For years Palestinians have been sneaking across Israel’s “security barrier” risking arrest to find work, much like Mexican immigrants who try to slip into the USA. In the last few weeks, that trickle has become a flood. A CBC report paints it as a marvellous mixing, but it glosses over the underlying discrimination and injustice. Read a special guest column.
On Sunday evening, August 16, listening to the CBC Radio’s weekend news package, my ears pricked up.
“For two weeks, thousands of Palestinians have been crossing into Israel for a day out at the beach,” reported World This Weekend (TWTW) host Martina Fitzgerald, “and no one is stopping them! Israeli soldiers seem to be turning a blind eye as Palestinians head into Israel without permits, and without a Covid-19 check!” she continued, introducing Jerusalem-based reporter Irris Makler.
Ms. Makler reported on the recent appearance of breaches in Israel’s separation barrier, through which West Bank Palestinians have been quietly slipping, heading to work or visiting family inside Israel, and even going to the beach, most of them for the first time in many years!!.
Israel claims the barrier is to protect Israelis from Palestinian “terrorists”. Palestinians, however, say the barrier is about separating Palestinians who live in the West Bank, from Israelis and to steal Palestinian land.
Standing at a hole in the wall, Makler speaks with a school principal named Mohammed Aziz from the Palestinian village of Beit Liqya. Astonishingly, Aziz says he is heading to the beach for the first time in his life!!!
Then, even more startling news from Makler: “His wife will pick him up. Mohammed’s wife is an Israeli Arab, and due to Israeli rules prohibiting family reunions, they must live separately.”
Makler explains that while Azis’ wife is a Palestinian citizen of Israel, HE lives in the West Bank and is not allowed to enter Israel without a special permit. So usually, his wife and children come to him.
“This will be the first time in twenty years that Mohammed visits his wife and children in Israel ‘proper’, Makler adds, with no further context or explanation.
In forty seconds, Makler has revealed a handful of facts that may astonish CBC listeners who don’t follow news from the region: Israel won’t let this Palestinian school principal live with his wife and kids? They can visit him in the West Bank at Beit Liqya, but this is the first time in twenty years he gets to visit them? Beit Liqya is just forty kilometers as the crow flies away from Jaffa and the beach but Mohammed has never been allowed to go for a dip?
Ms. Makler’s script doesn’t mention that Jewish settlers who live only ten kilometers north of Mohammed’s house, have always been free to zip across the chemerical “Green Line” every day without problem. It’s just an hour’s drive to the beach on a hot day.
Nor does Ms. Makler reveal that, when Palestinian refugees living in the West Bank slip through the hole in the wall, risking arrest and detention, they’re really just returning to what they consider home, after seventy years of forced expulsion from Israel.
After visiting the holes in the barrier, Ms. Makler segues to the beach. There, she paints a pleasing scene: “There are old Arab women sitting fully clothed in the water – including one woman in a wheelchair!” Makler reports, her voice rising in surprise. “There are young men smoking shisha pipes, and there are families, of course, who’ve packed home cooked food.” Jalud Bashiti and her daughter-in-law Tamara, from Nablus, are also “thrilled” to be at the beach. It’s Jalud’s first time, too.
As anyone who’s strolled down the beach front strip from Tel Aviv to Jaffa knows, Jewish Israelis swim and lounge in trunks and bikinis along the north stretch; Palestinians bathe to the south, on the edge of Jaffa – women fully clothed. They don’t tend to mix.
But in Ms. Makler’s report they seem to do so — harmoniously. “So far, the Israelis don’t seem to mind the influx of Palestinians,” Makler remarks, enthusiasm and a shade of surprise in her voice. “Indeed, they welcome them.”
“If we go to the sea, they can come also,” one Israeli man tells Makler. His female partner concurs: “They can come also to the sea. The beach is for everyone!”
Really? The beach is for everyone? Are they being dishonest, or do they really not know that Palestinians from the West Bank are forbidden to come? It’s hard to tell. And Makler doesn’t try.
In fact, this beach is not for everyone. Between this beach and the Jordan River – now effectively a single state, ruled by one sovereign – Jews have full rights, and Palestinians don’t. At this beach, Palestinians from the colonized territories bathe and relax only at the pleasure of the Israeli military.
Makler seems to not notice another crucial point: the “security barrier” does not appear to be about “security” at all. At least for the Israeli citizens she interviews, concern about Palestinian “terrorists” does not seem to be an issue.
Makler ties a pretty bow on her TWTW piece about peaceful coexistence at the beach: “There isn’t much mingling, but Israelis and Palestinians enjoy the sea, side by side, sharing the beach without friction. It’s a moment of grace, so rare here, and remarkable just for that.”
How wonderful a picture!!
How misleading for CBC listeners!!
NOTE: This special column is an abridged and slightly edited version of a longer article “Radio waves at the beach” which first appeared in Mondoweiss.
Canada Talks Israel Palestine (CTIP) is the weekly newsletter of Peter Larson, Chair of the Ottawa Forum on Israel/Palestine (OFIP). It aims to promote a serious discussion in Canada about the complicated and emotional Israel/Palestine issue with a focus on the truth, clear analysis and human rights for all. Readers with different points of view are invited to make comment.
Want to learn more about us? Go to http://www.ottawaforumip.org.
When you refuse to identify Arab citizens of Israel as Israeli Arabs, instead, deliberately stating the misnomer that they are Palestinian citizens of Israel, you then appear to be deliberately stating that Palestinians, citizens of Israel, of which there are none, and Palestinian Arabs who are enemy nationals living in the disputed territories, are treated equally. This appears to be a deliberate falsification on your part and one reason why no one objective believes you to be anything but a propagandist..
The small % of Palestinians who were not expelled from historic Palestine in 1947/48 now live in Israel.
They are still Palestinian by language, culture and heritage. Of course, they are now citizens of Israel whether they like it or not.
Israelis (and you too, apparently) prefer to call them”Israeli Arabs” because this obscures the fact that they are Palestinians.
The term “Israeli Arabs” is not wrong. You often hear Palestinian citizens of Israel referring to the “arab sector” for example. But most also refer to themselves as “Palestinian”.
Today, there are Palestinians who are citizens of Israel, Palestinians who are “residents’ of Jerusalem, Palestinians who live in the West Bank and Gaza (under Israeli occupation) and of course several million Palestinian refugees in Jordan, Syria and Lebanon.
Almost all would call themselves Palestinian.
Many families include Palestinians who are citizens of Israel, residents of Jerusalem, residents of the West Bank, residents of Gaza, and refugees in other states who are not allowed to return to Palestine; all identify as Palestinian. Israe’s cruel policy limits their ability to live together or even visit each other but they are still consider themselves a close-knit family.
The Arab citizens of Israel are Arab Israelis. Israeli policy keeping out the Palestinian Arabs since the genocidal war waged against the Jews is for security purposes. No cruelty involved. Nothing keeps those Arab citizens of Israel from leaving and joining whatever relatives they have outside of Israel. They chose to stay separated.
Hey Mr. Sigman, I will allow Dr. Parnas to respond if he wants.
But sometimes your comments make me wonder if you have ever visited Israel or spoken to any Palestinian Citizens of Israel. Many, like mr. aziz wife in the article can marry those who are excluded from israel, but they only can live with them if they leave israel. It is a conscious policy aimed at pushing Palestinians out of Israel.
Its an atrocious, racist and cruel policy.
An Israeli Jew, on the other hand could marry any Jew in the world and could live in Israel.
There are no Palestinian citizens of Israel, only Arab Israelis. It is true that an Israeli Jew, Bahai, Muslim, Copt, Druze, Israel anything can marry a Palestinian Arab and not live with them in Israel. The Palestinian Arabs are an enemy people. Imagine during WWII going to Japan or Germany, marrying a citizen of those states, and then demanding the US let them in.
That law is not atrocious, racist or cruel. Additionally, an Arab Israeli may marry anyone else in the world, even a Jew, and live with them in Israel.
That you are upset with the Israeli law granting almost automatic citizenship to any Jew who moves to Israel is your problem. Take it up with Hitler and the states of western civilization who refuse to take in Jews trying to escape the coming Holocaust.
Is it your position that the Palestinians living in Israel who say they are Palestinians, who lived in Palestine and whose parents/grandparents were Palestinians before the creation of the state of Israel (including those who have shown me their parents birth certificates which say they are Palestinian}, who speak the Palestinian dialect of Arabic, who listen to Palestinian singers, who read Palestinian poetry, who eat Palestinian food, and who call themselves Palestinian.. are NOT REALLY PALESTINIAN???
If so, I don’t think this conversation can go much further…
Mr. Parnas, Once a person is a citizen of a state, they become a national of that state. As there has never been a state of Palestine… Regardless, the Arab citizens of Israel, no matter where their great great grand parents came from such as Syria, Saudi Arabia, Mesopotamia, or Egypt, they are now Israelis.
Hey Mr. Sigman,
I think you are confusing “nationality” and “citizenship”. The first is a “sociological” category, the second is a “legal” category.
I am a Canadian. I was born here. As were my parents, and grandparents before them. I speak the Canadian dialect of English, listen to Canadian musicians, read Canadian literature (not exclusively, of course) and follow Canadian politics.
I have lived in Italy. I speak Italian. If I had applied for Italian citizenship, I could have become legally “Italian”, but NOBODY in Italy would think that I have become “Italian” in the sociological sense. I would be a Canadian living (happily) in Italy.
Palestinian citizens of Israel are “legally” Israeli (through no fault or desire of their own). But sociologically they remain Palestinian. And everyone knows it.
In any discussion, it is important to determine if a disagreement is merely about the meaning of a word or about something more substantive. With regard to the discussion of whether or not there is such a thing as a Palestinian Israeli, it appears that you are using a definition that is different from the common ones. If you choose to do that, it is necessary to state your definition at the start if you want to have a useful discussion. It appears that according to your definition if there were two brothers from a family living in Palestine and one was inside the territory that Israel claimed after a war but the other happened to be outside, one of those brothers would be a Palestinian and the other would not be. That definition appears to treat the word “Palestine” as if it denoted a state, but you consistently insist that there never was such a state. A definition would clarify what you mean and I hope you will give it.
In contrast the question of whether Israeli policy is racist or cruel is a substantive one. It is racist because it discriminates between people on the basis of their ethnicity rather than their character, behaviour, or capabilities. Not all of the people that you label as “Palestinians” waged, or even want to wage, a “genocidal war” against Israelis but you lump them all together and assign a collective guilt to all of them no matter what they believe or do. That’s clearly racist. It is also cruel because it forces innocent people to make very painful choices.
We agree on your condemnation of those countries that refused to help Jews who were trying to escape the Holocaust. Many members of my family were treated as “enemy aliens” when they managed to escape to those countries. One was imprisoned and deported to the other end of the world. However, it was not the Palestinians who did that. Why do you think that they should be punished for it?
“However, it was not the Palestinians who did that.” The Arabs of British Mandate Palestine rioted between 1936 and 1939 demanding the end of Jewish immigration and demanding the end of selling land to Jews. The British capitulated.
However, neither were punished for it. Why do you think anyone is punishing Arabs over their actions prior to the start of WWII?
Of course Palestinians resisted. Instead of giving them independence as promised, the Brits occupied Palestine and started facilitating the immigration of tens of thousands of Europeans who had the clear intention of taking over the whole country. What would you have done?
As there was no real “Palestinian” national movement prior to the influx of immigrating Jews, it can hardly be claimed that “Palestinian” identity for Arabs of southern Syria is anything more than a political fiction. While there is now a serious cultural difference between the Arabs residing in the disputed territories and Syrians, it was not so 110 years ago. Consider the split between the Europeans in the US and Canada right after the US Declaration of Independence.
Thanks for sending this, Peter. What’s reported – and not reported – is so important to interrogate.
From: Canada Talks Israel/Palestine
Reply-To: Canada Talks Israel/Palestine
Date: Tuesday, September 1, 2020 at 1:46 AM
Subject: [New post] What a recent CBC report reveals about Israel today… and what it keeps hidden…
Peter Larson posted: ” For years Palestinians have been sneaking across Israel’s “security barrier” risking arrest to find work, much like Mexican immigrants who try to slip into the USA. In the last few weeks, that trickle has become a flood. A CBC report paints it as a m”
This matter should be taken up with the CBC Ombudsman. I support CBC but have had run-ins to keep them honest. Peter, if you made a submission on behalf of CTIP,I suggest it should include comments from members, many of whom have first hand experience on the ground. In this case I don’t possess much competence but many do and it is of supreme importance to keep the national broadcaster honest and fully and equally informative.
Not all reporters are the same. I’m quite sue that if Evan Dyer was sent to Israel to make this report, we would have gotten accurate facts and a realistic view.
Fake news is a monumental scourge in this digital age and it behooves members of the public who can discern fact from fiction to fight for the former. Some outfits like Honest Reporting are all too ready to fight for the later.
Thanks for answering. i agree with you. But I am hoping that others will take up this challenge. I don’t want to be a one man show. If others do as you suggest, I think it would be great. Best
Very useful. Thanks.
The settlers decided (for the rest of Israel) that there will never be an effective barrier between Israel and the West Bank
The fence is fragmented, partial, and serve no purpose in the security of the citizens in Israel proper.
The fence is in essence the way Israel punished the Palestinians for the second Intifadah
A collective punishment. Not a security measure.
Luckily there isn’t any need for the fence as a security measure, the Palestinians in the West Bank rejected the way of Terror (or armed struggle as some will call it ) back in 2004
This is my perspective as a person who until 2010 lived on the Istraeli side of the fence and as an infantry platoon commander who served on the Palestinian side of the fence
On further thought, CJPME may even be working on such as they are more about lobbying than discussion but CTIP is a font of expertise and experience which Would be useful. I have contacted CJPME.
I agree, Irris Makler’s report was misleading.
What is happening at CBC?
Palestine not just “ disappearing”
as shown by the Disappearing Palestine “map, but disappeared.
Tonight- another report by Ms Makler about an Israeli Canadian , who calls herself a” Zionist-Canadian”, about to join the Knesset, if I heard correctly.
Not a word about the blockade of Gaza, the halt of fuel affecting power, sewage and water. Palestinians in Gaza are under lockdown . Without power the water( if it is running) can’t be pumped to the watertanks on top of the apartment buildings .
Remember the WHO’s telling us Gaza would be unliveable in 2020?
It’s almost 2021. Is anyone asking questions about Israel’s collective punishment of civilians?
Where is Margaret Evans?
Thank you to Mr Larson for saying to Mr Sigman exactly what I wanted to.
There are history books , such as those by Ilan Pappe, Benny Morris et al., which have been written since the declassification of documents relating to the period leading up to the end of the British Mandate. Perhaps we could all use a refresher.
I appreciate the ( mostly) respectful tone maintained in this debate. Thank you.
Many history book are actually opinion books utilizing a kernel of truth and wrapping layers of BS around it. Morris proved that Pappe is quite adept at that technique. Thus if you utilize Pappe as a source, you are apt to get chastised by an academic.
Hey Mr. Sigman, I wrote about the Morris/Pappe divergences several months ago. Anyone interested can look here: https://canadatalksisraelpalestine.ca/2020/05/27/what-really-happened-in-the-1947-48-nakba-two-israeli-historians-have-very-different-interpretations/
It seems that Morris based himself purely on available Israeli written documents – kind of like the police reports of incidents with Black people in the US.
Pappe interviewed many of the Palestinian eyewitnesses and victims. Turns out there were quite big discrepancies between the official Israeli documents and what the eyewitnesses said.
Based on what is happening the US today, we should not be surprised.
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