Spouting multiple anti-Israel falsehoods

Letter, news article promote ‘hateful, one-sided demonization’

The author is director of the Israel office of the Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting in America (www.camera.org).

It is a pity that local grandmothers Sandra O’Neill and Emily Alma did not use their recent trip to the Middle East to advance peace. As Palestinian-Israeli Khaled Abu Toameh once noted, all too many Western self-described pro-Palestinian activists torpedo the Palestinian cause by spewing anti-Israel incitement, as if there’s a shortage in the Arab world.

And that’s exactly what happened last month as the two spouted multiple falsehoods in the Chico News & Review. For instance, in a Nov. 10 letter, Ms. O’Neill claimed that in the last three weeks in October, “two Palestinian children, ages 6 and 4, were shot and killed by trigger-happy watchtower guards.” That’s a lie. A close examination of relevant reports published by the Palestinian Center for Human Rights and the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs reveals that no children, and no civilians of any age, were killed.

A Nov. 24 Newslines article (“Local grandmas experience West Bank and Israel,” by Christine G.K. LaPado) claims that “Jews-only buses and highways” are among “the routine hardships that O’Neill and Alma either witnessed or heard stories of.” But there are no “Jews-only buses and highways,” neither in Israel nor in the West Bank. While certain West Bank roads were prohibited to Palestinians following a series of fatal attacks on Israelis, Muslim and Christian Israelis are free to use them. As for buses, not only are Israeli non-Jews permitted to ride Israeli buses in the West Bank, but so are Palestinians.

Another fabricated hardship is the alleged “days-long waits at checkpoints for Palestinians entering Israel to go to work.” While pro-Palestinian websites report waits averaging one hour, the outrageous claim that workers are forced to wait “days” at checkpoints is completely unfounded. AP journalist Ben Hubbard spent a week observing Palestinian laborers crossing the Qalandiya checkpoint in February 2010. The time that it took for the workers he tracked ranged from 22 to 54 minutes. Minutes, not days, and not even hours.

The inconvenient checkpoints prevent additional deadly terror attacks on Israeli buses, pizzerias, discos, Passover seders and bar mitzvahs. Palestinians murdered more than 1,000 Israeli civilians and foreigners in such attacks, victims ignored by O’Neill and Alma.

If O’Neill, Alma and their fellow travelers led the pro-Palestinian movement in prioritizing a peaceful two-state solution above hateful, one-sided demonization, then perhaps their grandchildren, not to mention Palestinian and Israeli youth, might actually have a chance at peace in their lifetimes.

For more on this subject, please see Letters.