Poisoning the wells: David Hearst’s Jewish problem

David Hearst’s title at the Guardian is “foreign leader writer”.

In other words, the Guardian would like you to believe that Hearst is a journalist.

Nothing could be further from the truth.

David Hearst is an ideologue blinded by an antipathy towards Israel which has few if any moral boundaries.

When providing “analysis” on the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict, Hearst has legitimized or echoed the narrative and language of those most stridently opposed to Israel’s very existence.

Such hyperbole and vitriol includes the mundane parroting of anti-Israel lexicon (Hearst’s reference to Arab Israelis as “Palestinians with Israeli passports“), disturbing and callous derision of historical Jewish victimhood (his contempt for what he characterizes as the “compulsory” tour of Israel’s Holocaust Museum, Yad Vashem, frequently taken by world leaders), as well as his morally reprehensible sanctioning of antisemitic ideas (his legitimization of calls for Israel’s demise and claims that Zionism represents “Jewish supremacism”).

The latter invective, as noted by a prominent progressive blogger, was popularized by one quite prolific American neo-Nazi.  The essay, published last month, was titled Could Arab staying power overcome Zionism“, evoking, it seems, the memory of the 20th century’s other monstrous “isms” – that Israel isn’t merely a nation like all the others but, rather, represents a dangerous idea which must be eradicated. 

Hearst’s most recent story, “West Bank villagers’ daily battle with Israel over water“, Sept. 14, more closely resembles the propaganda routinely peddled by Palestinian Solidarity Campaign than a  report by a mainstream broadsheet.

Hearst begins by uncritically quoting a resident of the Palestinian village of al-Amniyr who claims that a new water cistern in the town has been destroyed three times this year. The last destruction, Hearst reports, was by Jewish settlers – who Hearst’s Palestinian literally accuses of poisoning the wells.

“The settler attacks come generally at night and where they cannot destroy water cisterns they poison them by putting chicken carcasses in them.” [emphasis mine]

Further, while Hearst’s report implicitly acknowledges that the dwellings and cisterns were built without authorization, he nonetheless argues:

“Constructions need permits, which are all but impossible to obtain.”

Tellingly, Hearst provides no hyper link to a source backing up this claim.  And, indeed, as Yochanan Visser demonstrated – in an essay for the Jerusalem Post refuting the the broader charge that Israel’s ‘discriminatory policies’ are to blame for the lack of water in the PA – Since 2000, 73 out of 76 requests by the Palestinian Water Authority (PWA) for such permits to the office of the Civil Administration for water projects have been approved. 

Interestingly, 44 projects, the majority in Areas A and B ( territories under Palestinian control which don’t need any further Israeli involvement), that received Israeli approval in 2008 have not been implemented by the PA. (See detailed reports by the Israeli Civil Administration, here and here)

Moreover, as Visser noted, contrary to Hearst’s narrative, Palestinians steal millions of cubic meters of water each year by drilling holes into the water pipes of Israel’s national water provider.  

Since 2008 Israel has asked the PA to re-establish the joint JSET water patrols that fought water theft before the 2nd Intifada.

The PA has refused.

But, Hearst’s piece descends even further, when he, again without providing sources, claims:

“The effect of the water shortage on the Palestinian population is not disputed. The average use of water by Palestinians is 50 litres a person a day for domestic purposes, one-fourth of the Israeli use. Rates of diarrhoea are high, particularly among children in herder [presumably, Bedouin] communities. One survey found that 44% of children between six months and five years had diarrhea in the two weeks before.”

Well, actually, these outrageous claims are more than disputed but, rather, easily refuted.

I did a bit of research and, based on the most recent data available at the site of the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), diarrhoea rates among Palestinian children under five years (6.7%) has been historically lower than any other country in the Middle East, other than Tunisia.  Nations faring worse in this category include Syria (7.8%) and Bahrain (9.7%),  Lebanon (19.8%) and Algeria (21.3%). This is also consistent with data from the Palestinian Authority’s own website

Such data suggests that Hearst’s argument – that there is a water shortage in the Palestinian Authority which is causing a high percentage of diarrhea cases among Palestinian children – is fatally flawed.

Plus, as diarrhea is one of the commonest causes of infant mortality, if there was such a health problem among Palestinian children, you would expect that the infant mortality rate in the PA would reflect this. Yet, at 26 per 1000 births, the Palestinians are right in the middle of  the world curve  – equal to the rate in Lebanon, and better than Iran, Egypt and Turkey and Algeria. 

Such data is consistent with other reports indicating that Palestinians’ “Human Development Index” – a measure of life expectancy, literacy, education and standards of living for countries worldwide – is 97th in the world, right in the middle of the 193 recognized nations.

But, Hearst’s piece wasn’t really about alleged water shortages in the PA.

In the ideological ghetto Hearst shares with his Guardian colleagues Israel’s guilt is axiomatic and immutable.  The particular stories which are filed merely serve to maintain the edifice, to advance the cause.

Back in June of 2010, in a truly surreal polemic, Hamas must reshape itself, Hearst argued that Hamas was far preferable to Fatah as the Palestinians’ representative and, yes, negotiating partner with Israel.  He further suggested that Hamas doesn’t seek Israel’s destruction at all – that signs of the terrorist group’s potential for moderation and pragmatism have been tragically overlooked by those susceptible to conventional thinking about the movement’s repeated calls for Israel’s annihilation, and their founding charter’s reference to the Protocols of the Elders of Zion “proving” that Jews are indeed taking over the world.

This is what being a sophisticated progressive has come to mean to the Guardian Left.

Even a terrorist group which heartily endorses the most odious antisemitic lies, and states quite clearly their wish to kill Jews, can be seen as a potential vanguard in a brave, new movement for peace and harmony in the Middle East.

Of course, Hamas can’t achieve peace by all by itself.  It needs a partner. 

Such lofty aims can only be achieved if the stubborn Jewish state will do its progressive part by kindly stepping aside and cease in its fanatical, supremacist, and simply poisonous dreams of continued national existence.

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