Forget About Media Bias: How We Can Really Support Israel


“Judea and Samaria” or “West Bank”?

— by Kenneth R. Myers, Esq.

In their article, “‘Occupied’ Territories? Anti-Israel Media Bias Starts With Language,” two stalwart supporters of Israel, Jerry Verlin and Lee Bender, attack the press for bias against the Jewish State in the words that are used to report on the Middle East.

But the authors then go on to build to a conclusion well beyond either the press or linguistics: They argue that “there is a deeper psychosis,” which views Israel as “ethnic cleansing Nazis.”

We are reassured, however, that “since the Oslo Accords, Israel has been trying to trade land for peace, only to have each offer of statehood for the Palestinian Arabs spurned.”

Comforting it may be to recite that we Jews are (still) victims, and that the Palestinians are a hateful bunch who are at fault for the situation.

But sixty-five years of retelling the same tale has not resolved the problem of achieving Middle East peace. At best, the repetition provides the appearance of a reason not to even try.

More after the jump.
We need to remind ourselves instead that in the world today, ruling over a subjugated multimillion-person population is an unstable and unsustainable situation.

We ought not to waste time decrying the press for use of the words “occupied” or “Palestinians.”  The authors propose substituting “Judea and Samaria” for the term “West Bank” — a facially neutral term (it is, after all, the west bank of the Jordan River) — but those names are taken from our Hebrew Bible.

And they signal to readers the concept of a Greater Israel, a one-state solution that does not help to resolve the situation of the Palestinians. Unless the unspoken goal is that Palestinians (pardon me, I meant non-Jewish Palestinians) will conveniently arrange to disappear.  

We U.S. Jews, having full regard for Israel’s long term security, need to take every opportunity to exercise all our influence with the Government of Israel, with Israelis, with our government, and to the extent we have any influence, with Palestinians, to move matters beyond this unstable status quo.  

The design of the solution is not our choice to make, and arguing about it needlessly divides us and wastes our effort. But we should be true to our own beliefs that we are all the Lord’s children, all equal, all deserving of peace and security, and all deserving of self-determination.

Sticks & Stones: Review of “Pressing Israel”


Lee Bender and Jerome R. Verlin

“Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me!” Nowhere is this saying more false than in the conflict over Israel. Is Israel the “light to the nations?” Or is Israel the cause of so many global problems? Why, in world public opinion polls, is Israel consistently voted one of the most negatively rated nations of the world?

Local Philadelphia area authors, Lee Bender and Jerome Verlin, have recently published a timely book titled: Pressing Israel: Media Bias Exposed from A to Z. They extensively document their case that the Main Stream Media frames the Israeli Jewish-Muslim conflict in terms that favor the Muslims. They explain why it matters. And they give an example of our own Philadelphia Inquirer publishing a more balanced report, as a result of a letter writing campaign. Their book also provides an extensive background of the history and politics of Israel.

More after the jump.
One of the authors, Jerome Verlin, has written a weekly column. This style of standalone articles is carried over in the book. The chapters are each complete in themselves. It is possible to go directly to a section of interest, without reading the entire book. On the other hand, this results in some information being repeated in multiple locations.

The beginning of the book consists of a series of short articles, one for each letter of the alphabet: A Apartheid, B Borders, C Creation-of-Israel, etc. Each article includes extensive documentation from the Philadelphia Inquirer. The second half of the book has more in-depth coverage of the history and politics of the region, including quotes from key individuals.

Media Bias Against Israel

The Main Stream Media frames their reporting by what they include and by what they leave out. Words have implications and shades of meaning. Although the book was published before Operation Pillar of Defense, their comments about Gazan rocket attacks and the Iron Dome defense system could have been written today

According to Bender and Verlin, one of the major examples of media bias is writing that IDF defensive actions and Palestinian attacks on Israeli civilians are morally equivalent. The media report that Palestinian “militants” or “factions” launch rockets at Israel and Israel “retaliates” with air strikes, as if the two groups were on the same level. The authors write that it would be more accurate to report that Gazan terrorists shoot rockets at Israeli population centers, hoping to kill civilian men, women and children. In defense, the IDF strikes those terrorists, their rocket launchers and weapons caches. As Alan Dershowitz says, it is as if the arsonist and the firefighter were moral equals. Hamas is happy to deliberately kill Israeli Jewish civilians and happy for the media publicity if Israel accidentally kills Gazan civilians when the IDF shoots back at missile launchers in self-defense.

Two-State Solution or a One-and-a-Half-State Solution?

Both Palestinian National Authority President Mahmoud Abbas and Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu have stated that they accept the “Two State Solution.” Netanyahu has referred to the Arab position as “two states for a people-and-a-half.”

Netanyahu explains that his plan is a Jewish State of Israel that gives full citizenship to its current Arab residents, living in peace alongside a Palestinian Arab State. However, Abbas is quoted as saying that he will never accept a Jewish State. All Jews must be removed from the future Palestinian Arab State, including from the Old City section of Jerusalem. In addition, the descendants of Muslim Arab “refugees” currently living in Gaza, Judea and Samaria, Jordan, Lebanon, Syria and elsewhere, must be resettled in Israel, which will not be a Jewish state. The Arabs get a Muslim, Palestinian State. And Israel is shared between the current one million Israeli Arab Muslim citizens, the four million descendents of Arab Muslim “refugees” under the “right of return” and the 6 million Jews. So the Arab Muslims get one and a half states and the Jews get what is left over in a shared, non-Jewish State.

(The authors supply numerous documented quotes that spokesmen for Hamas have publicly stated their plans to eliminate the Jews from Israel, as their long term goal.)

Conclusion

Pressing Israel is a good introduction to the Israel-Muslim conflict as well as a valuable reference for those who are already knowledgeable about the Middle East situation. It can be referred to in discussions and is useful for preparing letters to the editor. It would be helpful to college students who are facing anti-Zionist protests on campus.

If a second edition is published, the printed, paper version of the book would be even more valuable as a reference if an index was added. A fully searchable version of the book is already available as a Kindle e-book from Amazon.com, making an index for the electronic version unnecessary.

The Jewish People’s 3000-Year Presence in Palestine


Lee Bender and Jerome R. Verlin

— by Steve Feldman

Two of the most malignant lies promulgated about Israel and the Jewish people are the invectives “occupier” and “colonialist.” Separately and in tandem, our enemies use them as weapons to delegitimize us.

But one local man, fed up with the anti-Jewish mythology, has written the verbal equivalent of a sledgehammer to smash these attacks. Author Jerome R. Verlin’s Israel 3000: The Jewish People’s 3000 Year Presence in Palestine is now in its second edition, and Verlin discussed the book‘s key points at a recent Temple Beth Hillel/Beth El Israel Advocacy Group breakfast.

More after the jump.
Both Israel’s enemies and those ignorant of the facts claim that Jews have been in the land for a mere 63 years — since David Ben-Gurion read Israel’s Declaration of Independence. Others use 1897 — the year of First Zionist Congress in Basel, Switzerland — as the purported beginning point of the Jewish presence in Eretz Yisrael to depict the Jews as an ersatz indigenous people.

Then there are those who acknowledge that Jews began living in the land more than 3,000 years ago but were exiled and claim Jews were devoid from the area following the Roman conquest.

But Verlin, using historical, archaeological, and other data, plus the conclusions of noted past experts and observations of travelers to the Holy Land, to document that yes, Jews began living in the territory thousands of years ago, and despite the slaughters, name permutations and repeated conquests, Jews have consistently and continuously lived in Israel.

“The truth of the matter is, we didn’t go away,” Verlin noted, after it went from being called Israel and Judea to “Palestine.”

Yet figures from President Jimmy Carter and Mahmoud Abbas to The New York Times ignore all of the evidence, according to Verlin, to erase or weaken the legitimate Jewish claim to the land.

Verlin went through the history of the settlement of the land from the biblical period to today, explaining the many times control of the region changed hands from the Jews, Babylonians, Persians, Jews, Romans, Greeks and Byzantines, various Middle Eastern groups, crusaders, more Arabs and Turks, the British and finally the Jewish People. All along the way he documented that through it all, Jews were the lone constant.

Meanwhile, there is no evidence to support the claims that the land belonged to the Palestinian-Arabs or that the Muslims pre-dated the Jewish presence there. Also, the people who today call themselves “Palestinians” are not related at all to those Middle Eastern peoples who had temporary sway over the region in different periods, Verlin said. Therefore, previous or theoretical land concessions Israel or the Jewish people have made or will be asked to make should never be referred to as “giving back” territory, he stressed.

“Jews” and or “Judea” or “Israel” turn up in artifacts, the Bible, accounts of wars, chronicles of pilgrims and official records and censuses. Verlin offered numerous examples that none but the irrational could dispute in their totality.

Further, since the mid-19th Century, Verlin noted, Jews once again were the majority in our holiest city: Jerusalem.

“We have to make the case to the world,” Verlin stressed, because our adversaries would like public opinion to shift away from the Jews and Israel in favor of the false Arab and Muslim narratives. If most people viewed the Jews as interlopers or a people who have displaced the native “Palestinians,” it would endanger Israel’s very existence and give credence to Arab and Muslim claims that Jews stole “their” land or that Israel was “created” only as a refuge for Holocaust survivors.

“Each of us has to do what each of us can,” said Verlin, to dispel the lies and myths to solidify the Jewish right to the land. “Either we disappear or we stand up for ourselves,” he added, stressing: “We have to be [on the] offensive, not just defensive.”

It might be awkward for Israel’s advocates to walk around with sledgehammers, but Verlin’s paperback will go a long way in countering the libels and slanders that we are the new kids on the Middle Eastern block.

Proposed Guidelines for Balanced Reporting on Israel

— Lee Bender and Jerome Verlin

For many years, the pro-Israel community has been deeply troubled by the inaccurate, unbalanced and misleading portrayal of Israel in the mainstream media, These negative views unjustly prejudice the public and do great harm to Israel.  The organizations and individuals joining in this document believe that adopting the guidelines and terminology below will lead to more fair and balanced reporting on Israel. We also cite specific instances from news sources that use inaccurate and misleading terminology and portrayals.

#1

Misleading: “Two-state solution.” Accurate: “Two states,” meaning one Jewish, one Arab.
Since 1922 when the League of Nations’ Palestine Mandate recognized “the historical connections of the Jewish people with Palestine” and called for reconstituting the Jewish “National Home” in Palestine, international agreement has recognized Israel as the Jewish people’s state.  The Road Map’s “vision of two states” is meaningful only in the sense of an Arab state and a Jewish state.  There already exists an Arab state created out of the original Palestine Mandate – Jordan, which is on 78% of the land and has a population that is 70% Palestinian Arabs.  The Jewish State of Israel exists on the remaining 22% of the land- the very part of which this second Arab state would be created. A new “Jewish-free” Arab state alongside a “secular Israel” inundated with millions of Arabs descended from those who left in 1948, added to Israel’s 1.2 million Arab citizens, is a sham “two-state solution.”  There are 22 Muslim Arab states on a land mass over 600 times that of Israel, with an approximate population of 350,000,000, compared to 5,500,000 Jews in Israel, which is the size of New Jersey.

#2

Misleading: “Arab East Jerusalem.” Accurate: “Jerusalem” or refer to the neighborhood by name.
For only 19 of Jerusalem’s 3,000 years existence was there an “eastern” and western “division,” and that was during the time Jordan illegally occupied it from 1948 until 1967 when it was ousted by Israel and the city was reunited. Jerusalem has been the capital of three Jewish states, but has never been the capital of any Arab entity. Jerusalem has had an ever-increasing Jewish majority since 19th century Ottoman rule.  Prior to the post-World War I Palestine Mandate, Palestine, including Jerusalem, was ruled for 400 years by non-Arab Ottoman Turks; before that for over 200 years by non-Arab Mamlukes; before that by European Christian Crusaders; before that from 636 to 1099 by foreign Arabs increasingly taken over by Turks; before that for over 600 years by European Romans, who in 63 BCE and 70 and 135 CE defeated the twice-independent native Jews, whose two Temples had successively stood in Jerusalem for a millennium, and the Romans’ European Christian Byzantine heirs. At best, Jerusalem is the 3rd holiest city in Islam, although it is not mentioned once in the Koran.  Reference to “Arab East Jerusalem” is misleading as it implies a genuine historical relationship. From 1948-67 when it was illegally occupied by Jordan, no capital or state was established, Jews were not permitted inside the Old City, ancient Jewish synagogues and institutions were destroyed and desecrated. Contrary to this Arab rule of Jerusalem, Israel respects and allows free access for all religions, and permits the Temple Mount to be administered by Muslim authorities (the Waqf).

#3

Misleading: ” “Israel was created in 1948 because of the Holocaust.” Accurate: “Israel regained independence in 1948.”
Israel was not created because of the Holocaust, but is the natural fruition of continuous organized Jewish presence in the Biblical Land of Israel for 3000 years, pre-dating Islam by more than 1000 years. Labeling Israel as “founded in 1948,” whether or not expressly “because of the Holocaust,” inaccurately ignores both 20th century and pre-Zionist post-biblical Jewish homeland history, and echoes Israel’s enemies’ canard that “Israel was created because of a Holocaust that may have happened in Europe, so why should ‘The Palestinians’ suffer?”  Herzl published the Der Judenstaat in 1896 calling for a Jewish state, and the British Balfour Declaration of 1917, incorporated into the 1922 League of Nations’ Palestine Mandate, recognized a Jewish National Home in Palestine. The Yishuv, the Jewish people’s continuous organized presence in the land of Israel, holds one of the longest continuous homeland connections of a people to a place in world history.  Israel is the natural result of that presence.

#4

Misleading: “The war that followed Israel’s creation.” Accurate: “The 1948 Arab invasion of Israel.”
Five Arab states’ armies – Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, Syria and Iraq – invaded Palestine to destroy Israel on the day Israel declared its independence as the British Mandate ended.  Mislabeling that multi-nation Arab invasion as “the war that followed Israel’s creation” without even naming the Arab invaders is a blatant a mischaracterization of what historically happened: the UN Partition-rejecting multi-nation Arab invasion. Egypt illegally seized and retained Gaza, and Jordan illegally seized and retained portions of Judea and Samaria (which became Jordan’s “West Bank”) and part of Jerusalem, for the next 19 years. The Arab rejection of Israel’s existence as the Jewish people’s reborn homeland continues to this day and is the root cause of the continued conflict. Had the Arabs not invaded and accepted the UN Partition Plan, they would have had their state alongside Israel this entire time.

#5

Misleading: “Palestinian refugees from the war that followed Israel’s creation.” Accurate: “Refugees caused by the 1948 Arab rejection of partition,” or  “Descendants of Arabs who left during the Arab invasion.”
Multiple factors, including inducement and orders by invading Arabs, led to Arabs leaving the part of western Palestine that became Israel in 1948.  The number who left is contested, with Arabs claiming some 700,000, and Israelis (see, e.g., Katz, “Battleground,” p.23) some 400,000.  Long forgotten are that same era’s approximately 800,000 Jews who were forced to vacate their homes and businesses in vast Arab lands (many from Jewish communities dating back to pre-Islam antiquity.)  Tiny Israel absorbed the bulk of these Middle Eastern Jews, while the descendants of the Arabs who left tiny Israel remain today as “refugees.” These Arabs are unique among all the world’s refugees: their Arab brethren refuse to integrate and accept them into their vast lands; in addition, they have their own UN organization (UNRWA), and unlike every other refugee group, refugee status is not just limited to those who left but is also extended to their descendants and their descendants’ descendants.

#6

Misleading: “Gaza is occupied and blockaded by Israel.” Accurate: “Hamas rules Gaza, bordered by Israel and Egypt.”
Gaza is not “occupied” by Israel, which unilaterally uprooted entire Jewish population of 9000 residents, in 2005. Gazans elected Hamas to be their government. Despite thousands of unceasing rocket and missile fire aimed at civilians in Israel from Gaza, Israel still supplies electricity to Gaza, allows in supplies, and even provides medical care to Gazans inside Israel.  What is largely ignored is that Gaza also has a border with the Arab country of Egypt, and thus is not “blockaded by Israel.”

#7

Misleading: “The Israeli-occupied West Bank.” Accurate: “The West Bank,” or “Judea and Samaria.”
Under international law, portions of western Palestine beyond the 1949 ceasefire lines between Israel and the invading Arab armies are disputed, not the indisputable territory of a western Palestine Arab state that has never existed in history. Israel has the right to be in these portions of the former Palestine Mandate, captured in a defensive war, until such time as there is a resolution by the parties.  The Mandate had called for “close settlement by Jews on the land,” not excluding what became “the West Bank” of the kingdom of Jordan only in 1948 when Jordan invaded and seized it.  The historical names of these areas are Judea and Samaria.   Today, 95% of the Arab population of “the West Bank” lives in Palestinian Authority-administered areas.

#8

Misleading: “Moderate” Abbas; “Hardline” Netanyahu.” Accurate: “:”Palestinian Authority President Abbas and Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu”.”
News reports labeling Israeli leaders as “hard-line” and PA leaders as “moderate” are not only subjective judgments not belonging in news articles, but are factually inaccurate. PA leader Mahmoud Abbas heads Fatah, the largest organization in the P.A.  Fatah’s charter includes the following: “Section 19: Armed struggle is a strategy, not a tactic. The armed revolution of the Arab Palestinian people is a crucial element in the battle for liberation and for the elimination of the Zionist presence. This struggle will not stop until the Zionist entity is eliminated and Palestine is liberated.” Fatah’s August 2009, General Assembly confirmed these positions. Abbas also financed the Palestinian terrorist assassination of Israeli Olympic Team members in Munich in 1972, and in his doctoral dissertation, later published as a book, he denied the Holocaust.  

#9

Misleading: “Illegal Jewish settlements.” Accurate: “Jewish communities in Judea and Samaria.”
Jews living on land contested between Palestine’s Jews and Arabs, on which the Palestine Mandate called for close Jewish settlement, is not illegal according to many legal authorities.  At best, the status of the land in question is disputed. The Road Map distinguishes between “settlements” and “settlement outposts,” small sites unauthorized by the Israeli government.  Calling settlements “illegal under international law” is a partisan position on an issue in legal dispute.

#10

Misleading: “The Road Map calls on the Palestinian Authority to rein in militants.” Accurate: “The Road Map calls on the Palestinian Authority to dismantle terrorist capabilities and infrastructure.”
Among the Palestinian Authority’s Phase I obligations in the Road Map is “confronting all those engaged in terror and dismantlement of terrorist capabilities and infrastructure.”  Another:  “Palestinians declare an unequivocal end to violence and terrorism and undertake visible efforts on the ground to arrest, disrupt, and restrain individuals and groups conducting and planning violent attacks on Israelis anywhere.”  Another “at the outset of Phase I” PA obligations:  “All official Palestinian institutions end incitement against Israel.”  Media references to the Road Map frequently cite only Israeli obligations, and when Palestinian obligations are cited they are often couched as “to rein in militants.”  Forms of the word “terror” appear 10 times in the road map, but “militants” are not mentioned once.

#11

Misleading: “Israeli retaliation for rockets/missiles from Gaza.” Accurate: “Israeli defensive measures to prevent the rocketing of civilians.”
For years, Israelis in southern Israel have been subjected to a relentless rain of rockets, missiles and mortars from Gaza, in which they have 15 – 20 seconds warning.  Israel’s large Mediterranean coastal city of Ashkelon has also been hit repeatedly.  Israel’s responses have been surgical and targeted specifically against the attackers and the regime that allows them, not “retaliation” by indiscriminate tit-for-tat rocketing and mortaring Gaza civilian cities and villages.

#12

Misleading: “Militants,” “Extremists,” “Gunmen” attacking civilians. Accurate: “Terrorists”; “Jihadi Terrorists”; “Islamic Terrorists.”
Dispatchers of mass-murder bombers of civilians in buses, restaurants, shopping malls, religious assemblies and the like aren’t “militants” anytime anywhere, but terrorists every time everywhere.  The U.S. government’s long held position is that Hamas, Hizballah, Palestinian Islamic Jihad and Islamic Jihad Group, amongst many others, are terrorist organizations and that acts of violence against civilians perpetrated by the these groups are acts of terrorism.  

#13

Misleading: “The Palestinians.” Accurate: “Palestinian Arabs,” “Arab Palestinians.”
At this late date, no one expects the media or anyone else to cease referring to Arabs living in Palestine as “the Palestinians.”  Yet it is critical that Western publics understand that the region was not named “Palestine” with reference to today’s Arab “Palestinians.”  Eighteen hundred years ago, the Roman emperor Hadrian bestowed the name “Palestine” on former Judaea, to disassociate the land from the native Jews whom Rome had just defeated in two ferocious revolts.  The “Palestinians” whom Hadrian had in mind had been the Aegean “Sea-People” Philistines, who’d occupied the southern Palestinian coast during the era of the Jews’ first kingdom of Judah.  The Jerusalem Post, one of Israel’s leading newspapers was once the Palestine Post, and Palestinian Jews who fought alongside the Allies in World War II were known as Palestinians.  The late David Bar-Illan, editor of the Jerusalem Post and its “Eye on the Media” column, repeatedly cited Mandate era Jewish institutions that included “Palestine” in their title and actual aversions by Arabs to the term “Palestine.” The vast majority of Palestinian Arabs cannot trace their family heritage to the land back more than several generations; most came from elsewhere when the Jews made the land blossom and built cities and institutions.