There is a disturbing trend toward one-sided, inaccurate and distorted articles about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict appearing in popular magazines and professional journals that don’t usually cover politics or world affairs.
Marie Claire is a “women’s magazine” which typically focuses on beauty, sex, fashion and a monthly feature on women’ s issues of international concern. The November 2002 edition features an apparently well-meaning special report entitled “War is Hell: Women and Children.” The article contains segments on conflicts in Colombia, India-Pakistan, Indonesia, Sudan, Bosnia, Sri Lanka, and “Israel-Palestine.” Much of the article is informative about horrific human rights violations often overlooked by the media, but the sections on Israel are woefully distorted.
In the section entitled “The World’s Worst Conflicts,” the magazine describes the “Israel-Palestine” conflict this way:
What you may know: When Israelis won a homeland in 1948, close to a million Palestinians were expelled from their homes. On and off violence has continued ever since, despite a peace accord signed by Yasser Arafat and Yitzhak Rabin in 1993.
What you don’t know: Today, 4.5 million of the 7.7 million Palestinians are scattered around the world, many living in refugee camps. At the same time, a growing number of Israelis are resisting fighting in this war. Yet increasing extremism on both sides has led to ever escalating violence, and the prospect of peace has dramatically receded.
A more appropriate summary could have been:
What You May Know: The Arab-Israeli conflict has simmered for more than 50 years. The wars in ‘48 and ‘67 caused many Palestinians to become refugees. War and ongoing terrorism against Israel have often led to restrictive measures against Palestinians as Israel heightened security measures to protect its citizens against further violence.
What You Don’t Know: Through thousands of years, although exiled several times from the land of Israel, Jews have always returned to live in their homeland. Organized Arab terrorism against Jews began in 1920 when increased Jewish immigration to Palestine led Arabs to fear economic and cultural domination by the Jews. Incitement to violence against the Jews was fomented by the leading Palestinian Arab figure, Haj Amin el Husseini. In 1947, when the UN partitioned Palestine into a Jewish state and an Arab state, the Arabs refused compromise and demanded the entirety of Palestine, waging war to gain it all, even though they had legal claim to less than 30% of the land. They lost that war, as well as the 1967 and 1973 wars they also fought in attempts to destroy Israel. Still clinging to maximalist demands, the Palestinian Arabs rejected yet another two-state solution offered in 2000, and launched yet another wave of terror against Jews that continues until today.
*** Marie Claire states that Israel “won a homeland in 1948.” Aside from omitting the decades of political work and nation-building by the Jews that culminated in the UN Partition Plan, the article omits that an Arab state was also created in 1947, and that it was Egypt and Jordan which occupied much of the territory meant for the Palestinian Arab state. If the Arabs had accepted the UN’s two-state solution in 1947, instead of insisting upon all of the land and waging war against Israel in an attempt to nullify the UN vote, the Palestinian Arabs would have had their own state 55 years ago and there would be no Palestinian refugees.
*** The article wrongly implies that Israel’s founders pursued a policy of ethnic cleansing, saying “close to a million Palestinians were expelled from their homes [in 1948].” Although some Palestinians were expelled by Israel, the vast majority of Palestinians who left their homes did so of their own accord, often out of fear caused by Arab leaders who fabricated propaganda about rapes and massacres supposedly perpetrated by Jewish soldiers. Additionally, the number of refugees is exaggerated. Estimates vary from 500,000 to 750,000.
*** Choosing to use space in this very brief summary to mention the Israeli reservists who refuse to serve in the territories reflects the highly partisan nature of this segment. The percentage of reservists who have taken this action is minuscule, and, in fact, reservists’ compliance with call up duty is at an ALL TIME HIGH. Many reservists have volunteered before being called up, even returning from life overseas to do so. Others have asked to extend their time on active duty.
*** The suggestion of “increasing extremism on both sides” paints a distorted picture of the current conflict. With groups like Hamas and Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigades enjoying immense popularity on the Arab street, and with upwards of 70% of all Palestinians favoring continued terrorism against Israel over diplomatic measures, extremism weighs heavily on the Palestinian side. By contrast, Israel’s government has shown striking restraint, as for example in the military action against the terrorist infrastructure in the Jenin refugee camp. Sharon sent IDF soldiers house to house in search of terrorists and weapons rather than bombing from the air — all in an effort to spare civilian lives. The Israeli military suffered heavy losses due to this policy of restraint.
There have been a very small number of terrorist attacks against Arabs in which Jews have been implicated, but these events have been overwhelmingly condemned by the Israeli public and by the government. There is no rational comparison between the officially-promoted mass terrorism against Israelis by Palestinians and the renegade actions of a few Israeli Jews.
*** The “Child Soldiers” section mentions neither Palestinian use of children on the front lines of war, nor official PA priming of its youngest citizens for suicide or “martyr” attacks through Palestinian Authority-controlled school curricula, media, and summer camp programs.
*** The “Refugee Camps” section does not mention the Palestinian refugees camps at all, even though they have become a haven for terrorist cells that incite children to violence and suicide. Nothing is written of the key roles of the UN and the Arab world in perpetuating the refugee status of Palestinians.
*** In the section, “Why do wars never end? BECAUSE THEY’RE PROFITABLE,” Marie Claire implies that the US perpetuates the conflict because they make money selling weaponry to Israel. This kind of conspiracy theory hardly has a place in a mainstream magazine. Why has the Israeli-Palestinian conflict persisted for so many years? Because the Arabs continue to violently attack Israel. Obviously, Israel must defend itself against violent aggression and terrorism.
*** The key causes of the conflict — Arab rejection of the Jews’ right to a sovereign nation in the Jews’ historic homeland, indoctrination of intolerance toward other religions, and incitement — are never presented.
*** The article’s “Water” section alleges that Israel callously uses a shared aquifer for “many private swimming pools” at the expense of Palestinian drinking water. It also states: “At maximum, many Arab residents in the occupied territories receive water only two days a week.” “Palestinians are forbidden to sink new wells when old ones run dry.”
1) Israel and the Palestinians naturally do share water supplies that are under both Israel and the Palestinian territories. It should be noted, however, that Israel provides additional water to the Arabs from water supplies within Israel. Every year over 40 MCM (million cubic meters) of water from sources within Israel is piped over the Green Line for Palestinian use in the West Bank.
2) Up until just this week, Palestinians were allowed to sink new wells. Although it has been interrupted since the current wave of violence, the Palestinians have had control of the resources in their territories ever since the Oslo Accords were signed. However, even though donor countries had provided expertise and funds, the Palestinians did not implement recommended systems to keep the water supply safe. So many new wells were created without proper supervision and planning that they damaged the water system, allowing pollutants to contaminate the ground water supply. To guard against further damage to the water supply that both peoples depend upon, Israel placed a temporary ban on new wells in the territories.
3) In the 1980s, when Israel controlled the territories, Palestinian villages were given the option of being connected to Israel’s National Water carrier to tap water but many refused on political grounds, not wanting to recognize Israel’s presence in any form.
4) Palestinians, especially Palestinian officials, also have swimming pools.