New Statesman Demolishes the Truth

Dear HonestReporting Subscriber,

In 2002, the New Statesman, a British left-wing journal, gave us an infamous front cover entitled “Kosher conspiracy” featuring a Star of David standing on top of a Union Jack, for which the editor was forced to apologize following widespread condemnation.

So perhaps it is unsurprising that the New Statesman’s latest edition compares Israeli actions to those of the Nazis during Kristallnacht, the destruction of mosques by Bosnian Serbs, and the eradication of entire villages by Saddam Hussein in Iraq and the Sudanese regime in Darfur.

Stating that the destruction of buildings is “a way of pursuing ethnic cleansing or genocide by other means, a way of rewriting history”, author Robert Bevan, who has previously accused Israel of ‘deliberately targeting the historic buildings of Nablus’,  misleadingly begins his article with a false and amoral equivalence lacking in any context:

Two weeks ago in Anata, Jerusalem, a Palestinian stood contemplating the rubble of his family home in the winter rain. “Did my house kill anyone that they should do this to me?” he asked. The Jerusalem municipality has 1.5 million shekels left in its demolition budget – enough to level 70 Palestinian homes – and it needs to spend the money before the end of the year. … Thousands of Palestinian homes in the West Bank, in Gaza and around Jerusalem have been destroyed in the face of international condemnation. Bulldozers have become a weapon of war.

Responding to these types of politically charged accusations, a major academic study on Illegal Construction in Jerusalem by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs’ Justus Reid Weiner concludes that:

  • Illegal construction has reached epidemic proportions. A senior Palestinian official boasted that they have built 6,000 homes without permits during the last 4 years, of which less than 200 were demolished by the city.

  • This frantic pace of illegal construction continues despite the fact that the city has authorized more than 36,000 permits for new housing units in the Arab sector, more than enough to meet the needs of Arab residents through legal construction until 2020.

In addition, the Jerusalem Municipality also explains why it is quite within its rights to ensure that legal construction codes are adhered to throughout the city limits, irrespective of the religion or nationality of the residents.

When referring to the West Bank and Gaza, it is also misleading to compare the actions of genocidal regimes with Israel’s legitimate actions against Palestinian terrorism. In stark contrast to the deliberate targeting of mosques by Bosnian Serbs, Israel guarantees freedom of religion and the protection of the holy sites of all major religions under its jurisdiction. As explained by its Foreign Ministry, Israel, with the backing of international law, targets structures used by terrorists including:

  • Civilian buildings used to conceal openings of tunnels used to smuggle arms, explosives and terrorists;

  • Buildings used for manufacturing and storing rockets and other weaponry;

as well as:

  • Illegally constructed buildings in cases where these buildings interfere with plans for the construction of public facilities such as schools or roads; pose a safety threat to their inhabitants; or interfere with historic landmarks. It should be stressed that all demolitions are conducted in accordance with due process guarantees, after a fair hearing subject to judicial review with the right to appeal and without distinction on the basis of race or ethnic origin. Those affected by a demolition order are entitled by law to appeal to the Israeli Supreme Court.

So why does Robert Bevan compare this to deliberate acts of genocide and ethnic cleansing, placing Israel in the same company as some of the worst regimes in history, including the Nazis?

Comments to the New Statesman: letters@newstatesman.co.uk


DYKE DEFENDS BBC MIDEAST COVERAGE

Writing in the Independent, former BBC Director General Greg Dyke defends the BBC’s Mideast coverage, claiming:

We investigated many of the complaints and most of the time found our reporting had been totally fair. Of course the pro-Israeli lobby didn’t accept that but then they had a different agenda.

Perhaps Mr. Dyke forgets that he, himself, was forced to resign from the BBC following the publication of the Hutton Report, which criticized the BBC’s lack of impartiality regarding its treatment of the Iraq War. Or does he choose to ignore the current independent panel set up by the BBC’s own board of governors to investigate the BBC’s Mideast coverage?

Not to mention, HonestReporting’s own evidence (see 1,
tyle=”color: #193979; font-weight: bold; text-decoration: none” href=”http://backspin.typepad.com/backspin/2005/03/bbcs_backpedali.html”> 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, and 8) contradicting Dyke’s claims. But then again, according to him we have “a different agenda”.

DUBLINER UPDATE – HR READERS PROMPT MASSIVE REACTION

The DublinerCongratulations to the huge number of you who flooded the offices of The Dubliner magazine with e-mails following HonestReporting’s critique of former Irish politician Justin Keating’s vitriolic attack on Jewish history and Israel’s right to exist.

The ensuing outcry was not lost on Dubliner editor Trevor White, or other media outlets that noted the effects of HonestReporting’s communique. Manchester’s Jewish Telegraph (UK) noted the furious reaction to Keating’s article from Ireland’s Chief Rabbi while the Jewish Telegraphic Agency and European Jewish Press commented on the huge volume of letters and e-mails received by The Dubliner.

Indeed, such was the response that Ireland’s national TV broadcaster RTE featured a panel debate on its Big Bite program. Speaking to media outlets, Trevor White defended his decision to publish the article:

I deeply resent the charge that it [the article] is anti-Semitic – that is lazy and unfair. It is extraordinary that people are so ignorant and offensive.

HonestReporting and many others may care to disagree. White has agreed to publish a selection of letters on The Dubliner’s website from 16 December as well as attempting to elicit Justin Keating’s reaction to the furore that he has sparked.

IT’S NOT TOO LATE – NOMINATE!

It’s still not too late to submit your nomination for the 2005 Dishonest Reporting “Award” — our annual recognition of the most skewed and biased coverage of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Thanks to those of you who have already e-mailed us. Keep s

ending your nominations to action@honestreporting.com (because of the volume of submissions, we regretfully cannot acknowledge nominations). Results will be announced in a special year-end communique.

Thank you for your ongoing involvement in the battle against media bias.

HonestReporting

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