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Ali Jarbawi, a former minister in the Palestinian Authority recently penned an op-ed in the New York Times that attacks and slams the Israeli media using the claim that the Israeli media was “grumbling about the lack of an official Palestinian response” on the death of Ariel Sharon, Israel’s former Prime Minister.  Except of course, the Israeli media is NOT grumbling!

Mr. Jarbawi seems to think that if he can spout whatever lies he can – no one will call him on it.  Let’s take a look at one lie in particular:

Throughout his career he did not take a single positive step toward reaching a political settlement with them to bring about peace. The motivation behind every one of his policies was to force them to surrender.

The Man Who Made Peace Impossible“, The New York Times, Jan 21, 2014

What Mr. Jarbawi ignores are the historical steps which Ariel Sharon took to move the peace process forward.  Steps such as

  • A unilateral withdrawal from the Gaza strip with removal of Israeli settlers and military personnel while leaving behind an infrastructure which the Palestinians could use to build with,
  • Declaring that the Palestinians should have a state of their own in September 2001, and
  • Endorsing the Road Map for Peace sponsored by the United States, the European Union and Russia

Mr. Jarbawi continues with his faulty accusations by claiming that Sharon unilaterally “broadened the I.D.F.’s attacks against Lebanon into a full-scale war” yet fails to mention that the I.D.F. was responding to continuous shelling by P.L.O. artillery placed in Southern Lebanon – a country that was dysfunctional and lawless due to a raging civil war at the time.  His portrayal of the I.D.F. as the instigator of the war remains far from the truth.

Mr. Jarbawi also notes incorrectly that “[i]n 2000, he entered Al Aqsa mosque in Jerusalem, a holy Muslim site, which triggered the second intifada”.  Unfortunately for Mr. Jarbawi, this is not true.  The second intifada was being planned months before Mr. Sharon ever entered the Al Aqsa mosque.  According to the Mitchell Report (named after U.S. Senator George Mitchell who led the committee examining the cause of the violence that began in September 2000) :

“The Sharon visit did not cause the ‘Al-Aqsa Intifada.’ ”

Mitchell, George, “Al-Aqsa Intifada: Mitchell Report“, May 4, 2001

In fact, according to the then Communications Minister of the Palestinian Authority, Imad Faluji, the violence had been planned in July of 2000 since Yasser Arafat’s return from Camp David when he rejected the offer proffered him by then Prime Minister Ehud Barak.  This fact was later corroborated when Hamas’ Mahmoud Zahar admitted that Arafat had instructed his organization to launch terror attacks against Israel after the failure of peace negotiations. (Toameh, Kaled Abu, “Arafat ordered Hamas attacks against Israel in 2000“, The Jerusalem Post, September 28, 2010)

Another piece of evidence pointing to the planning of the second intifada by Arafat long before Ariel Sharon’s visit to the Al-Aqsa mosque is provided by Suha Arafat – Yasser Arafat’s widow – who admitted that Arafat had planned the uprising:

“Immediately after the failure of the Camp David [negotiations], I met him in Paris upon his return….Camp David had failed, and he said to me, ‘You should remain in Paris.’ I asked him why, and he said, ‘Because I am going to start an intifada.’”

Suha Arafat admits husband premeditated Intifada“, The Jerusalem Post, December 29, 2012

The final point that Mr. Jarbawi gets wrong centers on Sharon’s initiation of the Separation Wall between Israel and the West Bank.  Mr. Jarbawi claims that the motivation for this wall was to force Palestinians to move:

Unable to expel the Palestinians, Mr. Sharon began his plan to “move” them internally by building the separation wall in 2002, which swallowed up approximately 11 percent of the West Bank’s land area

The Man Who Made Peace Impossible“, The New York Times, Jan 21, 2014

However, this was not the motivation for the barrier at all.  With the start of the Al-Aqsa intifada the Palestinians began to send suicide bombers into Israel to carry out terrorist attacks against civilians.  The Israeli government, led by Sharon, decided to build a separation barrier in order to make movement between the West Bank and Israel harder and to reduce (with the ultimate goal of eliminating completely) the number of terrorist attacks in Israel proper.  According to the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs

between 2000 and July 2003, when the “first continuous segment” of the barrier was built, 73 Palestinian suicide bombings were carried out from the West Bank, killing 293 Israelis and injuring over 1,900. However, from August 2003 to the end of 2006, only 12 attacks were carried out, killing 64 Israelis and wounding 445

Israeli West Bank Barrier“, Wikipedia, accessed January 21, 2014

Ariel Sharon was most definitely a controversial and complicated figure.  He was despised by many, seen as a hero to others and, in the end, felt that what he did was in the best interest of Israel.  There can be no doubt that his record will be dissected and interpreted over and over.  But Mr. Jarbawi’s painting of a blood-thirsty man who made not a single step towards trying to reach peace with the Palestinians is patently false.  And as for the Israeli media grumbling about the “lack of an official Palestinian response” to Mr. Sharon’s death?  I haven’t heard any.

In his opinion piece titled “What You Don’t Know About Gaza” published on January 8, 2009 in the New York Times and in the International Herald Tribune, Rashid Khalidi makes many accusations against Israel that, in fact, are either completely misleading or patently false. In the most egregious case, Mr. Khalidi twists a statement made in 2002 by then Israel’s Defense Forces Chief of Staff, Moshe Ya’alon, into something that is a complete fabrication. Since the original publication of the opinion piece, the New York Times editors and the International Herald Tribune editors have redacted the original article to remove the contrived quote. However, searching on the Internet does not make it hard to find a copy of the original text of the final paragraph:

This war on the people of Gaza isn’t really about rockets. Nor is it about “restoring Israel’s deterrence,” as the Israeli press might have you believe. Far more revealing are the words of Moshe Yaalon, then the Israeli Defense Forces chief of staff, in 2002: “The Palestinians must be made to understand in the deepest recesses of their consciousness that they are a defeated people.” (emphasis added)

(Khalidi, Rashid, “What you don’t know about Gaza“, The New York Times, January 8, 2009, found at Nasir Khan’s Blog)

The quote above attributed to Moshe Yaalon is either a complete fabrication or a significant twist of some other quote which Mr. Khalidi fails to provide a source. And this is not the first time that he has chosen to use this quote without verifying either its source or its veracity. In another opinion piece titled “Road Map or Road Kill” that was published in The Nation, Mr. Khalidi used the same quote and attributed it to Mr. Ya’alon there as well:

Beyond the daily brutality of a foreign army policing and denying the rights of a civilian population while their land is being stolen for the benefit of settlers, force has been used indiscriminately in heavily populated areas to crush Palestinian resistance, as per the words of Lieut. Gen. Moshe Ya’alon, the Israeli army chief of staff: “The Palestinians must be made to understand in the deepest recesses of their consciousness that they are a defeated people.” (emphasis added)

(Khalidi, Rashid, “Road Map or Road Kill?“, The Nation, May 23, 2003)

He also uses the quote in his 2005 book “Resurrecting Empire.” Both the editors of the New York Times and The International Herald Tribune released a statement on January 30th stating

This quotation, while cited widely, does not appear in the Israeli newspaper interview to which it is usually attributed. Its original source has not been found, and thus it should not have appeared in the article.

(Khalidi, Rashid, “What you don’t know about Gaza“, The New York Times, January 8, 2009)

Unfortunately, the editors of The Nation have failed to do so as well. This quotation, while cited widely, does not appear in the Israeli newspaper interview to which it is usually attributed. Its original source has not been found, and thus it should not have appeared in the article. The article has been revised to reflect this correction.

(Khalidi, Rashid, “What you don’t know about Gaza“, The International Heard Tribune, January 8, 2009)

This contrived quote, which has been circling around the Internet for quite some time, may have originated in the 2002 Ha’aretz interview with Moshe Ya’alon where he as asked the question by the interviewer “Do you have a definition of victory? Is it clear to you what Israel’s goal in this war is?” Ya’alon responded:

I defined it from the beginning of the confrontation: the very deep internalization by the Palestinians that terrorism and violence will not defeat us, will not make us fold. If that deep internalization does not exist at the end of the confrontation, we will have a strategic problem with an existential threat to Israel. If that [lesson] is not burned into the Palestinian and Arab consciousness, there will be no end to their demands of us.

…The facts that are being determined in this confrontation – in terms of what will be burned into the Palestinian consciousness – are fateful. If we end the confrontation in a way that makes it clear to every Palestinian that terrorism does not lead to agreements, that will improve our strategic position. On the other hand, if their feeling at the end of the confrontation is that they can defeat us by means of terrorism, our situation will become more and more difficult.

(Maoz, Jason, “What did Moshe Yaalon really say?”, The Jewish Press, January 14, 2009)

In the week following the interview in Ha’aretz, the transcript of a speech Ya’alon gave to a conference of rabbis in Jerusalem was published in Yediot Aharanot where Ya’alon is quoted as saying:

“It is imperative that we win this conflict in such a way that the Palestinian side will burn into its consciousness that there is no chance of achieving goals by means of terror.” (emphasis added)

(Maoz, Jason, “What did Moshe Yaalon really say?”, The Jewish Press, January 14, 2009)

These two quotes provide sufficient evidence to prove that Ya’alon comments were significantly altered and then posted out on the Internet where Arabs, neo-Nazis and other viceral critics of Israel could use it in their long campaign to paint Israel as a dangerous, rogue nation…something that it is clearly not. Mr. Khalidi however, has used this quote, to further the old PLO propaganda that Israel does not want to live in peace with the Palestinians on equal terms. In the late 70s and early 80s he was a spokesman for the PLO, then considered a terrorist organization, and it is becoming apparent that as a Columbia professor he has not changed his spots…although he would be expected to know how to verify a source and to cite appropriately.

Apparently when the New York Times, the Washington Post, and the BBC (among others) decides that they’re not. It seems that the Western media has some serious problems with telling things accurately and objectively. In the terror attacks in Mumbai this past week which left hundreds dead these news organizations refused to call these murderers for what they really are — terrorists. Instead they choose to use a more generic term — militants and in doing so they tacitly gave moral equivalence to these attackers as legitimate military forces.

The difference, and this is very significant, is that military forces abide (hopefully) by the 4th Geneva Convention. Today, even true quasi-military organizations like the Congolese rebels are expected to abide by the Geneva Conventions. But terrorist organizations eschew such restrictions and deliberately target civilians in order to effect their primary aim — to instill terror among them. As such they are nothing but murderers and deserve no protection from the Geneva Convention. But to call them militants clouds the distinction between actual military organizations and these murderers. And it seems that the Western media such as the New York Times, The Washington Post, and the BBC (among others) consciously choose to do so in order to inject their subjective viewpoints. In doing so they give an air of legitimacy to these terrorists that their acts of barbarism and murder is justified.

But these news organizations are WRONG. There is absolutely NO justification for deliberately targeting civilians and murdering innocent men, women, AND children. But according to the New York Times, the Washington Post and the BBC there apparently is…and hence they call them militants instead of what they truly are — terrorists.

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