Twisting Language to Defame Israel

According to journalists, foreign-policy experts, and anti-Israel propagandists, one of the great crimes committed by the Jewish state involves the so-called “settlements” of the West Bank, although there is rarely any effort to explain how Jerusalem suburbs hurt Palestinians or obstruct peace negotiations. Stephen Flatow presents a case study in how the media make innocuous construction projects seem like vicious land grabs, using a recent New York Times article about the government’s approval of construction of housing for some 3,000 families:

[B]uilding some apartments within [West Bank] towns doesn’t sound too ominous. So Patrick Kingsley, the Jerusalem bureau chief of the New York Times, came up with a new, nonsensical term that makes apartments sound much more menacing than they really are: “settlement units.”

“Settlement units” is a rhetorical trick. . . . It’s a way of trying to make Israel look bad when the facts alone won’t accomplish that objective. It’s also a way of trying to energize Israel’s critics so they will immediately launch their own propaganda blasts. And sure enough, the same day that the Times published Kingsley’s huge article about “settlement units,” [the soi-disant “pro-Israel, pro-peace” lobbying group] J Street issued a press release denouncing Israel for its “plans to advance thousands of new settlement units throughout the West Bank.”

J Street also trotted out an additional rhetorical device, one it’s used before: it characterized the Israeli decision as “settlement expansion.” From that deceptive term, one would think that the settlements are spreading out further and further. Which is exactly what J Street wants the public to think—that those evil settlements are like a cancerous tumor, metastasizing and squeezing the Palestinian Arabs out of the region.

J Street doesn’t want you to know that the new apartments and houses will be built on land that already belongs to the state of Israel or to those Jewish communities. No Arabs will be displaced. Nobody’s land is being stolen. But acknowledging those facts would make it harder for J Street to incite the public against Israel; hence, the use of tricky language. The U.S. State Department, which vehemently opposes Jews living in the heart of the ancestral Jewish homeland, is only too happy to play along.

Read more at JNS

More about: Israeli-Palestinian Conflict, J Street, Media, New York Times, Settlements, State Department


The ICJ’s Vice-President Explains What’s Wrong with Its Recent Ruling against Israel

It should be obvious to anyone with even rudimentary knowledge of the Gaza war that Israel is not committing genocide there, or anything even remotely akin to it. In response to such spurious accusations, it’s often best to focus on the mockery they make of international law itself, or on how Israel can most effectively combat them. Still, it is also worth stopping to consider the legal case on its own terms. No one has done this quite so effectively, to my knowledge, as the Ugandan jurist Julia Sebutinde, who is the vice-president of the ICJ and the only one of its judges to rule unequivocally in Israel’s favor both in this case and in the previous one where it found accusations of genocide “plausible.”

Sebutinde begins by questioning the appropriateness of the court ruling on this issue at all:

Once again, South Africa has invited the Court to micromanage the conduct of hostilities between Israel and Hamas. Such hostilities are exclusively governed by the laws of war (international humanitarian law) and international human-rights law, areas where the Court lacks jurisdiction in this case.

The Court should also avoid trying to enforce its own orders. . . . Is the Court going to reaffirm its earlier provisional measures every time a party runs to it with allegations of a breach of its provisional measures? I should think not.

Sebutinde also emphasizes the absurdity of hearing this case after Israel has taken “multiple concrete actions” to alleviate the suffering of Gazan civilians since the ICJ’s last ruling. In fact, she points out, “the evidence actually shows a gradual improvement in the humanitarian situation in Gaza since the Court’s order.” She brings much evidence in support of these points.

She concludes her dissent by highlighting the procedural irregularities of the case, including a complete failure to respect the basic rights of the accused:

I find it necessary to note my serious concerns regarding the manner in which South Africa’s request and incidental oral hearings were managed by the Court, resulting in Israel not having sufficient time to file its written observations on the request. In my view, the Court should have consented to Israel’s request to postpone the oral hearings to the following week to allow for Israel to have sufficient time to fully respond to South Africa’s request and engage counsel. Regrettably, as a result of the exceptionally abbreviated timeframe for the hearings, Israel could not be represented by its chosen counsel, who were unavailable on the dates scheduled by the Court.

It is also regrettable that Israel was required to respond to a question posed by a member of the Court over the Jewish Sabbath. The Court’s decisions in this respect bear upon the procedural equality between the parties and the good administration of justice by the Court.

Read more at International Court of Justice

More about: Gaza War 2023, ICC, International Law