The Village Idiot: Irish Magazine’s Flawed Article
Village sells itself as “Ireland’s political and cultural magazine.” Unfortunately, investigative journalist Frank Connolly demonstrates that he has done very little investigating into the facts when it comes to his article “Israel Politik: Illegal settlement.”
Connolly’s Myth #1.
Last December, President Trump confirmed that he intended to move the US embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem in a move that deeply angered the Arab world while elating many Israelis who have long had their sights on ultimate control of the holy city, which has been traditionally shared by Muslim, Christian and Jewish religions.
Newsflash: Jerusalem is already under the full Israeli control and has been since 1967. And the city has not been “traditionally shared.” Only under Israeli sovereignty has it been shared by the three major monotheistic faiths thanks to Israel’s policy of freedom of worship and religion. Prior to 1967, Jews were forced out of the eastern part of Jerusalem and its Old City, preventing them from praying at their holy sites. Does this sound like “sharing”?
Connolly’s Falsehood #2.
The policy of the government led by Benjamin Netanyahu and of the Israeli Defence Forces (IDF) is that the right-to-return protests must be resisted with maximum force, including by the killing of unarmed activists and the maiming of thousands.
No this is not Israeli policy. The protests themselves are not being “resisted with maximum force.” The IDF’s rules of engagement have seen the use of non-lethal riot control measures including tear gas and rubber bullets to stop violent rioters from attacking Israeli forces, damaging Israeli infrastructure and attempting to breach Israel’s border fence with the intention of harming Israelis.
Where riot control methods have failed, IDF snipers have used live bullets. Those targeted have, in the main, not been “unarmed activists” but violent rioters, including those armed with firebombs, explosives and even, in some cases, firearms.
Connolly’s Omission #3.
Efforts to establish a unity government across the West Bank, east Jerusalem and Gaza which commenced last year have so far been unsuccessful due to the inability of the Palestinian Authority (PA) and Fatah (the political organisation led by President Mahmoud Abbas) and Hamas to reach agreement. At the core of their disagreement is the refusal of Hamas, which took political power in Gaza following elections in 2006, to cede control of security to a new government of Palestine.
Elections? What about the Hamas coup d’etat that saw Fatah members thrown from rooftops and killed during a bout of intra-Palestinian violence. It’s this rather than elections that cemented Hamas power in Gaza.
Connolly’s Hyperbole #4.
What is certain is that the current Israeli government and many of the country’s citizens are determined to achieve their ultimate goal of a single state of Israel from the Jordan river to the Mediterranean Sea, to paraphrase a slogan used by Palestinians to describe their traditional homeland.
This is pure hyperbole on the part of Connolly. There is no Israeli government policy advocating a single state solution, which the majority of Israelis reject. So why is Connolly so “certain” that his view is correct given that there is no evidence to back up his statement?
Connolly’s Inaccuracy #5.
The 800-kilometre wall under construction by the Israeli authorities since 2002 snakes its way through Palestinian homes and farms.
Israel’s security barrier is over 90% chain-link electronic fence, not a wall. Where is Connolly getting his misinformation?
Connolly’s Bias #6.
Like the checkpoints that so frequently block the roads used by Palestinians to travel from home to work, across the occupied West Bank, they have no security rationale. Firstly, there is no armed struggle emanating from Palestinians in the West Bank or Jerusalem, if you exclude the stone-throwing youths that congregate around Israeli military outposts after prayer on a Friday. The wall and checkpoints bisect the lands of Palestinians, leaving them on both sides of the obstruction. Clearly, they are not built to defend Israel from its Palestinian neighbours and can only be explained as part of the wider expansion of the illegal settlements and a massive land grabbing exercise.
No security rationale?!
Only last month, a Palestinian was apprehended at a checkpoint, preventing him from carrying out a terror attack. The month prior to that, a truck was stopped at a checkpoint where a powerful explosive device was found that was intended to be used in an Independence Day terror attack.
No armed struggle?!
The entire reason that there are not armed Palestinians successfully targeting Israelis in Jerusalem, Tel Aviv and other cities, is precisely because of the effectiveness of checkpoints and the security barrier at preventing this from happening. That Connolly fails to acknowledge legitimate Israeli security concerns is not only a sign of his own bias but also a rewriting of history, erasing the so-called Second Intifada that saw so many Israeli victims of terror.
Connolly’s Claim #7.
Each day thousands of Palestinian workers spend hours crossing through the checkpoints and the wall to get to work in Jerusalem and the settlements, where they help to build homes or act as domestic servants in houses constructed illegally on the lands of their own people. Women workers are particularly vulnerable to exploitation and abuse from both their settler employers and the security forces.
Palestinian “domestic servants” in Israeli settlements is a new and bizarre charge that we haven’t heard of. We can only wonder where Connolly found this.
And what is this obsession with “settler employers?” Palestinians with work permits don’t just work in Jerusalem and settlements.
Workers’ rights is a legitimate issue. But what is Connolly inferring when he claims that women workers are being exploited and abused by security forces?
Connolly’s Untruth #8.
The latest flash point is in the old city of Jerusalem itself where Israeli security forces have set up around the gates that bring Muslims and Christians to their historic places of worship, including the Al Aqsa mosque and the Christian Church of the Holy Sepulchre which hosts the tomb of Jesus of Nazareth.
More nonsense meant to convey the false impression that Israeli security forces are targeting Muslim and Christian holy places. Nothing could be further from the truth.
Last February, the Greek Orthodox, Catholic and Armenian Christian churches closed the doors of the church after the Israeli authorities threatened to impose penal taxation on their lands.
In fact, before it was canceled, the Jerusalem Municipality planned to collect property tax on church-owned properties that are not used as houses of worship. A far cry from the imposition of “penal taxation on their lands.”
Connolly’s Distortion #9.
Following a confrontation with armed Palestinians in July, 2017, the Israeli police installed metal detectors and CCTV cameras in the compound of the Al Aqsa mosque, one of the world’s holiest sites for Muslims.
The security measures were installed outside of the Temple Mount compound, not inside.
Connolly’s Error #10.
As a leading negotiator of the failed Oslo Accord agreement in 1993, Shaath has watched as Israel ignored and then trampled on the deal, including its key provision that the integrity of west Bank, Gaza and Jerusalem should remain until final agreement was reached. Then there were 135 settlers on the occupied Palestinian lands. Now there are 700,000.
Oops. There were a few more than 135 people living over the so-called Green Line back in 1993. In fact, as sourced from Israel’s Central Bureau of Statistics, the number of Israelis living in what Connolly calls “occupied Palestinian lands” amounted to just over 269,000 in 1993.
As for the integrity of the West Bank, Gaza and Jerusalem: if Connolly is referring to settlement building, the Oslo Accords specifically did not limit Israeli construction in the disputed territories.
Connolly’s Minimizing #11.
Connolly also misrepresents Israeli protests over a Palestinian conference attended by Dublin’s BDS-supporting mayor over “a former Grand Mufti of Palestine, Haj Amin al-Husseini, whose image was used on conference material and who had controversially met with Adolf Hitler in 1941.”
Al-Husseini didn’t just controversially meet with Hitler. He supported the implementation of the Final Solution and recruited Muslim soldiers to help the Nazis carry it out, including plans to exterminate the Jewish community in pre-state Palestine. Connolly, however, in an effort to rubbish Israeli concerns, chooses to focus on a historical argument generated by Benjamin Netanyahu’s seemingly inaccurate claim that the Mufti actually planted the idea of the Holocaust in Hitler’s mind.
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As cataloged above, Frank Connolly’s article is not only a one-sided attack on Israel but is also littered with factual errors and dubious claims bringing into question any qualification he may have for commenting on Israeli-Palestinian issues.
Connolly is entitled to put forward his biased views. He should not, however, be entitled to publish blatant inaccuracies and falsehoods. If Village considers itself to be a credible media outlet, it should, at a minimum, correct the errors.