‘There they go again,’ smearing Israel

Click photo to download. Caption: European Parliament President Martin Schulz, pictured, approvingly cited a claim that Palestinians receive 17 liters of water daily, as compared to 70 for Israelis. According to the Israel Water Authority, the residents of the Palestinian Authority-controlled areas consume an average of 165 liters daily, while the average Israeli uses 183. Credit: Moritz Kosinsky via Wikimedia Commons.

By Moshe Phillips and Benyamin Korn/JNS.org 

“There you go again,” Ronald Reagan famously said to President Jimmy Carter in the 1980 presidential debate, taking issue with Carter’s misrepresentation of Reagan’s record (on health care). Israel’s leaders could justifiably invoke Reagan’s words in response to the latest barrage of misrepresentations about Israeli policy.

A British member of parliament, Yasmin Qureshi of the Labour Party, declared on February 5 that while the Jews “suffered genocide—their properties, homes and land, everything, were taken away, and they were deprived of rights,” now “the people who are running the state of Israel seem to be quite complacent and happy to allow the same to happen in Gaza.”

When challenged, MP Qureshi at first claimed, “In no way did I mean to equate events in Gaza with the Holocaust” (despite her use of the words “the same,” which is usually the way one equates two things). She even assumed a phony victim status, saying she was “personally hurt if people thought I meant this.” But at least Quershi did apologize for her outrageous Israel-Nazis analogy, which is more than can be said for European Parliament President Martin Schulz.

Addressing the Knesset on Feb. 12, Schulz approvingly cited a claim that Palestinians receive 17 liters of water daily, as compared to 70 for Israelis. 

Schulz’s numbers were not even close to the truth. According to the Israel Water Authority, the residents of the Palestinian Authority-controlled areas consume an average of 165 liters daily, while the average Israeli uses 183. Even the PA’s own Water Authority stated, in a 2011 report, that the average Palestinian uses 103 liters daily—more than six times what the Schulz claimed.

Perhaps most disturbing are the false numbers recently invoked by U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry. He told reporters in Munich on Feb.1 that last year, “not one Israeli was killed by a Palestinian from the West Bank.”

But statistics released the previous day by the Shin Bet, Israel’s General Security Service, told a very different story. Six Israelis were killed in terrorist attacks last year, five of them in the West Bank territories. Moreover, Palestinians in those areas have dramatically increased their use of violence in the past year: according to the Shin Bet, there were 1,271 terror attacks last year, up from 578 in 2012.

These misrepresentations are not mere slips of the tongue. They serve a political purpose. MP Qureshi accuse Israel of being harsh on Gaza in order to pressure Israel to ease its blockade on the Hamas regime. The European Parliament’s Shulz alleged that Israel is mistreating Palestinians in the Judea and Samaria (West Bank) territories in order to pressure Israel to permit the creation of a Palestinian state there. Secretary Kerry claimed Palestinian terrorism has decreased in order to pressure Israel to make more concessions to the Palestinians.

So when you hear an anti-Israel smear that makes you want to say “There they go again,” keep in mind that more often than not, what you are hearing is part of a deliberate effort to undermine Israel’s positions—and refuting those falsehoods thus becomes especially urgent.

Mr. Phillips, a veteran pro-Israel activist, and Mr. Korn, the former executive editor of the Philadelphia Jewish Exponent, are president and chairman, respectively, of the Religious Zionists of America - Philadelphia Chapter (PhilaReligiousZionists@gmail.com).

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Posted on February 16, 2014 and filed under Israel, Opinion.