Irish Times report includes false claim about BDS impact on Jerusalem Light Rail

An Aug. 3rd story in the Irish Times on renewed Israeli-Palestinian negotiations (Gradual Israeli takeover of Palestinian land seems to leave little enough to negotiate) was slanted to a degree that it truly could have been written by the Palestinian Ministry of Propaganda.  Though we’ve only recently been following the Irish Times, if this report is any indication of the general orientation of the paper’s coverage of the region, we’re going to be spending a lot of time in the future scrutinizing their claims.

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The story was written by Frank McDonald, (the paper’s environmental correspondent), who cites such fair arbiters of justice as the kangaroo court of despots known as the UN Human Rights CouncilB’tselem, and professional Israel basher Henry Sigman to ‘demonstrate’ that talks between the two parties are doomed due to the encroachment of “settlements.”  McDonald even cites, to buttress his claims about Israel’s alleged encirclement of Jerusalem, a link to the site of the PLO.

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Whilst there’s actually no indication as to whether the piece is a polemic or considered straight news, if it is indeed the latter then McDonald fails to meet basic journalistic standards by not even attempting to present the Israeli view.  The result is a story in which 15 out of 15 paragraphs are sympathetic to the Palestinian position.   

He also gets quite sloppy when weaving into his narrative of Israeli oppression the topic of Jerusalem’s Light Rail system – which, parroting the Palestinian position, he characterizes as a ‘violation of international law’. McDonald’s attempt to contextualize the city’s new transportation system – which seems to run afoul of anti-Zionist sensibilities by audaciously serving both Arab and Jewish neighborhoods – includes this:  

Veolia, the French conglomerate that operates Luas in Dublin, and Alstom, came under pressure from the Palestinian Boycott Divestment and Sanctions campaign to withdraw from the Jerusalem consortium. Veolia did, but Alstom kept building 46 trams.

However, his claim that Veolia withdrew from the Jerusalem consortium appears to be flatly untrue.  As a fact sheet on Veolia’s website, and even posts on pro-BDS sites such as ‘Who Profits?’ (a project of Coalition of Women for Peace) make clear, Veolia has NOT ended its involvement with the consortium.

Additionally, while the company has indicated its wish to eventually sell its 5% share, McDonald’s passage misleadingly implies that Veolia’s calculations are based on the political pressure by BDS activists, a charge flatly denied by the company and contradicted by a recent report in Globes, which included the following:

Veolia Environement recently decided to abandon investment in transportation and to focus on its core businesses, especially environmental services, energy, and water.

The report provides further evidence that Veolia is still quite heavily invested in the Jewish state. 

Through Delkia Israel, Veolia Israel owns 20% of OPC Rotem, Israel’s first independent power producer which is coming on-line at this time (Israel Corporation (TASE: ILCO) owns the other 80%), and it operates Delek Group’s (TASE: DLEKG) power station in Ashkelon. Veolia Israel is a partner in the construction of four of Israel’s largest solar power plants in collaboration with France’s Électricité de France SA (Euronext: EDF)

Whilst McDonald’s broader narrative that BDS has been successful against Veolia is contradicted by the company’s continuing investment in Israel, his specific claim that they have in fact withdrawn from the (Light Rail) consortium is completely false, and we will be seeking a correction.

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