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A couple of Netanyahu's not-so-white lies to Americans

In the past week or so, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu repeated a couple of talking points that diverged from the truth, but few people called him out on it.

1. In a meeting with the Jewish Federations of North America in New York last Tuesday,  the prime minister fielded a question regarding the state’s practice of sending asylum seekers to detention facilities in the desert, sometimes for unlimited periods of time. This has been the first time the prime minister commented since a recent ruling by the High Court that ordered the detainees to be released. “There is no asylum seeker problem in Israel – they are illegal job immigrants,” responded Netanyahu, according to Barak Ravid’s report in Haaretz. “We don’t have to open our doors to be swamped by the way other people run their economies.”

But if those who crossed the border from Sudan and Eritrea are job seekers, why doesn’t Israel deport them, like countries do with illegal immigrants? The fact of the matter is that Netanyahu’s government itself gave “group protection” to all asylum seekers from those countries (At the same time, Israel refrains from individually examining their asylum request). Netanyahu might say that the asylum seekers are immigrants, but his own policies dictate a different approach.

2. During Netanyahu’s visit to the U.S., settlers occupied 25 apartments in Silwan, East Jerusalem – the largest entrance of settlers to this flashpoint Palestinian neighborhood since the early nineties. Netanyahu dismissed the fierce criticism the government got over this issue. This is what he said in a press briefing in New York (and again Saturday on Israel’s Channel 2):

“Arabs in Jerusalem are free to purchase apartments in the western [part of the] city and no one is arguing against it […] I have no intention of telling Jews they can’t buy apartments in East Jerusalem. This is private property and an individual right. There cannot be discrimination – not against Jews and not against Arabs […] This goes against values that the United States also believes in.”

Let’s leave aside the various ties between the government and all those organizations and agencies who settle Jews beyond the Green Line, and take Netanyahu’s words at face value. The simple truth is that Palestinians from East Jerusalem cannot buy apartments anywhere they want in the city. East Jerusalem Arabs – who make up one third of the city’s residents – are not Israeli citizens, but rather permanent residents. They have a lower legal status, which, among other things, prevents them from buying apartments on state land – and most of the big housing projects in Jerusalem are done on state land (East Jerusalemites cannot vote in national elections, and if they leave the country for seven years – de jure, though de facto it can be less –  they lose their residency rights and are prevented from returning).

I am not sure that keeping people as second class citizens–more accurately, non-citizens–goes in line with “values that the United States also believes in.” But at this point, there is such indifference to the Palestinian issue, that Bibi can simply get away with anything.

Related:
Jerusalem by the numbers: Poverty, segregation and discrimination
In Silwan, the settlers are winning – big time
‘National Parks’ in East Jerusalem: New tool in occupation toolkit
In East Jerusalem, only Palestinian property seized as ‘Absentee’

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    1. Brian

      It’s striking how oblivious or insensitive Israelis have become to their leadership’s by now secure reputation for bald-faced dishonesty. No other western country’s government gets a similar pass. In what other country in Europe or North America could a President or Prime Minister say with a straight face, the equivalent of “Arabs in Jerusalem are free to purchase apartments in the western [part of the] city” and get away with it? Certainly Putin is not being given a pass. The West is sanctioning Putin but try to sanction Netanyahu and you know what knee-jerk accusation that will elicit.

      Reply to Comment
      • Kiwi

        Brian

        Black is white.

        White is black.

        Night is day.

        Day is night.

        And there are pixies in the back of the garden.

        Reply to Comment
        • Brian

          You’re the one offering magical incantations as argument, not me. No one here has refuted Sheizaf’s claims one whit. Despite layers of evasion piled on evasion—hence their lengthy replies. What Sheizaf says is still true. Netanyahu is still dishonest, and still dishonest in the specific ways Sheizaf attests to. The one clearly true thing someone said is that “one needs to realize in Israel there is state land and JNF land which make up about 93% of the land in Israel.” Indeed! We realize this! We understand the implications for discrimination.

          Reply to Comment
          • Kiwi

            “No one here has refuted Sheizaf’s claims one whit”

            No? None? Not even Gustav or Pedro?

            Gustav actually quotes an article in this very publication which clearly contradicts Noam’s spin.

            And what about the Haaretz survey? Haaretz is a leftist publication. They don’t promote pro Israel propaganda.

            You remind me of the three not so wise monkeys, Brian. You block your ears, close your eyes and shout at the top of your voice only opinions which meet your preconceived biases.

            Reply to Comment
          • Brian

            OK, I went back and read what they wrote to see if I missed something. Nope! Sheizaf stand unrefuted! Read what they wrote, and read what Sheizaf wrote. Carefully. Pedro and Gustav read like duplicitous defense lawyers reaching for straws and hoping the jury is rather dimwitted and uninformed. But in my case they did not get a peremptory dismissal! Too bad!

            Reply to Comment
          • Kiwi

            “The simple truth is that Palestinians from East Jerusalem cannot buy apartments anywhere they want in the city.”

            They can if they choose to become Israeli citizens. As Gustav’s quote from this very magazine verifies:

            “With citizenship status, they are allowed to live anywhere in Israel”

            Unless of course you claim that Rimat Barakat is a mouth piece of the Israeli government who tells lies?

            “East Jerusalem Arabs – who make up one third of the city’s residents – are not Israeli citizens, but rather permanent residents. They have a lower legal status, which, among other things, prevents them from buying apartments on state land”

            Those who choose not to be citizens, no they cannot purchase lands anywhere in Israel because they are enemy aliens whose people have been at war with Israel for a century. Do you know how the great democracies treated even people who were our citizens during WW2, but who were immigrants from enemy countries? We shut them into camps. So why do you (and Noam) expect such people who have the choice to take up citizenship who choose not to, why do you expect Israel to treat them as citizens?

            Reply to Comment
    2. Pedro X

      Noam by omitting half the truth is misleading the reading public on the veracity of Netanyahu’s statement concerning the ability of Jerusalem Arabs to acquire private property and live in any part of Jerusalem.

      Netanyahu says:

      “Arabs in Jerusalem are free to purchase apartments in the western [part of the] city and no one is arguing against it […] I have no intention of telling Jews they can’t buy apartments in East Jerusalem. This is private property and an individual right.”

      Netanyahu’s statement is 100% correct. There is no restriction on a Jew who owns private land selling an apartment and the land to an Arab buyer. None whatsoever.

      Now to understand this statement more clearly one needs to realize in Israel there is state land and JNF land which make up about 93% of the land in Israel. About 7% of the land is privately owned. Israeli law says state and JNF lands are Israeli lands and may not be sold, neither to Jews nor Arabs. Private land can be sold to whomever the seller sells it to. so Netanyahu is right.

      State and JNF lands are administered by the Israel Land Administration which cannot be sold to either Jew or Arab. but the land can be leased out. the ILA is responsible for leasing lands, including on a long term basis.

      Pursuant to a 1980 Supreme Court ruling, all state owned land (80% of all land) may be leased to Arab or Jewish Israelis. As part of affirmative action programs the ILA has leased land to Arabs on terms greatly more favorable to Arabs than to Jews.

      13% of the land which is JNF (one-eight of all the land) is not to be leased on a long term basis to non-Jews by the ILA. However, in practice JNF land is leased to Arabs. What the ILA does is swap JNF land for state land and thereby there is no restriction on lease of state land in accordance with the Israeli Supreme Court decision of 1980.

      In Israel the bundle of rights which come with leased land is treated as equivalent to outright ownership for most purposes. Buyers and sellers treat long term leases (49 year residential leases) as if they were equivalent to titled land.

      The truth is that Arabs do purchase and rent apartments in Jewish areas of Jerusalem. Israeli Arab doctors from the Galilee live where ever they choose in Jerusalem. Arabs from east Jerusalem greatly outnumber Jews who live in Arab neighborhoods. 20% of the French Hill neighborhood is Arab. You will find Arab newspapers in coffee shops in French Hill carrying advertising to rent Jewish apartments. In French Hill there are almost triple the number of Arabs than there are Jews in Silwan. The same applies in Pisgat Zeev. Have you been to Neve Yaakov? Arabs live there too.

      However, please note that the number of Jews choosing to live in Arab neighborhoods is small. The number of Arabs choosing to live in Jewish neighborhoods is also small. Spatial segregation has been mutually voluntary for much of the last 100 years. When Arabs move into Jewish areas or Jews into Arab areas there is often an uproar. After a time the uproar dies down and people get down to living together as they do in French Hill. I doubt many people remember the uproar when Mt. Scopus University sold a block of 11 apartments to an Arab buyer for Arab homes.

      Reply to Comment
    3. Gustav

      Yet this is a recent survey published by Haaretz:

      “Would East Jerusalem Arabs rather be citizens of Israel or Palestine?
      In new survey, 35% say they are willing to relocate if their neighborhoods become part of a future Palestinian state; only 30% say they would prefer Palestinian citizenship over Israeli.”

      How does this fit in with the usual negative narrative of this author about how Israel treats Arabs?

      Reply to Comment
    4. Gustav

      Then there is the following article by Rimat Barakat who tries to make a different anti Israel point in this very magazine in 2012. However, in trying to do so, he inadvertently reveals some home truths:

      ” Why did East Jerusalem residents refuse the Israeli offer of citizenship in 1967, and why are they actively seeking to obtain it now, especially given that citizenship requires them to pledge the controversial oath of allegiance to the Israeli state?”

      “There has been a trend in recent years of Palestinian permanent residents of East Jerusalem applying for – and getting – Israeli citizenship.”

      “It’s only logical that people hoping to improve the quality of life for their children view Israeli citizenship as one way to escape the insecurity. With citizenship status, they are allowed to live anywhere in Israel”

      So, East Jerusalem’s Arabs were offered Israeli citizenship in 1967. They initially refused but now they increasingly apply for citizenship and they get it. This gives a slightly different complexion to the allegation that Israel deliberately tries to keep Arabs in East Jerusalem as second class citizens. DOESN’T IT????!!!!

      Reply to Comment
    5. bra

      The white lie by Noam is that Arabs from eastern Jerusalem have the right to take on Israeli citizenship but choose not to do so.

      Reply to Comment
      • Kiwi

        Rimat Barakat who is a Palestinian, also made the same claim. That more and more Arabs who live in East Jerusalem choose to take up Israeli citizenship and who are given citizenship.

        Is he making a white lie too Bra?

        Reply to Comment
        • bra

          Kiwi, I’m on your team.

          Anyway, while the numbers are up, I believe they are still below 10% of the entire Arab population of eastern Jerusalem. The point is that by not mentioning that Arabs have the right to acquire Israeli citizenship, Sheizaf is composing a little white lie of his own while criticizing Netanyahu of the same.

          Reply to Comment
          • Kiwi

            Sorry Bra, I misunderstood your post.

            Reply to Comment
    6. Gustav

      Quoting Adalah, huh Brian? Nice going.

      Adalah was founded by Hassan Jabareen
      For the sole purpose of looking out only for the human rights of Palestinian Arabs. Isn’t it a bit like it would have been quoting Pravda (which was the mouth piece of the Soviet regime) to try and prove anti American propaganda during the Cold War?

      Like you, and Pravda, they are not beyond telling half truths or even lies. And they are experts at distorting facts. Read Pedro’s comments about JNF and how Israeli Jews too cannot buy JNF owned lands. Jews too can only lease such lands.

      Now, let’s look at what happens to Arabs who sell lands to Jews in the West Bank:

      http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2134245/Former-Palestinian-intelligence-officer-sentenced-death-selling-home-Jews.html

      “A former Palestinian intelligence officer has reportedly been sentenced to death after it was revealed he had sold his home to Jews.
      Muhammad Abu Shahala, who worked for the Palestinian Authority reportedly confessed under torture to selling his home in Hebron on the West Bank to a Jewish man.”

      I bet you are not scandalized by that, are you Brian?

      Reply to Comment
      • Brian

        Hmmmm. “For the sole purpose of looking out only for the human rights of Palestinian Arabs. Isn’t it a bit like it would have been quoting Pravda”

        That is a non-sequitir. A debate trick. A propaganda device.

        “Now, let’s look at what happens to Arabs who sell lands to Jews in the West Bank…”

        Another debate trick: it’s called changing the subject when you can’t win the argument.

        Gonna end it here, there’s no rational conversation to be had.

        But others, do look at the Adalah report, it’s a good resource. The truth is out there.

        Reply to Comment
        • JohnW

          “Quoting Adalah, huh Brian? Nice going.”

          “That is a non-sequitir. A debate trick. A propaganda device.”

          So presumably if someone quotes the Jerusalem Post, a rightist Israeli newspaper, you would accept what they say too?

          Or is that somehow different because they promote the Israeli narrative? And that isn’t Hallal?

          But to quote a Palestinian organisation which promotes the Palestinian cause IS Kosher?

          Some would call it a slight case of bias?

          Reply to Comment
      • The NAACP in the US was founded, by African Americans, to advance the standing of African Americans. It was not “Pravda,” although, come to think of it, it was undoubtedly charged with communist leanings back in the Civil Rights and somewhat before era. Your analogy with the Cold War is then appropriate in a way you did not fathom.

        It is indeed punishable by death to sell land held by Palestinians of the PA to Jews or Israel. This law is reprehensible. During US Western expansion, Native Americans selling land to whites were sometimes killed as well. It was seen as traitorous, with an effective outcome rending the land from any future NA control. This latter is largely true in the WB as well. After all, the Israeli Land Fund holds land in perpetuity–it cannot alienate it from itself. The history overwhelmingly shows land transfer is a one way street. I think the death penalty reprehensible. But understand its genesis. Of course, selling land in Hebron is not the same as selling in Israeli annexed East Jerusalem. Equating the two is a bit strange, for the PA has no legal authority in EJ.

        Discrimination on land and housing against Israeli Arabs is indeed long standing. The Admission Committee Law, deferred from present consideration by the High Court, is an clear example. I truly doubt the 1980 High Court decision on equal access has been honored in full. Why doubt? Just look at the Holot Case to see how far the State will go to avoid a High Court decision. Although this case is the most visible, it does not stand alone.

        Reply to Comment
        • Brian

          Very good Greg! Hats off to you. You bring the debate to a substantive, deeper level and illuminate the deeper realities and the deeper meanings. What a breath of fresh air. Gustav I might add is truly digging himself deeper now….

          (Minor point: Whatever the PA’s legal authority or not, Israel’s legal authority in East Jerusalem, annexation or not, is that of an occupier. But I don’t wish to detract from your main points.)

          Reply to Comment
          • Kiwi

            I am sorry but both Greg and you Brian are making empty assertions.

            Neither of you have been able to logically dismiss a single point which both Pedro and Gustav brought up to refute this article.

            Reply to Comment
        • Gustav

          Sorry to burst your bubble Greg but you are not exactly an impartial observer here. You are a long standing commenter who reflexively tries to put Israel in the poorest possible light.

          I don’t know much about the NAACP but I do know that it has nothing to do with our discussion. Why? Because for the fourth time: Israel treats it’s Jewish and Arab citizens identically. The JNF only LEASES crown lands to all it’s citizens. It does not sell them. Privately owned lands can however be sold to BOTH Arabs and Jews. And it does happen both ways.

          Adalah pretends that it is not so. Hence my comparison of them to Pravda. I am not likening them to Pravda purely because they are Palestinian Arabs. But couple that fact to their distortion of the truth qualifies them to be called as Pravda like.

          “During US Western expansion, Native Americans selling land to whites were sometimes killed as well.”

          Oh ok then, that makes it ok for Arabs to do the same? But at the same time you condemn Israel for discrimination for which it isn’t even guilty of and which don’t even involve the death penalty against anyone?

          Ok, I get it Greg. You too are here with a one sided agenda. Israel bashing and being an apologist for the Palestinian Arabs. Hey, you are in good company here. Why did you leave? Welcome back …

          Reply to Comment
        • Sluggo

          Greg says: The NAACP in the US was founded, by African Americans, to advance….

          Want to make a correction? Who founded NAACP? Please research. It makes the rest of your argument silly

          Reply to Comment
    7. Gustav

      BRIAN:”Hmmmm”

      GUSTAV:“For the sole purpose of looking out only for the human rights of Palestinian Arabs. Isn’t it a bit like it would have been quoting Pravda”

      BRIAN:”That is a non-sequitir. A debate trick. A propaganda device.”

      Really? How so? Let’s see what is the meaning of your term non-sequitur:

      “a conclusion or statement that does not logically follow from the previous argument or statement”

      So a Palestinian Arab forms an organization to solely to look after the interests of Palestinian Arabs and he distorts the truth and tells half truths, as demonstrated in Pedro’s post does not logically follow?

      Well, Brian dear if you can assert that it does not, without even justifying why not, then I can certainly stand by my original comment that it logically does follow. especially since I actually DEMONSTRATED why it DOES logically follow.

      GUSTAV:“Now, let’s look at what happens to Arabs who sell lands to Jews in the West Bank…”

      BRIAN:”Another debate trick: it’s called changing the subject when you can’t win the argument.”

      Nothing tricky about what I said. Nor did it change the subject. You chose to distort Israel’s policies about selling land to Arabs.

      I think it is therefore perfectly valid for me to bring up the very draconian and cruel practices of the PA regarding selling Arab lands to Jews. It’s called quid pro quo. I know that concept is very strange to people like you who like only one way traffic but normal human beings would see it my way. Go figure …

      “Gonna end it here, there’s no rational conversation to be had.”

      You do that Brian. I would too if I would be in your place. I too would quit if I would be behind …

      “But others, do look at the Adalah report, it’s a good resource. The truth is out there.”

      Yea in the same way that Pravda peddled the “truth” about the USA during the height of the Cold War. Or how Der-Strurmer peddled the truth about Jews in WW2.

      Reply to Comment
    8. Richard

      They’re not white lies? You’re saying Bibi isn’t a Crusading Imperialist White Aryan Colonial Overlord? How dare you challenge Bibi’s whiteness! Jews were never considered non-white by anyone who tried to kill all of them. I don’t know where this is coming from Noam.

      Reply to Comment
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