“It doesn’t interest me if we cannot explain [our actions] to the world,” Golda Meir told Israeli premier David Ben-Gurion in the 1950s. “It will not be because the world doesn’t understand, but because it doesn’t want to understand.” Meir’s observation is borne out by the Washington Post’s opinion page, which, amid Hamas’s war on Israel, has served as a fount of disinformation, willfully misunderstanding basic facts and history.
The newspaper even published a column by a former Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) spokesperson.
On May 13, 2021, the Post’s global opinion page published an op-ed entitled “What we’re seeing now is just the latest chapter in Israel’s dispossession of the Palestinians.” The author, Rashid Khalidi, is identified as merely a professor at Columbia University and “an adviser to Palestinian negotiators at Madrid and Washington from 1991 to 1993.” This is an incomplete description of Khalidi’s resume.
As the historian Martin Kramer has documented, a 1978 New York Times report from Beirut noted that Khalidi “works for the PLO.” Similarly, a 1976 Los Angeles Times report refers to Khalidi as a “PLO spokesperson.” A sympathetic 1979 documentary about the PLO, The Gun and the Olive Branch, even featured interviews with Khalidi—who was identified as a “PLO spokesperson.”
During this time period, the PLO was still a U.S.-designated terror group and actively waging a war against Israel in Lebanon (Martin Kramer, “Khalidi of the PLO,” Oct. 30, 2008). By 1991, the PLO was feigning moderation and involved in peace talks. Thus, the difference between being “an adviser to Palestinian negotiators” from 1991-93 and being a “spokesperson” in 1976—a mere four years after the PLO carried out the Olympic Games massacre in Munich and murdered an American diplomat in Khartoum—is no small thing.
Khalidi’s views are unsurprising when one considers that the PLO never revised its charter, which called Israel’s very existence “illegal.”
The PLO spokesman-turned-academic claims that Israel has been “dispossessing” Palestinian Arabs from their land for a “hundred years,” and that Israel is trying to “Judaize” Jerusalem. This is but a dressed up version of the claim that Israel is committing ethnic cleansing—a claim that, by trying to tie the Jewish state to the Nazis, is intrinsically antisemitic. It is also factually incorrect.
In fact, as CAMERA has highlighted, Jews have been the largest ethnic group in Jerusalem since the 1820s (see, “Backgrounder: History of Jerusalem,” Dec. 6, 2017). Indeed, Jews are indigenous to the land of Israel, and have maintained a continual presence in the land that predates—by more than millennia—the Arab and Islamic conquests of the 7th century. Far from “Judaizing” Jerusalem, the Arab population of Jerusalem has increased since 1967, the year that Israel reunited the city after an Arab-initiated war.
And far from seizing land and “uprooting” Arabs, Jews purchased much of the land from Arabs—including, ironically, from Khalidi’s own family, which apparently was happy to sell land to, and profit from, the same Zionist movement that Khalidi now condemns.
As the historian Benny Morris noted in his 2008 book 1948: “A giant question mark hangs over the ethos of the Palestinian Arab elite: Husseinis, as well as Nashashibis, Khalidis, Dajanis, and Tamimis … sold land to the Zionist institutions and/or served as Zionist agents or spies.”
Unsurprisingly, other errors and omissions abound.
Khalidi attempts to tie the latest Israel-Hamas War—the fourth such conflict since Israel unilaterally withdrew from Gaza in 2005—to a housing dispute in eastern Jerusalem. He writes, “Israel’s brutal actions in and around Jerusalem’s al-Aqsa Mosque, and its attempts to forcibly displace Palestinians in the nearby neighborhood of Sheikh Jarrah, were triggers for another violent, asymmetrical confrontation.” These events, the professor asserts, “go to the core of this one-sided struggle against dispossession, and both have long been diligently swept under the rug by U.S. policymakers charged with bringing it to an end.”
This, however, is projection at its finest.
Far from being “swept under the rug,” the Israeli-Palestinian conflict receives disproportionate attention by U.S. policymakers and the press—certainly when compared to just about any other conflict in the world. Indeed, when thousands of Palestinians were slaughtered during the Syrian Civil War—a figure that its vastly more than have been killed in the current conflagration—it barely made a blip in the Western media, nor did it occasion statements of condemnation from the reliably antisemitic Reps. Omar, Tlaib or McCollum. They didn’t care about those Palestinians—just as they didn’t speak out when Hamas was murdering dissidents during the so-called Hunger Revolution in Gaza in 2018, or when Fatah was imprisoning and torturing internal critics in the spring of 2021. Nor did those events prompt Khalidi to write an opinion piece for the Washington Post, or for the Post itself to publish any op-eds, let alone editorials, on that violence.
Contra to Khalidi’s claims of U.S. “inaction,” the inverse is true. The U.S., like the United Nations and the United Kingdom before it, has offered the Palestinians a chance to have something that they’ve never had before: a sovereign Palestinian Arab state. In 2016, then -Vice President Biden traveled to meet Abbas himself to make the offer, which was rejected. And if there’s been a one-sided campaign for dispossession, it has been carried out by Palestinian Arab leaders who have consistently rejected offers for statehood if it meant living in peace next to a Jewish state, choosing to embrace terror and war instead.
Israel’s Arab population is growing. Israeli Arabs have served on the Supreme Court, run hospitals and major businesses, and enjoy a much greater degree of political expression—including elections and political parties—than Arabs living under the rule of Hamas or Fatah. By contrast, Hamas-controlled Gaza and the Fatah-ruled West Bank are Judenrein.
Presumably Khalidi, whose op-ed implicitly argues for prohibiting Jews to own land in their ancestral homeland, is okay with this fact. He certainly makes no mention of the fact that both Fatah and Hamas promise punishments up- to- and- including death for those who sell land to a Jew. In the United States, restricting land ownership based on creed or ethnicity is known as redlining. But when it comes to the Washington Post’s opinion pages and the Jewish state, it is apparently considered a policy worth supporting.
Regrettably, Khalidi isn’t alone in his misbegotten characterization of what is unfolding in Israel. As CAMERA has highlighted, Hamas’s paymaster, Iran, initiated the latest war in an attempt to apply pressure on the U.S. in ongoing negotiations over Tehran’s nuclear program. Indeed, Iran has said as much.
On May 6, 2021 the Middle East Media Research Institute translated a speech by Asghar Emami, the head of the Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) Quds Force, which has trained and equipped operatives from Hamas, Hezbollah, PIJ, and other terrorist groups. Summarizing his remarks, MEMRI reported that “General Emami explained that Iran can easily tighten its grip around ‘the throat of the Zionist regime’ in order to extract pressure and extract concessions from America.” Emami, MEMRI said, “continued to say that while Israel has airplanes that can reach Iran, Iran does not require airplanes to target Israel, it can place Israel ‘under siege’ via the artillery and mortar shells of the ‘resistance axis.’”
Yet, the role of Iran in the current Israel-Hamas conflict goes largely unmentioned in the Post’s pages.
In three columns running a combined total of nearly 3,000 words, Washington Post columnists Max Boot and Jennifer Rubin failed to even mention the word “Iran.” Boot even has the temerity to upbraid the Jewish state for failing to reach a “political accommodation” with the “moderate” Palestinian Authority. Yet Boot himself has a long history of noting that the PA rejects peace. In a Dec 12, 2011 Commentary Magazine article, Boot argued “To win even more Israeli concessions, the Palestinians must show they are fully committed to peace—and this they have not yet shown.”
In a Nov. 4, 2013 Commentary Magazine article, Boot noted that “the Palestinian Authority has long been criticized–and justifiably so–for claiming to favor co-existence with Israel while promulgating school textbooks that define all of the land between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean as belonging to the Palestinians and reading out the Jews from the history of the region altogether.” There are dozens more examples. The PA and its textbooks haven’t changed. But Max Boot has.
Iran, however, remains unchanged. A fact that other Post opinion pieces are dead set on ignoring.
Gershom Gorenberg didn’t mention Iran in his 704-word May 11th op-ed, which instead blamed Israeli premier Netanyahu and former President Donald Trump for the violence. Peace “withered,” Gorenberg claimed, because of the Trump administration’s 2017 decision to implement the bipartisan 1995 Jerusalem Embassy Act. Yet, violence didn’t erupt then. And Palestinian leaders consistently rejected peace plans for nearly a century before 2017.
A May 13, 2021 753-word column by the Washington Post’s David Ignatius also omitted the word “Iran.” A May 14, 2021 op-ed by Laila Barhoum, entitled “In Gaza we dread the darkness and wait for the next strike to land,” did one better. In 729- words, Barhoum, who works for the anti-Israel NGO Oxfam, not only failed to mention Iran, she failed to even mention Hamas. The decision to publish such an op-ed is self-discrediting.
The Post itself, in both its May 17th and May 11th editorials, also omitted the word “Iran.” The latter editorial was absurdly entitled: “New Israeli-Palestinian fighting serves political agendas on both sides.” Yet, other fronts have opened up and those who aren’t Palestinian, including Hezbollah supporters in Lebanon, have also attacked and threatened Israel. The fighting, by Iran’s own admission, serves its aims and objectives. But the Post can’t be troubled to note as much, least of all associate the regime with the violence that is being meted out to a key U.S. ally. Readers should ask why.
The Post’s insistence on false equivalency enables one of the largest newspapers in the world to miss the chief story: the war is being fought at the behest of the Islamic Republic to pressure the U.S. And Tehran’s “agenda,” like that of Hamas and other proxies like Hezbollah, is the destruction of Israel and a Jewish genocide. The Washington Post is giving them a tremendous assist.