With the emergence of the hard Left in the UK in recent years, many British Jews are worried about the rise of antisemitism.
At the same time as claiming to be anti-racist, papers like The Guardian and The Independent have normalized the language of delegitimization. The constant stream of anti-Israel articles, unparalleled in intensity and level of scrutiny, have done much to create an atmosphere in which any justification of Israel’s right to self-defense is regarded as beyond the pale.
The Guardian displays a Pavlovian loathing for Israel. Anything, even something as simple as holding an international music contest, becomes an opportunity to censure Israel while exempting the Palestinians from even a modicum of criticism.
This is the newspaper selected by Yehuda Shaul, co-founder of the Israeli anti-occupation group Breaking the Silence (BTS), as the most appropriate place to publish an op-ed criticizing the presence of Israeli civilians and the IDF in Hebron, calling it “legal discrimination.”
One might think that the balance, so clearly weighted against Israel, should be redressed to show Israel’s side of the picture. Instead, BTS clearly believes that Israel isn’t being criticized enough.
The article, “Trump’s ‘Deal of the Century’ Hasn’t a Hope of Bringing Peace,” was provoked by a tweet shared by Jason Greenblatt, Trump’s Middle East peace envoy, from Uri Karzen, a leader of the Jewish community of Hebron. The tweet described an iftar celebration in Hebron attended by Israelis and Palestinians as “laying the groundwork for peace.” In Shaul’s eyes, however, Hebron is “not a model of coexistence, but rather of segregation.”
First #Iftar in #Hebron with Kosher food. We are laying the groundwork for peace between people and economic prosperity for all.— Uri Karzen אורי קרזן (@UriKarzen) May 13, 2019
@jdgreenblatt45 @USAmbIsrael pic.twitter.com/ehcC1wpdGr
Shaul is entitled to his view. However, in omitting key facts while speaking to an audience already unsympathetic to Israel, his argument amounts to a vicious smear against the right of Jews to live in Judaism’s second most revered city, and whitewashes the extreme violence faced by Israelis in general, as well as by Jews living in and visiting Hebron.
Shaul’s piece contains 780 words. Only two, “Second Intifada,” refer to Palestinian violence against Israelis. While there’s plenty of detail about Palestinian suffering, literally not one word describes the carnage wreaked by Palestinian terrorists.
Many readers wouldn’t have a clue that the Second Intifada was a wave of murderous violence in the form of suicide bombers and snipers who deliberately murdered hundreds of Israeli civilians. This wave of terror was one of the many reasons why the IDF is needed to protect the Jewish population of Hebron.
In March 2001, half a year into the Second Intifada, 10-month-old Shalhevet Pass was murdered by a Palestinian sniper while she lay in her carriage in central Hebron. This isn’t mentioned in Shaul’s article, but anti-Arab graffiti is.
Two years later, in May 2003, a Palestinian suicide bomber walked up to Dina and Gadi Levy in central Hebron and detonated his suicide vest, killing them both and himself. This isn’t deemed important enough to warrant a mention, but searches of Palestinian properties by the IDF are.
Under Palestinian Authority law, selling property to a Jew is a crime punishable by torture and death. (As a result, anyone who sells land to Jews inevitably claims that the documents were forged.) This isn’t mentioned, but the fact that the IDF guards the settlers is.
Shaul refers to Israelis in Hebron as settlers, but omits the extensive and frequently wretched history of Jews in the city altogether. In 1517, 1834 and 1929, Jewish residents of Hebron were massacred by their Arab neighbors. The first two took place well before the advent of political Zionism. None are mentioned in the article, but a massacre of Palestinians by an Israeli in 1994 is.
For around 700 years, Muslims prohibited Jews from praying in the Cave of the Patriarchs – originally a Jewish holy site before being converted into a church, and then a mosque. For centuries, Jews were forced to pray on the steps outside the compound. Under Israeli rule, Jews and Muslims share access to the site. This too is not mentioned. The physical separation of Israeli and Palestinian citizens, however, is.
A joint meal held by a gathering of Jews and Muslims in Hebron, a beautiful gesture to bridge the gap between Israelis and Palestinians, is ridiculed as futile, with readers invited to imagine such a meal in 1950s Alabama between black and white people. The parallel simply doesn’t exist. Black people never took up arms or deliberately targeted and murdered hundreds of white people as Palestinian terrorists in Hebron and elsewhere have done to Israeli civilians.
From start to finish, this article – purportedly about Trump’s peace plan – is actually an excuse to list the grievances of one side while totally dismissing those of the other. In spreading decontextualized anecdotes, bizarre ahistorical comparisons, ignoring hundreds of years of history, and cynically dismissing actual peace-building efforts supported by real Palestinians and Israelis, Breaking the Silence and The Guardian are poisoning the minds of thousands of readers.
The author is a writer-researcher for HonestReporting.com, a Jerusalem-based NGO that monitors the media for bias against Israel.