While former Meretz leader Yossi Sarid, now a columnist at Ha'aretz, is perfectly entitled to his opinions, neither his past nor present positions grant him any immunity when it comes to publishing falsehoods. And yet, in his column today, Sarid repeats the "Jewish-only roads" falsehood propagated several times over the last few years by Ha'aretz. Weighing in on the recent opposition of Israeli theater professionals to performing in a new cultureal center in Ariel, a large settlement over the Green Line, Sarid writes:
The artists can't be dragged to Ariel in blunt contradiction of their political beliefs; they can't be driven on our Jewish-only apartheid roads.
In a certain respect, the former lawmaker is correct. The artists can't be driven on "Jewish-only apartheid roads" ... because none exist. As first explained several years ago to Ha'aretz editors, there are no "Jewish-only" roads (apartheid or otherwise) in the West Bank, though there are a few roads prohibited to Palestinians in the West Bank. Israel's Arab citizens and, indeed, Israeli citizens of any religion or ethnicity, have just as much right to travel on those restricted roads as do Israeli Jews. Israeli Arabs frequently use the bypass roads for business and to visit relatives.
As for the road that leads to Ariel in particular, Route 505, it is completely open to Palestinian traffic. At Kfar Qasem Junction on the Trans-Israel Highway (highway 6), travelers from central Israel to Ariel turn onto Highway 5 and it becomes Route 505, the so-called "Jewish-only apartheid road" which takes passengers -- and not only Jewish or only Israeli ones -- to Ariel. CAMERA visited this route following a Nov. 17, 2009 article by Noam Ben-Zeev, which provided this fanciful description of the road:
Before you know it, youre on the best road between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Route 505, well-lit and with the highest-quality asphalt, wide shoulders and clear signage. This road cuts east through the West Bank and reaches the Jordan Valley. The fences on either side, separating it from the lands of Palestinian villages in the area, make it an exemplary apartheid road for Jews only. And you can fly along at 140 kilometers per hour, from one Jewish settlement to the next.
During our 2009 visit, CAMERA staff saw a road teeming with a Palestinian presence, including countless Palestinian vehicles -- taxis, private cars, buses, and trucks driving freely on the road. (Palestinian vehicles carry white or green plates, while Israeli vehicles carry yellow plates.) Here is a sampling of the scores of Palestinian vehicles spotted that day passing a Route 505 road sign (all photos by CAMERA):
Dozens of Palestinian vehicles and several Palestinian pedestrians waiting for rides were seen at the traffic circle next to the entrance of the Jewish town of Ariel, also on 505. See below.
Below, a truck leaving the Palestinian village of Marda, slightly west of Tapuach Junction, is about to turn onto Route 505.
Further west, closer to the Green Line, Palestinian homes, as well as a Palestinian owned dry-cleaning business, are located right next to Route 505. The residents' and customers' access to the road is completely unhindered.
While Palestinian traffic is permitted to travel freely on Route 505 in the West Bank, it is Israeli traffic which is prohibited for a 5.5 kilometer stretch from Elkana to Kiryat Netafim. Below is the Elknana barrier preventing Israelis from continuing on Route 505.
Only Ha'aretz Doesn't Correct
While major media outlets such as the Associated Press
, Washington Post
, Boston Globe
, and CNN.com
have all corrected the "Jewish-only roads" falsehood, only Ha'aretz
refuses to do so. How long will the Ha'aretz
elitists continue to barrel down a road of journalistic malpractice, steadfast in their mistaken belief that rules may apply to others, but surely not them?
To read the Hebrew version of this article on Presspectiva, CAMERA's Israeli Web site, click here.