Harriet Sherwood erroneously places Knesset on Arab Farmland

This is cross posted by Simon Plosker at Backspin, the blog of Honest Reporting.

Only yesterday I blogged the BBC’s video report on the Arab village of Lifta, located at the western entrance to Jerusalem and abandoned since 1948. Within 48 hours of the BBC’s report, the Guardian has also published its own story and video.

Is this an amazing coincidence or is this an obvious demonstration of the similarity in the agendas of both the BBC and Guardian?

Both media outlets seem determined to bring the focus of the Arab-Israeli conflict back to the events of 1947/8 – a tactic employed by the Palestinians to present Israel as being “born in sin” and responsible for the “ethnic cleansing” of Palestinians and the creation of the refugee problem.

The fact that one Yacoub Odeh is the former Lifta resident guiding the BBC’s Wyre Davies and the Guardian’s Harriet Sherwood separately would suggest that this “tour” was a well-organized effort offered to the international media and eagerly picked up by those outlets sympathetic to the Palestinian narrative from 1948.

But where does Sherwood get her information from? She states:

“Out of sight of Lifta’s ruins, but built on its former farmlands are the Knesset (Israel’s parliament), the supreme court, the Hadassah hospital, the Hebrew University and the city’s central bus station.”

In fact, the Knesset was built on land leased from the Greek Orthodox Church and not Lifta’s farmlands. The Knesset, Supreme Court and Hebrew University are located in the Jerusalem neighborhood of Givat Ram, which prior to the 1948 war, was known as the village of Sheikh Badr and not Lifta’s farmland.

As for Hadassah Hospital, is Sherwood referring to Hadassah Mount Scopus in the north of Jerusalem or Hadasah Ein Kerem in the south west of the city? Either way, both are located a considerable distance from Lifta and could not possibly have been part of its farmland prior to 1948.

According to Sherwood then, it appears that entire swathes of Jerusalem were actually built on Lifta’s farmland.

Looks like Sherwood’s lack of fact checking has been caught out.

But this isn’t surprising as Yacoub Odeh is given carte blanche to push the Naqba narrative and both the Guardian and BBC are prepared to accept this at face value.

So is this a story that pits development against the preservation of historical memory or is it really all about the right of Jews to build in Jerusalem, even in the western part of the city?

Considering that the BBC and Guardian both refer to Arab East Jerusalem and make no secret of their opinion that Jews should not be a part of the landscape there, it’s no surprise that even the western “Jewish” side of Jerusalem is now apparently part of the discussion.

(Also, see OyVaGoy’s post on Sherwood’s enormous mistake, here.)

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