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December 3, 2009
WaPo portrays Jerusalem Palestinians as beleagured
In its Dec. 3 edition, the Washington Post spreads a screaming headline across all six columns on page A17: "Israel revoked Jerusalem residency of 4,500 Palestinians in 2008."
But hold on. Upon closer examination, it turns out that Post correspondent Howard Schneider actually delivered a much-ado-about-nothing dispatch that falls apart from one paragraph to the next. There is no there, there -- either in the headline or in the main thrust of the article.
Schneider validates the scare headline by reporting at the top of his piece that revocations of Palestinian residency reached a record last year and that a "local human rights group" called it a "frightening" escalation in enforcement of Jerusalem residency laws.
Net impact on readers: Those terrible Israelis are at it again, inflicting woes on poor Palestinians, who are being pushed out of Jerusalem..
Except the actual situation is, if anything, just the opposite.
For starters, Schneider fails to tell Post readers that the source for his story, a self-described human rights group, Hamoked, is heavily bankrolled by European governments seeking to manipulate Israeli politics to their own satisfaction -- i.e. to cave to Palestinian demands to cleanse Jews out of East Jerusalem so it can become the capital of a future Palestinian state.
During the last three years, Hamoked received more than $2.25 million in financial support from European governments. With that kind of cash, you've got to pay the piper and dance to his policy tune. And Hamoked gladly obliges with a report based on highly misleading and selective statistics, designed to fuel the Israel-bashing mania of prominent international media, including a readily obliging Washington Post.
So what are the real facts -- a few of which even Schneider concedes -- if you actually read that far down in his article?
For starters, there are now 260,000 Arabs in Jerusalem -- about 35 percent of the population of the entire city. And even Schneider admits that this "proportion has been steadily increasing."
So, if demographically, Jerusalem is becoming more Arab and less Jewish, shouldn't that have been the headline and the main thrust of Schneider's article? For the Washington Post, this indeed would have been news.
But Schneider tucks away his brief acknowledgment of realities on the ground because he's more interested in stoking "controversy over Israeli housing and other policies criticized by Palestinians as an effort to diminish their presence."
How their presence is being diminished in Jerusalem amid a steady rise in their presence in Jerusalem, Schneider doesn't say. For example, while Schneider, as usual, uses Israel's capture of East Jerusalem in 1967 as his historical base, he fails to mention that at the end of the Six-Day War there were only 66,000 Arabs in all of Jerusalem -- about 200,000 fewer than there are today. From 1967 until today, the Arab proportion of the entire city's population grew from 27 percent to 35 percent. In absolute numbers, the Arab population quadrupled. How's that for a "diminished" Arab presence in Jerusalem?!
Nor, of course, does Schneider point out that Arab construction in Jerusalem has outpaced Jewish construction.
But what about the cancellation of Jerusalem residency for those 4,500 Palestinians in 2008? Farther down in his article, Schneider sheepishly admits that "the impact of the revocations is not clear." Well, of course, it's not clear, since the Arab population keeps growing much faster than the Jewish population of the city. And even farther down, Schneider reports that Hamoked said it was "impossible to tell how many of the 4,500 had emigrated from Jerusalem for good."
So, there's no breakdown. No way of knowing if any of the 4,500 were pushed out against their will. It could be that the vast majority of these 4,500 Palestinians whose Jerusalem residency was revoked have settled happily and permanently somehwhere else. That happens to be the response from Israel's Interior Ministry. The only other statistics Schneider is able to summon are that 38 involved Arabs moving from East Jerusalem to Palestinian areas of the West Bank and another 89 successfully appealed their residency revocations.
So, out of the 4,500 in the screaming headline, only 89 appealed the revocations -- and all of them won and retained their residency status. If Israel's residency revocations were as "frightening" as Schneider describes them (via Hamoked's obliging report), wouldn't more than just 89 have sought reinstatement?
But if you're looking for another Israel-bashing hook, then any fair use of demographic numbers gets tossed aside, while an irresistible quote from a self-described human rights group calling Israeli actions "frightening" gets top play. Never mind that this group was paid to do so by its European sugar daddy -- a fact totally absent from the Post's coverage.