Thumbs Down to Aliza Marcus

THUMBS DOWN to the Boston Globe‘s Aliza Marcus, for articles marred by error, omission and distortion, all portraying Israel in a negative light.

In, for example, “The Other Israelis” (August 5, 1999), Marcus claimed Israeli Arabs “have full citizenship yet face discrimination in almost all areas.” To support this charge, Marcus notes that “about 30 percent of non-Jewish households live in poverty, compared with 14 percent of Jewish ones.”

Marcus ignores the key correlation of family size and poverty. In fact, Jewish groups with large families similar to those found in Arab households have similar poverty rates.

Thus, Bene Baraq, a mostly Jewish ultra-Orthodox city, has a poverty rate of 28 percent. This is not due to discrimination, but as in the Arab community, to large family size.

Marcus also faults Israel for the allegedly discriminatory policies of the Jewish Agency, which develops housing only for Jews. She says Israel is “vexed” by whether it “can be a Jewish state and, at the same time, ensure that non-Jewish citizens are treated equally?”

Inexcusably, Marcus fails to report that religiously-based groups such as the Jewish Agency are a fixture of the Middle East dating to before Ottoman times. Thus, much land in the region, including in Israel, is owned by the “Waqf,” or Muslim Religious Trust. This land is used for housing, mosques, schools and other Islamic purposes, all for Muslims only. Similarly, Christian groups, especially in Jerusalem, provide housing exclusively for Christians.

The Jewish Agency was created before 1948 to enable Jews to enjoy comparable benefits. Why does the Boston Globe single out Jewish endeavor for criticism, while similar Muslim and Christian activities are passed over in silence?

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