Palestine: Five pivotal media fudges that empower Israel’s ongoing crimes

West Ban Apartheid Separation Wall
Double photo of the wall in Abu Dis:
Two photos joined, taken from the identical spot on either side of the Israeli wall as it severs Abu Dis in two (left=east, right=west; note the same minaret in both photos). The wall orphans Abu Dis on the right side into East Jerusalem. This both enlarges Israel’s claimed annexation of East Jerusalem, and facilitates the ethnic cleansing of the area’s people, since they now have the “wrong” ID cards (West Bank instead of East Jerusalem) in Israel’s bantustan system for non-Jews. Palestinians on the left side cannot go to the right side without special permission; for foreigners, it is perhaps a half-hour drive. Although Palestinians on the right side are free to go to the left side, they will likely never be able to return to the right side if they do. [photos: T Suárez]
The western mass media’s coverage of the so-called “conflict” in Israel-Palestine is so flawed as to turn upside-down the public’s understanding of what is happening. Following are five specific points that are particularly relevant to the current violence.

  1. East Jerusalem is not in Israel.
    News analyses of Israeli actions at Sheikh Jarrah and the Al-Aqsa Mosque are invariably premised as though they are taking place in Israel (and thus implicitly subject to Israeli law). No. Israel seized East Jerusalem by force in 1967 and has defied UN demands to leave ever since. Indeed, the UN Security Council, alarmed by Israeli intransigence, made explicit that no amount of Israeli “facts on the ground” can then be used by Tel Aviv to claim a fait accompli in its theft of the land. Israel has no right to be in East Jerusalem in the first place.1
  2. Citizenship in East Jerusalem is by ethnicity: Jews, yes; Non-Jews, no.
    Israel, of course, claims to have annexed East Jerusalem; yet under Israeli apartheid law, only Jewish settlers, not non-Jewish natives (such as those of Sheikh Jarrah), are citizens. Israel categorizes non-Jewish natives of East Jerusalem as transient “residents”, allowing it to ethnically cleanse them at will. They can apply for citizenship (rarely granted), but it is barely even a Faustian deal: they forfeit any national claim in exchange for a “citizenship” that, as non-Jews, still does not prevent their ethnic cleansing (see next point).2
  3. Jews can reclaim property allegedly owned pre-1948. Only Jews.
    Israel claims that land in Sheikh Jarrah had belonged to Jews before 1948, and that they therefore have the right to repossess it. But under Israeli law, only Jews have this right; the non-Jews whose homes Israeli settlers commandeer, are denied the same right. Thus, even if non-Jewish natives of East Jerusalem had applied for and been granted Israeli citizenship, Jewish settlers would still commandeer their homes, while they, as non-Jews, would have no parallel right to reclaim their own rightful home stolen by Israel in 1948 or later.3
  4. The Israeli siege of Gaza began in 1948, not after the election of Hamas in 2006 .
    The news invariably invokes “Hamas” and “rockets” to explain the Israeli siege and massacres. No: Although Israel heightened its blockade after the rise of Hamas, the siege began in 1948 and has continued unabated since. Many of the people Israel ethnically cleansed in 1948 ended up in Gaza, facing starvation, cold, and disease in the suddenly overpopulated land. Since they are not Jewish, any who tried to go home were shot dead on sight, and nothing has changed since: people in Gaza are now shot dead for a merely symbolic attempt to approach the perimeter “fence” enclosing the ghetto. But the media falsely link the siege to the election of Hamas, providing Israel a pseudo “explanation”. To be sure, one may argue that the rockets are stupid, as they are precisely what Israel wants and provokes; but if the ethnicities were reversed — if “Arab” militias had ethnically cleansed Jews and kept them semi-starved in a sealed ghetto which it used as a sadistic weapons-testing toy with no means of self defence — instead of blaming the victims, our militaries would have liberated them seventy-three years ago.4
  5. The Palestinian Authority is not an autonomous Palestinian “government”.
    The media — correctly — criticise the Palestinian Authority for its impotence and corruption, but falsely suggest that it is the freely-elected representative of the Palestinians. The PA was put in place by Israeli military force against the results of the 2006 election, and it has no power whatsoever except as “allowed” by Israel. It serves Israel by outsourcing the day-to-day affairs — and the repression — of the Palestinians; and Israel needs the facade of a Palestinian “government” to explain why non-Jews in the West Bank cannot vote in Israeli elections. Nor did the Palestinians even have any true say in the candidates for the 2006 election: Israel imprisoned or assassinated promising leaders not to its liking, and then began a war to keep the democratically-elected winner, Hamas, from taking office in the West Bank.5

Palestine Checkpoint
A Palestinian woman and child pass through an Israeli military checkpoint “protecting” settlers in Hebron. [photo: T Suárez]

  1. Numerous UN Resolutions from 1967 and on have made clear that
    • East Jerusalem is not Israeli territory;
    • Israel must not change the nature of East Jerusalem, whether people, land, or buildings;
    • defiance of this cannot then be used to claim a fait accompli;
    • Israel must remove its forces from the city.
    These include UNSC Resolutions 242(1967), 250(1968), 251 (1968), 252 (1968),
    267 (1969), 271 (1969), 298 (1969), 465 (1980), 476 (1980), 478 (1980),
    672 (1990), 1073 (1996), 1322 (2000), 2334 (2016);
    and UNGA 2253 (1967), 36/15 (1981), 55/130 (2001), 10/14 (2003),
    60/104 (2006), 70/89 (2015), 71/96 (2016).
  2. See for example, The Association for Civil Rights in Israel.
  3. See the excellent 2017 report prepared for the UN by Richard Falk and Virginia Tilley that was withdrawn under Israeli pressure, archived here.
  4. For Gaza in the aftermath of 1948, see, e.g., Ilan Pappe’s Ethnic Cleansing of Palestine, or the present author’s State of Terror.
  5. The common wisdom has it that Hamas won the 2006 election for three reasons: it had been active helping local communities; it was at the time seen as less corrupt than Fateh; and because it was seen, unlike Fateh, as an actual opposition to Israel. It is often forgotten that Hamas won the election for all of Palestine, not just Gaza; but Israel, with US backing, used military force to abrogate the election results, leaving Hamas confined to the Gaza strip, and Fateh, Israel’s choice, in the West Bank.

Thomas Suárez’s book State of Terror was described by Ilan Pappé as “the first comprehensive and structured analysis of the violence and terror employed by the Zionist movement and later the state of Israel against the people of Palestine.” A Juilliard-trained violinist who has performed around the world, he is a former faculty member of Palestine’s National Conservatory of Music.



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