The New Yorker Repeats B’Tselem’s Claim that Israel Is “Judaizing” the Land of Israel

CAMERA has already written about the Associated Press, NBC, NPR, and Agence France-Presse (AFP) amplifying B’Tselem’s latest slanderous report about Israel. Now the New Yorker has followed suit, with a January 27, 2021 piece by Masha Gessen (Why an Israeli Human-Rights Organization Decided to Call Israel an Apartheid Regime).

Masha Gessen’s piece in the New Yorker is essentially an uncritical summary of B’Tselem’s report, which is titled, “A regime of Jewish supremacy from the Jordan River to the Mediterranean Sea: This is apartheid.”

CAMERA has already debunked B’Tselem’s claims in an exhaustive report. Our Senior Research Analyst Gilead Ini calls B’Tselem’s report “a mess of factoids, fibs, and fraudulence meant to inflame and misinform.” He goes on:

B’tselem casts the very existence of a Jewish state open for Jewish immigration as evidence of “Jewish supremacy.” Israel’s mission of facilitating the entry of Jews, which is described in the country’s Declaration of Independence in the same sentence that promises equal social and political rights to all religions and races, is according to B’tselem one of the “methods the Israeli regime uses to advance Jewish supremacy.” It reads like a bad joke. 

As CAMERA’s Ini explains, Ireland, Finland, Germany, Greece, Poland, Hungary, Bulgaria, Slovakia, the Czech Republic, Slovenia and Croatia also offer privileged access to immigration for ethno-cultural kin groups. And, in the case of these countries, their kin groups have not suffered two millennia of global persecution culminating in the largest campaign of genocide in recorded history. B’Tselem, however, has a problem only with Israel’s policies. The same is true for Gessen, who ignores these other countries and complains that, “virtually any person of Jewish ancestry anywhere in the world can claim Israeli citizenship; immigration to Israel is all but impossible for Palestinians….”

Like so many others in the media, moreover, Gessen has failed to take into account the numerous times that Palestinian leaders have passed up opportunities for independence. Any mention of those missed opportunities would undermine most of the most points that Gessen tries to make in the piece. Gessen uncritically quotes B’Tselem Executive Director Hagai El-Ad saying, on a zoom call, “the international community has … silently communicated that permanent subjugation of Palestinians was O.K. as long as it wasn’t spelled out in law …. The discourse has been untethered from reality, and this undermines the possibility of change.” But it is El-Ad and Gessen who are untethered from reality – Israel has offered Palestinians their independence in  2000, 2001, and 2008. It is the Palestinians that rejected those opportunities, and who walked away from negotiations again in 2014.

Gessen further complains that, “the five million disenfranchised Palestinians cannot vote in Israeli elections,” and repeats B’Tselem’s misnomer that there are “Palestinian citizens of Israel.” All of this is designed to collapse the West Bank and Israel into one unit, again, ignoring the many, many times that Israel has offered independence to the Palestinians.

Gessen goes on to complain, “only a minority of Palestinians—about 1.6 million, out of seven million—who live on land controlled by Israel are citizens of Israel, and even then their rights are limited compared with their nearly seven million Jewish counterparts.” But as Ini pointed out, “B’tselem does not point to a single provision of any law that, apartheid-like, denies individual rights to Israel’s Arab citizens.” Of course, that’s because there are none. Israel’s Arab minority has full, equal rights under the law.

And of course, Gessen also ignores the intifadas and numerous terror attacks that necessitate some of the security measures about which Gessen and B’Tselem complain.

Gessen’s parenthetical note that, “most of them [i.e., Palestinians] can potentially vote in P.A. elections, but the P.A.’s influence over their lives is relatively minor—they are governed by Israelis,” is of course absurd. Only about 400,000 Palestinians live under Israeli control in Area C of the West Bank. The remainder – millions – live under Palestinian Authority law in Areas A and B.

Gessen also refers to B’Tselem as a “leading Israeli human rights organization,” another claim CAMERA has already debunked. Other than quoting the title of B’Tselem’s report, Gessen, thankfully, does not repeat B’Tselem’s “supremacy” language, but does repeat the absurd claim that Israel is “Judaizing” the land, a term that also carries disturbing baggage from the Nazi era.  

Gessen writes that, “there comes a time to say that a line has been crossed, even if the breach occurred long ago.” Indeed, a line has been crossed – but it was crossed by B’Tselem.