Irish Times

Misinformation about Israeli visa restrictions at the Irish Times

Cross posted from the blog of CAMERA

Vera Baboun, Former Mayor of Bethlehem appears to have a difficult time adhering to the facts when she speaks about life in the West Bank.

Speaking at the 2014 Christ at the Checkpoint Conference, Baboun, (pictured above), said the city where she served as mayor was “surrounded with a wall,” when in fact, the security barrier does not surround the city. It passes by the southern and eastern sections of the city, but it does not “surround” it. As mayor of Bethlehem when she made this statement, so she knew full well where the barrier is situated.

She knew the truth, but she told her audience something else.

Well, it looks like she has done it again, this time in Ireland.

Baboun, who lectures at the Vatican-founded Bethlehem University in the West Bank, recently appeared in Ireland and gave a talk at an event organized by the Irish chapter of Friends of Bethlehem University.

Her talk was covered in the Feb. 15, 2016 issue of the Irish Times. The article, reads in part, as follows:

“The situation is really difficult,” she said. Israeli visa restrictions mean international students cannot attend the university, cutting off one likely stream of revenue. Only three-month tourist visas were available to such students.

The complaint is that Israeli policy makes it impossible for international students to attend Bethlehem University.

This is not true.

How do we know?

The school where Baboun lectures has webpages devoted to serving the needs of international students.

Here’s the link.

And here’s a screenshot of a relevant section of Bethlehem University’s FAQ page for international students:

Visa BU

Note the reference to Israeli cities as “Palestinian Occupied Territories.” Apparently, as a matter of policy, the school does not accept Israel’s legitimacy, which is an outrage, but the FAQ page clearly indicates that foreign students, do in fact, get visas to attend classes at Bethlehem University.

A webpage describing the school’s student exchange program reports the following:

Each year we receive, from our partner institutions, international students at Bethlehem University and also send our students abroad. Exchange can last from one semester to one academic year depending on the program and department. Our English learning environment allows international students adapt to campus life easily. Bethlehem University education courses will allow you to enrich your knowledge about the local language and Middle Eastern culture. Most importantly, credits earned here can be recognized at your home institution.

Something does not compute, so CAMERA contacted Bethlehem University via email and asked about international students at the school. An official from the school responded by describing the process foreign students need to follow to attend classes in Bethlehem.

As it turns out, Bethlehem University has memorandums of understanding with a number of colleges and universities throughout the world. Foreign students who want to attend the school make arrangements to get the visas they need with the help of the embassies or consulates of their home countries

The visa applications are oftentimes rejected, the school reports. Given that the West Bank has become a haven for anti-Israel activists, it’s no surprise that Israel rejects visa applications, but the fact remains some students get the visas they need to attend classes at Bethlehem University, contrary to what the Irish Times reported.

According to Bethlehem University, the school has a number of international students attending classes from the United States, Korea, Sweden, Norway and Germany. For information about these students go here,, here and here.

Maybe Israel could allow more students in to the West Bank to study at Bethlehem University, but is broadcasting misinformation to score propaganda points, as it appears Baboun has done, the way to proceed? Is exaggerating the impact of Israeli policies on students at Bethlehem University an honest way to fundraise for the institution?

It could be that Baboun was misquoted, but given that the student visa issue has become a talking point for anti-Israel propagandists, it’s possible that the Irish Times accurately quoted what she said.

So, the question remains. Did the Irish Times accurately report what Baboun said and inadvertently pass on misinformation to its readers, or did the paper get it wrong and introduce the misinformation into the story on its own?

15 replies »

      • Noting that the assassin of US Senator Robert F. Kennedy (an Irish Catholic) by a Pal-e-SWINIAN (surprisingly Christian) IS relevant to an Irish newspaper.

        And Pal-e-SWINIANS are a subset of Islamofascist terrorism which has murdered people ALL OVER THE WORLD.

        – 9/11
        – Londons 7/7/05
        – Mumbai India
        – Nairobi Kenya
        – Brussels
        – Paris
        – Moscow
        – Ottawa
        – Copenhagen
        – Sydney
        – Beslan
        – Pan Am 103
        – Metrojet
        – Lahore
        – Bali
        – Madrid
        – Jerusalem
        – Boston
        – DC Beltway

        • @Edward –

          How many more times do you plan to repeat the same lists, same slogans, same images, same insults, over and over and over again?

          I’m beginning to suspect you picked up this strategy straight from the devil who wrote:

          “…the most brilliant propagandist technique will yield no success unless one fundamental principle is borne in mind constantly and with unflagging attention. It must confine itself to a few points and repeat them over and over. Here, as so often in this world, persistence is the first and important requirement for success.”

          (Adolf Hitler, Mein Kampf)

          I rather doubt, however, that even Hitler could have imagined anyone following his advice quite as constantly and unflaggingly and with so few points persistently repeated as you seem hell-bent on doing.

          • MiranDUH, lists of Islamofascist atrocities will sadly continue to grow until Islamofascism is UTTERLY DEFEATED.

            Exposing what you wish to hide is one vector in ripping off the mask and defeating Islamofascism and Fascist Socialism.

            Does listing Islamofascist terrorist attacks undermine the oxymoron of Islam as “the Religion of Peace”?

            • @Edward –

              Gosh! Thanks so much for posting that video again. After seeing it four or five times … or is it six or seven? … I finally see the light!

              I believe! I believe!

              Now please, O Great Persuader, don’t leave me in suspense any longer. WHAT’S THE NEXT STEP? Do we go out on a Great Holy Secular Conservative War against those Islamofascists and OtherLeftyfascists of the world? Show ’em our nukes, shouting “Convert or Die – Repent or Fry!”?

              Maybe you’ve got an estimate of how many of the 1.7 billion Muslims and god-knows-how-many Socialists we’ll need to … er … “neutralise” before the TRUE Way of Peace we offer prevails. Lots and lots and lots, I expect – but never mind.

              Yea, verily, Ed! I’m ready to do whatever is needed! Just give me some Orders and I’ll follow!

          • Miranda,
            You are comparing propaganda techniques from Hitler with Edward’s posting of well-documented jihadist terror attacks as a response to your “Israel is equally as bad, but really much worse” nonsense?
            You need a time out.

    • Since Robert F Kennedy will never receive a pardon and return to this Earth, his Children missed out on a father, wife missed out on a husband and the Country probably missed out on the next President determined to end the Viet Nam War there are many scenarios of Men on both side being alive today.
      Sirhan Sirhan has never accepted guilt or shown remorse. He claims he didn’t shoot RFK. Sirhan Sirhan should never see the light of day.

  1. I actually met Vera Baboon a few years ago at a confernece in East Jerusalem. She looked suspiciously simian like. She kept aping on about the occupation without taking her eyes for a second off the bananas on the table. 100% true story.

  2. Hate to be pedantic but Ireland hasn’t been in the uk since about 1923. Should Adam be watching its media ?

    I do realise that geography isn’t a strong point in Israel.

  3. “Bethlehem University education courses will allow you to enrich your knowledge about the local language”
    What that means, but they don’t say is “Arabic.”

    “and Middle Eastern culture.”
    What that means, but they don’t say is “Arab.”

    Arab colonialism is what they are selling.