Featured Media Critiques

Shoddy Israel Reporting By CNN, BBC, CBS Leads to Accusations of ‘Ethnic Cleansing’


Global news organizations have near-uniformly reported on the international community’s condemnation of Israel’s demolition of “a large portion of a Palestinian community in the West Bank that left 73 people, including 41 children, homeless.” 

By co-opting the Palestinian narrative, the likes of CNN, BBC, CBS and other media outlets have disseminated a seemingly agenda-driven story devoid of context that effectively serves to delegitimize the Jewish state.

The Road to Two States Runs Through Oslo

On November 3, CNN reported that the European Union had “slammed” Israel’s move:

 “Such developments constitute an impediment towards the two-state solution,” a spokesperson said in a statement. “The EU reiterates its call on Israel to halt all such demolitions, including of EU-funded structures.”

What is strange about the quote is that it fails to identify the precise location of this “Palestinian community in the West Bank.” In fact, Khirbet Humsa is situated in the Jordan Valley. This is significant because in the 1990s, Israel and the Palestine Liberation Organization signed the Oslo Accords, envisioning a peaceful two-state solution. Under the agreement, the West Bank was divided into three separate zones: Areas A, B and C.

The Jordan Valley is in Area C, under full Israeli security and civilian control. Jerusalem is thus responsible for planning and approving construction therein for both Jews and Arabs. Israeli authorities regularly demolish structures in Area C deemed to have been built illegally.

Related Reading – The Jordan Valley: What You Need to Know

With regards to Khirbet Husma, specifically, Israel’s military liaison to the Palestinians communicated clearly that the structures destroyed were erected in a live-fire zone. Indeed, Israel declared the area to be out of bounds in 1972. Humsa’s Bedouin residents previously appealed to Israel’s High Court to cancel what was at the time an impending demolition. In 2019, the court rejected the petition and ruled that the residents could not stay.

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But these crucial pieces of information were, by and large, ignored by the media. While major news outlets such as CNN uncritically ran with Brussels’ view that Israeli policy is an obstacle to a two-state solution, it is the Jewish state that is in fact fulfilling its obligations under the Oslo process.

EU Funding Construction of Illegal Structures

Several news organizations have reported that the removal of illegally built structures in the West Bank has reached alarming rates:

That assertion begs the question: What, if anything, has caused this dramatic uptick? Had the BBC and other outlets bothered to adequately investigate the matter, they would have discovered that illegal Palestinian construction in the West Bank has reached unprecedented levels.

Over the last five years, illegal Palestinian settlements and infrastructure have been built on some 9,000 dunams (nine square kilometers) of territory across more than 250 locations in Area C. This does not take into account the more than 600 kilometers of illegally constructed access roads to these places.

In July 2020, the European Union, Denmark and the Palestinian Authority signed an agreement to build 16 infrastructure projects for the Palestinians in Area C. It was the fifth agreement of its kind. Those involved in the projects neither applied for nor received permits from the Israeli Civil Administration.

Related Reading – The Oslo Accords: Searching for Peace

The Israeli government has long suspected that this is part and parcel of a PA plan to create contiguous Palestinian population centers in the region. The EU announced its support for the initiative in a document called “Land Development and Access to Basic Infrastructure in Area C.”

It turns out that in order to create a de facto Palestinian state without further negotiations or even diplomatic consultations with the Israelis, European countries – individually and through the European Union – have pumped hundreds of millions of euros annually into scores of illegal initiatives.

As such, while CBS News asserts that Israel rarely approves permits to build in Area C, with European largesse the Palestinians appear able to do so as they please.

Unchecked Falsehoods: The Road to Ethnic Cleansing

Without including the facts, the media’s incomplete and thus distorted reports have a tendency to bleed into the mainstream, which, in turn, often leads to the promulgation of other libels against Israel:

When Israel acts to enforce the law, it is too often pummeled with misleading international headlines, which can morph into unfounded and far worse accusations. As a result of the media’s inability or unwillingness to tell the whole story, most people around the world are completely unaware of the complexity of Israel’s policies in the West Bank.

Left unchecked, such biased news coverage facilitates the spread of misinformation about Israel, thereby emboldening those who are all-too-happy to amplify the slanted message. 

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Feature image: IDF demolition of terrorist structure via Wikipedia.

Gidon Ben-Zvi

Gidon Ben-Zvi, former Jerusalem Correspondent for The Algemeiner newspaper, is an accomplished writer who left Hollywood for Jerusalem in 2009. He and his wife are raising their four children to speak fluent English – with an Israeli accent. Ben-Zvi's work has appeared in The Jerusalem Post, The Times of Israel, The Algemeiner, American Thinker, The Jewish Journal, Israel Hayom, and United with Israel. Ben-Zvi blogs at Jerusalem State of Mind (jsmstateofmind.com).