According to the respected yearly survey of mass media reliability available at edelman.com, the majority of people don’t trust the media. Can you blame them? Watch one TV channel, or read one article, or see one video, and you are told “this.” Change to another channel, article, or video about the same subject, and you are told “that.” Objective reporting is old fashioned; now everything is opinion.
If you are reading this article, you know that I’m an opinion journalist. When I want to present a fact, I try to find a reputable source to quote or paraphrase. Don’t look here for news, except as a subject for my opinion. Of course I have an agenda; every writer or historian has a point of view. But broadcasters reporting the news are supposed to be objective, reporting “facts.”
Unfortunately, the majority around the world has learned to distrust fact presenters and even the so-called fact checkers. Below I present a few of the commonplace “facts” relating to Israel that are widely accepted but at the very least, are disputed – if not blatant falsehoods.
Gaza is one of the most densely populated places on earth.
Time after time one reads or hears this platitude. This is the general consensus one discovers by searching on the internet:
Gaza City is the 40th most populous city.
For comparison, the Tel Aviv suburb of B’nei Brak is the 9th most populous city. Has anyone ever called B’nei Brak, “one of the most densely populated places on Earth?” No. Nor is Tel Aviv ever mentioned as particularly densely populated place, even though it has about the same density as the Gaza Strip.
Regarding the misnomer about Gaza, I’ve written letters to editors and even contacted some of the reporters, but to no avail. Reporters and protesters know only one “fact” about Gaza: it’s one of the most densely populated places on Earth. I think the sentiment behind it is to cast a David and Goliath aspect to the Gaza-Israel conflict. This misconception is spread by ignorant news providers with, or without, a bias against Israel, even including Israeli media.
The Palestinian Arabs were allotted “only 22%” of Palestine, so Israel must remove (ethnically cleanse) its 600-700,000 citizens from beyond the “1967 borders.”
The name ‘Palestine’ first appeared in Herodotus’ 5th century BCE histories to describe the coastal area of the Levant where the Philistines had once lived. Romans applied that name to the whole of the area following the suppression of the Bar Kochba [a Jewish general] Revolt of 132 CE. Thereafter, the word Palestine designated the entire territory and subsequent rulers adopted the name. (https://honestreporting.com/origins)
The name Palestine was intended as a replacement name for Roman-controlled Judea, to eliminate all expressions of Jewish sovereignty in the region following the failed Jewish rebellion against the Roman Empire. Similarly, Jerusalem was officially renamed Aelia Capitolina. Later, the province was split into three smaller units: Palaestina Prima, Palaestina Secunda and Palaestina Tertia, which comprised areas on both sides of the Jordan River. At the time of the League of Nations Mandate of 1923, the region was described not as Palestine, but as “Samaria and Judea.” (SaloAizenberg.com)
Despite the failure of the Jews’ centuries-long revolt against Roman rule, the Jews remained in Judea, Samaria, Galilee, Gaza, the Golan Heights and elsewhere in the region, though they shared the land with other nationalities. Simply put, the Jews never left the land of Israel because of our continual presence there, albeit in diminished numbers.
When the League of Nations’ British Mandate for Palestine was promulgated in July 1922, it included what today is known as Jordan. Britain severed Jordan (originally called Transjordan) from Palestine as a British protectorate in April, 1921, before the actual declaration of the Mandate in September 1923. The result was that about 78% of Palestine was in the hands of the Hashemite monarchy, leaving only 22% of Palestine for the Jewish “home” as specified in the League of Nation’s Mandate.
Coincidentally, after Israel’s 1948 War of Independence, Jordan occupied 22% of the 22% portion remaining for the Jews. Israel liberated that area in the 1967 Six Day War. So, the Palestinian Arab claim to that area is specious, because 78% of Palestine was already severed from Palestine and given to the Arabs. (Jordan is mostly populated by Palestinian Arabs.) It’s complicated, but Israel doesn’t feel any obligation to give the Arabs more of the Jewish homeland above the 78% it received from Britain.
The 1967 “borders”
In the armistice agreement signed with the Jordanians in 1949, Jordan stipulated that these ceasefire lines were specifically “not borders.” None of Israel’s Arab adversaries in its War of Independence considered the ceasefire lines as legitimate borders. They conceded not an inch to Israel, sure that they could fight another war and destroy it.
“The leaders of thirteen Arab states gathered at a summit conference in Khartoum, Sudan from August 29 to September 1 . There they pledged to continue their struggle against Israel. Influenced by [Egyptian ruler] Nasser, ‘their conditions were quite specific: NO peace with Israel, NO negotiations with Israel, NO recognition of Israel, and ‘maintenance of the rights of the Palestinian people in their nation.’ The Khartoum Declaration was the first serious warning to the Israelis that their expectation of an imminent ‘phone call’ from the Arab world [to negotiate a peace treaty and borders] might be a pipe dream.” (sixdaywar.org)
That ceasefire lines are regularly described as “borders” beyond which Israel must return is a blatant falsehood. I understand why Arabs who are still belligerent towards Israel prevaricate about this. What is harder to swallow is that journalists writing about the Middle East are either ignorant of history here, or worse, know better and prefer to malign Israel.
There is such a thing as facts, which are regularly distorted by the mass media. However, people are not so ignorant as the news purveyors believe. That’s why a majority of media consumers don’t trust what the media is putting out. Newspapers are already a victim of the digital age, magazines too. Probably the TV networks will follow. Unfortunately, that will still leave us with untrustworthy social media, from the left and from the right.