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Media Analyses





CAMERA ALERT: Syndicated Propaganda


The tagline accompanying op-eds written by Edmund R. Hanauer reads:

Edmund R. Hanauer, an American Jewish human rights activist, is director of Search for Justice and Equality in Palestine/Israel, a Boston-based human rights/peace group.

Though Hanauer routinely speaks of “justice” and “peace,” the word “misinformation” more accurately describes his attacks against Israel, and his most recent column is no exception. (The column was published in several newspapers across the country. See below for a list of newspapers with links and the full text as published in the Columbus Dispatch.)

Here are just a few of the problems with the column:

• Hanauer implies that Israel prevented a Palestinian state from forming in 1948. “In the 1948 and 1967 Arab-Israeli wars,” he states, "Israel seized the areas intended for the Palestinian state.”

Contrary to this claim, it was Egypt and Jordan–not Israel–that seized the land meant for a Palestinian state in 1948. This was after the Palestinians rejected the international plan which would have given them an independent state. These areas remained in Arab hands for the next 19 years, during which time no Palestinian state was formed. When the Six Day War in 1967 left Israel in control of those territories, Israeli leaders immediately signaled readiness to cede land in exchange for peace. The Arab countries and the Palestinians responded at the notorious Arab League Summit in Khartoum with the infamous “3 No’s”: no to peace, no to negotiations, and no to recognizing Israel.

• He claims that the international community “naively assumed Israel would return all of the land occupied in 1967,” and that international law calls for Israel to withdraw to the Green Line, calling it “the 1967 internationally recognized boundary.”

The international community, however, has made clear that Israel was not expected to “return all of the land occupied in 1967.” U.N. Security Council Resolution 242 calls for Israel to withdraw “from territories” occupied in the war to secure and recognized boundaries, and intentionally did not call on Israel to withdraw from all of the territories. Britain’s Ambassador to the U.N. at the time, Lord Caradon, explained why:

It would have been wrong to demand that Israel return to its positions of June 4, 1967, because those positions were undesirable and artificial. After all, they were just the places where the soldiers of each side happened to be on the day the fighting stopped in 1948. They were just armistice lines. That's why we didn't demand that the Israelis return to them.

Similarly, the Oslo Accords intentionally did not call for Israel to “return all of the land,” but instead left borders (and settlements) to be determined by the parties in future final status negotiations.

• Hanauer also argues that a two-state solution requires recognition of the so-called “right of return” of Palestinian refugees. He claims that “Israel was admitted to the U.N. on the condition that refugees would be allowed home.”

This argument is disingenuous and fallacious.

It is disingenuous to say that a two-state solution should be predicated on the opening of Israel’s borders to any Palestinian who wants to live there, when it is widely understood that the influx of the refugees and their children would destroy the two state solution endorsed by international law by eroding the Jewish majority in the only Jewish state in the world.

The claim that “Israel was admitted to the U.N. on the condition that refugees would be allowed home” is fallacious. Inis L. Claude Jr., a renowned expert in international relations, has explained that though the General Assembly referred to prior resolutions about refugees, “these references . . . did not constitute a declaration that Israel had assumed definite obligations to permit repatriation” of refugees. Indeed, the main complaint of the Arab states at the time was precisely that Israel's admission to the UN did not involve definite assurances concerning the refugees. It is remarkable that at the hands of propagandists like Hanauer the lack of such definite assurances at the time has morphed into definite assurances now.

• Hanauer's charge that Israel has appropriated Palestinian water is also baseless. Israel’s coastal plain is at sea level, and underground water from the higher elevations of the West Bank naturally flow, under gravity, downhill to Israel. Most of the water in the aquifer in question - the so-called Mountain Aquifer - is stored under Israel, and it is most readily accessible in Israel, where it is close to the surface, rather than in the West Bank.

Despite this, since Israel gained control of the West Bank, Palestinian use of water from aquifers shared with Israel has increased, while the percentage of water used by Israel has decreased.

In addition, most of the Arab countries get their water in exactly the same way–the waters of the Nile, for example, don’t originate–at all–in Egypt, but flow downhill from other countries into Egypt. Would Hanauer say that Egypt is stealing, say, Ethiopian water?

• Hanauer offers a list of demands which he says should be part of a two state solution, including: sharing Jerusalem, dismantling settlements, Israeli withdrawal. He ignores the fact that Ehud Barak offered such concessions at Camp David and that Palestinian Yasir Arafat (and fellow negotiator Mahmoud Abbas) rejected them. Instead, Hanauer suggests that it was Arafat who was flexible at the talks.

The column appeared with slight variations in the Sun Sentinel (Jan. 3), the Cleveland Plain Dealer (Dec. 21), the Columbus Dispatch (Dec. 13), and the Boston Globe (Dec. 11).


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