Letter to the editor, NY Times re E1

The editor,
NY Times

December 7, 2012

 E1 and the two state solution

This letter is intended neither to oppose nor to support the recent much publicized announcement by Israel of its intention to build in the area referred to as E1, but merely to draw attention to credible facts. In this connection I  refer to the December 5 oped titled “If Not Two States, Then One” in which Saree Makdisi wrote

“..settlement construction in E1 is no more and no less of a contravention of international law than settlement construction elsewhere in the West Bank or East Jerusalem. What makes this development significant is E1’s location, sealing tight the gap between East Jerusalem and Israel’s largest settlement, Maale Adumim, further to the east”.

First of all it is misleading to state categorically that settlement construction contravenes international law without adding the qualification that there is a large body of authoritative legal opinion which concludes that they are legal.
See http://www.2nd-thoughts.org/id351.html

Secondly while the author may be justified in criticizing the announcement by the Israel government of its intention to build 3,000 houses in the area adjacent to Jerusalem known as E1 (East 1) as being unnecessary, untimely, unwise or undiplomatic, the claims  that development of E1 will cut off the cities of Ramallah and Bethlehem from each other and from Jerusalem, bisect the West Bank and prevent the creation of a contiguous Palestinian state in the West Bank are egregiously misleading. Repetition of these claims by the media, without verification of the facts cannot be justified.

In paragraph 38 of the executive summary of his November 2012 report, the Right Honorable Lord Justice Leveson wrote about the media

 “..when the story is just too big and the public appetite too great, there has been significant and reckless disregard for accuracy. Similarly, as evidenced from a range of stories in different titles, it is clear that misrepresentation and embellishment takes place to a degree far greater than could ever be thought of as legitimate or fair comment”.

This type of misrepresentation and embellishment of facts is egregiously evident in media reports about Israel; most recently about the above mentioned announcement..

E1 comprises an area between Jerusalem and the populated town (or settlement) of Ma’ale Adumim with a population enumerated in January 2008 of 34,495.

A glance at a Google map shows immediately that the claims of bisecting are completely untrue as a wide area remains between the eastern border of Ma’ale Adumin, the Dead Sea and Jericho comparable with Israel’s 15km waist between Tulkarm on the West Bank and Netanya.

Map data ©2012 Google, Maps GIsrael, ORION-ME

There have also been suggestions for an additional north-south road between Ma’ale Adumim and Jerusalem.

Moreover, Mayor, Benny Kashriel has invited European ambassadors to visit E1 and see for themselves that building on E1 is within Ma’ale Adumim’s municipal boundaries and won’t harm the creation of a Palestinian state.

While the timing and manner of PM Netanyahu’s announcement were unfortunate and clumsy, editors and politicians are expected to keep themselves well informed about matters on which they comment. If they did so and if they checked their facts before publishing or speaking out, they would realize that the hysterical headlines and frenzied summoning of ambassadors to protest the announcement have been disproportionate

The fact is that the decision to build in E1 does not originate with the Netanyahu government. In October 1994, the late Yitzhak Rabin expanded Ma’ale Adumim to include E1 and he provided the above mentioned mayor of Ma’ale Adumim Benny Kashriel with annexation documents.

Even the dovish Geneva Initiative promoted among other Palestinians by Yasser Abed Rabbo, Secretary General of the PLO Executive Committee and by Israeli supporters, notably Yossi Beilin, who cannot by the widest stretch of imagination be considered a right-winger, proposes that Ma’ale Adumim be incorporated into Israel in a two state peace agreement. http://www.geneva-accord.org/mainmenu/settlements

More topically, during a video address to a 2009 rally in memory of the late lamented Yitzhak Rabin, President Obama urged us all to follow Rabin’s path to peace and it may surprise many to realize that Rabin had no intention of returning to the 1967 lines.

In his last speech a few weeks before the dreadful assassination, Yitzchak Rabin said

“First and foremost, united Jerusalem, which will include both Ma’ale Adumim and Givat Ze’ev — as the capital of Israel, under Israeli sovereignty.. The security border of the State of Israel will be located in the Jordan Valley, in the broadest meaning of that term.
See http://www.2nd-thoughts.org/id308.html


The world would be a better place if the media were to abide by the standards of journalistic integrity they profess to uphold and observe the tenet “Comment is free, but facts are sacred” as appropriately stated by C.P. Scott in his celebrated 1921 essay, “A Hundred Years”

As Justice Levenson wrote in paragraph 37 of his executive summary

“..Although code compliance is written into many journalists’ contracts, there seem to be few internal consequences for breach whether that breach was established as an inevitable conclusion following litigation or after criticism by the Press Complaints Commission”.

In the circumstances I trust that you will readily correct any incorrect statements you have made in repeating the above misleading claims.


Maurice Ostroff



About the Author
Maurice Ostroff is a founder member of the international Coalition of Hasbara Volunteers, better known by its acronym CoHaV, (star in Hebrew), a world-wide umbrella organization of volunteers active in combating anti-Israel media and political bias and in promoting the positive side of Israel His web site is at www.maurice-ostroff.org