The Capital Times, a daily newspaper published in Madison, Wisconsin, published an Op-Ed on March 17 by local anti-Israel activist Jennifer Loewenstein. Loewenstein had previously achieved notoriety as the sponsor of a controversial resolution calling for Madison to adopt Rafah, a Palestinian city in the Gaza Strip run by Hamas, as a sister city.
The March 17th column, for the most part, ranted incoherently against Israel and was riddled with factual errors. The most obvious errors are enumerated below (others were too convoluted and muddled to sort out).
1) Loewenstein begins by stating as fact that A) “Israel opposes a two-state solution” and that B) Hamas “has stated clearly and repeatedly that it would accept a Palestinian state on the lands occupied by Israel in the 1967 war, the West Bank, the Gaza Strip and East Jerusalem.” She later adds that “Israel has categorically rejected” the two-state solution These statements–the premise of the author’s piece–indicating that it is Israel rejecting the possibility of peace with a two-state solution while Hamas embraces it–are patently false.
A) During negotiations with the Palestinians at Camp David and Taba in 2000, Israeli Prime Minister offered the Palestinians a state of their own in over 95% of the West Bank and Gaza–an offer rejected by then-Palestinian leader Yasir Arafat. The Arabs had similarly rejected efforts by the United Nations to achieve a two-state solution in 1947, before the establishment of the state of Israel (UNGA Resolution 181. The Israeli government, nevertheless, has continued its commitment to a two-state solution to the Arab-Israeli conflict. At the White House on February 7, 2002, Ariel Sharon announced after meeting with President George W. Bush:
Israel is committed to peace. And at the end of the process, I believe that the Palestinian state, of course, will be — we’ll see a Palestinian state.
And at the Herzliah conference on December 5, 2002 Sharon publicly agreed to endorse the Bush administration’s so-called Road Map to create an independent Palestinian state. The Road Map, Sharon’s disengagement plan, and now acting Prime Minister Ehud Olmert’s agenda all revolve around the concept of a two-state solution.
B) In sharp contrast to Israel’s position and contrary to Ms. Loewenstein’s assertion, Hamas opposes a two-state solution which is counter to the terms of its charter. Hamas leaders have rejected the Jewish state in its totality and are committed to replacing it with an Islamic state. Recent statements by Hamas leaders affirm this:
… when Israel is defeated, its path is defeated, those who call to support it are defeated, and the cowards who hide behind it and support it are defeated. Israel will be defeated, and so will whoever supported or supports it….
… Before Israel dies, it must be humiliated and degraded. Allah willing, before they die, they will experience humiliation and degradation every day. America will be of no avail to them. Their generals will be of no avail to them….Allah willing, we will make them lose their eyesight, we will make them lose their brains. (MEMRI, February 7, 2006)
Palestine means Palestine in its entirety – from the [Mediterranean] Sea to the [Jordan] River, from Ras Al-Naqura to Rafah. We cannot give up a single inch of it. Therefore, we will not recognize the Israeli enemy’s [right] to a single inch. (MEMRI, February 1, 2006)
We do not and will not recognize a state called Israel. Israel has no right to any inch of Palestinian land. This is an important issue. Our position stems from our religious convictions.” (MEMRI, August 19, 2005)
We have come here in multitudes to proclaim that Hirbiya and Ashkelon will be taken by the mujahideen. We have come here to say that the weapons of the resistance that you see here will remain, Allah willing, so that we can liberate Palestine – all of Palestine – from the [Mediterranean] Sea to the [Jordan] River, whether they like it or not.” (MEMRI, September 21, 2005)
The Hamas Charter (Covenant) which sets out the group’s raison d’etre and policies, repeatedly calls for jihad to obliterate the State of Israel. For example, the following are just some of the many references to Hamas’ goal of replacing all of the Jewish state with an Islamic one:
…The covenant of the Islamic Resistance Movement (Hamas) reveals its face, presents its identity, clarifies its stand, makes clear its aspiration, discusses its hopes, and calls out to help it and support it and to join its ranks, because our fight with the Jews is very extensive and very grave, and it requires all the sincere efforts. It is a step that must be followed by further steps; it is a brigade that must be reinforced by brigades upon brigades from this vast Islamic world, until the enemies are defeated and Allah’s victory is revealed.
In Article 9:
As for the goals, they are to fight falsehood, vanquish it and defeat it so that righteousness shall rule, the homeland shall return [to its rightful owner], and from the top of its mosques, the [Muslim] call for prayer will ring out announcing the rise of the rule of Islam, so that people and things shall all return to their proper place. From Allah we seek succor.
In Article 11:
The Islamic Resistance Movement maintains that the land of Palestine is Waqf land given as endowment for all generations of Muslims until the Day of Resurrection. One should not neglect it or [even] a part of it, nor should one relinquish it or [even] a part of it. No Arab state, or [even] all of the Arab states [together], have [the right] to do this; no king or president has this right nor all the kings and presidents together; no organization, or all the organizations together – be they Palestinian or Arab – [have the right to do this] because Palestine is Islamic Waqf land given to all generations of Muslims until the Day of Resurrection. This is the legal status of the land of Palestine according to Islamic law. In this respect, it is like any other land that the Muslims have conquered by force, because the Muslims consecrated it at the time of the conquest as religious endowment for all generations of Muslims until the Day of Resurrection.
In Article 13:
[Peace] initiatives, the so-called peaceful solutions, and the international conferences to resolve the Palestinian problem, are all contrary to the beliefs of the Islamic Resistance Movement. For renouncing any part of Palestine means renouncing part of the religion; the nationalism of the Islamic Resistance Movement is part of its faith, the movement educates its members to adhere to its principles and to raise the banner of Allah over their homeland as they fight their Jihad…
…There is no solution to the Palestinian problem except by Jihad.
In Article 15 :
In order to face the usurpation of Palestine by the Jews, we have no escape from raising the banner of Jihad…We must spread the spirit of Jihad among the [Islamic] Umma, clash with the enemies and join the ranks of the Jihad fighters.
In Article 28:
Israel, by virtue of its being Jewish and of having a Jewish population, defies Islam and the Muslims.
2) Loewenstein alleges that land in Judea and Samaria “has been crisscrossed and circled with Jewish-only roads that bind the land to Israel.”
This assertion is false as well. While there are roads that are closed to West Bank Palestinians either temporarily or longer term because of security concerns, there are no “Jewish-only roads.” Arab citizens of Israel and, indeed, Israeli citizens of any religion and ethnicity, travel on those roads as do Israeli Jews. Israeli Arabs frequently use the bypass roads for business and to visit relatives. Moreover, at least one Israeli Arab was fatally shot by Palestinian terrorists on one of these roads. As the Los Angeles Times reported on Aug. 8, 2001:
Wael Ghanem, an Israeli Arab, was shot and killed as he drove toward the Jewish settlement of Tzofim in the West Bank, not far from where an Israeli woman was killed on Sunday. . . . However, he was driving a car with yellow license plates on a West Bank road where a similar shooting attack had taken place, raising the possibility that Palestinian gunmen thought they were targeting an Israeli settler.
Georgios Tsibouktzakis, a Greek Orthodox monk, shot on June 12, 2001, was another non-Jew killed by Palestinian terrorists while on these roads.
3) Loewenstein alleges that “Israel allots to itself first use of the natural resources, especially water, from the territory it has appropriated or surounded,” and falsely implies that Israel deprives Palestinians in the West Bank of these water resources.
In fact,. Israel obtains roughly 50% of its water from the Sea of Galilee and the Coastal Aquifer, both of which are entirely within Israel’s pre-1967 borders. Another 30 percent comes from the Western and Northeastern Aquifers of the Mountain Aquifer system. These aquifers straddle the Green Line separating Israel from the West Bank, but most of the stored water is under pre-1967 Israel, making it easily accessible only in Israel. Before the 1967 war when Israel gained control of the West Bank territories, Israel used 95 percent of the Western Aquifer’s water, and 82 percent of the Northeastern Aquifer’s water. Today, Israel’s share of these aquifers has declined to 83 percent and 80 percent, respectively. Contrary to Loewenstein’s false suggestion, the Palestinian share of these aquifers has increased under direct Israeli administration. Furthermore, 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. Ramallah, for example, receives over 5 MCM. Israel sends another 4 MCM over its border for Palestinian use in Gaza. Thus, it is the Palestinians who are using Israeli water.
…most of the eastern perimeter of the current state [of Israel] is a concrete wall erasing from view that ‘other side,’ which is unmentionable in polite company. The eastern perimeter wall will soon be the western perimeter wall because the acting prime minister, Ehud Olmert, has just announced that the rest of the unincorporated West Bank land will soon be annexed to Israel.
While it is difficult to understand just what Loewenstein is referring to, it is clearcut that 1) there is no wall on the eastern perimeter of Israel and 2) that Olmert has never declared he would annex “the rest” of the West Bank to Israel.
The settled lands with their settler families have been mapped and assigned, seized and secured from the Arabs in the shabby clothes in the rundown villages who live outside of, or have been forced to leave, the protected colonial zones.
Aside from the logical gaps in this passage –how can people be forced out of a zone they are already living outside of? –the implication that Israel seized homes and expelled poverty stricken Palestinians in order to make way for settlements is false. Israeli settlements have been established only after an exhaustive investigation process, under the supervision of the Supreme Court of Israel, designed to ensure that no communities are established on private Arab land.
She falsely claims that the Kadima party announced “that it will put the Palestinians on a starvation diet for presuming to exercise their rights.”
Another false claim. The party never announced any sanctions on Palestinians for exercising their democratic rights. The intensification of security measures and halting the transfer of funds to the Hamas party is based completely on Israel’s security concerns. But unsurprisingly, Loewenstein makes no mention of these legitimate, the raison d’etre of a security barrier and checkpoints (On March 21, Israeli police apprehended 10 Palestinian occupants of a van carrying explosives on their way to carry out a large suicide attack in the middle of Israel).
While they [Palestinians] are being stomped, they must renounce violence so that the hoodlums [her reference to Israel] won’t get hurt. If they defend themselves they lose.
opposes a two-state solution. It also opposes a one-state and a bi-national state, a federated secular state, and the zillion interim-state solutions that have been drawn up and debated and argued over the years. It opposes them because it opposes the presence of another people on land it has claimed as the exclusive patrimony of the Jews.
Loewenstein contradicts herself here. Although she states that Israel does not support a one-state solution, she goes on to say that “it opposes the presence of another people on land it has claimed as the exclusive patrimony of the Jews” which means that Israel does then support a one-state solution course–something contradicted by the Israeli government’s stated position.
Of course, the Capital Times should grant columnists the freedom to express their opinions, but at the same time, it should require columns to be factually accurate and to be comprehendable. It is appalling, however, that a reputable newspaper would publish such a baseless and illogical screed.