Apartheid Slur: Another Journalism Fail at the IBT

UPDATE

Shortly after HR contacted the IBT, the offending article was removed in its entirety to be replaced with the following:

 

 

Thank you to those of you who also wrote to the IBT expressing your concerns.

 


 

In January 2017, the International Business Times removed an article in its entirety after HonestReporting exposed it as fake news that had been based on sources that included terrorist and anti-Israel hate sites. Unfortunately it appears that the IBT still hasn’t learned from that sorry episode.

In another example of journalism failure, the IBT covers the recent UN report that accused Israel of apartheid and the report’s subsequent withdrawal. The IBT, however, by way of questionable and biased sources, distorted facts and lack of context, actively promotes the very apartheid libel, which the UN itself had disavowed.

 

 

The story begins:

The political and social system of institutionalized racial segregation and discrimination known as apartheid originated in South Africa, after the region was colonized by the English and Dutch in the seventeenth century. However, the term apartheid has been often used for Israel in the last few years, following reports of Palestinians being denied equal rights by the state of Israel, allegedly under a deliberate policy of racial or ethnic segregation.

Even though the journalist employs the word “allegedly,” it is clear that she is attempting to conform to a predetermined framework that Israel is an apartheid state.

The journalist continues:

Under Israeli military occupation, millions of Palestinians live in conditions that reflect the apartheid system, which existed in South Africa, according to Seattle Mideast Awareness Campaign. The organization adds that Palestinian people have been denied free movement between towns and cities by the Israeli military, and that Gaza Strip, a small self-governing Palestinian territory on the eastern coast of the Mediterranean Sea, is surrounded and controlled by Israel. It has been sealed off and turned into one of world’s largest open-air prison where hundreds of Palestinians have been imprisoned, SMAC said.

A look at the Seattle Mideast Awareness Campaign’s website reveals that it is clearly an anti-Israel activist organization. Was this the first link that the journalist found on a Google search? Hardly a credible source of information.  Instead of hard facts, readers are treated to barely disguised agitprop and hyperbole.

Contrary to the SMAC’s claims, Gaza is not surrounded nor controlled by Israel.  Gaza’s southern border is sealed off by Egypt. In addition, the Hamas terrorist organization controls the lives of the residents of Gaza. Despite this, large amounts of aid and goods pass through Israeli crossings into the Gaza Strip and Gazans are, with permits, able to cross into Israel for humanitarian needs. If hundreds of Palestinians are imprisoned as the article states, they are prisoners of Hamas.

As if to burnish the point about prisoners, the story continues:

According to B’Tselem, the Israeli Information Center for Human Rights, 5,988 Palestinian detainees were held in Israeli prisons at the end of August 2016, 336 of them from the Gaza Strip.

The IBT fails to mention why any of these Palestinians might be in Israeli prisons. Perhaps it might be relevant to include some context such as details of the thousands of terror attacks and acts of violence that have been aimed at Israelis over the years. Since September 2015 alone, there have been 171 stabbing attacks and 110 attempted stabbings, 141 shootings, 55 vehicular (ramming) attacks; and one bus bombing.  But according to the IBT, Palestinians are simply locked up as a result of “apartheid.”

About four million Palestinians in the occupied territories do not have the right to vote, millions still do not have identity cards that determine the ability to work and move freely. Israel defines itself as a Jewish state rather than a state for all its citizens, according to SMAC.

In fact the Palestinians in the disputed territories are governed by the Palestinian Authority in the West Bank and Hamas in Gaza. The Palestinians have failed to hold national elections since 2005 due to disagreements between the PA and Hamas, which took over Gaza in a violent coup, forcing the PA out.

And what is the issue concerning identity cards and the ability to work and move freely? Israel is under no obligation to allow unfettered access from Gaza or the West Bank into Israeli towns and cities. Palestinians under the authority of the PA or Hamas are not citizens of Israel and Palestinians absolutely have the right to work in Palestinian administered areas. To suggest that Israel is withholding identity cards and preventing Palestinians from working and traveling is laughable.

As for the loaded statement concerning Israel’s identity, even though it is a Jewish state, all of its citizens, including  over 24% non-Jews (20.8% Arabs, 4.4% non-Arab “others”) have equal rights under the law and Arabs serve in the parliament, in the supreme court and even in the military.

To round off, the journalist links to a PDF by another unidentified anti-Israel activist organization that points out the differences between Israel and South Africa, yet still pushes the Israeli apartheid slur.

Ultimately, this story is a breach of standards of professional journalism and should not appear in a supposedly credible mainstream media outlet such as the IBT, which should be embarrassed to publish such a lazy piece of biased content.

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