If You Shoot Them, Do They Not Bleed?

Dear Friend,

The Palestinians’ biggest propaganda success in recent months has been in presenting the perception that international law outlaws Jewish communities (“settlements”) in the West Bank and Gaza — and demands total Israeli withdrawal from the territories.

In truth, the basic argument against Israel’s presence in the territories is flawed. The argument is based on Article 49 of the 4th Geneva Convention, which applies when one nation-state is conquered by another. But since Jordan has renounced all its territorial claims to the West Bank — and there has never been a nation-state of Palestine — the Convention cannot legally apply in this case.

Furthermore, the principle of ‘ex injuria non oritur ius’ states that no claim to territory can arise out of illegal aggression. But since Israel legally entered the territories in self-defense, Israel is legally entitled to negotiate the extent and the terms of its presence there.

In fact, British and American drafters of UN Resolution 242 have repeatedly explained that they never intended for Israel to withdraw from all territories captured in the 1967 war. Furthermore, the U.S. Government, after a review of international law in the 1980s, stopped referring to the settlements as “illegal,” and as Ronald Reagan told the Christian Science Monitor (April 4, 1980): “As far as I read 242, the United Nations Resolution, the West Bank was to remain open to all — the Palestinians, the Jews, the Christians…”

Despite all this, reporters and columnists continue to give credence to the Palestinian claim that Israeli communities across the ’67 border are a violation of the Geneva Convention. By doing so, the media strengthens the Palestinian assertion that settlers are legitimate targets for Palestinian bombers, terrorists and snipers.

To its credit, The New York Times editorial on March 10 called on Yasser Arafat to order a halt to violence. But then the editorial specified that Arafat’s followers should cease “attacks on Israeli soldiers, settlers, and civilians.”

Notice how The Times separates Jewish civilians into two different groups — “settlers and civilians.”

This is just one example among hundreds where the media differentiates between Israelis on two sides of the 1967 borders. HonestReporting encourages readers to be on the lookout for this subtle way of lending authenticity to questionable Palestinian claims.

See the New York Times editorial:

If you feel the editorial shows subtle bias, send your complaints to the editor. The most effective method is to write a letter in your own words. Otherwise, you may cut-and-paste the critique below.

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Letters to the Editor
The New York Times
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Thank you for your ongoing involvement in the battle against media bias.



To the Editor of The New York Times:

While I am in agreement with your March 10 call on Yasser Arafat to halt all violence against Israelis, I am troubled by your reference to “attacks on

Israeli soldiers, settlers, and civilians.”

Israeli citizens who live in the West Bank and Gaza are no less “civilians” than the citizens of Tel Aviv or Netanya.

I am afraid that The Times’ suggestion that settlers belong to a separate classification serves to legitimize Palestinian attacks against innocent civilians.

Please note that beyond the 200,000 Israeli civilians in Gaza, Judea and Samaria, the Palestinian Authority also considers almost half of Jerusalem’s Jewish population — another 200,000 civilians — to be “settlers.” Labeling those Israelis as anything less than “civilians” suggests that they are combatants and legitimate targets.

And what about the rest of the Jewish state? Page 64 of the official Palestinian 5th grade schoolbook shows a map of Palestine which includes the “settlements” of Haifa, Tel Aviv, Jerusalem, Ashkelon, Safed, Beersheva, Eilat and everything in between.

And then there are the words of Dr. Ahmad Abu Halabiya, broadcast live from a Gaza mosque on official Palestinian TV: “We shall not forget Haifa, and Acre, and the Galilee, and Jaffa, and the Triangle and the Negev, and the rest of our cities and villages… We will not give up a single grain of soil of Palestine, from Haifa, and Jaffa, and Acre, and Mulabbas [Petah Tikva] and Salamah, and Majdal [Ashkelon], and all the land…” (October 13, 2000)

Furthermore, since The Times chooses to draw distinctions between different Israelis, how would you classify the Tel Aviv restaurateurs who were shot in the West Bank? Or the Israeli from the West Bank who was wounded by a suicide bomber in Netanya? Or the mother of six who shot dead by Palestinians as she drove through the West Bank on her way to teach school? Would The Times not classify these Jews as “civilians?”

I would appreciate a response explaining how you differentiate between Israeli civilians and settlers.