Is the Economist concerned that Jews may be judaizing the Jewish state?

To provide some sense of how Jewish holy sites that are currently secured by Israel would likely fare under Palestinian rule, you could recall the period between 1949 and 1967, when Jews were ethnically cleansed from ‘east’ Jerusalem by the Jordanians and prevented from even visiting their holy places.  The Jewish Quarter of the Old City was all but destroyed, dozens of synagogues were demolished and some Jewish religious sites were turned into animal stalls. The Jewish cemetery on the Mount of Olives was ransacked; graves were desecrated; thousands of tombstones were smashed and used as building material or even toilets. The Western Wall became a slum.

Or, you could fast forward to a more recent time, and see how Joseph’s tomb – the resting spot of the patriarch Joseph and his two sons, Ephraim and Menashe – was razed soon after Nablus was transferred to Palestinian Authority control in 2000. Though renovations to the site were completed by 2009, vandalism by Palestinians continues, and as recently as two months ago Jewish pilgrims visiting the building discovered vandalism and attempted arson.

In contrast, in 1967, when Israel unified Jerusalem and took control of the holy sites in the Old City, Israel passed the Protection of Holy Places Law, granting legal protections the holy sites and making it a crime to desecrate or impede freedom of access to them. Though the Al Aqsa Mosque (part of the Temple Mount complex) is administered by Jordan’s Islamic Waqf, Israel retains sovereignty and secures the area.  As such, thousands of Muslims (including Palestinian Arabs) are granted entry to the Mosque each day.  (In contrast, in 2011, only 8,247 Jews visited the Temple Mount the entire year.)

Additionally, the Israeli government supports religious services for communities of all faiths – which includes spending millions of Shekels each year for the operating costs of more than 100 mosques, the salaries of Muslim religious leaders and the upkeep of holy sites for all religions.

As Freedom House reported, while Israel’s founding documents define it as a “Jewish and democratic state,” freedom of religion for all faiths is respected.

Such facts about Israel’s continuing commitment to safeguarding the rights of religious minorities would not come as a surprise to those of us who live here, or those journalists interested in dispassionately examining contrasting religious freedom in the region.  However, as we’ve demonstrated continually, ‘dispassionate’ and ‘objective’ are not words typically associated with British reports from Israel or the Palestinian territories – as a story in The Economist (and accompanying video) clearly demonstrates.  

Though the article in the print magazine has some balance, much of the video report by their Middle East correspondent Nicolas Pelham has little relation to the reality on the ground in the Holy Land.

As you can see in the video, Pelham imputes international significance to the vandalism of King David’s Tomb, the burial-place of biblical King David located at Mt. Zion at the ground floor of a Byzantine church.  Further, he not only suggests (at 1:10 of the video) that the site has only NOW become a Jewish religious shrine, but contextualizes the destruction of some Ottoman ceramic tiles in the interior of the tomb’s main room as part of a broader pattern of Israeli negligence of ‘Muslim’ holy sites.  

In fact (as you can see at 1:23 of the video), he also tells of the threat posed to the Temple Mount by Jewish extremists – who, we are told, occasionally incite Muslims by flying the Israeli flag – while never mentioning the frequent rioting by Palestinian extremists, or violence coordinated by Hamas, Fatah and Israel’s Islamist Movement.  And, no mention is made by the Economist journalist of Palestinian political and religious leaders‘ campaign to deny the Jewish connection to Jerusalem, and routine libels that Israel is attempting to destroy the Al-Aqsa Mosque.

Finally (at about 4:00 of the video) Pelham, when asked how the threat to Muslim holy places may affect the overall peace process, explains that the big fear of Palestinians (and ‘Muslims around the world‘) is that the Israeli government’s demand that Palestinians recognize Israel as a “Jewish state” will “erode what has been a historically Muslim country..”.

Of course, Jerusalem is the birthplace of Judaism, and Jews are an indigenous people to the land of Israel.

As one commentator explained on Facebook in response to Pelham, Roman conquests in the first century of the common era may have disintegrated Jewish political and military power, but there was – during Byzantine, Persian, Muslim, Crusader, Mameluke, Ottoman and British rule until 1948 - a constant and uninterrupted Jewish presence in the land.  Further, Jews represented a plurality of Jerusalem’s population by the mid-19th century.

The League of Nations, in 1922, determined in a decision of international law that “recognition has thereby been given to the historical connection of the Jewish people with Palestine and to the grounds for reconstituting their national home in that country”.  

History is on the side of the Jewish connection to Israel, yet you’d almost be forgiven for concluding that Pelham is deeply troubled by the possibility that Israel is surreptitiously Judaizing the Jewish state. 

A few seconds later in the video, when asked about the future of Israel, Pelham expressed doubts over the future of Israel’s Muslims, who, he claims, “have a second class status“.

This is simply a lie - one which evokes the oft-repeated Apartheid smear.  Though there are economic and educational disparities between Jews and Muslim in Israel (as there such disparities between minority and majority groups in many democracies), Muslims are represented in all spheres of Israeli public life, and are afforded equal rights under the law. Indeed, they enjoy political rights which far exceed those in any Arab country in the region.  (According to a recent poll published by the Israel Democracy Institute, most Arab Israelis are patriotic and proud to be called Israeli.)

As BICOM so accurately stated, specifically relating to the idea of Israel as a ‘Jewish State’:

Being a ‘Jewish state’ means being a state in which Jewish traditions, language and customs are given full expression. Thus, Jewish holidays are observed by the organs of the  state, Hebrew is the national language, traditional Jewish law is integrated into jurisprudence, and so on. There is nothing discriminatory in this, as long as minority rights to express their traditions, language and customs are protected too. And they are. For example, Israel’s civil service allows non-Jewish civil servants to celebrate their own religious holidays without having those days docked off their annual leave. (The same cannot be said to apply to Jews in Britain.)

To sum up:

  • Muslim holy sites in Israel are NOT in danger.
  • Israel is not a “historically Muslim country”.
  • Arab Israelis don’t have “second class status”.

Though The Economist of course fancies itself an erudite media institution, Nicolas Pelham’s report again shows us that what often passes for ‘sophisticated’ analysis of the Middle East conflict in the UK media is merely just the mindless parroting of agitprop, half-truths and lies more befitting the ‘Palestinian hasbara’ blogosphere

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Israel slouches ‘Left’? MK Aliza Lavie undermines the ‘Guardian narrative’

After the results of Israel’s national elections on Jan. 22 became clear, we published a post noting that, contrary to dire predictions by Guardian reporters and analysts that the state was poised to lurch dangerously to the extreme right, no such rightward shift actually occurred.  Contrary to the scare prediction by the paper’s Middle East editor that Netanyahu was poised to head “a more right-wing government than Israel has ever seen before”, the government which formed in March actually represented a move to the center – one which, for instance, excluded ultra-orthodox parties for only the third time since 1977

On a few important issues – such as negotiations with Palestinians, universal army conscription, and the rights of women and gays - the thirty-third Israeli government has in fact largely leaned somewhat left.  So, we thought it would be informative to hear from Aliza Lavie, an MK with Yesh Atid (part of the governing coalition), on her work on the issue of women’s rights in the Jewish state.

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MK Aliza Lavie

Lavie has a PhD from Bar Ilan and currently serves as the Chair of the Knesset’s Committee on the Status of Women, working on issues such as sexual harassment in the workplace, equality in the military, spousal abuse, and human trafficking.  Her book, “A Jewish Woman’s Prayer Book,” has sold more than 150,000 copies.  She was recently part of a delegation of Israeli experts from the fields of politics, economics, women’s rights, and law and policy-making a multi-city tour  in the U.S. called ‘Israel Up-Close 2014, led by Professor Eytan Gilboa.  We were able to speak briefly with Lavie by phone a couple of days ago during her U.S. tour, which included talks specifically on the topic of women’s issues in Israel.

CiF Watch: You (along with Natan Sharansky) were key in convincing the Chief Rabbi of the Western Wall and Holy Sites, Shmuel Rabinovitch, not to arrest women for saying the Kaddish prayer at the Wall.  Relatedly, are you confident that the compromise you helped broker on prayer at the Wall – to add an alternative egalitarian prayer site in addition to the men’s and women’s sections – is a step forward for those who seek a more religiously pluralistic society?

MK Lavie: I’ve been extremely pleased to see how many groups from across the political and religious spectrum have agreed to work with my committee on the issue of prayer at the Western Wall.  Our work influenced Women of the Wall to be part of the solution, and agree to the current compromise.  There has always been a consensus that the status quo wasn’t fair to women, and wasn’t consistent with Israeli law. Our work simply galvanized this silent majority in favor of change.

CiF Watch. What are other important issues on gender and religion you’re trying to address? 

MK Lavie: We’re currently working to change the current set up at the Western Wall so that the women’s prayer section at the main prayer site is equal in size with the men’s section and has similar facilities. I’d like to add that we’re working well with the Chief Rabbi of the Western Wall on this and other issues. Also, we’re extremely glad that, for first time [due to a law proposed by MK Lavie] four spots are guaranteed for women on the eleven member committee which appoints rabbinical judges to serve on the rabbinical court. This panel, as you know, is critical in attempting to alleviate some of the problems faced by women seeking to obtain a religious divorce (a “Get“) from their husbands.

CiF Watch: What, broadly, do you hope to achieve by participating in the ‘Israel Up Close’ delegation?

MK Lavie:  So many women in America who I’ve spoken to seem much more concerned with the status of women in Israeli society, for instance, than with the Palestinian issue.  Further, many of these same women may strongly identify as Jewish but without any affiliation, and are concerned that Judaism in Israel is in some people hands, but not others. I’m hoping to educate American audiences on the truth about Israel, and explain the exciting changes occurring on gender issues and other social issues of extreme importance to the future of the Jewish state. 

Guardian ‘inadvertently’ acknowledges that the Western Wall is NOT Judaism’s holiest site

As we’ve noted in previous posts, the Temple Mount in Jerusalem (where the First and Second Jewish Temples stood) is the holiest site in Judaism.  The Western Wall, on the other hand, is merely the holiest site where Jews are currently permitted to pray – an uncontroversial, firmly established fact we leveraged to prompt a correction to a story at The Telegraph on Oct. 24 which falsely claimed that the Western Wall was the holiest site.  

Other news sites which have corrected their original false claims over the significance of the Western Wall include the LA Times, the Washington Post, the Chicago Tribune, and the BBC (corrections which were prompted over the years by CAMERA).

In contrast to these corrections, however, the Guardian has engaged in characteristic obfuscations and stonewalling in refusing to revise Harriet Sherwood’s false claim regarding the Western Wall back in June.  Here’s Sherwood’s erroneous claim, which still hasn’t been amended.

During his three days in the Holy Land, he is scheduled to visit the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, believed to be the site of Jesus’s crucifixion and resurrection; the Western Wall, the most revered site in Judaism

So, we were quite surprised to see the following caption accompanying a Guardian photo of a member of ‘Women of the Wall’ praying at the Western Wall (10 Photo Highlights of the Day, Nov. 4).

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Whilst this is of course merely a photo caption, Guardian editors have, on occasion, revised such accurate descriptive text below their photos when they believed it to be misleading.  So we’ll continue to monitor this entry and see whether this inadvertent collision with accuracy is eventually ‘rectified’. 

CiF Watch prompts Telegraph correction over false Western Wall claim

We’re not normally in the business of comparing the quality and editorial judgment of British papers, but the speed in which The Telegraph corrected a false claim regarding the Western Wall in Jerusalem is worth noting.

telegraphAn Oct. 23 story in The Telegraph by Dina Rickman titled ‘Meet the Women of the Wall: Israel’s answer to Pussy Riot‘ included the following passage:

The Western Wall might be the holiest site in the Jewish world, but not all Jews can worship there as they wish…

We failed to take a snapshot, but here is the original text via a Google search:

kotelLate this morning, we contacted Telegraph editors and alerted them to the mistake.  

We demonstrated that the Temple Mount (where the Second Temple stood) is in fact the holiest site in Judaism, while the Western Wall (The Kotel) is merely the holiest site where Jews are currently permitted to pray.  We forwarded them information relating to other news sites which corrected their original claims that the Western Wall was the holiest site (many of which were prompted by CAMERA), as well as a 2008 BBC correction to their false claim.

Less than an hour ago, Telegraph editors responded to our complaint, informing us that they agreed with our concerns and had corrected the piece accordingly.  It now reads as follows:

The Western Wall might be the holiest site in the Jewish world where Jews are permitted to pray, but not all Jews can worship there as they wish…

Here it is on Google:

kotel 2This quick revision stands in stark contrast to the stonewalling and obfuscations we encountered when filing a similar complaint to the Guardian over Harriet Sherwood’s false claim regarding the Western Wall back in June.

Here’s Sherwood’s erroneous claim, which still hasn’t been amended.

During his three days in the Holy Land, he is scheduled to visit the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, believed to be the site of Jesus’s crucifixion and resurrection; the Western Wall, the most revered site in Judaism…

Telegraph editors should be commended for their prompt revision – quick, decisive editorial judgment (based on historically undeniable facts) which should certainly be emulated by other British dailies. 

Guardian columnist Giles Fraser finds ‘caged’ Palestinians in Jerusalem

Giles Fraser focused his efforts while writing his latest Guardian column, published on Sept. 6 (the second day of the Jewish New Year), on what Guardian contributors do best: lecturing Israelis on their ‘immoral treatment’ of Palestinians.  

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Fraser begins his piece, ‘Wall keeping Palestinian ill-treatment out of sight is really in Israeli minds‘, by declaring definitively that “most Jerusalemites couldn’t find Shuafat refugee camp on the map”, before listing the woes faced by residents of the UNRWA run town.

The UN runs the schools, collects the rubbish and fights a losing battle to sort out sanitation. The Israelis refuse. It is a place without government, without government services and without much hope.

these are people living perfectly properly and legally in an area Israel claims to be within Israel, yet they are still placed behind a concrete cage.

No, actually they are not placed behind a “cage”, nor do they live without vital services.  

As Fraser himself noted elsewhere in his piece, Shuafat  - a community of 11,000, within the municipal boundaries of Jerusalem, run by UNRWA - is not surrounded by walls. In addition to the fact that Shuafat is open towards the village of Anata to its east, which is in the PA controlled area of the West Bank, most residents have permanent Israeli identity cards which grant them the right to travel freely in Israel and receive social benefits and health insurance.

As even UNRWA notes about Shuafat residents:

its refugees are entitled to Jerusalem identity cards, guaranteeing them residency rights in Jerusalem and making them eligible for certain Israeli social services, including healthcare. 

Since their movement is not restricted, Jerusalem identity card holders have not been affected by Israeli closures of the West Bank. Many refugees who had previously moved out of the camp are now returning in an attempt to retain their Jerusalem identity cards

Seventy per cent of the camp’s residents work in the Israeli private sector.

In addition to the health care Shuafat residents can access outside their community, Israel runs health clinics inside the UNRWA “camp”.

Towards the end of his column, Fraser acknowledges that “understandably, Israelis hate outsiders like me arriving in their country and talking about the conditions in which Palestinians live” – a sentiment which is only partly true.  It would be more accurate to say that what most irritates Israelis is outsiders with little or no understanding of our country who engage in lazy generalizations, half-truths, or outright lies, about every imaginable social and economic disparity between Israelis and Palestinians.

Naturally, for instance, Fraser doesn’t ponder why UNRWA (the UN agency tasked with administering Shuafat), with 29,000 employees and a budget of $1.3 billion, can’t provide adequate services for such a tiny Palestinian community – a query which would of course force Fraser to venture beyond the predictable agitprop he and his Guardian Left amen corner so faithfully disseminate.

Harriet Sherwood misleads on religious significance of the Western Wall

Harriet Sherwood’s June 25 report on the upcoming visit to Israel and the Palestinian territories by the Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, devoted some text to outlining his itinerary while in the Holy Land, and included this passage: 

During his three days in the Holy Land, he is scheduled to visit the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, believed to be the site of Jesus’s crucifixion and resurrection; the Western Wall, the most revered site in Judaism; and the Haram al-Sharif, the site of the Dome of the Rock and the al-Aqsa mosque and the third-holiest place in Islam. All three sites are inside the walls of Jerusalem’s Old City.

However, Sherwood gets the significance of the Western Wall and Haram al-Sharif wrong - an error which she has made previously and which has been made (and at times corrected) by other media outlets as well.

Haram al-Sharif is known in Judaism as ‘The Temple Mount’ (Har Habayit), and is identified in Jewish (and Islamic) tradition as the area of Mount Moriah where Abraham offered his son in sacrifice.  It is where the Second Temple stood between roughly 515 BCE until 70 CE and – while it is true, per Sherwood, that it is the third holiest place in Islam – it is recognized as the holiest site in Judaism. While the Western Wall is the holiest site where Jews are permitted to regularly pray, it derives its holiness from its proximity to the Temple site.

Western Wall (Kotel) looking towards Temple Mount (Har Habayit)

Western Wall (Kotel) looking towards Temple Mount (Har Habayit)

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Jews touring the Temple Mount (Har Habayit)

Though we have credited Sherwood recently on her progress towards more fair and accurate coverage of the region, this report on the Archbishop’s upcoming visit to Jerusalem includes clearly misleading information about the significance of these Jewish and Muslim holy sites which is simply not open to interpretation.  

(We recommend you consider reading a great CAMERA backgrounder on the issues surrounding the Temple Mount, here.)

Myths and Facts about Jerusalem on the day Israelis celebrate the city’s reunification

I took the following photo of the Kotel in the Old City of Jerusalem a few months ago.

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As Israel today celebrates Yom Yerushalayim – the 46th anniversary of the reunification of Jerusalem on the 28th of Iyar – it is important to understand the myths and facts regarding the capital of the Jewish state.

CAMERA has an excellent backgrounder on Jerusalem, here, and Eli Hertz, at Myths and Facts, has a brief but important page on the history of the political exploitation of the city by Arab leaders, here.  

Updates to post on ‘Women of the Wall’ & alleged gender segregation in Petah Tikva

This story has been updated below

On Feb. 19, we posted about Harriet Sherwood’s Feb. 17 Guardian report, ‘Sarah Silverman tweet puts women’s Western Wall protest in global spotlight, which focused on a protest by an Israeli group (‘Women of the Wall’) against restrictions imposed on women who pray at the Kotel in Jerusalem.

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Western Wall (Kotel) in Jerusalem

We noted that such protests resonate with a lot of Israelis who object to Haredi hegemony over religious practices in the state, but examined the following quote in the Guardian story for accuracy.

Despite some notable legal victories, “this is still a huge issue”, said [Anat] Hoffman, who is also director of [IRAC] the Israel Religious Action Centre [and chairperson of 'Women of the Wall'], which campaigns against segregation and the exclusion of women. “Every day we get calls reporting things to us. Just yesterday, we heard that the water-drinking fountains at Petah Tikva cemetery have been segregated.”

IRAC is the legal and advocacy arm of the Reform Judaism movement in Israel.

Due to the fact that Hoffman evidently didn’t provide the source of her claim to Sherwood, we did our own investigation, and contacted an Israeli blogger named Anne, a resident of Petah Tikva [a city in central Israel, 10.6 km east of Tel Aviv], who investigated the matter personally.

Anne wrote the following:

I got [to the cemetery in Petah Tikvah] during a funeral (so I visited my grandmother’s grave while I was there) and then wandered around and took photos of the taps. First of all, there are no “drinking fountains” at the cemetery. I don’t think any cemetery has these.  What they do have are taps to ritually wash your hands when leaving the cemetery (Netilat Yadayim). As you can see (in the photos), there were men and women washing hands together. The second set of taps are located outside the men’s toilets but are certainly used by both men and women. As you can see, there is no sign at all about separation, and I have washed my hands there many times. The “wall” dividing the two sides is simply to allow more taps in one small area.

So, contrary to the claim made by Hoffman there are no gender segregated “drinking fountains” in the Petah Tikva cemetery, and likely no “drinking fountains” at all.  Further, the ritual hand washing taps, as Anne noted, are not segregated by gender.

However, this morning, we were contacted by a CiF Watch reader who supports the mission of the Israeli Religious Action Centre, and had emailed the group to seek comment on the claim made by their director.  Here’s their reply:

 It seemed Anat did confuse the cities when she said it was Petah Tikva. The city where we found the gender segregated washing station was in Kiryat Gat [a city in southern Israel, 56 km south of Tel Aviv]. I have attached a picture below. This will be corrected and in past and for all future statements on the issue.

Here’s the photo they sent.

Seperate washing stations

So, there appears to indeed be separate men’s and women’s ritual hand washing stations at the cemetery in Kiryat Gat. 

Though the connection between this particular gender separation practice at one Israeli cemetery and the restrictions imposed on women who pray at the Kotel is debatable, there’s a larger point to be made about Hoffman’s gaffe.

Though she was born in Jerusalem, Anat Hoffman spent time in the US (she earned her undergraduate degree from UCLA) and speaks flawless English.

Whilst conflating Petah Tikva with Kiryat Gat does not represent a major substantive error, Hoffman would likely be familiar with the ritual washing practice at Jewish cemeteries (symbolizing the dissociation from the impurity of death), and it therefore seems reasonable to ask why – unless Sherwood quoted her incorrectly – she would mistake a drinking fountain with a ritual hand-washing station.

The idea of separate drinking fountains (broadly speaking) evokes, for many, a very particular historical association  - particularly to Americans.

If the Reform Movement wishes to effectively advocate for an end to Orthodox control of religious life in Jerusalem and elsewhere in the state, and also be taken seriously as a proudly Zionist movement, it seems fair to expect their spokespeople to exercise care in avoiding imprecise, inflammatory language which could aggravate the already volatile secular-religious divide in the Jewish state.

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Homepage of ‘Women of the Wall’

UPDATE: A reader in the comment section of our original post on this issue found a recent Ynet article from Feb. 11 (in Hebrew) reporting that, following complaints by some of the clientele at the cemetery about the segregated washing stations, the sign was removed (by orders of the Ministry of Religious Affairs) and the policy ended.  

UPDATE 2:  Thanks to a reader for pointing out that I incorrectly wrote that Anat Hoffman was a rabbi. She is not. The post has been corrected.  

Did the Guardian just implicitly recognize “East” Jerusalem as part of Israel?

It’s been a tough year for the Guardian’s “research” department.

Earlier in Oct., the Press Complaints Commission concluded that the Guardian’s “unequivocal statement” in their “Style Guidethat “Tel Aviv is the capital of Israel” was incorrect and therefore breached “the Editors’ Code of Practice.”

Here’s what their Style Guide stataed about Jerusalem a few months ago.

Thanks to action by Honest Reporting, in taking the complaint to the PCC, their Style Guide now reads as follows:

Ok, they don’t refer to Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, but this is the Guardian, after all, and we’re always pleased when even a small dose of reality penetrates their ideological bubble. 

However, the small admission that Tel Aviv is not Israel’s capital didn’t prepare us for what follows.

You see, the Guardian typically refers to the section of Jerusalem illegally occupied by Jordan between 1949 and 1967 as “East Jerusalem”, inspired by the belief that a future Palestinian state will inevitably include a capital in that part of the city, and that any Jews who live there are illegal “settlers”.

They even have an East Jerusalem page:

Typical is a report by Harriet Sherwood in 2010, titled Jerusalem “Western Wall Development plan opposed by Palestinians as illegal“, which included this passage:

“Jerusalem’s key Muslim, Jewish and Christian holy sites lie in and around the Old City, just on the eastern side of the “green line” or pre-1967 border. Israel captured and later annexed East Jerusalem in the Six Day War of 1967 in a move not recognised by the international community.”

However, Sherwood left out quite a bit.

In the aftermath of Israel’s War of Independence, Jerusalem was arbitrarily divided, and Jews living on the “east” side were expelled by Jordanian forces, and dozens of synagogues (and other physical traces of Jewish life) were destroyed.

This map of the 1949-1967 boundary between “East” and “West” Jerusalem shows that the line cut off the Old City from Israel, including the Jewish Quarter, as well as Judaism’s holiest site (The Temple Mount).

The misnomer of “historically Arab East Jerusalem” – based on a geographical reality imposed by Arabs for a short 18 years in its long history – has become so part of the official meme that the UK Advertising Authority ruled in 2010 that an Israeli tourism ad featuring the Western Wall, Temple Mount and the Dome of the Rock was a violation of advertising laws.  

The Advertising Authority ruled that the historic Jewish locations were, in fact, located in “East Jerusalem and part of the occupied territories.”

So, given the Guardian’s strict adherence to such absurd narratives about the Israeli capital, I was shocked to find the following caption in an Oct. 3 edition of the Guardian’s series, “Picture Desk Live”.

While the “holiest site” in Judaism is actually the Temple Mount, and not the retaining wall where Jews are seen praying, this is a minor fact compared to the text at the end of the caption. Indeed, I had to look at the caption twice as I truly didn’t believe my eyes the first time.

Amazingly, the Guardian evidently now recognizes “East” Jerusalem as part of Israel!

So, now that they have started “Judaizing” Jerusalem, I think it’s reasonable to wonder what other concessions to Zionism we can now expect?

Will their reporters start referring to the West Bank as Judea and Samaria?

Will “settlers” now be called “Israelis”, and “settlements” now called “Yishuvim”?

Will Harriet Sherwood begin to characterize Palestinians who murder innocent Israeli civilians as “terrorists”, instead of “militants”?

Alright, perhaps I’m over-reacting just a bit!

Denis MacEoin’s letter to William Hague concerning Jerusalem

(The following letter was written by Dr. Denis MacEeoin and sent separately to William Hague, Alistair Burt and Simon Fraser at the British Foreign and Commonwealth Office. It concerns the status of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital city. MacEoin is editor of Middle East Quarterly and blogs at ‘A Liberal Defence of Israel‘ – A.L.)

Dear Mr Hague:

I write in support of a petition I have recently signed, asking the British Foreign Office to alter its position on what has become an unnecessarily vexed question concerning the capital of Israel. As you know, Israelis are unanimous in regarding Jerusalem as their capital, not Tel Aviv (where the British embassy is currently located), nor Haifa nor Jaffa nor Petah Tikva nor anywhere else in the country. 

It is not hard to understand why the first Israeli parliament chose Jerusalem as its seat, even before it had built an edifice suitable to the needs of the men and women who sat in its chamber.  For many centuries, Jews in the Diaspora had clung to a hope, not only of a return to the Holy Land, but to Jerusalem in particular, the erstwhile home of its holiest Temple and the scene of so many primary events in Jewish and Christian history. This might be dismissed on the grounds that religious belief should not determine a city’s status, but many cities derive their significance from their role as religious centres, from Mecca and Medina (the latter having been the first capital of Islam), to Karbala’ and Mashhad, to Varanasi (Benares) and the Vatican City. This original attachment, intensified by daily prayers while facing Jerusalem and repeated wishes to return there, was later supplanted by the governmental, educational, trading, defensive, legal and bureaucratic concerns of the capital of a secular state.

As a people who have been deeply wronged in the past, Jews have tried to build their own state along lines of equal citizenship, a single legal system, human rights, and the protection of all holy places. But when Jordan occupied East Jerusalem from 1949 to 1967, Muslim holy places were renovated while 58 synagogues were destroyed and 38,000 Jewish graves were demolished. In addition, Jews were not allowed to set foot in their own holy places, notably on the Temple Mount. By contrast, when Israel retook Jerusalem in 1967, the Temple Mount was handed to a Muslim authority on account of two Islamic structures built on top of it, the al-Aqsa mosque and the Qubbat al-Sakhra or Dome of the Rock.

Such depredations and a lack of reciprocity have made Israelis wary of a Muslim takeover of East Jerusalem, where the holiest sites are located: the Temple Mount, the Western Wall (the Kotel), the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, the Mount of Olives, and the famous Jewish graveyards, still vandalized horribly by Arab criminals.

But the Palestinians have made it their business to turn Jerusalem into a bastion of Islamic holiness, not just because the al-Aqsa mosque and the Dome of the Rock are there, but because they now claim that there has never been any Jewish connection to the city or to the land of Israel. There was, they boast, no Jewish Temple there. All Biblical references to the Temple and to Jerusalem as a city built by King David are summarily and ahistorically dismissed. 

Given that Muslims have demolished the holy places of more than one religion, the Jews are rightly concerned lest Jerusalem fall under Islamic control. In Saudi Arabia for decades now, the government has been engaged in the destruction of Islamic holy places in Mecca and Medina. Lest you think me in the grip of some obscure fantasy, I should explain that the Wahhabi form of Islam, which governs Saudi Arabia, is utterly ruthless in its condemnation of anything that may be worshipped instead of God. They have demolished over 200 historical sites to prevent pilgrims praying at them. In Mali, a similar form of Islam – Salafism – has recently demolished dozens of shrines belonging to the Sufi form of Islam. And in Iran, the government has demolished all the holy places and cemeteries of the persecuted Baha’i religion. Israel, by way of contrast, protects and nourishes the large international headquarters and two holiest shrines of the Baha’is, places now recognized as UNESCO World Heritage Sites.

Is it surprising that the Israelis, backed by Jews and others like myself round the world, are desperate to maintain the integrity of the city, knowing as they do that Muslim Arab rule would carry a greatly heightened risk to the Old City and its environs? Israel has been generous towards Muslims and their holy places, but they fear that if increased pressure were to come from Saudi Arabia or Iran or, nearer to hand from Hamas, everything Jewish might be eliminated. Palestinians have taken control of the Jewish Tomb of Rachel, the third holiest site for Jews. They have commandeered most of the Ma’arat Ha-Machpelah, the Tomb of the Patriarchs in Hebron and made access for Jews to a tiny space very difficult, as I can personally attest. This is the second holiest site for Jews, containing as it does the tombs of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Sarah, Rebecca, and Leah.

In the earliest days of Islam, the Prophet Muhammad adopted from his Jewish neighbours the practice of turning towards Jerusalem during the five daily prayers. But in the year 622, a few months after his arrival in Medina, he did an about turn during one prayer session and from then on directed his followers to pray towards his home city of Medina. He severed all direct ties with Jerusalem, and in the centuries that followed Jerusalem was never a provincial capital, nor the heart of a Muslim country or empire. Medina in the first years, then Damascus, Baghdad, Istanbul and other cities became the capitals of Islam. Cairo was the major city in North Africa, Fez and Rabat capitals of the west, Esfahan, Tabriz, Tehran and others the royal cities of Iranian dynasties. And so on. But Jerusalem was never given such signal importance. This is significant. Palestinian wishes to make Jerusalem defy centuries of insignificance would lock us into a dispute that could last one thousand years.

For this reason, Jews everywhere will refuse to relinquish a city that was theirs from the beginning, and they will not reward people who have tried to take what was never theirs, who have tried to deny the historical record concerning the Jewish presence in a city that has been Jewish for 3000 years. To confirm the place of Jerusalem at the heart of Jewish life and prayers and as the eternal capital of their only homeland, Jews and Israelis appeal to honest governments to do the right thing and recognize that Jerusalem is the city where all the key aspects of Israeli life converge. No Israeli regards Tel Aviv as his or her capital. It is demeaning to treat Israelis as children by telling them this or that foreign government knows better than they and their government when it comes to designating Jerusalem their capital. I do not think you treat any other capital city in this way. You do not call Cork the capital of Ireland, nor Glasgow the capital of Scotland, nor the cathedral city of St. David’s the capital of Wales, nor Marseilles the capital of France. I do not believe the Foreign Office means to be insulting in this matter; but if foreigners called Birmingham the capital of England and the UK, would you not feel aggrieved?

Israel’s enemies call in all seriousness for the destruction of the country. Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has called on all Islamic nations to ‘exterminate Israel’ (my translation). The Arabs, faced by their repeated failure to achieve this by military means or terrorism, have turned to secondary means, saying that there never any Jews in Israel, that they themselves were there first, an impossible 9000 years ago, and that Jerusalem was always an Arab city (a claim that directly contradicts the accounts of Arab historians like al-Tabari). It is a cheap and dishonest attempt to rewrite history itself and to introduce confusion into a simple narrative. Denying the historicity and modern reality of Israel, of Jerusalem, and of Israelis by refusing to liberate the city from the string of fictions that has tied so many in knots, allows falsehood and deceit to rule in international affairs. Britain is still a great country that is admired the world round for its probity. I do not doubt that you, like myself, wish to see that image remain untarnished. But I have to say that it is in some measure tarnished when you try to steal the Israeli capital from the Israelis themselves.

Yours sincerely,

Dr. Denis MacEoin

The Six-Day War: Day Three

Cross posted at Jewish Ideas Daily

This week, Jewish Ideas Daily commemorates the forty-fifth anniversary of the Six-Day War with a day-by-day synopsis, for which we are indebted to Michael Oren’s comprehensive Six Days of War.

As Nasser was ordering his army to flee the Sinai, King Hussein commanded his to stay put. But within the Old City, only a hundred soldiers remained, the rest having already retreated toward the East Bank. Doubting that he could retain the city by force, Hussein opted to negotiate an immediate ceasefire. The Jordanian Prime Minister, Sad Juma, petitioned both the UN and the U.S. Ambassador, Findley Burns, Jr., to convince Israel not to seize the Old City or Nablus. If Israel did, he warned, the Hashemite monarchy could collapse.  Relaying the message to President Johnson, Burns perceived a much more dangerous threat: The Soviets could intervene.

Wary of Nasser’s wholly unsubstantiated allegations of direct American support for Israel, Johnson neglected to recommend any course of action to Eshkol—short of informing him of the offer, and warning, from Hussein. More problematic was an impending Security Council decision, coupled with the gradual return of Jordanian troops to the Old City. If they couldn’t win the battle, they could at least delay the Israelis until the Security Council stepped in. Eshkol, Dayan, and Rabin agreed: for Israel to retake the Old City, she had to act now.

As the sun rose on June 7th, 1967, artillery started shelling the area around the Augusta Victoria hospital east of the Old City, swiftly followed by air raids, clearing the way for paratroopers. The soldiers proceeded southwest, taking the Mount of Olives, and then descending the hillside until they stood outside Lions’ Gate. They were soon joined by tanks, which opened fire, cleaving the gate.  The troops charged into the square, through a hail of gunfire from Legionnaires on the walls and rooftops, and onwards into the city’s narrow, medieval streets. As soldiers spread out, heading for the Via Dolorosa, the Damascus, Jaffa, and Zion Gates, Lt. Gen. Mordechai Gur led his men up to the Temple Mount. After another exchange of fire, Gur relayed back the words that the country was waiting to hear, now immortalized: “Har ha-Bayit b’Yadenu”—”The Temple Mount is in our hands.”

But the Temple Mount was still not the biggest prize: Gur had yet to take the Kotel.  But neither he nor any of his men knew the way down. At a loss, Gur asked directions from an old Arab man. But this time, Gur was beaten to the punch. Men from the Jerusalem Brigade and the 71st Paratroopers Battalion were already there—celebrating, in spite of the continuing sniper fire.

In an interview with the Observers Conal Urquhart, Zion Karasenti, who appears in David Rubingers iconic photo, claimed to have been the first to the wall—though at the time he had no idea where he was: 

I was the first paratrooper to get to the Wailing Wall. I didn’t know where I was, but I saw a female Israeli soldier, so I asked “Where am I?” and she said: “The Wailing Wall.” She gave me a postcard and told me to write to my parents before she disappeared. It might have been a dream, but then many years later I met the woman. She had been in the postal corps.     

Paratrooper Moshe Amirav, who left his hospital bed to visit the Kotel after hearing of its capture on the radio, recalls following in Gur’s footsteps down from the Temple Mount through Mughrabi Gate:

We ran there, a group of panting soldiers, lost on the plaza of the Temple Mount, searching for a giant stone wall. We did not stop to look at the Mosque of Omar even though this was the first time we had seen it close up. Forward! Forward! Hurriedly, we pushed our way through the Magreb Gate and suddenly we stopped, thunderstruck. There it was before our eyes! Gray and massive, silent and restrained. The Western Wall!

Among Gur’s party was Shlomo Goren, the IDF’s Chief Rabbi, who said kaddish and then blew the shofar—perhaps heralding the advent of the Messiah. Goren suggested to Dayan, Rabin, and General Uzi Narkiss, who had arrived in a triumphant procession, that the IDF use its remaining ammunition to destroy the mosques in anticipation of the reconstruction of the Temple.

But Eshkol had preempted Goren’s reverie.  Refusing to be caught up in the euphoria, unlike the rest of the country—including his senior officers—Eshkol had placed the holy sites of the Old City under the jurisdiction of their respective religious authorities. Moreover, as his forces continued their conquest of the West Bank, he was already starting to worry about what to do with its inhabitants.

Similarly cut off from the Jerusalem fever were the troops still fighting in the Sinai. In the early hours of the morning, an aerial reconnaissance mission went to scout what were presumed to be redoubtable Egyptian defenses at Sharm el-Sheikh, only to find it deserted. The garrison at Sharm el-Sheikh had received orders directly from Amer to fall back. A similar scene awaited Israeli soldiers in the central Sinai. The second line of the Egyptian defense had dissolved into isolated pockets of resistance, as the troops fled back towards the Suez Canal, burning their own bases as they went. The Israelis gave chase, aiming to circumvent the Egyptians and cut off their escape. But with men and burning vehicles clogging the roads, the Israeli advance was held up by the Egyptian retreat. 

Meanwhile, cognizant of the collapse of the Arab forces, the USSR issued Eshkol an ultimatum: “If Israel does not comply immediately with the Security Council Resolution, the USSR will review its relations with Israel [and] will choose and implement other necessary steps which stem from the aggressive policy of Israel.” The immediate response to this new Soviet belligerence came not from Eshkol, but from Amer. Having ordered a general retreat, Amer now told those battalions which had already crossed the canal to turn around to make one last stand on the western shore.

The war was not over, but the symbolic victory was overwhelming, and the spirit of the people indelibly altered.  While Eshkol and his cabinet were debating strategy, “Hatikvah” was ringing out at the Kotel and “Jerusalem of Gold” was filling the airwaves. 

The Guardian’s Chris McGreal and the moral logic of a Jew-free “Eastern” Jerusalem

Before commenting on the latest report by the Guardian’s Chris McGreal, “Israel plans new settlement of 2600 that will isolate Arab East Jerusalem“, an understanding of the designation “Arab East Jerusalem” is in order.

This isn’t, of course, a comprehensive history, but represents important context sorely lacking in the Guardian’s frequent misrepresentations about issues pertaining to Jerusalem.

Around the year 1010 B.C.E., King David made the Jerusalem the administrative capital of Israel and brought the Ark of the Covenant to the city. It is believed that David’s son, Solomon, built the first Jewish Temple  as a permanent resting place for the Ark of the Covenant, a place which would become the focus of Jewish veneration from that point to the present.

In 597 B.C.E. the Babylonian army captured Jerusalem, deported thousands of Jews, and razed the city. 

In 560 B.C.E., the Persians conquered “Palestine” and told the Jews they could return to their homeland, and rebuild their Temple. The Second Temple was completed in 516 B.C. Over the next 150 years Jews rebuilt Jerusalem and developed the surrounding areas.

In 332 B.C.E., the Greeks, under Alexander the Great, became Palestine’s new ruler.  

In 167 B.C.E., Jews rose up and, three years later, Jerusalem was recaptured from the Greeks and the Temple restored, an event that gave birth to the holiday of Chanukah.

After 76 years, the Romans wrested control of Jerusalem and the rest of Judea from the Jews.

Under King Herod, the area of the Temple Mount was doubled and surrounded with four retaining walls, including the area known as the Kotel or Western Wall.  In 66 A.D., after a failed Jewish revolt against Roman rule,  The Romans laid siege to the city and in the year 70 A.D. destroyed the Second Temple.

After the destruction of the Second Temple, Christianity began to rise, until the Islamic conquest in 633 – the beginning of a 1,300-year span during which more than ten different empires were to rule in the Holy Land prior to the British occupation after World War I.

The Ottoman Turks took control of Jerusalem at the beginning of the sixteenth century.

The Ottoman Turks were defeated in World War I and Palestine was captured by the British, who subsequently were awarded a mandate from the League of Nations to rule the land.

When the United Nations took up the Palestine question in 1947, it recommended that all of Jerusalem be internationalized. The Jewish Agency agreed to accept internationalization, while the Arab states were opposed to the plan, as they were to the rest of the partition plan.

In May 1948, upon Israel’s declaration of Independence, Arab armies invaded the newly created Jewish state and (by the end of the war, per the 1949 armistice lines) Jordan occupied east Jerusalem, dividing the city for the first time in its history, and driving thousands of Jews — whose families had lived in the city for centuries — into exile.

Jewish girl, Rachel Levy, 7, fleeing from street with burning buildings as the Arabs sack Jerusalem after its surrender. May 28, 1948.

For the next 19 years, from 1948-67, the city was split between Israeli and Jordanian control, a period which represents the only time the city has been divided in its history.

This is what is meant by the extremely misleading refrain by Guardian reporters (and others in the MSM) of “Arab East Jerusalem“. 

Jews living in the Jordanian controlled section of Jerusalem were expelled and all Jews were denied access to the Western Wall.  Jordan also subsequently desecrated Jewish holy place and attempted to erase all traces of Jewish history in the city.  Fifty-eight Jerusalem synagogues — some centuries old — were destroyed.

Also, under Jordanian rule, Israeli Christians were subjected to restrictions and many subsequently emigrated from Jerusalem, leading their numbers to dwindle from 25,000 in 1949 to less than 13,000 in June 1967.

Upon the beginning of the Six Day War in June of 1967, Jordanian forces  launched multiple attacks on Israel, which included thousands of mortar shells fired at West Jerusalem.

However, Israeli forces fought back and within two days managed to repulse the Jordanian forces and retake eastern Jerusalem.

Within weeks, free movement through Jerusalem became possible. Israeli Muslims were permitted to pray at the Al Aqsa Mosque and the Dome of the Rock for the first time since 1948. And Israeli Christians came to visit the Church of the Holy Sepulchre.

The Knesset passed the Protection of Holy Places Law granting special legal status to the Holy Sites and making it a criminal offence to desecrate or violate them, or to impede freedom of access to them. 

Arab residents were given the choice of whether to become Israeli citizens and, while most chose to retain their Jordanian citizenship, all Jerusalem Arabs are permitted to vote in municipal elections.

The Israeli-Palestinian Declaration of Principles (DoP) signed September 13, 1993, left open the status of Jerusalem. Other than an agreement to discuss Jerusalem during final status talks, Israel conceded nothing regarding the status of the city during the interim period.

In both 2000 and 2008, Palestinian negotiators accepted in principle (in the context of final status negotiations) that large Jewish communities beyond the Green Line, such as Gilo, would remain under Israeli control.

Finally, moving to Chris McGreal’s report, he writes, regarding Israeli plans to build new homes in the  Givat Hamatos neighborhood of Jerusalem:

 “…it would virtually cut off the Arab east of the city from the rest of the occupied West Bank.”

The word “virtually” is an interesting word, meant to obscure the fact that the neighborhood wouldn’t actually cut off the “Arab east of the city”, as this map shows.

More broadly, McGreal spares no effort to characterize the potential construction of new homes in Israel’s capital in the most hyperbolic and hysterical terms, quoting a leftwing city council member thusly:

“The people behind this are pyromaniacs and terrorists because they are lighting fires all over the place that at the end of the day will set up a new wave of terrorist attacks.”

But, as the Jerusalem Post noted about the proposed community.

“The plan for a new neighborhood at Givat Hamatos has been in the works for years. The general construction plan for Givat Hamatos with 2,610 housing units was approved in September. At least some of the housing units will be reserved for an Arab extension of Beit Safafa.

However, the project’s approval in September did not raise any red flags since the land for the project has many different owners, including the Spanish government and the Latin Patriarch, said Margalit. Determining and reorganizing the ownership for building purposes is a complicated legal process called “reparcelization” that can take years, leading activists and politicians to focus their energies elsewhere.”

Moreover, the logic which suggests that Israelis shouldn’t live in the east section of the city represents an acceptance of the logic of the Jordanian expulsion of Jews, and destruction of Jewish life, from 1949-1967 – the only time in history the city was divided by religion.

Equally as important in understanding the issue of Israeli building in Jerusalem, Palestinians in East Jerusalem consistently indicate that, in a final status agreement, they almost universally do not want the city divided.

Jerusalem has been the center of Jewish life for over 3,000 years.  Moreover, Jews have constituted the largest single group of inhabitants there since the 1840′s.

As Yaacov Lozowick observed about the possibility of a divided Jerusalem:

Imagine a city with an international border running between buildings on the same block in Jerusalem; to one side a free and rich society, to the other: not. The rich enjoy a world-class health system and social security; the poor lost access upon division. Each side has its own police force, with no love lost between them. Could it ever work? Wouldn’t it generate never-ending tension?

That’s the optimistic scenario, where both states share a cautious wish to live in peace. Now imagine if one or both comes to regret the arrangement, immediately or in 50 years.

Go to the website of the Geneva Accord and its detailed recommendation to divide Jerusalem. Follow the line, imagining it: What do the divided streets look like? Between which buildings will there be a border? What about where the line runs through single structures in the Old City? Ponder the possibility that the gamble fails, and the townspeople on either side of this hellish border decide not to live in peace.

Refusal to divide Jerusalem need not preclude creating a Palestinian state. Jewish settlements throughout the West Bank should be dismantled to enable the Palestinians to have a coherent state. Within Jerusalem’s municipal boundaries, outlying Arab neighborhoods that don’t abut Jewish ones should be transferred to Palestine. Not the Holy Basin, however. Dividing the historic sections of Jerusalem is delusional. It will never bring peace, and it could lead to war.

Of course, such stubborn logic will never penetrate the ideological blinders which continue to skew the Guardian’s view from Jerusalem. 

Guardian’s Israel Correspondent, Harriet Sherwood, Still Clueless

This is cross posted by Simon Plosker at the blog of Honest Reporting

The Guardian’s Harriet Sherwood just keeps demonstrating her gross ignorance of the region that she is meant to be covering. In May we caught her mistakenly claiming that Israel’s Knesset and other national buildings were located on Palestinian-owned land.

Prior to that, Sherwood was critiqued by HonestReporting for referring to the Western Wall as Judaism’s most holy site while promoting the Palestinian narrative of the Temple Mount as a primarily Muslim site.

This, despite the incontrovertible fact that the Temple Mount is Judaism’s holiest site.

Evidently, Sherwood doesn’t learn from her mistakes. In an article concerning US broadcaster Glenn Beck holding rallies in Jerusalem, Sherwood writes:

Reinforcing his point, the rally is to be staged in the shadows of the Old City, close to boththe Western Wall, the holiest site in Judaism, and the Haram al-Sharif, also known by Jews as the Temple Mount, which is revered by Muslims.

We don’t deny the attachment of Muslims to their holy sites but Sherwood not only gets her facts wrong but peddles a false historical narrative that denies and delegitimizes Jewish roots in Jerusalem.

See our previous expose of Sherwood’s error and why the Temple Mount is Judaism’s holiest site here.

The Six Day War: An Israeli soldier recalls the emotion of freeing the Kotel

A guest post by Hillel

Former Member of Knesset, Chanan Porat, was one of the paratroopers who freed the Kotel in 1967.  He was interviewed on one of the Israeli radio stations and was asked to recall his experiences 43 years ago. He told the following story: (Paraphrased)

 “To us the young men who were fighting, and I think to most everyone at the time, the war began with the shadow of the Holocaust etched in our minds.  There was this sense in the air, this resolve, that that there would not be another Holocaust. If twenty years before we were taken like sheep to the slaughter- it would not happen again.

As the war progressed, however, something very special occurred, and in response, our perspective began to change. At some point this change in perspective took place and, suddenly, we were not fighting a war of survival - but a war of redemption. It was a feeling which I cannot really describe in words, a sense of being part of history in the making, no, even more than that, a sense that we were in the middle of writing a new chapter in the Bible…

As we reached the Kotel, the paratrooper next to me was a young man who had grown up in an ultra -secular kibbutz. He too leaned against the kotel and was sobbing. With a voice choked with tears, he turned to me and cried, “Chanan! What should I say!” I cried back, “Say a prayer!” “But I do not know how to pray!” he cried. “So say the Shma”, I called. ”But I do not know how!” he screamed. “So say it with me,” I said. Fighting back tears, I began,”Shma”, and he, at the top of his lungs repeated, “Shma!” “Yisrael.” and he cried out “Yisrael!”  “Hashem.” “Hashem!” “Elokainu.” “Elokainu!” “Hashem.” “Hashem!” “Echad.” “Echad!”

I (Hillel) did not hear what transpired afterwards  because at this point I began to cry, but if there are moments in history which we must save in a bottle and carry with us, I think this is one of them.

UK Watchdog rules against “Travel Palestine” Ad

This is cross posted by Simon Plosker at Backspin, the blog of Honest Reporting

Back in January 2011, Honest Reporting addressed an advert published by the Palestine Tourism Ministry that appeared in the UK edition of National Geographic magazine which:

  • Implied that Palestine is a country
  • Claimed that Jerusalem is part of Palestine
  • Stated that “Palestine lies between the Mediterranean coast and the Jordan River”.

The UK’s Advertising Standards Authority has finally issued its ruling following many complaints. While the ASA did not agree with all of the issues raised by us and a number of other organizations, it did, however, rule the advert to be misleading on the following grounds:

We considered, however, that the line “From the famous cities of Jerusalem, Bethlehem, Hebron, Jericho, Nablus, and Gaza … Palestine lies between …” suggested that the situation and recognition of those cities as being part of Palestine was universally accepted. Because that was not the case, we concluded that the ad was misleading.

The ASA concluded:

The ad must not appear again in its current form. We told Travel Palestine to ensure their ads did not suggest that it was universally accepted that locations were part of Palestine when that was not the case.

So it seems that the ASA is consistent in its view that while Jerusalem may not be part of Palestine, it is also not part of Israel. Unsurprising considering that the ASA previously, in an appalling decision, forced the Israel Government Tourist Office to withdraw an ad that featured Jerusalem as the Israeli capital, effectively banning Israel from including the Western Wall in any tourism advertising.

Nonetheless, in the face of the increasing delegitimization campaign against Israel that has taken hold in the UK, the ASA’s latest adjudication will go down as a small victory in a much wider struggle.