CAMERA prompted a New York Times correction after the newspaper described cities within Israel as “Palestinian” and charged Israel with responsibility for water, gas and electricity shortages in the Gaza Strip.
In its December 19 story “An ‘Arab Idol’ Wows His Fans In America,” The Times referred to Palestinian singer Mohammed Assaf “singing longingly about cities in Israel that were once Palestinian,” and stated that “Mr. Assaf grew up in the Khan Younis refugee camp in Gaza, an area that often has shortages of water, gas and electricity because of restrictions imposed by Israel.”
CAMERA explained that there are no cities in Israel that were “once Palestinian,” as the term is understood by readers today. Present-day Israel was part of the British Mandate of Palestine (as was the West Bank and Gaza Strip) before its establishment in 1948. The cities did not belong to the Palestinians. On the contrary, the term “Palestine” under the British Mandate connoted the area in which a Jewish state was to be established. T
Although it is true that many Palestinian Arabs believe cities in Israel rightfully belong to them, this is clearly a partisan political stance.
CAMERA further noted that the charge of Israeli responsibility for water, gas and electric shortages is specious. While it is true that Israel, as well as Egypt, restricts certain construction materials that can be used for military purposes, Israel does not restrict — and indeed facilitates — the importation of water and fuel. In fact, it is widely recognized even among Gazans that the Hamas government is responsible for the shortages affecting them. By choosing to halt fuel imports from Israel through heavy taxation and instead smuggle subsidized diesel earmarked for Egyptians into the Gaza Strip via smuggling tunnels from Egypt, Hamas has incurred the wrath of Gazans. Egypt’s destruction of smuggling tunnels and Hamas’ refusal to pay the Palestinian Authority for electricity have resulted in the shortages seen in the Gaza Strip.
The newspaper commendably published the following correction on Dec. 31:
An article on Dec. 19 about Mohammed Assaf, a Palestinian singer from Gaza who has become a star in the Arab world after winning the “Arab Idol” competition, referred incorrectly to cities in Israel Mr. Assaf sings about. While they had largely Arab populations before Israel became a state in 1948, they were not “Palestinian” in the sense of being part of a Palestinian political entity. The article also referred incorrectly to shortages of water, gas and electricity in Gaza. While Israel places restrictions on some goods coming into Gaza, and many Palestinians blame Israel for shortages, they were worsened by Egypt’s closing of smuggling tunnels and by a tax dispute between the militant Hamas faction, which governs Gaza, and the Palestinian Authority. The article also referred incorrectly to Mr. Assaf’s travels to Cairo for “Arab Idol” auditions. The Sinai Desert is part of Egypt; he rode for hours through the Sinai from the border with Egypt, not to the border.