The Guardian tells a porky about the Golan Heights

A guest post by AKUS

(“to tell a porky” — tell a small lie, to fib – rhyming slang? Porky pie/tell a lie)

As we have watched Harriet Sherwood wrestle with the problem of reporting from Israel while possessing very little knowledge about the country and region (and unable to speak Hebrew or Arabic), it has become apparent that she also has a problem with statistics and geopolitics.

Even if Sherwood and the Guardian’s sub editors have all ten fingers and all ten toes, it seems it’s difficult for them to use numbers greater than 20 with any accuracy at all. She and the Guardian also have trouble remembering which bits of Israel are “occupied” and which are annexed, like Jerusalem and the Golan. They also have a major problem simply checking the facts behind the porkies they tell about Israel.

Recently Sherwood bravely ventured up on to the Golan Heights, reporting from Majdal Shams, only 40 km from Damascus, that the Golan Heights [are] divided by support for Assad’s Syria.

She (or, as often seems to be the case, one of the lazy, biased sub-editors at Guardian HQ in London) wrote in the sub-header:

In the Israeli-occupied area, where most people call themselves Syrian, Bashar al-Assad opponents say they are being intimidated.

One problem with that sub-header is that Golan is not “occupied” but, rather, annexed by Israel – a part of the state. Just as the Guardian has had problems finding Israel’s capital, it seems to have a problem understanding which bits of Israel’s territory go where.

A second problem is with the math. A very good estimate for the population of the Golan is that there are approximately 40,000 people living in the towns, villages, kibbutzim, and moshavim there. Of those, Sherwood mentions, correctly, that about 20,000 are non-Druze Israelis (she refers to them incorrectly as “Israeli Jewish settlers”), and therefore about 20,000 may be Druze. 

But this is a much bigger number than the number of fingers and toes Sherwood or a sub-editor at the Guardian most likely has, so a porky creeps in.

As Sherwood could easily have discovered, as many as 10% of the Druze have Israeli citizenship, so only a possible 18,000 do not have Israeli citizenship and may be “Syrians”.  

Additionally, children born to Druze automatically have Israeli citizenship.  So, if they are included in the count of all Druze, the number of adult Druze may be less than 18,000.  

Also, a very reliable source has informed me that the real number of Druze adults secretly holding Israeli citizenship for convenience or “just in case” has been rising, especially during the last 18 months as they’ve gotten a better idea of what it might be like to live in Syria rather than in the “Zionist entity”.

So, taking into account 20,000 non-Druze Israelis (Jews and others) plus 2,000 Druze Israelis, only about 18,000 potentially “Syrian Druze” can be counted on the Golan. With a high degree of confidence I can say that it would be hard to find enough non-Druze and Druze Israelis calling themselves Syrian to make Harriet’s (or the Guardian’s) claim that  “most people [on the annexed Golan Heights] call themselves Syrian” true.

Now, you may think this is nit-picking. But the reason for this porky is that it is rather easy to ignore those “other Israelis” and tell your biased little fib when you do not really see Israelis as “people”, but only as amorphous “settlers”.

This is the third problem for Sherwood and the drones back in the UK. Not only do they struggle with simple math and geography, they find it difficult to remember that Israelis are people too.

So it is time for yet another shame-faced Guardian correction. To help them, I’ll write it for them:


68 replies »

  1. The latest in a very very long list of Al-Guardian fact free reports {And not just on Israel} since when has anyone expected any better from Al-Guardian

      • Non-binding resolution. Much to the chagrin of libero-fascists like you, Israelis are not about to march themselves into the sea or submit to lifetimes of terrorism.

        Learn to cope or get a different hobby.

        • Are you telling us that the existence of the state of Israel, also recognized by a UN resolution, is “not binding”?

          • That declaration does not require action by other states and in fact many other states have not honored that resolution, not that it would matter to libero-fascists.

    • This CIF Watch article is hilarious.

      I’ve rarely seen such a poorly written piece, stuffed with inaccuracies and fabrications.

      • Nat, Avi or whoever you imagine you are today.
        “I’ve rarely seen such a poorly written piece, stuffed with inaccuracies and fabrications.”

        Then you should read the garbage you post it is invariably poorly written and ‘stuffed with inaccuracies and fabrications’.

    • I went on mission to Majda Al Shams and the Golan last month and I can confirm that:

      1 – all the Druze populating the Golan call themselves Syrians

      2 – all the Druze populating the Golan do hold Syrian citizenship, not Israeli citizenship

      3 – the Israelis living in settlements in the Golan, where many of them produce delicious wines, are perfectly aware that they are not living in Israel proper and that they may have to leave one day and go back to Israel, should there be a peace treaty with Syria

      • Oh BS! You must be a graduate of the Pravda Institute of Truth when it was run by the Soviets. I’ve been to the Golan myself and confirm that you’re full of it. It’s possible that you got a few people to agree with your agenda, but now you’re trying to ascribe it to a whole region.

      • Furthermore, if you were really the expert you would claim to be, you would know that the name of the town is Madjal al Shams.

      • “I went on mission to Majda Al Shams and the Golan”
        Did you really Nat.

        While you were there did you bump into Avi?
        Only on the thread “The Guardians Phoebe Greenwood dramatically inflates the nmuber of Israeli settlements (updated)” July 25 2012 at 1.07am., he claims to have been there as well.

        What a remarkable coincidence.

  2. What a ludicrous attempt to distinguish between occupation and annexation. I can declare your watch ” annexed ” but that wouldn’t make it part of my property. There is the little matter of the law.

    • I hope for you that you don’t live southwest of the line drawn from the western border of Louisiana to the where the southern border of Oregon mneets the Pacific Ocean. I also hope that you, of course, favor returning that land to its rightful owners.

      Otherwise, you would of course, be a hypocrite.

    • Not really Michael those were the bad old days. The world has moved on. Are you saying Israel has been left behind in this evolution of sensibilities ?

      “…….the inadmissability of the acquisition of territory through war.”

      • So why not the put the bad old days behind you and rectify the wrong. Return the US’s ill-gotten gains back to Mexico, the rightful owners of that land.

        Oh, and by the way, since the annexation of land through war is inadmissible, thank you for pointing out that the West Bank and East Jerusalem do not belong to the Arabs, since the acquisition of territory through war is inadmissible.

        • The right of conquest ended after WWII when the Nuremberg tribunals created the crime of aggression. This prohibition was woven into the UN charter which Israel signed up to.

          Most people agree that the lessons of WWII are ones worth learning.

          • Since the Nuremberg tribunals created the crime of aggression, Syria had already abrogated them by attacking Israel, so if they decided to exempt themselves from those accords, Israel is not obligated to honor them either.

            • Leaving aside the fact that your post has precisely zero basis in fact, international law has never been, nor will ever be based on mutuality.

              If you feel I’m wrong, please cite your source.

              • “Zero basis in fact?” Are you saying that Syria did not enter the 1967 war by bombarding the Galilee? If that’s the case, then it’s pointless to talk to an ignoramus like you.

                Furthermore, this isn’t some board game. This is war and people die, many because of libero-fascists imposing special standards only on Israel which no country could possibly abide.

                • The escalations with Syria went back for a long way before Israel initiated full scale hostilities.

                  Secondly, most countries manage to not acquire territory by war. It’s not as if it’s a controversial piece of law is it?

                  • Israel “Initiated” full-scale hostilities with Syria? How exactly is that?

                    Revisionism is one of the tools that Arabists try to exploit most, but it’s very transparent.

                    And no, attacking a country is more controversial.

                  • That Israel kicked all Arab despots in their teeth repeatedly was a blessing. The west simply paid lip service to civil rights and defending the weak and it was up to Israel to put the Arabs in their place by showing them who runs the show. Up next is Iran.

        • Well that would make more sense than reordering the entire world as it was 2500 years ago.

          “So why not the put the bad old days behind you and rectify the wrong. Return the US’s ill-gotten gains back to Mexico, the rightful owners of that land.”

          OK I will. Can I have lunch first ?

          “I wouldn’t argue that the West bank and East Jerusalem ” belonged to the Arabs “. Which Arabs ?

          • When you show proof that you are active in that campaign, you’ll have justification to criticize others.

            Why don’t you enlighten the rest of us as to “which Arabs?”

              • Well, in that case it couldn’t refer to Jordanians, since they have renounced claims to that land. Could it be “Palestinians?” If so, what is the basis of their claim and why is it more valid than that for Jews?

                • Ahh you mean the Arabs living there, got it.

                  Well I would think their claim to live on the land is based on their being born onto it and in the vast majority of cases their parents, grand parents etc having lived on it. That surely is at least as good a claim as that of some American or Russian do you not think.

                  • Well, since Jews have lived on that land since the time before there were any Arabs whatsoever, how is their claim as good?

                    • The claim isn’t a function of their etnicity or religion. The claim is that they are of the land. They are people that were freaking born there. This Jewish / Arab thing is an obsession of yours. Don’t bring me into it.

                    • Since we’ve reached comment limit, I’ll post up here. Rich, you ignore 2,000 years of history. Every year, twice a year, Jews say “next year in Jerusalem” as a hope to return to the land. You have no right to take that dream away, so don’t even try.

                    • In the not-so-distant past, they came from other countries like Iraq and Saudi Arabia, while the Jewish connection to the land goes back millenia and if you think that you decide what criteria are used to decide who can live where, you are mistaken.

                      You’ve already brought yourself into this debate by posting here.

                  • You see Michael we are not talking about the same thing. By ” they ” you mean Arabs. I mean people who were born there. That is what I meant by don’t bring me into your Jew/Arab thing.

                    • However, you seek to impose criteria that would include some and exclude others. As I’ve said, Jews have longed for 2,000 years to return to israel which is just as valid as being born there.

                  • Michael I don’t seek to exclude anyone. I would be perfectly happy for anyone being able to live wherever they want. We do however live in a world of nation states. Whatever routes to citizenship states adopt it invariably includes being born on the land that the state in question has sovereignty over. How did you get to be a citizen of the US Michael ?

                    • Missed this, but that’s fine. Being born on the land is what makes Arabs born in Israel citizens of Israel. Since Israel was founded as the Jewish homeland that also entitles Jews wherever they live to immigrate there.

                      And by the way, before you and libero-fascists like Avram. Nat, and “Sanity” go spouting off with your misapplications of the word “apartheid,” many countries also give citizenship to children who are born outside the country to parents who were born there. Israel just extends that back to the entire Jewish race.

                    • When I first heard Jews referred to as a race, I felt offended. However, it is correct. Jews can trace their ancestry back to particular individuals i.e., Jacob, Leah, Rachel, Bilhah, and Zilpah. This has been proven genetically as we share something like 80% of the same genetic markers.

      • “…….the inadmissability of the acquisition of territory through war.”
        That would be offensive war. The Golan was acquired by Israel in a defensive war. Or do you advocate rewarding aggression by allowing the perpetrators of such, in this case Syria, being given back what they lost as a direct result of their murderous folly?

        • “a Jewish race”, a Jewish people.
          Avram discoveres the word he criticises ad nauseam yet understands nothing.

  3. You are mistaken. Most golan’s druze and allawaite population have Israeli Id but call themselves syrians. Many young travel to study in damascos. They are the only Israelis allowed to do so.

  4. “One problem with that sub-header is that Golan is not “occupied” but, rather, annexed by Israel – a part of the state.”

    States are prohibited from arbitrarily annexing territory under international law. So in this particular instance, this is entirely correct. She’s only wrong if we replace the reference point of international law with the reference point of Zionist territorial ambitions.

    • States are also prohibited from ganging together and arbitrarily and sneakily attacking a country on its most sacred and vulnerable day of the year, this by any law of humanity and decency.

      So if Israel needs buffers to keep her neighbours honest I suppose there’s a better than good reason.

          • When the Arabs cease to kill and murder their own people and the Jews there will be peace. Until then they will humiliate themselves again and again.

          • Israel is the only country in the world that sees fit to seize territory that is not its own in order to pretend to defend itself while actually colonising.

            • Which is why Israel has only shrunk in size since 1967 and also has only captured territory that doesn’t actually belong to anyone. Only Israel can be accused of “colonialization” for territory to which it has a rightful claim, the basis for which libero-fascists like to ignore.

              The inanity of “Sanity” is easy to expose.

    • Another problem is irans hand in the murder of 20000. But that is not news for the Groan. What’s more interesting is some crap non story about Druze who are secretly counting their hairy blessings that they are on the right side of the border.

  5. Thats an argument for wanting it, it is no kind of argument for entitlement. By that argument France would be entitled to the Ardenne.

    In saying that Israel is no more entitled to the territory than, say, Luxembourg, I don’t necessarily say it maybe ought not to have it. Maybe there should be a river to the sea Israel. Maybe the world can be persuaded to buy that. But then everyone between the river and the sea would be Israelis. Full and equal rights and all that. Full civil rights, freedom of movement and settlement etc. I don’t live there, and I wouldn’t presume to tell the people that do what is best for them. But I think it’s make mind up folks. The brutal illegal occupation option is past its sell by date.

    • Well, since you have finally admitted your ignorance, we might actually get somewhere.

      First, everyone who lives in Israel is an Israeli citizen, so what rights are denied to any thnic group in Israel? If you’re referring to PA controlled territory, that’s part of Oslo and it’s another reason that we need a two-state solution so that Israel retains its Jewish majority. It’s Arabs who reject the two-state solution because demographic projections have been shown that they will one day outnumber Jews and Israel would cease to be Israel.

      “Brutal occupation” is a slogan invented by left-wing pundits. It has no basis in fact.

      • “It’s Arabs who reject the two-state solution”

        Which Arabs ?

        I am not talking about rights in present day Israel, I am talking about rights in a projected from the river to the sea Israel.

        “It has no basis in fact. ” Pointless going there. It is what it is. You will call it one thing, I will call it another.

  6. That the golan is Israels is a humanitarian deed. Were it not, the Druze would be caught in the usual Arab slaughter. They’d either be sucking up to Assad or they’d be murdered by some islamofacist for not being Muslim enough or some crap like that. As an Arab these days life ain’t easy.

    • Yeah, there was a story I think in the Jpost about some of the Druze who had gone to Syria to study there and now were trapped with their families making every effort to bring them back to safety in Israel.

      Oh, the irony.

  7. Israel should get a Nobel peace prize for saving the Druzes lives on the golan. Had Israel not kicked Syrian butt in 67 these people would be dying like the 20000 which have died during the past 15 months. But the Left doesnt care about Arabs really.