An Oct. 19, 2020 Foreign Policy article reads more like an opinion-editorial than a news report. The dispatch, by FP editorial fellow Allison Meakem, is ostensibly about the political preferences of some Palestinian-American voters in the 2020 U.S. presidential election. But instead the report serves up anti-Israel propaganda.
Meakem filed her dispatch from the Detroit suburb of Dearborn where she notes, residents helped elect Rep. Rashida Tlaib to Congress. Meakem writes: “Resentment among Palestinians here runs high against Trump whose foreign policy has been characterized by unyielding support for Israel, the largest recipient of U.S. foreign aid.” Moreover, the Palestinian-American residents of Dearborn “say [that] Trump has rewritten the rules on U.S. Israel policy,” and “are particularly frustrated with Trump’s move of the U.S. Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem and his 2018 decision to withdraw funding from the United Nations Relief and Works Agency. They’re also feeling energized after the George Floyd protests this summer, seeing reflections of Palestinians’ treatment under Israeli occupation in Black Americans’ oft-deadly experiences with law enforcement.”
Seldom has more nonsense been crammed into a single paragraph.
Meakem’s claim that Israel is “the largest recipient of U.S. foreign aid” is misleading. As Middle East analyst Lee Smith noted in a Sept. 20, 2016 Tablet Magazine article, “Israel doesn’t receive a dime of economic assistance from the United States, and hasn’t since 2007.” The Jewish state does receive U.S. military aid. So do other nations, which run the gamut from NATO allies to Egypt, Jordan, and others. It is often claimed—incorrectly—that Israel receives more military aid than other countries. But as Prof. Hillel Frisch of Bar-Ilan University highlighted in 2017, this only works if one doesn’t count the existence of U.S. troops, personnel and bases as aid. Germany, Japan and South Korea are all protected, at taxpayer expense, by U.S. armed forces. Israel is not.
The FP editorial fellow similarly misleads when she writes that Trump ‘rewrote the rules’ by moving the U.S. Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. In fact, the President was merely implementing the Jerusalem Embassy Act of 1995, which was passed—with bipartisan support—more than twenty years before he came to office. In 2017, several months before Trump implemented the law, the U.S. Senate reaffirmed it in a 90-0 vote. Indeed, the last four party platforms of the Democratic Party called for such a move and Senators Chuck Schumer (D-NY) and Ben Cardin (D-MD), among others, applauded its belated enactment. Implementing a longstanding law that had bipartisan support is hardly “rewriting the rules.”
Meakem also does a disservice to Foreign Policy readers when she omits why the U.S. cut aid to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA). In its August 2018 statement announcing the decision, the U.S. State Department called the agency “irredeemably flawed.” Indeed, as CAMERA has documented, UNRWA has literally had terrorists on its payroll, and its officials have engaged in a litany of abuses, including praising Hitler and calling Palestinians who seek cooperation with Israel “collaborators” and writing poems that celebrate their murder. Unsurprisingly, the U.S. elected to quit footing most of the bill for such an organization. Yet, this context was missing in Meakem’s report.
For example, Meakem uncritically quotes “Ahmad Abuznaid, a Palestinian American lawyer and activist” who claimed that Trump was a fascist and his opponent, former Vice President Joe Biden, “is particularly bad on some of our issues.” But Abuznaid is more than just a “lawyer and activist”—he’s also a known antisemite.
As Canary Mission has documented, Abuznaid has frequently compared Israelis to Nazis—a comparison that meets the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) definition of antisemitism, which has been adopted by numerous countries and the U.S. State Department. Abuznaid has also praised and supported terrorists. In several social media posts he has expressed support for Rasmea Odeh and Leila Khaled, among others. Odeh was a member of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), a U.S.-designated terror group. She masterminded a 1969 supermarket bombing in which two college students were murdered. In a May 18, 2016 Facebook post, Abuznaid said that Khaled, another PFLP terrorist, “taught us how to fight.”
Also noteworthy: Abuznaid is the son of Dr. Nabil Abuznaid, a veteran diplomat for the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) and former advisor to PLO Chairman Yasser Arafat. He also co-founded the anti-Israel organization Dream Defenders and is affiliated with several other anti-Israel groups, including American Muslims for Palestine (AMP) and Jewish Voice for Peace (JVP).
In sum: Meakem not only uncritically quoted an antisemite and terror apologist, she failed to fully identify his background for FP readers.
The writer’s attempt to draw comparisons between police abuses in the U.S. and Israel’s treatment of Arabs is equally absurd—and revealing. Arab citizens of Israel serve in the nation’s legislative body, the Knesset, sit on the Supreme Court and run hospitals and major corporations. Indeed, politically, socially, and economically, Israeli Arabs enjoy greater rights than their Palestinian brethren. Palestinians who live under Hamas, the U.S.-designated terror group that rules the Gaza Strip, or the Palestinian Authority in the West Bank (Judea and Samaria) live in actual police states where elections are not held, human rights abuses are rampant (and largely unpunished), and freedom of the press is virtually non-existent. Israeli Arabs have voted in four national elections in the last two years. Arabs living under Palestinian rule haven’t voted in more than a decade.
The author writes: “most of Dearborn’s Palestinian immigrants came to Michigan in waves, after the Arab-Israeli wars in 1948 and 1967. The two episodes of massive displacement are known to Palestinians as the nakba and the naksa, respectively In Palestinian eyes, the nakba, which means ‘catastrophe,’ was only the first of further catastrophes yet to come. Many consider the U.S.-brokered 1993 Oslo Accords between Israel and the PLO to be a turning point that essentially normalized Israeli settlements on Palestinian land, thereby jeopardizing any hopes of a two-state solution.”
Later, Meakem uncritically quotes a Palestinian anti-Israel activist who asserts that “Israel was not a country before ‘48” and that Palestinian Arabs are “indigenous to the land.”
In fact, a Palestinian Arab state has never existed and Arabs are from the Arabian Peninsula. Jews are from Judea—or as it has been rebranded in the last half-century, the “West Bank.” The Jewish people are indigenous to the land and have had a continual presence there, which predates that of the Arab/Islamic conquests of the 7th century.
As the historian Daniel Pipes has noted, “Palestine was brought into existence by British imperial authorities, not by Arabs.” Historically, a Muslim Arab state called Palestine has never existed and the Arabs residing in the area expressed little interest in creating one. Indeed, as Martin Kramer noted in his book Islam Assembled, the Arabs residing in what was British-ruled Mandate Palestine in the wake of the dissolution of the Ottoman Empire initially sought to be included in the mandate for Syria. The first head of the Palestine Liberation Organization, Ahmed Shukariy acknowledged, “everyone knows that Palestine is nothing but southern Syria.”
A Palestinian Arab state could have existed—but Palestinian Arab leaders have consistently rejected such a historic opportunity if it meant living next to a Jewish state. Palestinian Arabs were offered proposals for statehood in 1937, 1948, 1967, 2000, 2001 and 2008, among other instances. Yet, on each occasion they refused. In 1948, for example, they rejected the U.N. Partition Plan that would have created two states out of the Mandate, one Jewish and another Arab, choosing instead to go to war. Indeed, as Benny Morris noted in his history of the 1948 war, Palestinians fought alongside actual Nazis who had been recruited—many via Syria—to help destroy Israel. Their rejection of statehood and attempt to recommit mass genocide of Jews is what really happened during the so-called “Nakba.”
Palestinian Arab leaders have continued to support anti-Jewish violence via paying salaries to terrorists, and they have continued to reject proposals for a two-state solution. In March 2016, for example, then-Vice President Joe Biden made a last ditch proposal to PA President Mahmoud Abbas—who promptly rejected it. Meakem omits these facts, however. For a 1,000-word article that, among other things, discusses Biden and Palestinians, these omissions are revealing.
Indeed, Foreign Policy’s Oct. 19, 2020 report encapsulates much of what is wrong with media coverage of the Israel-Islamist conflict: Omitted peace offers, revisionist history, questionable sources, inaccurate terminology and a persistent, if implicit, willingness to paint Israel as the aggressor and Palestinians as lacking independent agency and responsibility.