May 05, 2002
Fact-Checking (part 2)

From the “can’t let it go” department:

I was fact-checked today, and it was warranted. It all arose from my question to the International Press Center over a map that appeared to imply a view of “Palestine” that included what most people refer to as “Israel”. This is a view popular with a number of terrorist organizations.

I suppose I should have been more direct with my questioning, instead of trying to be diplomatic. What I asked was "Why is Israel not on the map?" with a few follow-up notes. The Israel question was not answered, at all; the response focused on my additional comments. A two-state policy is implied, but never actually stated, but that map seems to imply otherwise. It would be akin to going to an official website for Great Britain, and seeing a map that covered Ireland, India, most of Sub-Saharan Africa, British Guyana, a sizable chunk of Southeastern Asia, and a portion of the middle east, including Palestine. Such a map would be historically accurate, since prior to Irish independence in 1922, that was the extent of the British Empire.

The answer that that is an historical map of Palestine doesn't wash; Historical Palestine was only confined to the specific boundaries of current-day Israel and the "Palestinian" areas for a short time, during which the objective of creating a Jewish homeland was always intended. Prior to 1923, Mandatory Palestine included the current-day Jordan. Before the British revived the name in 1917, the concept of "Palestine" as a separate administrative district had not existed since the Romans overran Israel in 70 BC. It did not exist during the Ottoman period, which began in 1516. During the Ottoman period, there was no Palestine, only districts that do not conform to current borders. Three Sanjaks–Jerusalem, Nablus, and Acre (which is in current-day Lebanon)–had jurisdiction over most of the area. Nablus and Acre were part of the province of Beirut, while Jerusalem was ruled directly from Istanbul, due to its religious significance.

The biggest problem with the map (and the linked map reached by clicking it) is that it appears on the official Palestinian press agency website, and despite the “historical” disclaimer it appears to be a de facto claim for the whole region. Considering that Hamas, Islamic Jihad, and Hizbollah all want Palestine to occupy the whole area, it seems to be a provocation. Simply adding the label "Israel" on the second map, and moving it forward would eliminate most of my concerns. I still have problems with their claim of a totally occupied Jerusalem (which is stated in the notes on Jerusalem in the West Bank map), and I want to know why they label so many towns in an area for which they are supposedly not fighting (the 14 towns in Israel proper).

The answer that the Palestinians "had to give up land to attain peace" is so ludicrous that I actually stared at my screen for about 20 seconds before I started laughing. I literally could not believe what they had said. There is no peace; there has not been peace since the Arabs rejected the UN partition plan in 1947. (Recall that the UN plan allotted a larger portion of the region to the Arabs then they ended up with when the dust settled.) And the Palestinians never "gave up" land, they had it taken from them after each ill-advised attack on the Jews.

UPDATE: It appears that not everyone has seen my earlier rebuttal. It's right here. That post is why this one is entitled "unable to let go", as I began researching this post after I completed the first rebuttal. There is very little duplication in the two posts, so if this topic interests you, check out the other one.

posted on May 05, 2002 10:37 PM


And who would check the facts-check? I've read that facts-check you referred to, and found out that the "holy equalitarian" gesture was applied with that regard as well. It appears the checker failed finding the "green line" in two maps linked out of Israel MFA's site ("if you can find the Green Line here, or any indication whatsoever that the land of the West Bank other than the PA cantonments are somehow different, then you really know your maps."). Thus concluding as follows -"Apparently both sides have their map problems". However, contrary to the implied, no special knowledge in maps is required: the "green line" isn't a legal boundary, but a mere factual line of the pre-Six Day War of 1967. A closer look at the list of about 30 different maps listed at the MFA's site, could have easily spotted the relevant ones. Here are some of the links:

The same goes as to maps one can find, say, in Israeli press sites... That should count for something considering Israel is a democratic state, doesn't it? Here is a link to the excellent map of IsraelInsider -

I meant to link your inquiry in one of the independent Israeli sites, but haven't come around to it, so I leave my short comments to the merits of the issue with you and your readers - a. One can never "give up" something he didn't own to begin with. Palestinians were never the sovereigns of that land, a part of which they allegedly "give up"; b. PA ICP's position is quite ironical, considering the PA was established as a result of, and owes its formal status to, the Oslo accords, those same accords the PLO concluded and signed with the "out of the map"... Israel.

You have no idea how frustrating it is for an Israeli, an ordinary one, having to deal with all that over and over again. But then again, myself sitting with the keyboard for some comments, at this very late hour, might give a hint. The radio at the background is reporting of another "suicide bomber" attack, executed tonight at a Snooker hall, in Rishon Le'Zion (a town southern to Tel- Aviv). 15 Israeli dead, 60 injured. The leader of Hamas in Gaza (El-Rantisi) was quoted stating in response - Palestinians love/embrace dying, more than Israelis love/embrace living. I think he is missing the point.

posted by Michal, Israel on May 7, 2002 11:02 PM

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