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April 28, 2010

LA Times Wrong on JNF Land

In an interview yesterday with Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat, the Los Angeles Times' Edmund Sanders repeats a false canard about Jewish National Fund land in Israel:

But doesn't the Jewish National Fund control most of the land in Israel and doesn't it have restrictions against dealing with non-Jews?

In fact, 79.5 percent of Israel's land is owned by the government, 14 percent is privately owned by the JNF, and the rest, around 6.5 percent, is evenly divided between private Arab and Jewish owners. Thus, the Israel Land Administration, which administers both government-owned and JNF-owned land, administers 93.5% of the land in Israel (Government Press Office, Israel, 22 May 1997). That JNF owns only 14 percent of all of Israel's land is a fact acknowledged even by the virulently anti-Israel organization Adalah.

Unfortunately, Mayor Barkat failed to correct the reporter, responding incorrectly:

That's not true in the city of Jerusalem. It's different in other parts of the country. In Jerusalem, the vast majority of the land is privately owned. Ownership in the city is diverse.

A related error in the Philadelphia Inquirer in 1997 resulted in the following correction:

Oct. 18, 2007: A letter on the Oct. 16 Editorial Page misleadingly stated the case regarding the right of Arab Israelis to own land in Israel. Arab Israelis may own land, but there is not much to own: Only about 6.5 percent of the land in Israel is privately owned (some by Arab Israelis). Of the rest, almost 80 percent is owned by the governmental agency called the Israel Land Administration. ILA land is not sold but leased; by law, it is available to be leased by all Israelis, whether Jewish, Arab or other. About 13 percent is owned by the Jewish National Fund. In September an Israeli high court ruled that the JNF must allow non-Jews to buy its land.

Will the Los Angeles Times likewise correct? Write to Readers Representative Deirdre Edgar at readers.representative@latimes.com.

Posted by TS at April 28, 2010 06:34 AM

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