OpinionIsrael-Palestinian Conflict

Evil Jewish settlers

Foreign-correspondent-based reporting from Israel continues to be relentlessly critical.

A view of the Jewish settlement of Kiryat Arba near Hebron, June 28, 2024. Photo by Wisam Hashlamoun/Flash90.
A view of the Jewish settlement of Kiryat Arba near Hebron, June 28, 2024. Photo by Wisam Hashlamoun/Flash90.
Jerold S. Auerbach
Jerold S. Auerbach is the author of 12 books, including Print to Fit: The New York Times, Zionism and Israel (1896-2016) and Israel 1896-2016, selected for Mosaic by Ruth Wisse and Martin Kramer as a “Best Book for 2019.”

“Israel Moves to Legalize 5 Settlements in Occupied West Bank.” Written by Israeli-born Ephrat Livni—a journalist, lawyer and author of a novel about Israel—the June 28 article in The New York Times explores an array of Israeli “outposts” that are “complicating  any future effort to reach an agreement on a two-state solution for Palestinians and Israelis.” With the familiar refrain that “much of the world” views settlements in the West Bank as illegal, she recognizes that “outposts have grown with the tacit agreement of the [Israeli] government for decades.”

The assertion of settlement illegality, she writes, rests upon claims of the U.N. General Assembly, the U.N. Security Council and the International Court of Justice. They are united in asserting that Israeli settlements “violate the Fourth Geneva Convention,” according to which “the Occupying Power shall not deport or transfer parts of its own civilian population into the territory it occupies.” Such transfers are classified by the International Criminal Court as war crimes. But Israel did not “deport or transfer” anyone. Israelis who returned to biblical Judea and Samaria following the 1967 Six-Day War did so by choice.

The unmentioned historic reality in the Livni article is that Jewish statehood in the Promised Land, according to the biblical text, dates as far back as the tenth century BCE reign of King David, who ruled from Hebron for seven years and then Jerusalem for 33 more. It is little wonder that both sites ever since have defined the core of the Jewish holy land. Overlooked by Livni, there were no Palestinians then or for millennia to come. Arabs did not become “Palestinians” until June 1967, when during the war, Israel reclaimed its historic land of biblical Judea and Samaria. Until then, they were identified as Jordanians.

Livni is attentive to the year-old U.N. General Assembly request that the International Court of Justice consider the legal consequences of “the ongoing violation by Israel of the right of the Palestinian people to self-determination” by Israel’s “prolonged occupation, settlement and annexation of the Palestinian territory.” It is, however, more accurately defined, based on millennia of history, as “Israeli territory.”

To be sure, she is hardly the first Times reporter to criticize Jews for returning to their biblical homeland. It began two decades before there was a Jewish state, when Joseph W. Levy was hired as a foreign correspondent. The Arab slaughter of Jews in Hebron and Jerusalem in 1929 prompted him to guide the opinions of prominent anti-Zionists into his newspaper. For Levy, Zionists were “extremists” who had themselves to blame for Arab attacks Publishers of the newspaper of record, beginning with Arthur Hays Sulzberger in 1935, have worried that Zionism would prompt doubts about the loyalty of American Jews. Their concern was evident in their discomfort with the idea, no less reality, of a Jewish state.

Israel’s stunning victory in the Six-Day War, which led to the return of Jews to their ancient homeland (Jordan’s “West Bank” since 1948 and the establishment of the modern-day State of Israel), heightened the dismay of the Times. Beginning with David Shipler, hired in 1979, foreign-correspondent-based reporting from Israel has been relentlessly critical. His successor, Thomas L. Friedman, the renowned lacerating critic of the Jewish state, has led the way. Since 1967, he believes, Israel’s “occupation” of “Palestinian” land (better known as Judea and Samaria) has led inexorably to its moral decline. An unrelenting chronicler of Israel’s perceived failings, Friedman absurdly claimed that he was helping Israel to preserve its moral integrity.

Times journalists remain persistent in their criticism of Israel. Earlier this week, Steven Erlanger, echoing Friedman, referred to “the Israeli-occupied West Bank.” They are oblivious to the reality that Palestinians already have their own state east of the Jordan River. It is the Kingdom of Jordan, part of Palestine until Colonial Secretary Winston Churchill gifted it after World War I to King Abdullah. They now constitute a majority of the population. As such, there is no need for another Palestinian state.

The opinions and facts presented in this article are those of the author, and neither JNS nor its partners assume any responsibility for them.
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