Reality Goes Missing in Anti-Israel Op-Ed in The Hill

Sylvia Schwarz (“Stop the tax-deductible status of the Jewish National Fund,” April 13th) misleads readers with an Op-Ed published in The Hill. Hers is essentially an omission-ridden anti-Israel slander.

Schwarz falsely claimed that Israel is “ethnically cleansing” the land of Arabs. Which land, Israel or the West Bank and Gaza Strip? In both the Arab population has grown. In Israel, it prospered.

On the same day Schwarz’s fact-free article appeared, Gamil Hakroosh, an Israeli Arab, was appointed as the country’s deputy police commissioner (“Amid Violence, Israel Promotes Arab Police Officer,” Associated Press). Israeli Arabs serve on Israel’s Supreme Court, have command ranks in the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) and have their own political list in Israel’s legislature, the Knesset. Israeli Arabs, including the Muslim majority, enjoy much greater democratic participation and representation than their brethren in most Arab states. Their income, upward mobility, life span and basic rights, including that of free speech, are superior to those of Arabs living under the Palestinian Authority (PA) that rules the West Bank (Judea and Samaria), the U.S.-designated terrorist group Hamas that rules the Gaza Strip, and elsewhere in the Middle East.

By contrast, the Palestinian Legislative Council has not met for nearly a decade and refuses to hold elections. PA President Mahmoud Abbas is in the eleventh year of his four-year term. There is no independent judiciary in PA and Hamas-ruled areas, where as Israeli Arab journalist Khaled Abu Toameh has noted, Facebook posts critical of Palestinian officials can result in imprisonment. In those prisons, “torture happens” as Rami Hamdallah, the PA’s prime minister, admitted in a March 16, 2016 interview with German media outlet Deutsche Welle.

“Ethnic cleansing” was, however, the goal of Haj Amin al-Husseini, the Syrian-born founding father of the Palestinian Arab national movement and a collaborator of Nazi dictator Adolf Hitler. As testimony at the Nuremberg War Crimes Tribunal revealed, al-Husseini—who called himself the “Fuhrer of the Middle East”—was intimately involved in helping Hitler and his henchmen plot potential genocide of the hundreds of thousands of Jews who had lived in the Middle East for centuries, including in what would become Israel in 1948. After World War II, al-Husseini was wanted as a war criminal by Yugoslavia for recruiting SS divisions made up of Bosnian Muslims to murder Jews, Serbs and others in eastern Europe.

Al-Husseini’s role in fostering anti-Jewish violence predates his partnership with Hitler: Britain, the ruling Mandatory power in pre-state Israel, held him responsible for Arab attacks against Jewish Palestinians in 1920 and 1921. Al-Husseini also orchestrated terrorist attacks against Jews in 1929 and from 1936-1939—the latter resulting in Britain closing the doors of its Palestine Mandate, established by the League of Nations to enable restoration of the Jewish national home. This trapped millions of Jews in Europe as Nazi power expanded.

PA President Abbas praised al-Husseini in a January 2013 ceremony as a “pioneer” and a hero. He remains a revered figure by many Palestinian Arabs as German scholar Matthias Kuntzel, among others, has noted.
Why Palestinian officials plant trees 

Meanwhile, “ethnic cleansing” of Jews remains the stated goal of Hamas, which calls for the genocide of Jews in its charter. For its part, the PA celebrates the murders of Israelis and Americans, like U.S. veteran Taylor Force, killed in the “stabbing intifada” on March 8, 2016, in its official media. That media exists in part thanks to U.S. aid to the authority. None of this is mentioned by Schwarz.

Also omitted: Palestinian leaders’ rejection of U.S. and Israeli offers for a “two-state solution” in exchange for peace with Israel in 2000 at Camp David, 2001 at Taba and 2008 after the Annapolis conference. Similarly, PA officials rejected U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry’s 2014 “roadmap” to restart negotiations and Vice President Joe Biden’s March 2016 proposal. In none of these instances did Palestinian officials so much as submit a counteroffer.

Unable to deal in facts, Schwarz claims that Jews in Israel are “colonial” occupiers who have stolen land. Not only does this echo claims and justification for violence made by Hamas, the PA and others, it ignores the historical and continuous Jewish presence that stretches back thousands of years, long before Arabs came to what is today Israel.

Schwarz, still beating her “ethnic cleansing” drum, claims that the 1948 Arab-Israeli War had the goal of ridding the “land of non-Jews” in an “ethnic cleansing campaign.” She omits that the war was initiated by the Arab states after they rejected the U.N.’s 1947 partition plan: a “two-state solution” that the Jews had accepted. As historian Benny Morris has noted in his book The Birth of the Palestinian Refugee Problem Revisited (Cambridge Press 2004), in many instances, such as in the city of Haifa, Jews encouraged Arabs not to flee. The Arab states and Palestinian Arab forces under al-Husseini did the opposite, using the estimated 420,00 to 650,000 refugees as political pawns.

Also unmentioned by Schwarz are the more than 800,000 Jews who fled or were forced from their homes in Arab lands during and after the 1948 war, nearly 600,000 of whom settled in Israel.

Given her chain of omissions, it is not surprising then that in an article ostensibly using the topic of trees planted by the Jewish National Fund (JNF)—the world’s most successful reforestation effort—to bash the Jewish state, Schwarz doesn’t mention trees planted by the Palestinian Authority. In October 2015, the PA Ministry of Education announced that it would plant olive trees and place signs with the names of terrorists who have d
ied murdering Israelis. One of these terrorists, Muhannad Shafeq Halabi killed two Israelis and stabbed a two-year old child in an Oct. 8, 2015 terror attack in Jerusalem. For his actions, Halabi was posthumously awarded an honorary law degree by the PA Bar Association. The National Lawyers Guild, which as Schwarz noted, “filed a legal memo to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS)” requesting that the JNF “be investigated,” routinely partners with the PA Bar Association.

This too, Schwarz fails to mention. JNF doesn’t have a tax deductibility problem; Sylvia Schwarz has a reality issue.

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