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August 01, 2008

Wash Post Distorts Jerusalem History

In its July 29, 2008 article "Olmert: No Accord on Jerusalem This Year," the Washington Post referred to "East Jerusalem, which Israel seized in the 1967 Arab-Israeli war."

The word "seized" is prejudicial in this context because it suggests that Israel deliberately set out to capture the Jordanian-occupied part of the city in an unprovoked war of conquest. This turns the facts of the Six-Day War on its collective head, as it was Israel that was besieged and attacked in what the Arabs had intended to be a war of destruction for Israel. If Jordan hadn't attacked Israel, Israel would not have had to fight back and end up gaining eastern Jerusalem and Judea and Samaria.

In the month leading up to the Six-Day War, Egypt expelled United Nations peacekeepers from its border with Israel, poured hundreds of tanks and thousands of troops into the Gaza Strip, and blockaded Israel's port of Eilat -- an act of war under international law. On May 26, 1967, Egyptian President Gamal Abdel Nasser declared bluntly: "The battle will be a general one and our basic objective will be to destroy Israel."

Israel pleaded to Britain, France and the United States for help. All refused to intervene on Israel's behalf, leaving Israel to fend for itself, alone against the Arab world. Taking notice of the situation, Time magazine's June 9, 1967 cover said ominously: "ISRAEL: The Struggle to Survive," and its cover story about Israel's plight was titled "A Nation Under Siege."

When war did erupt between Israel and Egypt on June 5, Israel begged Jordan to stay out of the conflict, but King Hussein rebuffed Israel's pleas and attacked. Jordan struck Israel's Knesset building, prime minister's office and Hadassah Hospital (Ein Kerem), all in Jerusalem, and indiscriminately targeted Israeli communities from Jerusalem to Tel Aviv, killing 20 Israeli civilians and wounding more than 1,000.

Only then, after Jordan had attacked Israel and killed Israelis, did Israel respond militarily, leading to Israel gaining control over eastern Jerusalem and reuniting it with the rest of Jerusalem, from which it had been separated by Jordanian occupation since 1948. There was never a government policy before the war to reunite Jerusalem, even though eastern Jerusalem included the Western Wall, Temple Mount, and the ancient Jewish Quarter of the Old City, from which all Jews had been ethnically cleansed and thereafter barred by Jordan since Jordan seized the city in 1948.

These facts notwithstanding, Post stories on the Middle East frequently refer to Israel as having "seized" eastern Jerusalem (e.g., Jan. 23, June 29, Oct. 31, Nov. 19, 2000; May 9, Oct. 24, 2001; Feb. 10, 2004; May 30, 2006; Feb. 10, 11, June 21, Nov. 24, 2007), as though, through repetition alone, the Post could turn this fallacy into a fact.

The Post rewrites rather than reports history when it repeatedly claims that Israel "seized" eastern Jerusalem in 1967, rather than point out that it took the Jordanian-occupied part of the city in a successful war of self-defense.

- Stephen A. Silver

Posted by LG at August 1, 2008 04:30 AM


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