Here is yet another example of how much of the media are incapable of writing an honest story that concerns Israel.
On my way to the gym this morning I listened to an NPR story about how Christian volunteers are helping out at a Jewish agricultural community called Shilo.
The article by Lourdes Garcia-Navarro is entitled “Christians Provide Free Labor On Jewish Settlements,” and mentions pointedly that the volunteers pay their own way. The implication is that this is somehow scandalous. Would they also write “Animal lovers provide free labor at shelters?”
The sixth paragraph of the article delivers the payload. Remember that this is a news story, not an editorial:
The problem is that the world doesn’t recognize this West Bank settlement or any other as part of Israel. The Palestinians and most of the international community view the Jewish settlements in the West Bank as illegal.
Israel captured the West Bank in the 1967 Mideast War and has established settlements throughout the territory, which the Palestinians are seeking for part of a future state. The settlements are one of the most contentious issues between the Israelis and Palestinians, and have been a major obstacle in attempts to restart peace negotiations.
This is presented in a matter-of-fact tone — “ho hum, everyone knows this.” In fact, I am certain that ‘journalists’ at NPR, the BBC and the New York Times have a special key on their keyboards to pop this into every article they write on the subject of Israel.
Nevertheless, every line of it is misleading. It is true that the climate of opinion in, say, the UN, tends to be anti-settlement. But it’s an inconvenient truth that a very good case can be made for the legality of Jewish communities in the parts of Mandate Palestine that happened to be occupied by Jordan from 1948-67.
Without going into too much detail, the right of Jews to settle anywhere in Palestine was expressed by the “international community” in the League of Nations Mandate. Security Council resolutions demanded that borders be established by negotiations, which have never succeeded. And attempts to apply the Geneva Conventions to delegitimize such settlements are a very far stretch.
Yes, the Palestinians don’t agree with this, and want the ‘West Bank’ (Judea, Samaria and eastern Jerusalem) — as well as the rest of Israel — for yet another Arab state. But why should we give credit to their racist desire to end Jewish self-determination and ethnically cleanse, for a second time in 63 years, this land? What have they done for the past 100 years to qualify themselves for statehood other than terrorism and murder?
The NPR-BBC-NYT boilerplate says that communities like Shilo are “a major obstacle to the attempt to restart negotiations.” But they are only an obstacle because the Arabs insist that they are. The real major obstacle is that the Arabs want Israel to give them everything — including agreeing to evacuate settlements and a return to 1949 lines — as a precondition to negotiations, rather than an outcome of them.
Note also that it says that “Israel captured the West Bank … and has established settlements.” But Jews lived there before the Arab conquest and ethnic cleansing of 1948. Why shouldn’t they come back? And who did they ‘capture’ it from? Jordan, who had grabbed it in 1948 contravening the UN partition resolution — not the ‘Palestinians’ who claim it!
There are many motivations for journalists, academics and politicians to push the settlements-are-illegal line. Some of them are ideological, because you just can’t be ‘progressive’ today if you don’t support the (in truth) very reactionary Arab cause. Some are payoffs — European politicians concerned with oil, or academics who get Saudi money (Georgetown University, from which NPR’s reporter Garcia-Navarro graduated, got $20 million of it in 2005).
Regardless of the reason, the insertion of the very partisan Arab point of view into ‘news’ stories as background is universal today in the left-of-center media. And regardless of the reason it is bad, biased journalism.