20 McClatchy Sites Delete False Story About NJ Synagogue ‘Sale’ of ‘Palestinian Land’

A screenshot of one of the tens of McClatchy sites which had published, then commendably removed, Schrader’s false story

On March 6, more than 20 McClatchy news sites across the United States commendably pulled a false United Press International by Adam Schrader two days after the wire service had itself already independently corrected. UPI’s March 3 article, “New Jersey synagogue will allegedly auction off occupied Palestinian land,” had initially falsely alleged:

Palestinian groups are calling for supporters to protest a purported auction of homes on occupied Palestinian land at the Keter Torah Synagogue in New Jersey.

A review of homes listed in the sale at My Home In Israel Real Estate shows cottages in Efrat, a settlement in the West Bank. The cottages are listed for $1.3 million. The sale is expected to take place on March 10, though does not appear on the Keter Torah Synagogue calendar.

“If we allow this sale to go through, we are enabling a local synagogue to violate both domestic anti-discrimination laws and international law,” local activist Rich Siegel told Democracy Now. “Now, there’s other reasons we shouldn’t allow it, OK? There’s a genocide going on right now.”

One day after the publication of Schrader’s story which was faulty and false on multiple levels, UPI itself commendably made extensive revisions and corrections to the article, starting with the headline. The improved headline is “Protest planned against synagogue event marketing West Bank homes.”

UPI’s corrected story made clear that, contrary to Schrader’s original reporting, there was to be no “sale” of “Palestinian land” at the New Jersey synagogue. The significantly amended story now reports:

Palestinian groups are calling for supporters to protest an event at a New Jersey synagogue marketing the sale of homes in the West Bank.

A review of homes listed to be showcased in the real estate event by My Home In Israel Real Estate shows cottages in Efrat, a settlement in the West Bank. The cottages are listed for $1.3 million. The event is expected to take place on March 10 at Keter Torah Synagogue in Teaneck, N.J.

Palestinian groups had encouraged supporters to protest the event, calling it an auction. Juda Engelmayer, a spokesperson for the synagogue, told UPI that the place of worship has been rented by a group of developers to hold the event.

“That said, it’s solely educational and informational, discussing the options, tax and financial implications for U.S. citizens buying property abroad,” Engelmayer said. “No sales happen there and it’s not an auction of any sort.”

Futhermore, UPI’s correction appended to the bottom of the updated story notes: “This story has been updated to clarify that the event is not an auction and to include statements made on behalf of Keter Torah Synagogue.”

Additional changes to Schrader’s original report include the deletion of Richard Siegel’s statement to Democracy Now repeating the false charge of a synagogue sale of allegedly Palestinian land against the backdrop of what he called genocide. Similarly, the following two paragraphs platforming the fringe anti-Israel groups Jewish Voice for Peace piling on with the false genocide smear and other unfounded accusations of war crimes no longer appear in the article:

Meanwhile, a local chapter of Jewish Voice for Peace, a Jewish group that seeks an end to the conflict between Israelis and Palestinians, has told its followers on Instagram to protest Keller Williams in Englewood.

“Zionists at Keller-Williams think they’re entitled to steal land from Palestinians and sell it to white Americans,” the group said in its post on Saturday. “Let’s show up on Tuesday and let them know how we feel about them breaking domestic and international laws while the terrorist regime they shamelessly support commits daily war crimes in its genocide of an indigenous population.”

Among Schrader’s numerous errors, he had wrongly reported that the Israeli settlement of Efrat is built on “Palestinian land.” Israeli settlements in the West Bank are built on disputed land, not “Palestinian land.”  The territory’s status, like that of all of the West Bank, is to be resolved by negotiations anticipated by U.N. Security Council resolutions 242 (1967) and 338 (1973), the 1995 Israeli-Palestinian interim accords, the 2003 international “road map” and related diplomatic efforts taking 242 and 338 as reference points. The co-authors of resolution 242, U.S. Under Secretary of State Eugene Rostow, U.S. ambassador to the United Nations Arthur Goldberg, and British ambassador Lord Caradon made clear at the time and subsequently that Jews and Arabs both had claims in the territories, no national sovereignty over the territories had been recognized since the end of Ottoman rule and negotiations would be necessary to resolve competing claims. At no time in history were Palestinians ever sovereign over the land on which Israeli settlements are located. Previous media outlets to correct erroneous this point include The Los Angeles TimesThe Washington PostVoice of America, and NBC, among many more.

The cooked up story, granting a national spotlight for fringe anti-Israel activists accusing a New Jersey synagogue of illegally selling Palestinian land against the purported context of genocide, puts a target on the back of the Jewish institution at a perilous time when American antisemitism, including violent attacks against Jewish establishments, is on an all-time high. UPI is to be commended for making the much needed changes to the article which should never have appeared, and hopefully going forward, Schrader’s problematic coverage on Jews and Israel will undergo heightened fact-checking prior to publication.

Meanwhile, by the morning of March 6, Schrader’s false and defamatory reporting still appeared on 20 or so McClatchy newspapers which had yet to update with UPI’s March 4 corrected version.

In response to communication from CAMERA, editors at McClatchy subsequently removed Schrader’s story entirely from its publications across the country including Charlotte Observer, Ledger Enquirer, Merced Sun-Star, Miami Herald, Tacuma News Tribune, Fresno Bee, The Olympian, Fort Worth Star-Telegram, The Island Packet, Idaho Statesman, Modesto Bee, Bellingham Herald, Herald Sun (Durham), The State, Wichita Eagle, San Luis Obispo Tribune, Tri-City Herald, Bradenton Herald, Telegraph (Macon), The Sacramento Bee and Sun News (Myrtle Beach).

As of this writing, March UPI’s post on X (formerly Twitter) falsely reporting “New Jersey synagogue will allegedly auction off occupied Palestinian land,” still appears, although CAMERA alerted UPI to the baseless post on March 6.

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