the 1967 war, Israel displaced prior Jordanian control over east Jerusalem. Jordan’s claim was contested by Israel. Jordan’s claim was contested by Israel. Jordan later renounced its claim in favour of the Palestinian right of self-determination.

However, his claim that Jordan’s legal claim on east Jerusalem “was contested by Israel” is extraordinarily misleading.  In fact, their annexation of east Jerusalem was universally rejected by the international community, with the lone exception of Pakistan (Great Britain accepted the annexation of the West Bank, but not east Jerusalem).  Also of interest, though almost every country in the world refused to recognize Jordanian sovereignty over Jerusalem, we could find no evidence than any country officially referred to it – between 1949 and 1967 – as “occupied”.

Further, it is not true, as Saul claims, that Jordan renounced claims to east Jerusalem “in favour of the Palestinian right of self-determination“.  In fact, Article III of the 1994 Israel-Jordan Peace Treaty states the following:

The boundary, as set out in Annex I (a), is the permanent, secure and recognised international boundary between Israel and Jordan, without prejudice to the status of any territories that came under Israeli military government control in 1967.

Saul then proceeds to an even more egregious distortion:

Australia’s position therefore dangerously signals that Palestinians living in east Jerusalem no longer enjoy the protection of humanitarian law, but are subject only to Israel’s wishes.

Naturally, he fails to note that the overwhelming majority of Palestinians in east Jerusalem are permanent residents of Israel, and are thus entitled to all the rights provided to Israeli citizens – including legal and judicial protections – with the exception of the right to vote in general elections. (They do vote, however, in municipal elections.)  Saul’s claim that Australia’s position “signals to Palestinians” in east Jerusalem that they don’t enjoy humanitarian protections is just absurd, and not at all supported by the facts.

Saul continues with the familiar refrain that “most of the settlements violate article 49 of the Geneva conventions“, a claim contradicted by hundreds of jurists and ambassadors, including International lawyer Prof. Eugene V. Rostow and Ambassador Morris Abram, a member of the U.S. staff at the Nuremberg Tribunal who was later involved in the drafting of the Fourth Geneva Convention.  

Abram stated:

[The Convention] was not designed to cover situations like Israeli settlements in the occupied territories, but rather the forcible transfer, deportation or resettlement of large numbers of people.

Later in his op-ed, Saul makes a bizarre logical leap:

Australia’s refusal to call the occupation for what it is necessarily endorses Israeli’s illegal acquisition of territory by force.

As we noted earlier, Australia’s position on the future status of the disputed territories “has not changed at all”. They certainly have not – in fact or in effect – ‘endorsed’ Israel’s “acquisition” of territory in Judea and Samaria, and east Jerusalem.

Finally, the mere fact that Saul and others might claim that calling Jerusalem “occupied” represents the “near-universal legal status quo” does not make it so. First, the term itself is generally “used in international law to denote the presence of one country in sovereign territory that belongs to another”.  

Additionally, Israel is the only recognized nation with a legitimate claim to the West Bank (including Jerusalem) – territory which was, for hundreds of years, until the end of World War I, the equivalent of a province in the Ottoman Empire. The territory never had any unique national standing other than as the future Jewish national homeland as stipulated by the League of Nations.

As Roslyn Pine argued on these pages:

Israel’s sovereignty and legitimacy in international law derives from the San Remo Resolution of 25 April 1920 (recognising the Balfour Declaration), as does that of Syria, Lebanon and Iraq, following the WWI settlement. It was supplemented by the Mandate for Palestine of July 1922, and the Franco British Boundary Convention of December 1920.

Jewish national rights accorded by these agreements have never been abrogated and are indeed binding to the present day.

Thus, while the status of east Jerusalem (which, let’s recall, includes the ancient Jewish quarter of the Old City and the Western Wall, the holiest site at which Jews are permitted to pray) is disputed, it is not accurate to affirm – as if there is no legal debate on the matter – that is “occupied”. 

A perfect illustration of how the PA fools the UK media into believing they’re ‘pro-peace’

The double standards employed by foreign journalists when covering the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict are especially egregious in the context of terms used to characterize the two governments.  For instance, while the Guardian has described Naftali Bennett’s Jewish Home Party as an “extreme rightwing nationalist party, the antisemitic terror group Hamas has been characterized by the paper’s Jerusalem correspondent on multiple occasions as merely “conservative“, and an official Guardian editorial claimed that PA President Abbas is a “leading moderate“.

Indeed, in order to maintain the edifice of moderation, Abbas and his PA ministers routinely perform a simple trick: engage in antisemitic, pro-violence, extremist rhetoric in Arabic to their own people, while feigning ‘moderation’ and pro-peace politics in English when speaking to Western audiences.  However, for this to work, foreign journalists must play their part when reporting the words and deeds of Palestinian leaders: suspending their normal skepticism and failing to employ the critical scrutiny which Israelis are routinely subjected to.

A perfect example of this dynamic – in which Palestinian hypocrisy almost certainly won’t be reported by the UK media – can be found in a report today at Media Line titled “Senior Palestinian Official Lashes Out at Hamas Encouragement of Violence“.

A senior aide to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas says the Palestinian leadership rejects any efforts to teach a culture of violence to Palestinian children. Mahmoud Al-Habbash, the Palestinian Minister of Waqf and Religious Affairs was responding to a report on Israel’s Channel 2 on a Hamas rally in the northern West Bank city of Jenin.

In the video, Palestinian boys, some of them wearing black ski masks, carried toy guns and waved the Islamist group’s green and white flag. One boy said he wanted to become a “martyr” and take revenge on Israeli soldiers for killing his uncle. Other boys said they wanted to “resist” Israeli control of “Palestine.”

“It will be very dangerous to allow any party to educate the children according to the ideology of this party (Hamas),” Al-Habbash told The Media Line. “The children must be educated according to the Palestinian culture, Palestinian understanding, and Palestinian heritage without any relation to violence.”

Al-Habbash went on to explain that Islam is a peaceful religion in dialogue with all peoples. “We reject violence against anybody, against Muslims, against Christians, against Jews, against anybody in the world,

Wonderful, isn’t it?  Mahmoud Al-Habbash, the PA minister of Religious Affairs, has come out strongly and unequivocally against Hamas-style violence and incitement.

Except that, well, that doesn’t seem to accurately represent  Al-Habbash’s true views – as we revealed in a post back in February.

Here’s Al-Habbash saying something very different about violence – in Arabic of course – in front of an audience which included President Abbas:

Whoever wants resistance, whoever wants Jihad, the direction for Jihad is well-known and clear… Those who send young people to Syria or elsewhere to die for a misdirected cause must stop and understand that Jerusalem is still waiting. Jerusalem is the direction, Jerusalem is the address

Here’s the video:

Additionally, Palestinian Media Watch also recently reported that in another speech where Abbas was present, “Al-Habbash said that the PA’s negotiations with Israel are modeled after the Hudaybiyyah agreement between Islam’s Prophet Muhammad and the tribes of Mecca, and explained that Muhammad signed a 10-year truce, yet two years later conquered Mecca”.

Here’s the video:

To recap: The PA Minister of Religious Affairs was quoted recently in English criticizing violence and incitement and supporting peace.  However, several months ago, in two separate speeches in Arabic, he called for terrorist attacks in Jerusalem and explained – as did Yasser Arafat before him – that the PA’s putative entreaties for peace are merely tactical decisions with the ultimate aim of vanquishing their Israeli ‘peace partners’.  

As Jennifer Dyer, a retired US Naval intelligence officer, explained: “A treaty of Hudaybiyyah is an agreement you break as soon as you’re able to.  Its function is to constrain the other party and buy time for you”.

Of course, the chances the UK media will call out the Palestinians in their double-talk are close to zero. 

However, this isn’t merely about the dishonesty of one PA minister.  Such revelations about the PA’s true agenda (along with the consequences of recent ‘land for peace’ policies in Gaza and S. Lebanon) help explain Israeli skepticism that even the most generous and equitable two-state agreement will actually lead to a genuine peace, in which Palestinians ‘drop all historical claims’, lay down their armaments of terror, and nurture a culture of tolerance.  

Journalists reporting  about the peace process who claim the mantle of professionalism simply can not continue to wax eloquently on the ‘provocation’ of Israeli settlements while feigning ignorance about the injurious impact to the peace process of such egregious examples of Palestinian duplicity.

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Israelis celebrate 47th anniversary of Jerusalem reunification (Photos from Judy Lash Balint)

Judy Lash Balint (photo journalist, blogger and author of Jerusalem Diaries: In Tense Times and Jerusalem Diaries II: What’s Really Happening in Israel) observed the following yesterday while covering events to commemorate Yom Yerushalayim:

Thousands of Israelis dressed in blue and white and carrying Israeli flags took to the streets of Jerusalem on May 28, 2014 to celebrate the reunification of the city in the 1967 Six Day War. Parades and prayer services marked the day, while many took the opportunity to take part in walking tours of historic parts of the city.

Here are some of the photos taken by Lash Balint of the day’s festivities, published here with permission.

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You can see additional Jerusalem Day photos by Lash Balint here.

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Vatican contradicts Guardian’s claim about pope’s visit to terror memorial

On May 26th we posted about a report by the Guardian’s Jerusalem correspondent Peter Beaumont which characterized the pope’s visit to a Jerusalem memorial to Israeli terror victims “as an attempt to appease his Israeli hosts“.  

headlineHere are the relevant passages:

Pope Francis has deviated from his itinerary for his tour of the Holy Land for the second time in two days – this time to visit a memorial to Israeli victims of terrorism.

The surprise addition on Monday was made at the request of the Israeli prime minister, Binyamin Netanyahu, and was interpreted as an attempt to appease his Israeli hosts after his surprise decision to pray at the controversial Israeli separation wall in Bethlehem the day before.

Interestingly, however, his narrative was undermined by the Vatican itself.

The Catholic News Agency, in a report titled ‘Vatican: Pope’s stop at terror memorial not a political move‘, May 26, specifically addressed the Guardian’s claim:

Amid claims that Pope Francis’ unscheduled stop at an Israeli memorial for terrorist victims was made under pressure to appease government officials, the Holy See has said that the rumors are false.

Stating that he “was not surprised” by the negative reactions some have had toward the Pope’s stop, Vatican spokesman Fr. Federico Lombardi explained to journalists May 26 that the visit “was against terrorism and nothing else.”

The report continued:

According to the U.K. newspaper the Guardian, the stop was done at the prime minister’s request, and has been seen by some as an attempt to appease Israeli authorities following the Pope’s impromptu visit to the separation wall diving Israel and Palestine yesterday ahead of his Mass in Bethlehem.

Despite the fact that some suggest the Pope was pressured into making the stop, Fr. Lombardi assured that he has “no political agenda.”

Whilst Beaumont didn’t bother to note who precisely “interpreted” the pope’s visit to the terror memorial as an act of “appeasement, it seems that the visit likely represented a simple acknowledgement that though the security fence ‘represents a symbol division‘, its construction was motivated by the moral desire to save innocent lives from the onslaught of terror – Palestinian attacks which the pope characterized (in his remarks that day) as “absolute evil“.

Though a Vatican spokesman clearly explained to foreign journalists like Beaumont that the pope’s visit to the memorial “was against terrorism and nothing else“, as we’ve demonstrated continually, when there’s a competition between soberly reporting the facts and advancing the Guardian narrative, the latter will win out almost every time. 

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