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December 29, 2010

Israeli forest fire singes Washington Post feature

A jarring irrelevancy appears in the middle of The Washington Post’s December 27 feature “Forest fire fuels review of Israel’s tree-planting traditions; Devastation has experts reassessing practice of greening the hills”. By Post special correspondent Joel Greenberg, the dispatch tells of Israeli forestry officials’ inclination to let the Mount Carmel woods reseed naturally rather than by traditional extensive planting.

Reporting on Israel’s worst forest fire, The Post says, apropos of nothing, that “Jewish National Fund forests, some planted over the ruins of Palestinian villages emptied during Israel’s war of independence [emphasis added], became popular picnic and recreation areas, providing shade and greenery in a sun-baked land.”

In “Storm socks East Coast; D.C. Area Is Largely Spared; Transportation delays strand many holiday travelers,” in the same edition, The Post reported that “flights were grounded at airports from the Carolinas to Boston, with more than 1,000 cancellations at New York City-area airports alone.” It did not write “flights were grounded at airports from the Carolinas to Boston, land largely emptied of its native American Indian population even before the U.S. War of Independence, with more than 1,000 cancellations at New York City-area airports alone.”

The latter would be read instantly as irrelevant editorializing in a news story. What accounts for the former?

As for “Palestinian villages,” early in the 20th century the term “Palestinian” applied usually to the Jews of that part of the Ottoman Empire. After World War I, it typically meant a Jewish inhabitant of British Mandatory Palestine. Arabs often shunned it as a synonym for Zionist, sometimes describing themselves as residents of greater Syria.

And what portion — probably quite small — of JNF forests were planted over war-ruined Arab villages? How many of those villages were relatively new, built by Arabs attracted by Jewish economic development? Most of all, would any of them have been destroyed had not the Arabs rejected the U.N.’s 1947 partition plan and started a war they lost? In context, it would be obvious immediately that “the ruins of Palestinian villages emptied during Israel’s war of independence” had nothing to do with Israel’s forest fire.

Posted by ER at December 29, 2010 03:25 PM

Comments

While I appreciate a pro-Israel view, I'm not one for rhetoric. Where do you see that 'Palestinian' was usually used by Jews and shunned by the Arab world, and why don't you post a link to it

Posted by: Newshawk at December 30, 2010 12:44 AM

The Yesterday channel programme about Nazi collaborators made the same mistake. Or 'mistake'. It used the term 'Palestinian' for people who were Moslem Arab in Palestine so that the Arab Revolt was a Palestinian revolt. It was a programme hedged all over the place with qualifications and you can't find much about the series,let alone this episode, on the website. http://uktv.co.uk/yesterday/homepage/sid/5008

Posted by: Bialik at December 30, 2010 08:53 AM

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