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July 30, 2013

Ashrawi on CNN: So Predictable – Anti-Israel Vitriol and Distortions


Palestinian Legislative Council member Hanan Ashrawi, a fluent English speaker with a high news media profile, is a veteran anti-Israel propagandist who habitually shades when she does not shred the truth (see, e.g., here and here).

Ashrawi appeared on Christiane Amanpour's July 23 CNN International show on TV to discuss the position of President Mahmoud Abbas's Palestinian Authority in negotiations soon to take place. An Israeli spokesperson, Tzipi Livni, Israeli minister responsible for negotiating with the PA had appeared with Amanpour the day before. Transcripts for the appearances of Ashrawi and Livni are available.

Livni’s strongest remark involving Palestinian Arabs was still mild: “The whole idea is to build trust and confidence and not to enter into this blame game that we used to have in the last years.�? But Ashrawi, characteristically bending truth into the great Palestinian pretzel, wasn’t as diplomatic and non-combative, let alone accurate. Here’s a sampling:

Settlement activities are illegal. Annexing and stealing land which is not your own is illegal.


We have specific U.N. resolutions, particularly 194, dealing with the Palestinian refugees' right of return. We have the Arab initiative that, in a sense, places the whole issue of refugees in a regional context, which is important, because most of the Palestinian refugees are in neighboring Arab countries.

This is a source of instability. It's a source of tremendous pain throughout the region. And this needs to be resolved in a just and legal manner. So the Arab Peace Initiative talks about a just and agreed-upon solution to the Palestinian refugee question. We are not going to say we will start negotiations by violating international law, relinquishing the rights of the refugees. We have already given up 78 percent of historical Palestine, on which Israel was established. That is a major and painful compromise.

Amanpour failed to challenge any of Ashrawi’s distortions and falsehoods:

• Ashrawi’s false accusations concerning the legality of settlements and “annexing and stealing land�?: There is no international law that declares settlements illegal. The Jewish people's return to their ancient homeland, including what is now known as the “West Bank,�? was not theft but repossession, as both the British Balfour Declaration in 1917 and League of Nations' Palestine Mandate in 1922 recognized. Article 6 of that Mandate calls for "close Jewish settlement" on the land west of the Jordan River. Article 6 is incorporated by Article 80 of the U.N. Charter, sometimes referred to as "the Palestine article." The United States endorsed the mandate, including Article 6, in the 1924 Anglo-American Convention.

The Arab population of the territory that became Israel, sparse in the late Ottoman period, grew rapidly as Jewish settlement improved health and economic conditions. There never was a sovereign Arab state from which Israel took land. As for the West Bank (Judea and Samaria), Israel gained this territory in a successful war of self-defense in 1967 and it remains to be allocated according to negotiations about legitimate Jewish and Arab claims under U.N. Security Council resolutions 242 and 338.

Jewish villages and towns built in the West Bank since 1967 are no more illegal than areas built since then in previously existing Arab villages and towns. As for Ashrawi's "theft" allegation, the large majority of Jewish settlements have been built on property that was classified state or waste land during Ottoman, British, Jordan and Israeli rule. It is on just such land, and that purchased privately, that the mandate encouraged Jewish settlement. Though many people, including U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, insist otherwise, their charges of "illegal settlements" are political, not legal.

• Ashrawi, claiming a right of return for Arabs who fled what became Israel during the 1948-1949 war (and for their descendants), states “We have specific U.N. resolutions, particularly 194, dealing with the Palestinian refugees' right of return.�? In fact, no such "right" exists – which is one reason all Arab countries at the United Nations voted against General Assembly Resolution 194 in 1948, against resolutions 393 and 394 in 1950, and 513 in 1952. These called for either peaceful return when practicable or compensation, resettlement of the refugees in the neighboring Arab countries and their integration into the local societies and economies.

It is the Arabs, including the Palestinian leadership, who have been in violation of the recommendations – not rights – included in those resolutions. Hence this particular source of "instability and tremendous pain" in a region featuring the Syrian civil war with more than 93,000 killed and several million made homeless in two years, the bloody turmoil in Egypt, escalating Sunni-Shiite violence in Iraq and so on.

In an essay published in Commentary in May 2001, historian Ephraim Karsh discussed Israel's policy on Arab refugees: “In 1949, Israel offered to take back 100,000 Palestinian refugees; the Arab states refused. Nevertheless, some 50,000 refugees have returned over the decades under the terms of Israel's family reunification program, and another 75,000 who were displaced from the West Bank and Gaza in the 1967 war have also returned to those territories.�? Furthermore, a large majority of the Palestinian Arabs worldwide already live in what was "Palestine" under the original post-World War I Mandate – Jordan, the West Bank, Gaza Strip, and today’s Israel.

• The falsehood, “We [Arabs] have already given up 78 percent of historical Palestine …,�? is typically allowed to stand. In fact, the only “historical Palestine�? since Roman times was the 1922-1948 League of Nations/United Nations mandate, held by Great Britain. As envisioned by the drafters of the San Remo Treaty in 1920, it included all of what today is Jordan, Israel, the West Bank, the Gaza Strip, and the Golan Heights. Israel, including the disputed territories, accounts for roughly 22 percent of historic Palestine. If Israel were to withdraw completely from the West Bank, it would possess a little more than 17 percent of the mandatory lands.

Posted by MK at July 30, 2013 01:15 PM


Ashrawi is a hypocrite, because she's the same fraud who said there were no such thing as Jewish refugees from the Arab countries.

Here's a great rebuttal to Ashrawi's lie.

2nd, why didn't Christiane Amanpour mention Ashrawi's Miftah organization which promotes blood libels against Jews and supports Palestinian terrorism against Israeli civilians.

Ashrawi's Miftah promoted the blood libel against Jews, saying Jews drink the blood of Christians to make Matzah. How could Amanpour not mention this?

Ashrawi's Miftah also glorified Palestinian female homicide bombers who have murdered defenseless Israeli civilians in restaurants.
Ashrawi's Miftah promotes blood libel of Jews
March 28, 2013
Hanan Ashrawi's Miftah NGO also praises female terrorist
March 29, 2013

Posted by: Ken Kelso at July 31, 2013 05:00 PM

Good article! Whenever I hear talk of "stolen Palestinian land," I too always question what made it Palestinian land? Because they said so? Because Jews acquired and developed it? If you build on vacant desert land, and no Arab possessed any legal title to it, why should any Arab be able to claim it was really his land? They might as well claim that the U.S. stole moon land when the Apollo missions landed there (I know, nobody owns the moon; just making an analogy). The fact is, every entity that occupied those lands since the Jews stole it from the previous occupants. The only people who were there before the Jews were Canaanites, and they no longer exist to file a claim.

Posted by: Gary Katz at August 1, 2013 01:20 PM

Ashwari and Amanpur make a good team!
Ashwari's remarks are great distortions of
truth. So why did Amanpour invite her?

Posted by: Selma Soss at August 2, 2013 01:15 PM

I heard Ashwari speak over 20 years ago and then her position on Arab / Palestinian racism and religious bigotry was that when 'they' had their own state they would cease to be racists because it was simply the incitement of the dispossessed. A smart but totally nonsensical answer because you start the way you intend to continue. That is history. Only a fool would be taken in by her disingenuous words.

Posted by: Maurice Solovitz at August 4, 2013 10:48 AM

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