More Dishonest Rhetoric from Honest Reporting Canada

3 mars 2012 | معتمد Canada, Palestine, Quebec, Independent Media
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Tadamon! Collective 2012. More Dishonest Rhetoric from Honest Reporting Canada

Photo A protester flies the Palestinian flag at the start of the regular protest n the village of Nil’in to demonstrate against land confiscation and the separation wall.

In a recent piece entitled “The Apartheid Myth: HRC Responds to Tadamon!”, Honest Reporting Canada (HRC) took issue with a letter written by Jewish members of the Tadamon! collective. HRC’s principal contention is that the letter (“Don’t Conflate Judaism with Zionism,” Wednesday, January 12, 2012) in the McGill Daily “recycled the tired Israeli Apartheid canard” while putting forth compensatory rhetorical arguments that “lack[ed] in substance.”

This disingenuous tactic of dismissing factual arguments critical of Israel as “canards,” so as to avoid the responsibility of earnestly responding to their content, is both cowardly and insincere. While Tadamon! offered specific examples of several Israeli laws and policies (out of the thirty or so) that discriminate against Palestinians, HRC offered no comment on these legal instruments of apartheid. Furthermore, HRC’s response is filled with inaccuracies and dubious statistics, most of which are themselves “recycled” from questionable sources.

First, HRC asserts that all ethnic and religious groups in Israel “enjoy the full freedoms of Israel’s vibrant democracy.” Obviously, HRC has chosen to ignore Israel’s treatment of the Arab Bedouin in the Naqab region of Israel. Bedouin communities are consistently neglected by the state. Health services are either severely limited or non-existent, and schools lack basic services and facilities. Furthermore, Israel has repeatedly attempted to forcibly evacuate Bedouin citizens from villages in the Naqab. This ethnic cleansing is often accomplished by demolishing homes or entire villages. Bedouin are then forced into ghetto-like conditions in townships. Certainly, the situation in the Naqab fits the description of apartheid, as outlined in the 1973 United Nations Convention on the Suppression and Punishment of the Crime of Apartheid. This internationally-recognized convention states that any “measures calculated to prevent a racial group or groups from participation in the political, social, economic and cultural life of the country and the deliberate creation of conditions preventing the full development of such a group or groups…” constitute apartheid.

Second, HRC contends that “Arabs form 20% of the university population: a reflection of their percentage in the general population.” For HRC, proportional representation in universities is evidence that Arabs are not discriminated against and apartheid does not exist. However, since there is no footnote or reference used to support the aforementioned statistic, we are left wondering where it comes from. Meanwhile, Adalah, the Legal Center for Arab Minority Rights in Israel notes, after careful research, that Arab students account for only 11.2% of all first-degree university students. Using HRC’s logic, this less-than-proportional representation must demonstrate discrimination in higher education.

In addition, the disproportionate representation in higher education extends beyond students to include faculty as well. Arabs account for only 1.2% of all academics employed by Israeli universities and colleges in tenured or tenure-track positions, and receive–on average–salaries worth 50% less than those of their Jewish counterparts.

Third, HRC’s claim that settlements in the West Bank sit on only 1.9% of the land is disingenuous. This minor percentage is, itself, an oft-referred to “canard” meant to distract from the reality. The truth is, the number is probably closer to less than 1%, but this is entirely irrelevant and misleading for two reasons. First, these settlements and the webbed system of bypass roads that connect them, illegally create de facto segregation and perforation of occupied Palestinian territory that can certainly be compared to the bantustans of apartheid South Africa. Second, it isn’t the settlements that Israel is seeking to annex; it is the settlement blocs, which, of course, amount to much more than the recycled 1.9% statistic that HRC and others use ad nauseum. Obviously this percentage does not include the further 9% of the West Bank that Israel wants to annex, as demarcated by the path of the illegal apartheid wall.

Fourth, if HRC were truly interested in honest reporting, it would have acknowledged that 1.9% is actually the same percentage of territory (i.e. land-swaps) that Palestinian negotiators have repeatedly offered Israelis in negotiations. This 1.9% would, effectively, encompass roughly 60% of all settlers. This concession is hardly a form of Arab rejectionism, as dishonestly alluded to in the HRC response.

Fifth, HRC completely ignores Israel’s policies of apartheid in the Occupied Palestinian Territories. As the occupying state, Israel has legal responsibilities towards those it continues to occupy. Instead, Israel has flouted its responsibilities under international law, including those outlined in the Fourth Geneva Convention and the Rome Statute. Palestinians in the OPT continue to suffer the indignity, inherent racism, and violence of an illegal colonial occupation every time they pass through one of the hundreds of West Bank checkpoints or other obstacles to their freedom of movement, are refused the right to live with a spouse who is an Israeli citizen, have their farmland bisected by the illegal apartheid wall, or are forced to endure the bombing of schools and hospitals in Gaza.

Finally, HRC claims that Tadamon! has falsely “rebrand[ed] the conflict as an issue of Israeli discrimination against Arabs” using the “language of human rights” to convince people that Israel should be considered a “pariah state.” This assertion is, to use HRC’s own words, an effective example of “compensating with rhetoric what their arguments lack in substance.” HRC fails to understand that the accusation of apartheid is not a “rebranding” of the conflict. In Israel and the occupied territories, apartheid is the logical extension of a colonial endeavour based on ethnic cleansing, occupation and continued domination that began almost sixty-four years ago. To dismiss the fact that many Palestinians as well as their allies rightly identify Israel as an apartheid state is to ignore its growing currency and to refuse to engage with its logic. This is not “honest reporting”: it is a form of journalism that is as selective and discriminatory as the laws and policies of the state of Israel that it seeks to defend.

– The Tadamon! Collective

3 Comments »

Honest Reporting Canada is part of an international organisation that uses coercive tactics to silence critics of Israeli government policy.

Bravo for standing up to these bullies, and please continue to do so.

تعليق Everett Coldwell — 3 mars 2012 @ 18:49

If that site’s about honest reporting then I’m bibi netanyahoo. Keep up the good work.

تعليق Kyle — 13 mars 2012 @ 0:14

I stumbled on HRC by accident but soon realized that its very persona is a canard. The only good thing about it is that further research brought me to your site. I subscribe to CJPME mail and it appears you both share the same objective – putting pressure on government and getting accurate information out to Canadians. Frustratingly it seems that the Zionists are winning. How can this battle be won?

تعليق Bob Pflug — 21 novembre 2012 @ 16:27

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