February 23, 2017
NY Times: Hamas Seeking to Put Off War, Israelis Itching for Conflict
There's a peculiar juxtaposition in yesterday's front page New York Times story, contrasting how Israel and Hamas supposedly view the possibility of renewed confrontation. The insinuation seems to be that Israelis are seeking war, while Hamas is seeking to put it off.
Here's what the story says is happening "on the Israeli side":
On the Israeli side, the political right talks of a new war in the spring over Hamas’s rearming and expresses a desire to inflict a decisive blow. …
Sounds like they're chomping at the bit.
Then there's Hamas. The piece does note that the group's new leader is "hard-line," and that weapons are "presumably" being constructed in, and smuggled into, the Gaza Strip. But regarding attitudes toward renewed fighting, we're told that its leaders are seeking to "put off as long as possible what they see as the next inevitable war":
Leaders of Hamas, considered a terrorist group by the United States and by many other countries, do not have the same backing from the West. Interviews with political and business leaders, academics and ordinary people can divine only a basic strategy: improve the lives of frustrated residents as its leaders put off as long as possible what they see as the next inevitable war, then fight when it happens. (Life could be better, Hamas’s critics contend, if the group spent less on war preparations.)
So Hamas leaders want to avoid war, readers are led to believe, but are resigned to the fact that Israel will force it upon them — never mind that Gaza's major wars tend to begin with Hamas rocket barrages or cross-border kidnapping attacks against Israelis.
In unrelated news, Hamas recently released a Hebrew-language music video about launching a war and killing Jews.
The video, at least, isn't shy about predicting that the hypothetical next war will begin with Hamas firing rockets at Israel. The opening line of the song, sung over animated images of a Hamas rocket attack, says, "For my Zionist enemy I've prepared all kinds of rockets that reach where he lives," and that "he will die if he doesn't immediately leave my land."
Other images include Jews being sliced in half by rockets and a severed Haredi head being impaled on a sword.
Check out the full video here.
Diminishing Morale and Dissension Within Hezbollah
Hezbollah, the Iranian-backed Lebanese militia and terror group, has been fighting in Syria for 5 years at the behest of Iran. An article by Lebanese journalist Hannin Gadar contends that the group's most experienced fighters are chafing under the command of Iranian general Qasem Soleimani and are leaving.
Gadar writes of emerging social problems in the Lebanese Shiite community from troubled returning fighters. Western societies with unfettered media frequently describe dissension in the ranks, troubling questions about their mission and difficulties experienced by returning war veterans. There is less disclosure of increasing demoralization due to prolonged conflict and subsequent substance abuse among members of terrorist groups operating within closed societies where such discussions are proscribed and problems denied.
Articles such as this one are important to raise awareness and to counterbalance the Western media's propensity for critical self-scrutiny and highlighting problems within our own military forces and among returning veterans. As the article makes clear, closed, authoritarian societies are not immune to disintegrating morale, dissension in the ranks and substance abuse.
February 22, 2017
Success: PBS Ombudsman Blogs About Miko Peled Interview
Earlier this month, CAMERA sent an alert to our members and posted an article on our website regarding Tavis Smiley and his interview with radical anti-Israel activist Miko Peled, which was aired on PBS. During the interview, Peled made several false claims that were not corrected or challenged by his host. Many of our letter-writers wrote to Smiley, as well as to the PBS Ombudsman, Michael Getler.
Getler responded in a column late last week, in which he linked to our article and discussed our critiques. He agreed that Smiley could have challenged Peled more, and that he “could have bounced some of Peled's most controversial assertions off on his follow-up guest, Rabbi Leder, which Smiley did not do.” Getler also noted that he forwarded CAMERA’s critique to Smiley.
Although Smiley did not respond, he will have hopefully taken the critique under consideration and will think about these issues before bringing similar guests to his show in the future.
In his blog post, Getler also published excerpts from many of the letters that CAMERA members and others sent in. Below are the letters as Getler published them:
The guest, Miko Peled, on the show made so many incorrect assertions that it would take a very long letter to point out all of them. Mr. Smiley, you, as an informed journalist, should have at least questioned, if not corrected, some of them. Peled's description of Israel as an apartheid state has no basis in fact. In an apartheid state the oppressed do not have recourse to the courts nor do they have equal transit and health opportunities. Patently untrue in Israel.
Describing Israel as a “union between racism and colonialism” ignored the fact that Jews are indigenous to Israel and have been a presence in Jerusalem since 1004 BC! The assertion that Palestinians get only 12 hours a week of water may be true but their water is controlled by the Palestinian Water Authority. Israel has nothing to do with it. These, and many other, statements of Mr. Peled are not surprising in view of his past statements. Minimal research would have shown this. It is necessary to correct these mis-statements to maintain PBS' claim to journalistic integrity.
Lawrence H. Levine, Pleasantville NY
(Ombudsman’s Note: Peled has likened Israel treatment of Palestinians to apartheid but not on this program.)
~ ~ ~
I am writing to protest the content and tone of your [Tavis Smiley’s] interview with Miko Peled on 2/2/17. Miko Peled is well known as an anti-Israel extremist who frequently veers into anti-semitic territory. For example on your show he termed Jewish history a "myth," denied that Jews have a right to self-determination via a state of their own, and repeatedly libeled Israel's water policies towards the Palestinians.
Had you been fulfilling your role as a talk show host with some degree of objectivity and concern for the truth, you could have pointed out archeological evidence for Jewish history in Israel which is abundant, including the Western Wall of Solomon's Temple. You could have pointed out that denying Jews the right to national self-determination essentially meets the U.S. State Department's definitions of antisemitism. You could have pointed out that Israel supplies Palestinians with twice the water specified in the Oslo Accords, and that Palestinians would have even more water if they stopped refusing hookups to Israeli water infrastructure in their opposition to "normalization,” and stopped refusing to use effluent drip irrigation techniques employed by Israel to conserve water.
Instead you had another guest on, a Rabbi who weakly offered some minor corrections and whose stance seemed to reflect the typically misguided, left-of-center utopian fantasy that Israeli and Palestinian actions have been morally and politically equivalent. In fact Israel has made great concessions of land and rights to Palestinians in search of peace, and has been met with unceasing terrorism and refusals of generous peace offers. This is because the true and only goal of the Palestinians is the destruction of Israel…If your purpose was to provide your listeners with accurate information, you could have corrected or challenged Peled's falsehoods. You could have had an additional guest on 2/2/17 to forcefully and effectively respond to Peled.
Daniel H. Trigoboff, Ph.D, Williamsville, NY
~ ~ ~
I am disturbed about Tavis Smiley’s program with Miko Peled in which Peled made false statements about Israel that went unchallenged by Smiley. Several of these false statements include calling Jewish history a myth, calling Israel an illegitimate state, calling the Haganah a terrorist group even as he justified terrorism against Israelis and perpetuated the falsehoods about the water libel. When PBS knowingly invites radicals to appear on their shows, the host should do their homework and be prepared to aggressively challenge their narratives and false claims. Smiley should announce corrections of Peled's false statements on his show, particularly the implication that Israel denies water to Palestinians and that the Haganah was a terrorist organization.
~ ~ ~
Almost every phrase that came out of Mr. Peled's mouth had some disinformation that had a single goal: to portray Israel as an illegitimate state based on some mythical story and to portray Israelis as bunch of evil racist white Europeans oppressing indigenous population.
Here few most outrageous lies that I heard in the interview:
1) Jews suddenly showed up few decades ago and took land from the people who lived there forever. FALSE! To say something like that is to disregard well established historic and archaeological facts. Jews have always lived in Israel, despite regular massacres perpetrated against them by Arab Muslims, crusaders, Turks and numerous others. 2) There have never been a Palestinian nation. This nation was invented in 1960's in Moscow by the Soviets. Those who call themselves "Palestinians" now are in fact a conglomeration of different nationalities, most of which came to the area in the middle of 19th century as migrant workers. The rest settled there between 1948 and 1967 by the Jordanian King in violation of Forth Geneva Convention after Jordan (with the blessing of England) illegally captured West Bank in 1948. 3) Few Bedouins came to Judea from Arabia and are not indigenous people. Israel has always tried to accommodate Bedouins and their lifestyle…Most Bedouins are loyal Israeli citizens.
Valery Tsimmerman, MD
~ ~ ~
The Tavis Smiley talk show with Miko Peled is a new low in responsible broadcasting. The selection of Rabbi Steve Leder as an ineffective "balanced view" indicates, at best, a pathetically inept PBS. In light of other broadcasts with overt slants, any thinking person surmises the worst: PBS’s actions are only open-minded to accusation about Israel. PBS open-mindedness has apparently allowed the facts and their brains to fall away - neither are used.
Hillel Hammerman, New York, NY
~ ~ ~
On February 2, Tavis Smiley hosted Miko Peled, an extreme anti-Israel activist who has made outrageous statements about Israel and claimed that Jews have no history there. Peled falsely claimed that the Haganah was a terrorist group, but he does not accept the idea that Israeli Jews have any right to defend themselves from real terrorists. Mr. Peled claims he can’t be anti-Semitic because he is Jewish, but he is on record making statements against Jews, and being technically Jewish does not stop someone from hating Jews.
Forest Hills, NY
~ ~ ~
In your recent broadcast by T. Smiley, the well-known Mr. Anti-Semite and Anti-anything-Jewish Paled was invited. I know the Freedom of Speech and Right to Expression are very important. But why invite the well-known hater to the program with the moderator who is either badly prepared, or sympathetic to Mr. Paled views, or simply intellectually lazy? And even if Mr. Tavis's sympathies are with Palestinian Arabs -- he has no right to reveal it in his work as Journalist.
Dr. R. Ogulnik
~ ~ ~
When you have anti-Semites like Miko Peled on your show why don't you mention the wise and prescient words of Dr. Martin Luther King JR spoken in December 1967: "When people criticize Zionists, they mean Jews. You're talking anti-Semitism." Also why don't you mention that the Obama State Department stated that it is anti-Semitic to claim you oppose the State of Israel, but not its policies. Your silence when confronted with anti-Semitic drivel raises the issue of whether you agree with the drivel.
Richard Sherman, Margate, FL
To join CAMERA's letter-writing team, sign up here.
February 15, 2017
Israel and U.S. Military Aid
One common narrative in media reports about Israel is that Israel is the largest recipient of U.S. military aid. The Brookings Institution’s Shibley Telhami, for example, made the claim in Newsweek in September (“Is America Giving Too Much Aid to Israel? Key Poll Findings,” September 16, 2016). That same month – the month that the most recent U.S. aid package to Israel was finalized – CNN wrote “the US has made Israel its largest recipient of military assistance for decades…” and the New York Times called Israel “already the largest recipient of American aid...”
(“Largest-ever US military aid package to go to Israel,” and “U.S. Finalizes Deal to Give Israel $38 Billion in Military Aid,” both September 13, 2016).
In the past, CAMERA has been one of the few to question this conventional wisdom. In 2006, CAMERA’s Alex Safian wrote that the costs of U.S. military personnel stationed in Europe and Asia “are gigantic costs that truly dwarf what we spend on aid to Israel.” He noted at the time that Stephen Walt and John Mearsheimer, in their paper that year lambasting “The Israel Lobby,” ignored the tremendous financial cost of U.S. troops abroad.
Now, the Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Studies has reexamined this claim. Professor Hillel Frisch has written:
The response to the charge [that, at $3.1B per year, Israel is the largest recipient of US military aid] is simple: Israel is not even a major beneficiary of American military aid. The numerical figure reflects official direct US military aid, but is almost meaningless compared to the real costs and benefits of US military aid – which include, above all, American boots on the ground in the host states.
There are 150,500 American troops stationed in seventy countries around the globe. This costs the American taxpayer an annual $US85-100 billion, according to David Vine, a professor at American University and author of a book on the subject. In other words, 800-1,000 American soldiers stationed abroad represent US$565-665 million of aid to the country in which they are located.
Once the real costs are calculated, the largest aid recipient is revealed to be Japan, where 48,828 US military personnel are stationed. This translates into a US military aid package of over US$27 billion (calculated according to Vine’s lower estimation). Germany, with 37,704 US troops on its soil, receives aid equivalent to around US$21 billion; South Korea, with 27,553 US troops, receives over US$15 billion; and Italy receives at least US$6 billion.
The post-World War II agreement between the U.S. and Japan, pursuant to which the U.S. stations troops there, includes a “U.S. pledge to defend Japan in the event of an attack.” It wasn’t until 2015 that the agreement was updated to permit Japan to come to the aid of the U.S. or other allies. It’s clear, therefore, that Japan directly benefits from U.S. troops stationed in its country, at U.S. taxpayer expense.
As Professor Frisch explained, the in-kind military aid given to many nations around the world, including Kuwait, Qatar, and the Baltic states, puts U.S. service members on the line. In contrast, the cash aid given to Israel puts no U.S. service members in danger.
Jewish Voice for Peace Hosts Convicted Palestinian Terrorist
Jewish Voice for Peace, the misnamed anti-Israel organization, will be hosting a convicted Palestinian terrorist at its upcoming conference in Chicago on March 31 to April 2, 2017.
Rasmea Odeh, a member of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), a U.S.-designated terrorist group will be a featured speaker at the event, according to an Algemeiner report by Lea Spyer (“Jewish Voice for Peace to Host Convicted Palestinian Terrorist at Upcoming National Conference,” Feb. 6, 2017).
Odeh will be speaking, along with three other speakers, during a workshop titled “All In!” In addition to Odeh, another panelist at the JVP conference is Linda Sarsour, an anti-Israel speaker who, among other things, has called to remove the vaginas of her female critics (“#WomensMarch Co-Chair Linda Sarour’s Twitter attack on victim of female genital mutilation,” Legal Insurrection, Jan. 27, 2016).
Odeh was convicted for her role in two terrorist attacks: In 1969, she set up explosives in a grocery store, murdering two Hebrew University students and wounding nine others. Four days later, she set up explosives targeting the British consulate. In 1970 she was sentenced to life in an Israeli prison for her crimes, only to be freed in a prisoner swap ten years later.
The Anti-Defamation League has described JVP as the “most influential anti-Zionist group in the United States.” ADL has asserted that JVP’s role in the anti-Israel boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) effort is to provide the movement with a “veneer of legitimacy” and camouflage against identification as antisemitic.
Despite ADL’s apt characterization, JVP is often misleadingly described as a “left-leaning” or “progressive” Jewish group by many major U.S. news outlets. As CAMERA has noted, JVP has often been given Op-Ed space by The Washington Post, The Hill, and others (“Jewish Voice for Peace Repeats anti-Israel Clichés; Post Provides a Platform,” June 29, 2016).
Similarly, Sarsour, a co-organizer of the Jan. 21, 2017 “Women’s March on Washington D.C.,” has been feted by journalists who often fail to disclose her history of inflammatory statements, including accusing Israel of ethnic cleansing and dismissing reports of al-Qaeda terror attacks as conspiracy theories (see, for example “CAMERA Rebuts Zogby Op-Ed in The Hill,” Aug. 27, 2015).
A Jan. 23, 2017 article in Elle Magazine, for instance, claimed that “conservative news sites” and “Islamophobes” were attacking Sarsour for her role in organizing the women’s march. However, the article by Mattie Kahn failed to note Sarsour’s decidedly anti-feminist, anti-human rights exhortations.
It remains to be seen if future news reports treating JVP as a credible source will inform readers of the group’s associations and advocates.
February 13, 2017
Hamas Members Defect to ISIS
Hamas, the U.S.-designated terror group that rules the Gaza Strip, is losing operatives to the Sinai-affiliate of the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS). The two groups, while rivals, share similar long-term objectives.
According to a recent Times of Israel report, a high-profile member of Hamas’ naval commando unit, Abed al-Wahad Abu Aadara, defected to ISIS a year ago. Numerous other Hamas members have also joined ISIS in the Sinai, which is both a competitor and a sometime collaborator with the Gaza-based terror group.
Avi Issacharoff, a Times of Israel Middle East analyst, noted:
“In recent years Hamas has lost dozens of members of its military wing — the Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades — to IS’s Sinai Province, including a number of its fighters from the elite Nukhba unit. Many of these operatives left for Sinai with their families and relatives and now serve as the Sinai Province’s main points of contact with Hamas. These defectors include a number of Hamas’s experts on operating anti-tank missiles and assembling roadside bombs, who have provided substantial assistance to IS in its war against the Egyptian army.”
Some of the Hamas defectors have been fairly high-profile operatives. Abu Malek Abu Shweish, a former “top assistant to the commander of Hamas’ military wing in the Rafah area,” and Abed al-Hila al-Qishta, a leader in Hamas’ Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades, are among the more noteworthy defectors, highlighted by Isaacharoff.
Despite the defections, Hamas and Islamic State operatives have cooperated on certain mutually beneficial objectives. For instance, members of Hamas’ military wing in Rafah assist Islamic State Sinai operatives with weapons smuggling and transporting injured ISIS fighters into Gaza for medical care.
CAMERA has previously noted (“Hamas Cooperates with ISIS-Sinai,” March 3, 2016) allegations of cooperation between Hamas and the Islamic State’s Sinai province—including claims from an ISIS fighter that Hamas was providing communications and weapons systems to its fellow terror group. Both movements, while differing on strategy and tactics, share the same goals: The imposition of sharia law and the destruction of the West and Israel.
Despite their similar Islamist ideologies, some commentators have previously claimed that Hamas would never work with the Islamic State. Vox magazine’s Max Fisher (now a New York Times reporter) treated with contempt Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s March 2014 tweet comparing Hamas to the Islamic State. In an Aug. 25, 2014 article (“Hamas is not ISIS. Here’s why Netanyahu says it is anyways”) , Fisher wrote:
“As an analytical matter, Netanyahu's argument is flatly false. While Hamas and ISIS are both rightly classified by the US as terrorist groups, both target civilians, and both espouse Islamic and Arab supremacism, that does not make them at all linked, much less identical.”
“The two groups are totally distinct. It's not just that there is no known connection, operational or otherwise, between Hamas and ISIS, although there isn't. They ultimately follow very different ideologies: Hamas will talk about Islamist extremism, but it is ultimately a Palestinian nationalist group first and foremost, one that is fighting to establish its vision of a Palestinian state.”
Moreover, Fisher noted, “Hamas leader Khaled Meschaal [sic] publicly rejected any Hamas-ISIS comparison.” Perhaps Fisher shouldn’t have taken a Hamas leader at his word.
As CAMERA has noted, Hamas is only a Palestinian national group if one takes Palestinian nationalism to have as its cause bête noire the destruction of Israel—a fair argument, but one that Fisher, a frequent Israel critic, is unlikely to make.
February 12, 2017
In Haaretz in English, Petah Tikvah Attack Is Only 'Suspected'
On Thursday, an assailant opened fire on shoppers in the central Israeli town of Petah Tivkah, and stabbed one, injuring a total of five people. The suspected attacker is an 18-year-old from Nablus. That this attack happened is not in dispute.
Yet, Haaretz's English edition, both online and print, referred to a "suspected" attack, as if was not yet verified that a shooting attack had taken place. The first sentence of the print article refers to the attack as "suspected":
Five people were hospitalized following a suspected shooting attack in the central city of Petah Tikvah yesterday.
The front-page headline of Haaretz's English edition Friday was "Five people wounded in suspected Petah Tikva terror attack."
The digital edition in English also qualifies the attack as "suspected." Its headline is: "Five Wounded in Suspected Shooting Attack in Central Israeli City."
Likewise, the first sentence online reads:
Five people were hospitalized following a suspected shooting attack in the central Israeli city of Petah Tikvah.
The Hebrew edition, in contrast, both in print and online did not qualify the attack as "suspected" and reported it just as it was: an attack. The Hebrew print headline states (CAMERA's translation): "Petah Tikvah Market Attack: Five Lightly Wounded from Shooting and Stabbing, 18-Year-Old Suspect from Nablus Arrested."
The first sentence states: "Five people were lightly injured yesterday in a shooting and stabbing attack near the market on Baron Hersh Street in Petah Tikvah."
This latest instance of what we call "Haaretz, Lost in Translation" follows another English edition article last month which described an incident in which a Bedouin driver ran over and killed an Israeli policeman as a "police claim." Yet, the fact that the driver ran over and killed the policeman was not disputed; the reason, however, was disputed (the Bedouin driver either intentionally attacked the policeman or, alternatively, lost control of the vehicle after police shot him). CAMERA prompted corrected in that case. We have contacted editors again about the Petah Tikvah attack. Stay tuned for an update.
February 10, 2017
Igor Sadikov’s Insincere Apology at McGill
Igor Sadikov, a student at McGill University in Montreal, Canada has revealed the underlying hostility toward Israel and Jews motivating the BDS campaign on college campuses.
Sadikov, a BDS activist and a member of the Legislative Council and Board of Directors of the Students’ Society of McGill University, did this by calling on his Twitter followers to “punch a Zionist.” Sadikov “apologized” for his call to violence in the face of criticism from B’Nai Brith in Canada.
In his “apology,” Sadikov expresses regret for harming his fellow students and adds that as a Jew, he wants to be “disentangle” Jewishness from Zionism. Sadikov has since deleted the threatening Tweet and his Twitter account.
His Facebook account currently includes the text of his apology, the replies to which indicate that a fair number of his supporters support violence against Zionists. Oliver Melancon, for example, offers to punch a Zionist on Sadikov’s behalf. And sadly enough, Sadikov “liked” this comment, indicating that his apology is insincere. Apparently, he still thinks its OK to punch Zionists.
By the way, international students can expect to pay between $19,000 and $44,000 CDN for one year of attendance at McGill University.
February 07, 2017
E.U.-Supported Palestinian University Calls to ‘Blow Up’ Jews
A Palestinian university with strong U.S. and E.U. ties held a militant parade graphically calling for the murder of Jews.
Birzeit University, just outside of Ramallah in the West Bank (Judea and Samaria), held festivities to celebrate the 52nd anniversary of the Fatah movement on Dec. 31, 2016. Fatah is the dominant movement in the Palestinian Authority (PA) and is led by the authority’s president, Mahmoud Abbas. The Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI), an organization that translates Arab, Iranian and Russian media, recently issued a report on the event.
MEMRI footage showed armed masked men in military fatigues conducting drills and chanting at Birzeit University’s campus. The men belong to Fatah’s Shabiba student movement. According to MEMRI, during the drill, the student movement members praised deceased Palestinian leader and Fatah head Yasser Arafat and shouted:
“Blow up the head of the settler!”
“We are the guardians of the borders!”
“Oh shabiba, this is a call to arms!”
As CAMERA has noted, Palestinian officials often refer to all Israelis as “settlers,” regardless of where they live.
Birzeit University has frequently held events celebrating terrorism. In December 2015, students decorated a Christmas tree on the college’s campus with ornaments of prominent Palestinian terrorists and murderers. Fathi Shaqai, the founder of U.S.-designated terror group Palestinian Islamic Jihad and a Birzeit alum himself, was one of those whose image was placed by university students on the tree. Abu Ali Mustafa, the secretary-general of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), another U.S.-designated terrorist group was similarly celebrated.
Perhaps referring to the Shabiba group, the website of the university’s advancement office proudly claims that Birzeit “has a long history of activism, with a dedicated student movement aimed at securing national liberation and promoting human rights in Palestine [sic].” Yet, among the terrorists that Birzeit has glorified is Muhannad Halabi. As CAMERA has highlighted, Halabi murdered 2 Israeli civilians, Rabbi Nehemiah Lavi and Aharon Bennet, before stabbing and wounding Bennet’s wife and their 2-year-old child, in an Oct. 3, 2015 terror attack in Jerusalem (“Palestinian Student Movement Uses Pictures of Murderers as Christmas Ornaments,” Dec. 28, 2015).
Birzeit University has active student groups representing both Fatah and its sometime rival Hamas, also a U.S.-designated terrorist group. The university has hosted anti-Israel guest speakers, including American linguist Noam Chomsky. The college also has notable U.S. and European links.
Birzeit University Fund, a self-described charitable organization based in Royal, Oak Michigan, raises money for the school. According to the school’s website, Birzeit has “joint ventures” with a number of European and Middle Eastern universities. Both faculty and students receive financial support from the European Union and the British Council. On Jan. 18, 2017—less then a month after the Shabiba parade calling to “blow up” Israelis—the French consulate in Jerusalem announced additional financial support for Palestinian students, prompting Birzeit to highlight “France’s longstanding support” for the university.
Birzeit is far from the only Palestinian university to celebrate terrorism. As CAMERA has noted (“Palestinian University Honors Terrorist with ‘Cultural Event,’” Feb. 16, 2016), Al-Quds University in Jerusalem has an Abu Jihad Museum that honors Khalil al-Wazir (aka Abu Jihad). Al-Wazir was responsible for murdering 124 Israelis, including 11 Israeli athletes at the 1972 Munich Olympic Games. A leader in the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO), he also took part in the 1978 Coastal Road massacre that killed 38 civilians, including 11 schoolchildren. Like Birzeit, Al-Quds receives grants from European governments. It currently has a partnership with Bard College, a New York-based liberal arts school.
February 03, 2017
The Atlantic Stumbles on the Truth About Potential Palestinian State
A January 28 piece about the city of Hebron in The Atlantic by Zach Dorfman contains a few errors and omissions, some more egregious than others, but also includes an unusual moment of honesty about the settlements there.
The most glaring omission in the piece comes after Dorfman details the Oslo II agreement, including that in that agreement, “Israel and the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) formally agreed to the terms an independent Palestinian state [sic] by 1999.” He omits, however, that such a state was offered to, and rejected by, the Palestinians three times. While it’s unfortunately commonplace for journalists to ignore Israeli peace offers, in this case the omission is particularly bad because the implication is that Israel agreed to Palestinian independence and then reneged on that agreement, when in fact it was the Palestinians’ own leaders that turned down statehood.
Another issue is Dorfman’s statement that “Jews believe the Temple Mount, where the mosque now stands, is where the two great Jewish temples were once located.” The statement that “Jews believe” that the Temple Mount is the location of the two ancient Jewish Temples implies that this is something that is legitimately in question, something that can be subjectively believed or not. In fact, as CAMERA has noted in the past, there is ample archeological evidence of the Temples, and there are “no credible scholars who question the existence of the two temples or who deny that they stood somewhere on the Temple Mount.”
Turning to Hebron, the main topic of the article, Dorfman recounts that he “asked a senior Israeli military official … about the IDF’s efforts to prevent violence by settlers against Hebron’s Palestinian community.” He ignores, however, the spates of violence against Hebron’s Jewish community that ensued particularly after the signing of the Hebron Protocol in 1997 and in the early 2000’s when Shuhada Street was briefly reopened. This is especially notable because Dorfman discusses both Shuhada Street and the Hebron Protocol in some detail.
Dorfman makes a basic error when he asserts that Jewish settlers returned to Hebron in 1979. In fact, Jews returned to Hebron to reconstitute the ancient community there almost immediately after the Six-Day War, on the eve of Passover in 1968. (Dorfman may possibly be conflating the 1968 event, in which Jews checked in to a Hebron hotel and initially refused to leave, eventually establishing the adjacent town of Kiryat Arba, with the 1979 establishment of the Committee of the Jewish Community of Hebron.)
Dorfman also claims that the December passage of UN Security Council Resolution 2334 “reaffirm[ed] long-standing international consensus: that Israel’s settlement-building in the territories it has occupied since 1967 is illegal under international law.” He then adds parenthetically that “[h]istorically, U.S. officials have massaged the issue by calling settlements ‘obstacles to peace’ and refrained from explicitly referencing their illegality." In fact, however, it is Dorfman that is “massaging” the issue. As CAMERA has shown repeatedly, successive US administrations have not considered the settlements illegal. And his description of then-Secretary of State John Kerry’s speech following that vote as “largely recapitulating U.S. policy,” is contradicted by the Washington Post’s fact-checker.
At the same time, Dorfman includes some history that is rarely discussed. He writes that Hebron was home to a Jewish community for centuries, and that the community persisted until a bloody 1929 pogrom in which a “mob of Arabs traveled house-to-house, killing 67 Jews and wounding scores, wiping out the city’s Jewish community.” He includes a witness’s account of one incident of more recent, fatal violence perpetrated against the Jews of Hebron. He also includes the information that Hebron, the site of the Tomb of the Patriarchs, is a holy city to Jews.
Most notable, however, is the very rare acknowledgement of the real reason that withdrawal of the IDF would necessitate removal of the Jewish settlers. He writes:
In any future peace deal, the IDF would likely be required to uproot over 75,000 Jews from the West Bank, some of them religious ideologues, from their homes near some of the holiest places in their faith. In this equation, the settlers of Hebron seem unlikely to voluntarily quit their second-holiest site. This is the paradox: The Jews of Hebron cannot leave, but neither can they stay. If the IDF withdraws—as it must under any future peace deal—the radical settlers of Hebron and elsewhere could face another massacre, another 1929.
In contrast, no journalists appear to have questioned then-Secretary Kerry’s claim in his December 28 sunset speech about Israel and the Palestinian territories that:
Now, you may hear from advocates that the settlements are not an obstacle to peace because the settlers that don't want to leave can just stay in Palestine like the Arab Israelis who live in Israel. But that misses a critical point, my friends; the Arab Israelis are citizens of Israel, subject to Israel's law. Does anyone here really believe that the settlers will agree to submit to Palestinian law in Palestine?
The question of whether Kerry had any basis for the claim that Jews would be unwilling to live under Palestinian law, or the question of whether such an assumed unwillingness to live under Palestinian sovereignty was really what would prevent them from doing so, doesn’t seem to have been addressed in the mainstream media. Though Dorfman still ignores statements by Palestinian leadership that Israelis won’t be permitted to stay in a future state, he deserves credit for the candid admission that it is not Jews’ willingness to live under Palestinian sovereignty that causes a problem. Rather, what complicates efforts at partition is the danger to any Jews that would stay behind in such a deal.