Friday, July 30, 2010

Ami Kaufman's (and MJ Rosenberg's) Latest Complaint

Even when there is nothing much newsworthy happening in Israel, it's nice to know that we can rely on the HP to dig down really deep to find a story that makes the Jewish state look bad. A couple of days ago Ami Kaufman was happy to provide it, a story about Israel "choosing trees over people." He tells a story about a group of Bedouins who were removed from a village, contrasts that with settlements, and makes many hysterical complaints about how evil Israel is. Oh, and MJ Rosenberg also covered the same story and said pretty much the same thing. But let's continue with Kaufman's article:
"And as is the case in any normal, Western country, when it comes down to people and trees -- you choose the trees, right? Right. And that's what Israel did today.
Israel sent its elite police forces, dressed in black, to deal with the enemy. The bedouin. Who are multiplying so fast, they endanger the Jewish identity of the State of Israel. And the Jewish trees will keep that identity alive.
I'm proud to be an Israeli today."
But as I am sure you are not surprised to know, Mr. Kaufman isn't telling the entire story.  I would like to thank our friends at HonestReporting for cutting through the hype and telling it like it is. They found the context in a Jerusalem Post article:
"In the statement, the ILA [Israel Lands Authority] said that residents first "invaded" the area in 1998, were soon evicted, and returned a year later.
The ILA said residents had been asked to rent the land for agricultural purposes for NIS 2 per dunam (0.1 hectare), but "they refused to pay and continued to infiltrate the land year after year."
After an eviction notice was issued in 2003, the residents filed a petition that made its way to the High Court of Justice.
While the petition was being heard, the residents "continued to infiltrate and squat on state-owned land, and in fact expanded their infiltration through constructing illegal and unproved buildings, crudely trampling on the law," the ILA said.
In 2007, the Beersheba Magistrates's Court dismissed residents' request for a delay in implementation of the eviction orders and ruled that residents were "infiltrators repeatedly seizing state land after being evicted."
There are tens of thousands of illegal structures in Beduin communities in the country, and several thousand more are built each year; far more than the number the state manages to demolish. Many of these settlements lack basic services, with residents living "off the grid" and not paying municipal taxes."
 Contrast this with Mr. Kaufman's (uncited) claims that this is really about the trees:
"But Israel and the JNF have a massive plan (Blueprint Negev) to make the Negev green with trees, and one of the planned forests is supposed to grow right where those el-Arakiv bedouin had the chutzpah to put their tents up."
 Uh, no, Mr. Kaufman. It has nothing to do with trees and everything to do with the Bedouins squatting on land that doesn't belong to them and then refusing to leave. You know, the exact same thing that the anti-Zionists accuse the settlers of doing? Mr. Kaufman has the right to complain that Israel is too lackadaisical with evicting the settlers as opposed to these Bedouins, but many of his other complaints are not valid and some are not even true. For instance:
"I don't get why 1,500 cops, with horses, bulldozers and a chopper came down today to the town of el-Arakiv and demolished all 40 homes, sheep stalls, removed belongings, destroyed trees and left over 300 people -- a majority of them children -- to fend for themselves in the July Negev heat."
Oh how awful! Oh wait, Israel is building 13 new towns for the Bedouin population. That's hardly leaving them to find for themselves.
"It doesn't matter that el-Arakiv was in the Negev before Israel was founded."
No. It doesn't. You break the law and your home gets demolished. Sort of like people who build illegally in East Jerusalem (Jewish or otherwise).

Like I have always said, I don't mind the HP criticizing Israel, even disproportionately. But dishonest criticism is a problem not only for people who care about this conflict, but for people who care about journalism in general. Unfortunately, dishonest criticism appears to be the HP's stock in trade these days.

1 comment:

  1. The lesson here is in anti-Israel opinion screeds, the context is always left out. Without the context, it sounds like Israel went in for no reason to evict the Bedouin from a peaceful village in the Negev one day. When you have the real picture before you, how the events come to be seen change dramatically: Israel was enforcing its law in the region and evicting illegal squatters from land that does belong to them.

    Those who hate Israel are like only one of the characters in "Rashomon": except they never relate the other side of the story. Only if you omit it, does it make any sense for one to believe Israel would hurt an entire Bedouin village in the middle of nowhere for nothing.

    Again, the truth about the Arab-Israel conflict matters less in the Middle East than the perception and the truth usually emerges only after the damage to Israel's reputation has already been done.