May 23, 2010
Propaganda from the AP
It's just a short paragraph. Yet, it is riddled with factual and historical errors -- all part of an egregious anti-Israel bias that undermines millennial Jewish ties and claims to Jerusalem.
It appears in the May 23 edition of the Washington Post, as the last paragraph of a brief item attributed to the Associated Press about U.S.-mediated indirect peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians, the Post's "Digest" feature.
Here is the entire paragraph:
"Israel wants to annex Jewish settlements in the war-won West Bank and East Jerusalem."
How is that wrong? Let us count the ways:
1. For starters, Israel doesn't want or need to annex any part of East Jerusalem. After the 1967 war, when it defeated Egyptian, Syrian and Jordanian armies bent on destroying it, Israel made Jerusalem whole again. Israel formally put an end to 19 years of illegal Jordanian occupation of the eastern sector of the city -- the only time in its entire history that Jerusalem was a divided city. Today, there is nothing left for Israel to "annex." It's been a done deal for more than a generation.
2. When the Post and the AP refer to "East Jerusalem," this piece of real estate first and foremost encompasses the Old City of Jerusalem with its Jewish Quarter, the Western Wall and Temple Mount -- the latter two are Judaism's holiest sites. And there exists no Jewish "settlement" in the Old City. It may have started as a Jewish "settlement" 3,000 years ago when King David made it his capital. But as a Jewish capital for most of the next 1,000 years, (it never has been anyone else's capital) Old Jerusalem quickly turned into a full-fledged city, If there's a Jewish "settlement" in Old Jerusalem today, then Georgetown and Manhattan -- with their far more contemporary pedigrees -- are "settlements" in spades.
3. Not by any semantic stretch does "settlements" apply to other well-established Jewish urban neighborhoods in East Jerusalem beyond the Old City. Again, "settlements" in this context is a label that doesn't fit reality. There are more than 200,000 Jews today in East Jerusalem and they don't live in "settlements."
4. Nor is there any recent historical evidence that Israel "wants to annex Jewish settlements in the West Bank." While Prime Minister Netanyahu so far hasn't put on the negotiating table the final borders he envisages under his accepted two-state solution, there is ample historical evidence that Israel has been ready to abandon all "settlements" in the West Bank. Yes, every "settlement" -- in the real meaning of the word -- namely, a fairly new implant of arrivals, such as was common in the first stages of America's westward expansion. Both in 2000-2001 (Barak-Clinton) and 2008 (Olmert), Israel offered to abandon all such remote West Bank "settlements," while insisting on retaining only well-established cities like Maale Adumim or the suburban Gush Etzion bloc. Salt Lake City may have started as a "settlement" but didn't take long to morph into a city. The same goes for the close-in Jewish urban centers that Israel wants to retain, while still leaving about 95 percent of the West Bank for a contiguous Palestinian state. Even the Obama administration acknowledges this reality.
5. The bottom line is that whether it's the Old City of Jerusalem, or other parts of East Jerusalem, or the West Bank, "settlements" are hardly the issue, if the term still has an exact meaning.
6. Another tendentious, anti-Israel biased formulation in this article is the "war-won" adjective appended to East Jerusalem. Since the article provides no context about the 1967 war -- no mention that Egyptian President Nasser set out to exterminate Israel and blockaded its access to the Red Sea (an act of war under international law) and that Israel prevailed in defense of its very existence in the ensuing Six-Day War -- the "war won" label as a stand-alone formulation makes it appear that it was Israel that somehow decided to go to war to capture East Jerusalem and the West Bank -- a total misreading of history.
7. Israel's "war-won West Bank and East Jerusalem" also leaves a false inference or impression that Israel, as winner of the 1967 war, used its victory to capture land from the Palestinians, when the historical truth is that there were no "Palestinians" as a putative national entity in 1967 and that Palestinians never exercised sovereignty in either the West Bank or in East Jerusalem.
But it's this kind of anti-Israel mythologizing that continues to permeate Washington Post and AP coverage and keeps eroding Israel's political and historical legitimacy.
Agenda journalism? Yes. Fair, accurate journalism? No.