J Street Runs with Ha’aretz Falsehood on Palestinian Incitement

Once again, a false report originating from the Israeli newspaper Ha’aretz, and veteran journalist Akiva Eldar in particular, finds its way into the American arena. Last year, Israel Lobby author John Mearsheimer relied on fabricated survey results concocted by Eldar. To its credit, the Chicago Tribune, which published Mearsheimer’s error-ridden column, printed a correction following communication with CAMERA. Eldar himself then followed suit with a correction.
But Eldar is up to his same old tricks, and his faithful readers abroad are still falling for them. J Street is the latest American outfit to recycle Eldar’s flagrant falsehoods. Earlier this month, Eldar argued in an Op-Ed (“Netanyahu is ignoring Abbas’ efforts to end Palestinian incitement“) that Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas approached former Canadian Justice Minister Irwin Cotler about renewing a bilateral incitement monitoring committe, but that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu declined to resume the committee’s activities. Eldar wrote:

At a meeting at the Muqata in Ramallah in June of last year I asked Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas to speak about the phenomenon of incitement.

He didn’t look for excuses and said he has lost sleep over the fanning of hatred – on both sides. He added that despite cutting off negotiations in the wake of settlement construction, he had offered to renew the activity of the Israeli-Palestinian-American committee for preventing incitement. (The committee was established in 1998, subsequent to Netanyahu’s demand at the Wye conference. )

According to Abbas, the proposal was transmitted to Netanyahu, who chose to ignore it. At the end of 2010 Abbas, according to his bureau, renewed his offer to Netanyahu, this time via former Canadian Justice Minister Irwin Cotler. Again no reply was received.

The Prime Minister’s Bureau denied Netanyahu had ever received a proposal to renew the committee’s activity and said he didn’t reject it. However, in a telephone conversation with Haaretz on Monday, Cotler said he had met with Netanyahu at the beginning of January of this year and gave him the message from Abbas.

According to Cotler, Netanyahu expressed agreement to renewing the committee’s activity but since then he has not heard from him. (Emphasis added.)

Eldar has difficulty getting his story straight. At first, he says that “no reply was received” from Netanyahu regarding Abbas’ offer to resume the committee. Then, two paragraphs later, he has a different version: Netanyahu did agree to renewing the committee, but then did not follow up. Which one is it? Either way, Eldar’s self-contradiction does not deter J Street, which pounces on Netanyahu’s alleged rejection of the anti-incitement activity. A J Street press release concerning the organization’s opposition to a Congressional letter condemning Palestinian incitement, states:
This letter falls short of that goal, containing material omissions and misrepresentations of fact and presenting a biased and inaccurate picture of the current status of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. For instance,  the letter fails to mention that PA President Mahmoud Abbas has twice attempted to renew the activity of the Israeli-Palestinian-American committee for preventing incitement created at the Wye conference, and twice been rejected by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
The source? Eldar, of course.

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