Independent

British Media ‘Fake News’ Alert – on “Israeli Apartheid” in Hebron.


An article published at nbcnews.com on Nov. 22nd provides tips on how to spot ‘fake news’, characterized as a phenomenon in which a “growing number of websites are espousing misinformation or flat-out lies” which raises “concerns that falsehoods are going viral over social media without any mechanism to separate fact from fiction”.

Though most of the attention paid to the “Fake News” row has centered around the US presidential election, those of you who follow CAMERA, UK Media Watch and BBC Watch would of course understand that such disinformation on one international issue predates Facebook and the internet.

Indeed, CAMERA was founded in response to misreporting during the First Lebanon War, and one particular incident involving a widely circulated UPI photo falsely blaming Israel for an attack which left an infant burned and severely crippled.

More recent examples of “fake news” include an article at The Independent erroneously claiming that Israel was torturing Palestinian children in cages, a Daily Mail report claiming that Israel flooded Gaza by opening a non-existent dam, and a Guardian report in which 100 phantom wealthy Jews were erroneously accused of funding an anti-Muslim film which allegedly incited violence in Benghazi.

Our latest example involves a Nov. 22 report in The Independent uncritically quoting Tory MP Desmond Swayne claiming that Israel practices “apartheid” in the West Bank city of Hebron.


apartheid

Here are the opening paragraphs:

The treatment of Palestinians by the Israeli state in the city of Hebron amounts to “apartheid” a former Conservative international development minister has said.

During Foreign Office Questions in the House of Commons Desmond Swayne, who served as a minister until this summer, asked the Government front bench for its assessment of the situation in the city.

Has he walked the streets of Hebron, which Palestinians may not use? We used to call that apartheid,” he asked.

The Indy report fails to critically examine the claim, so the reader is left with the impression that the charge has merit.

Though the apartheid lie in general has its origins within Soviet and PLO propaganda from the 1960s (before Israel occupied even one square centimeter of land in the West Bank), current proponents of the dishonest charge that Israel employs a system of segregation on grounds of race often point to the situation in Hebron.

The city is currently home to over 250,000 Arabs and roughly 700 Jews.

The separation between Israelis and Palestinians in the city is necessitated by the need to prevent violence on both sides and, more importantly, is consistent with the 1997 Hebron agreement signed by the Palestinian Authority.  Per the terms of the agreement, the PA provides security to the Palestinian section (H2), while the IDF secures the Jewish section (H1).

Though accusers, such as Swayne, often cite restrictions on Palestinian movement in the city, none ever point to even more limiting restrictions on Hebron’s Jews.

As CAMERA noted in a longer analysis of the mischaracterizations of life in Hebron:

Arabs are free to travel between the two parts of the city, which means that– except for parts of Jewish Hebron like Shuhada Street – Arabs have access to 98% of Hebron. By way of contrast, Jews are forbidden from entering Arab Hebron, and Israelis presently have access to just 3% of the city.

So, Israeli Jews are prevented from entering some 97% of the city of Hebron – arguably the oldest Jewish community in the world and home to the second holiest site in Judaism.

Is this a form of Palestinian apartheid…against Jews? Or, according to the bizarre moral calculus employed by Israel haters, can only Palestinians be victims of this crime?

No doubt, Indy editors would respond to our criticism by explaining that they’re only reporting the claims of an MP.  

However, extremists make unhinged and baseless accusations against Jews and Israel all the time. Editors have the responsibility to ignore such incendiary rhetoric altogether, carefully and critically examine the charges or (as the Indy did in this case) to uncritically amplify the message, thus lending them greater legitimacy.

By lazily repeating such toxic canards, and failing to make a serious effort to separate facts from anti-Zionist fiction, the Indy may increasingly be viewed by many within the British Jewish community as a purveyor of fake news about the Jewish state.

5 replies »

  1. When reporting actual events became opinion writing about events real and even imaginary, the public lost its ability to distinguish between truth and fiction in the media:

    https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/the-fix/wp/2016/11/22/a-harsh-truth-about-fake-news-some-people-are-super-gullible/

    A Stanford University study published Tuesday concluded that many students, from middle school through college, struggle to discern what is legitimate reporting and what is not. The Wall Street Journal summarized some of the most alarming findings:

    Some 82 percent of middle-schoolers couldn’t distinguish between an ad labeled “sponsored content” and a real news story on a website. . . . More than two out of three middle-schoolers couldn’t see any valid reason to mistrust a post written by a bank executive arguing that young adults need more financial-planning help.

    And nearly four in 10 high-school students believed, based on the headline, that a photo of deformed daisies on a photo-sharing site provided strong evidence of toxic conditions near the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant in Japan, even though no source or location was given for the photo.

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