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Myths & Facts: Online Exclusives

by Mitchell G. Bard
(2021 - )

INDEX OF MYTHS:
(2005-2016 | 2017-2020 Archives)

2021

Palestinian authorities do not demolish Palestinian homes.
Israel is denying COVID-19 vaccines to Palestinians.
The Trump peace plan does not offer the Palestinians a capital in Jerusalem.
America’s Arab allies support U.S. positions at the UN.

MYTH

Palestinian authorities do not demolish Palestinian homes.

FACT

Israel is pilloried when it demolishes Palestinian homes even though it is done legally. Most often the buildings are constructed without the required permits or in areas where they are not allowed. Nevertheless, the UN, the Europeans, pro-Palestinian organizations, and the media routinely condemn Israel.

Where are they when Palestinians commit human rights abuses toward their own people, as happens every day in Gaza and the West Bank?

It is unlikely you are aware, for example, that Hamas has forcibly expelled residents from their homes in Rafah. Replace the word “Hamas” with “Israel” and you can be sure the story would be subject to a report by Amnesty International or Human Rights Watch and prompt a banner headline in the New York Times. Since Israel is not involved, you must have access to the Arab media to learn that Hamas is expropriating land “leaving many citizens homeless and jobless” (Rasha Abou Jalal, “Hamas forcibly expels residents from their homes in Rafah,” Al-Monitor, January 8, 2021).

Rasha Abou Jalal reported that without warning Hamas uprooted trees and bulldozed the homes and farms of 23 families that have lived in the area for decades. The homes had to be cleared so Hamas could expand the Rafah land crossing between the Gaza Strip and Egypt for commercial purposes.

Hamas authorities insisted the government owned the land and the residents did not have deeds proving their ownership. While Israel allows Palestinians to challenge its actions in court, the Palestinians who lost their homes were not given the opportunity to contest the decision and present the evidence they possessed showing they owned their property. Instead, homeowners who protested were assaulted and nine were arrested.

This is just one more example of how Palestinian abuses toward their own people go unnoticed and uncriticized in the West. The “human rights” organizations are silent as are those advocating the Palestinian cause who see no evil unless it can be blamed on Israel. The same is true for the UN, which would never consider a resolution critical of the Palestinians, and the Europeans who have subsidized illegal construction by Palestinians in areas controlled by Israel.

MYTH

Israel is denying COVID-19 vaccines to Palestinians.

FACT

Major news outlets have been repeating this calumny even when they know it is false. Ishaan Tharoor, for example, wrote in the Washington Post that Israel is giving vaccines to Jewish settlers but not Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. “Israeli officials contend that these Palestinians don’t fall under their jurisdiction under the terms of the Oslo accords and that it is the job of the Palestinian Authority (PA) to procure and distribute vaccines in the occupied territories” (Ishaan Tharoor, “Israel’s vaccine success can’t hide a deeper divide,” Washington Post, January 12, 2021).

Typical of the anti-Israel bias that appears all too often in the press, Tharoor accepts Amnesty International’s assertion that “Israeli lives are valued above Palestinian ones” while devaluing the position of Israeli officials who contend they have no obligation to vaccinate the Palestinians. Tharoor need only read the Oslo accords to see it is a fact, not a point of debate.

Indeed, Article VI of the Oslo agreement transferred responsibility for health and social welfare in the disputed territories to the Palestinians. Israel has no obligation to provide vaccines to the PA, though it could decide to do so on a humanitarian basis after inoculating its own population.

Tharoor’s story even acknowledges the Palestinians have not requested assistance from Israel, but quotes the Palestinian Foreign Ministry’s false claim that Israel is responsible for providing vaccines and is “committing racial discrimination against the Palestinian people.”

Palestinians are not a race, of course, and the idea Israel is discriminating against Arabs is easily disproven by the fact that Israeli Arabs are receiving the vaccination.

Moreover, a PA Ministry of Health official told the Jerusalem Post, “We are working on our own to obtain the vaccine from a number of sources.” He added, “We are not a department in the Israeli Defense Ministry. We have our own government and Ministry of Health, and they are making huge efforts to get the vaccine.” Another official said the PA had obtained vaccines from other sources with the help of the World Health Organization (Khaled Abu Toameh, “Palestinians: We didn't ask Israel for COVID-19 vaccine,” Jerusalem Post, December 21, 2020).

For months, Israel has been offering and providing assistance to the PA to fight the pandemic, but the Palestinians repeatedly rejected offers of aid and even blocked sick people from going to Israeli hospitals. Exceptions are made for VIPs, however, and Saeb Erekat, who spent his career demonizing Israel, went to Hadassah Hospital in Jerusalem after contracting COVID (Daniel Estrin and Scott Neuman,” Top Palestinian Official Receiving COVID-19 Treatment In Israeli Hospital,” NPR, October 19, 2020).

When the Palestinians did ask for vaccines in January 2021, the Israeli government shipped 100 doses to the PA. Another shipment was also on the way (Netael Bandel, “After Denial, Israel Says It Provided COVID Vaccines to Palestinian Authority,” Haaretz, January 13, 2021). The Palestinian Ministry of Health denied, however, that it had received any COVID-19 vaccinations from Israel and continued to insist it would take responsibility for inoculations (“Ministry of Health dismisses reports about receiving vaccinations from Israel, WAFA, January 7, 2021).

While the PA rejects Israeli help, a group of 10 Israeli, Palestinian and international health and “human rights” organizations called for Israel to provide vaccinations to the Palestinians (“Joint Statement: 10 Israeli, Palestinian and international health and human rights organizations: Israel must provide necessary vaccines to Palestinian health care systems,” Al Mezan Center for Human Rights, December 22, 2020). This is typical of the hypocrisy of such organizations, several of which support the anti-Semitic BDS movement and have campaigned against any contact with Israel because it would signify normalization with a nation they believe should not exist.

Meanwhile, Palestinians are potentially spreading the virus inside Israel due to their failure to abide by health guidelines when visiting the Temple Mount. Thousands gather each week, especially on Friday, many without masks or making any effort to maintain the required social distance. They may infect each other as well as many others when they return to their neighborhoods.

“The Temple Mount has become a hotbed of COVID infection at a level that is hard to grasp,” notes Nadav Shragai. “When we add the crowded housing conditions in Jerusalem’s Arab neighborhoods, where people continue to gather and law enforcement is virtually nonexistent, we get a chain of infection that kills Jews and Arabs alike” (Nadav Shragai, “Temple Mount has turned into ‘Corona Mount,’” Israel Hayom, December 20, 2020).

MYTH

America’s Arab allies support U.S. positions at the UN.

FACT

The United States provides a security umbrella for its allies in the Arab world. It also has provided them with billions of dollars in weapons and frequently supports their political ambitions. In addition to arms sales, for example, the Trump administration also did little to discourage the Saudi-led embargo against Qatar even though Qatar is the site of a major U.S. military base. Trump defended rather than punish Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman who is accused of directing the assassination of the dissident journalist Jamal Khashoggi. The administration also supported Saudi intervention in Yemen over congressional objections and sided with the Sunni states against Iran.

If those allies are grateful, it does not show at the UN where, year after year, they vote against the United States, and not just on resolutions related to Israel. In 2019, 100 resolutions passed with a vote in the UN General Assembly, 17 of which were characterized as anti-Israel by the United States. Among the Arab states, Sudan surprisingly voted with the United States most often, but still just 29 percent of the time. As a group, the Arab states voted against the United States on 78 percent of the resolutions. Somalia was at the bottom of the list, opposing the United States 91 percent of the time; Syria was next at 88 percent.

By comparison, Israel has consistently been at or near the top of the list of America’s top UN allies. In 2019, Israel was far ahead of the pack, voting with the United States 96 percent of the time, followed by Micronesia (73 percent). Major U.S. allies such as Canada (66  percent), Australia (66 percent), Great Britain (64 percent), and France (60 percent) lagged far behind.

An “Israel-related” matter is defined by the United States as “any resolution specifically mentioning the state or territory of Israel. The titles and context of these resolutions usually remain the same in the annual scapegoating with almost two-dozen one-sided resolutions against Israel (compared to less than a half-dozen country-specific resolutions on the rest of the world combined).”

The State Department reported in 2019:

Of 193 UN member states, 27 countries voted at least once against any of the 16 anti-Israel resolutions, seven more countries than last year’s 20. Eleven countries (Brazil, Papua New Guinea, Colombia, Estonia, Denmark, Bulgaria, Greece, Lithuania, Netherlands, Romania and Slovakia) joined the list, while four (France, Togo, Moldova, and Japan) dropped off. Note that neither Jordan nor Egypt, which have peace agreements with Israel, voted with Israel and the United States even once (United States Department of State).

MYTH

The Trump peace plan does not offer the Palestinians a capital in Jerusalem.

FACT

Critics falsely argued the Trump peace plan is not consistent with a two-state solution. In fact, it specifically provides for a Palestinian state and goes into great detail about various elements of that state including its borders, treatment of refugees, and security obligations. It also meets the Palestinian demand that Jerusalem serve as the capital of the Palestinian state.

Palestinians object to where in Jerusalem the capital is to be established. They maintain the fantasy that they will control all East Jerusalem, including the Old City, and will fly their flag over Judaism’s holiest place – the Temple Mount. The Trump plan recognizes this is never going to happen. Ehud Barak offered Yasser Arafat a state with a capital in Jerusalem and sovereignty over Arab neighborhoods and control of Muslim holy places. Ehud Olmert made a similar proposal to Mahmoud Abbas. Both Arafat and Abbas decided to prove Abba Eban’s observation that “the Arabs never miss an opportunity to miss an opportunity.”

The Trump plan offered the Palestinians a third chance to establish a state with a capital in Jerusalem, this time based in the Palestinian village of Abu Dis, which is part of the Jerusalem Governorate of the Palestinian Authority. Palestinians reacted with outrage at the idea. “We will not accept Abu Dis or Al-Eizariya, as the capital of the Palestinian State,” Abbas declared after the plan was released (“Abbas: We will not accept Abu Dis or Al-Eizariya as capital of Palestinian State,” Middle East Monitor, February 8, 2020).

Abbas, however, accepted the idea 25-years earlier when he reached an agreement with Israeli negotiator Yossi Beilin to establish the Palestinian capital in Abu Dis. That agreement was never officially signed by either side; nevertheless, the following year, the Palestinians constructed a parliament building in Abu Dis. The failure of the Oslo peace talks following an upsurge in Palestinian terror attacks erased the chance of creating a state based on the Oslo Accords.

The parliament building is still standing, albeit in disrepair, awaiting the arrival of a Palestinian legislature should the Palestinians ever agree to a peace agreement.