The Independent, Ben White and Alternative Facts

The famous Senator, the late Daniel Patrick Moynihan, once said, “Everyone is entitled to his own opinion, but not to his own facts.”

And yet, anti-Israel activist Ben White deliberately distorts facts and creates his own alternative facts in his op-ed in The Independent, “Shocked by Donald Trump’s ‘travel ban’? Israel has had a similar policy for decades.”

Using Trump’s name to create unrelated drama, White launches into a diatribe of fake “facts” about Israel.

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Ben White

Ben White has a long standing reputation as an obsessive anti-Israel extremist. The author of “Israeli Apartheid: A Beginner’s Guide,” White has claimed “I do not consider myself an anti-Semite, yet I can also understand why some are.” He has made racist statements and supports racist statements of others. White advocates for a one-state solution and the end of Israel as a Jewish state.

Walls

White begins by addressing Israel’s West Bank security barrier, which he refers to as a “wall” (it is mostly a chain-link fence). Attempting to cast the barrier as an act of intentional malice against Palestinians, he hides from his readers the fact that the barrier saves lives. A lot of lives.

The Palestinian “Second Intifada” produced an average of 246 Israeli fatalities per year. The security barrier, built in response to this wave of violence, almost immediately reduced that number by over 90%, effectively putting an end to the Second Intifada.

White states

Israel’s Wall is not even the security miracle that its defenders claim. None other than Israel’s own security services attributed a sharp decrease in “terror attacks” in 2005 to the “truce” unilaterally adopted by Hamas.

White is being deliberately deceptive by referencing figures from 2005. In fact, the first continuous segment of the security fence became operational at the end of July 2003 from which point the number of terror attacks decreased.

Even the rather confused Haaretz article he links to, says “The Shin Bet and the Israel Defense Forces attribute the reduction mainly to the improvement in their joint capability to foil terrorist attacks and to act against terrorist organizations.”

Palestinian terror remains a serious threat to Israeli lives, but is significantly reduced by the simple measure of placing a physical barrier between terrorists and their intended victims.

Israel’s security barrier was no act of malice, but an act of self-defense in the face of a dire and deadly threat.

 

Terror fatalities since September 2000, Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs

 

Immigration

White accuses Israel of having “immigration restrictions.” This statement is so odd that it is difficult to decide which aspect to address first:

  • For one thing, all countries in the world have immigration restrictions;
  • Nothing in international law limits the total freedom of all nations to set their own immigration policy based on each nation’s own priorities;
  • Israel is the world’s only Jewish country, and is one of the smallest countries in the world: at roughly half the size of America’s Lake Michigan, it makes up only 0.2% of the Middle East (the other 99.8% is made up of Muslim countries);
  • The very Palestinians Ben White insists should have unfettered access to all parts of Israel frequently use such access to wreak tremendous violence, including during the aforementioned Second Intifada.

Torture

White claims:

Trump’s unabashed endorsement of torture has horrified politicians, human rights activists and former prisoners alike. In Israel, however, the torture of prisoners is routine – and rubber-stamped by not just the state, but also by Israel’s Supreme Court.

In fact, a review of the actual Israeli Supreme Court decision shows that the Court said exactly the opposite.

Courtroom in Israel’s Supreme Court

The Israeli Supreme Court has ruled that torture is illegal in Israel, and an investigator who violates this ruling faces criminal charges. In cases where a prisoner has specific knowledge of an impending attack, certain highly limited physical methods are permitted, if using them would immediately save human life. Yet even in such cases, an investigator who exceeds this very limited authority, is subject to criminal prosecution.

It is certainly Ben White’s prerogative to vilify Israel if he so chooses: this is, after all, an opinion piece and White has made a career out of promoting hate. However, it seems he cannot manage to support his anti-Israel agenda without making up untrue “facts.”

In an age of “fake news” and “alternative facts,” The Independent has stooped to some of the worst breaches of journalistic ethics: doing a disservice to its readers, and giving an undeserved platform to a hateful, agenda driven collection of half-truths and outright fabrications.
Image of courtroom CC BY-NC Anita Gould

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