Guardian interviewee casually suggests Israel is attempting to ethnically cleanse Palestinians

The Guardian posted a video on Oct. 9 of a recent interview with a Palestinian Arab named Raja Shehadeh.  (The video post was edited and produced by the Guardian’s David Shariatmadari and Josh Strauss).

Here’s the Guardian’s brief introduction.

“Palestinian writer and lawyer Raja Shehadeh talks about his experience of growing up in the West Bank. Shehadeh discusses the day-to-day hardships of living under Israeli occupation and reflects on episodes from his journal Occupation Diaries.”

On video, Shehadeh displays a calm, reserved, and ‘contemplative’ nature.

However, as we learn from a Guardian review of his book on Aug. 4, the placid facade hides a man embittered by “…the Israeli occupation, the illegal settlements that dot his beloved Palestinian landscape… and the failure of Israel‘s allies and donors to prevent the discrimination against Palestinians and Israeli Arabs.”

(Shehadeh is also the former director of Al-Haq, a radical Palestinian NGO which characterizes Palestinian terror activities as legitimate “resistance” and is currently led by Shawan Jabarin, a Palestinian with alleged ties to the murderous PFLP terrorist group.)

Most of the Guardian video interview shows Shehadeh lamenting over the wonderful life he, and his fellow Palestinian Arabs, lost after “the Israeli occupation”.  (The author is evidently referring to the period of time prior to June 1967, when the land – named ‘Palestina‘ by the Romans in the year 135 – had been in the hands of Jordan, 1949-1967, the British, 1923-1948, the Ottoman-Turkish Empire, for four hundreds years prior to 1923, etc.)

While most of Shehadeh’s selective history of the region is not noteworthy, at around the 3:00 mark of the video he makes the following claim about Israeli intentions.

“One of the most important objectives of the occupation is to empty the land of Palestinians.”

The charge of “ethnic cleansing” to characterize Israeli policy is nearly a banality at ‘Comment is Free’, but the ubiquitous nature of such a patently false allegation doesn’t make it any less reprehensible.

The facts are actually quite simple: The Palestinian population in the West Bank increased from 462,000 in 1948 to 2.38 million in 2005. In Gaza, the population increased from 82,000 in 1948 to 1.37 million during that same period.

Regarding Jerusalem, the Muslim population of the city increased roughly 5 fold from 1967 (when Israel unified the city) to 2009, from 58,000 to over 278,000, while the Jewish population increased only by a factor of only 2.8, from 196,000 t0 480,000.

Shehadeh’s belief that Israel is attempting to “empty the land of Palestinians” – like most political articles of faith – is not based on evidence.

Alternately, it would be fair to cheekily observe that if Israelis have been trying to expel the Arab population from Jerusalem, the West Bank and Gaza, they’ve certainly been doing a bloody awful job at it.

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