The Washington Post is making up the news in “Ramadan in Jerusalem’s Old City: A rare calm but familiar worries.”
An April 22 article (“Eid brings a rare calm, familiar worries to Jerusalem’s Old City”) states that Palestinians in Israel and the territories have daily lives that are “often shaped by Israeli government restrictions.” Yes, Israel has laws that protect the safety of its Jewish and Arab citizens. If laws are what the Post calls “restrictions,” that’s a strange interpretation. Violence is against the law in Israel, as well as in most countries. Is The Washington Post not aware?
Likewise, the areas controlled by the Palestinian Authority shape the lives of the Palestinians. To clarify for the reader, the bulk of Arabs in Israel call themselves Israeli Arabs (not Palestinians) and identify with Israel, not some imagined Palestinian state. The Post cannot rewrite history, no matter how much the Palestinian narrative denies it.
The article states that Palestinians have the right to congregate at the Al-Aqsa mosque on the Temple Mount in the Old City of Jerusalem “in large numbers and on their own terms.” Also not true. They cannot wreak havoc by rioting and attacking Jews, as they are prone to do, especially on Muslim and Jewish religious holidays. When they riot or throw rocks or firebombs down on Jews praying at the Western Wall below the mosque, Israeli police will break it up.
When the Palestinians choose violence, it’s a misnomer to call them “worshippers” as the Post article does. That would be laughable if it weren’t so cynically false. Moreover, the newspaper has the temerity to claim the Palestinians are the victims of their own riots, that Israeli Police were the initiators. The Post writes that so-called “Israeli raids” are followed by “retaliatory rocket fire and militant attacks.” It’s the other way around; Israel isn’t raiding but responding!
The article mentions that Israel has occupied the Old City since 1967, though they don’t explain how Israel can occupy its own country, both legally and ipso facto. Israel captured the Old City from the real occupier—Jordan—which did not let a single Jew even enter the ancient site. Since Israel took control of the area, it has been open to all religions. The only continuing restriction is one that prohibits Jews from praying on the Temple Mount at the heart of the Old City, even though that is the holiest site in Judaism.
The article states that “Israeli authorities have barred worshippers from staying in the mosque overnight … citing concerns that worshippers were planning to “riot.” The policy is necessary because the Palestinians have a long history of exploiting the mosque as a launching pad for anti-Jewish attacks. But readers would not learn that key fact from reading the Post article.
When the Old City was under Arab control from 1948 to 1967, Jews were prohibited from coming anywhere near their holiest site. The Arabs destroyed almost every synagogue in the Old City and ethnically cleansed the area Jews from their homes—important data points that the Post withholds from its readers. But today, hundreds of thousands of Muslims worship each year at their holy sites in Jerusalem. Rare instances of rioting and violence by the Palestinians are responded to by Israeli police. The Post refuses to paint the big picture. The reporters keep cherry-picking to vent their anti-Israel bias.
Why not publish the far more numerous instances of harmony between Israeli Muslims and Jews? It would be a more accurate and realistic story of life in Israel. But the paper and its editors would rather sow division because that’s what sells, and that is seemingly all they care about.
Dr. Michael Berenhaus is a freelance watchdog activist who works to combat anti-Israel bias in the media. He has been widely published in news sources such as “The Economist,” “The New York Times” and “The Washington Post.”