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April 18, 2016

Independent Catholic News Broadcasting Anti-Israel Agitprop

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Independent Catholic News, a publication that serves Catholics in Ireland, recently published an article about Israel demolishing a playground in the West Bank.

The main thrust of the article, which was published on April 14, 2016, is that Israel is behaving badly by demolishing the playground. Israel is acting well within the rights accorded to it under the Oslo Accords, which give Israel authority over the area where the playground was built — illegally and without permits — by Palestinians who do not own the land on which it was built.

Moreover, it appears that the Belgian government, which paid for the playground’s construction, is aiding an abetting illegal construction by local Palestinians, not to improve the living standards, but to provide a pretext for anti-Israel propagandizing, which sadly enough, the Independent Catholic News fell for.

Here’s the background: According to the story, the playground, which was built last year with funds provided by the Belgian government, was demolished on Tuesday April 12, 2016. The playground was located in a village south of Nablus.

The playground’s demolition has prompted outrage from the Belgian government.

The Belgian Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Development Cooperation Alexander De Croo and Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs Didier Reynders condemned the destruction of the children's playground. They have asked for an explanation from the Israeli government through the Ambassador in Brussels and via the Belgian Embassy in Tel Aviv.

The article, which is based on a report from Ma'an New Agency, a Palestinian outlet that has published antisemitic diatribes in the past, states “Israeli authorities gave no prior notice before demolishing the park.”

CAMERA contacted COGAT, the Israeli agency responsible for administrating the West Bank and the Gaza Strip and received the following response:

Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories:

On April 12th, enforcement measures were taken against an illegal structure in Za'atra, after handing all the relevant orders and giving opportunity to prove ownership on the lands.

COGAT’s response reveals couple of problems with the story as it appeared in the Independent Catholic News.

First, the article failed to mention that the Palestinians who used the Belgian money to build the playground did not have title to the land on which it was built. In other words, it was built illegally.

Secondly, the article states that Israeli authorities gave no prior notice before demolishing the park but in reality, Israeli officials gave the Palestinians who built the park a chance to prove that they in fact had title to the land in question. For Palestinians to complain that they were not given prior notice to the impending action is simply propagandistic.

This brings us to another problem with the story. It omits the fact that a number of European institutions have been funding the construction of illegal structures in the West Bank in an effort to generate spectacles that can be used to demonize Israel. The so-called humanitarian structures are built not for humanitarian purposes, but propaganda purposes.

In February 2015, The Daily Mail (London) reported the following:

The EU is acting illegally by funding unauthorised Palestinian building in areas placed under Israeli control by international law, say an NGO, international lawyers and MEPs.

More than 400 EU-funded Palestinian homes have been erected in Area C of the West Bank, which was placed under Israeli jurisdiction during the Oslo Accords – a part of international law to which the EU is a signatory.
The Palestinian buildings, which have no permits, come at a cost of tens of millions of Euros in public money, a proportion of which comes from the British taxpayer.

This has raised concerns that the EU is using valuable resources to take sides in a foreign territorial dispute.

An article published the following month by the same publication reveals that the European Union has claimed diplomatic immunity to protect itself from lawsuits in Israel arising from its illegal actions.

This isn’t the first time that foreign funds have been used to incite hostility toward Israel. In May 2014, the Tent of Nations, a farm owned by Palestinian Christians located in the West Bank announced that the Israeli soldiers had demolished 1,500 trees from an area that had been planted using donated funds.

Aerial photographs indicated that the number was closer to 300 and that the land upon which they had been planted had not been cultivated for years prior to the planting of the trees in 2007. This indicated that the Tent of Nations was encroaching on the land in question in an effort to generate a spectacle when Israel demolished the trees.

As stated in a previous CAMERA report, this sounds terribly cynical, but there is warrant for such cynicism. Journalist Edwin black alleges that Palestinians have been paid by outside activists to plant trees near a nature preserve in the West Bank with the goal of generating bad publicity for Israel when soldiers removed the trees.

Black makes the allegations in chapter eight of his 2013 book, Financing the Flames: How Tax Exempt and Public Money Fuel a Culture of Confrontation in Israel. He writes:

Israeli attempts to protect the nature reserve by removing unauthorized, newly planted trees made for plenty of bad optics and dramatic condemnation on the blogosphere. Ultimately, the conflict resulted in a series of legal actions in the Israeli court with a decision to remove the some 1,400 trees from Wadi Kana. Such a removal would be a well-photographed and highly publicized spectacle of the mighty Israeli state versus the humble Arab-planted trees.

Hopefully, the folks at Independent Catholic News will do some digging before broadcasting such obvious propaganda from Ma'an News Agency.



Posted by dvz at April 18, 2016 12:41 PM

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