“According to Hebron Rehabilitation Committee’s director Emad Hamdan, […] ‘the Jews had the infrastructure and the physical power to establish a state, but they lacked anything to connect them to Palestine, and that is what they are trying to form.’”
This jaw-dropping “expert take” on Jewish history appeared, uncritically and without context, in a report at Independent Arabia (a joint venture of the UK based Independent and the Saudi media group SRMG) published on February 14th.
Entitled “Palestinian rejection of Hebron’s Judaization by [the means of] giving neighborhoods Hebrew names”, the report featured the quote above amid discussing Israel’s sinister plans to “Judaize” this West Bank city, populated by almost a quarter million Palestinians.
Not only did the reporter, Independent Arabia’s West Bank correspondent Khalil Mousa, fail to call out the ignorance of his interviewee, Independent Arabia’s correspondent also issued a similar statement in his own voice just a few words prior:
“Ever since [they began residing there], the settlers have tried to consolidate their presence in Hebron, working to Judaize it and form historical connections to it, with the support of the Israeli government.”
Regardless of the city’s current disputed status and conflict over site naming, denying Hebron’s vastly documented Jewish history of two millennia – whether in the reporter’s voice or via an unchallenged quotation – is a clear violation of basic standards of journalistic accuracy and impartiality. Moreover, it contravenes the Independent’s own July 2018 statement, released upon the newspaper’s annunciation that it intends to open an Arabic website:
“All editorial practices and output will conform to the world-renowned standards, code of conduct and established ethos of The Independent.”
Unfortunately, given Khalil Mousa’s past efforts to erase Israel and the West Bank’s Jewish history and archaeology, hoping that his readers would not know it ever existed, this new piece is hardly surprising.
Just last September we mentioned his use of “air marks” to single out one of Judaism’s holiest sites, the Western Wall (in Mousa’s terminology: “The Wailing Wall”), in a way that presents Jews’ association with it as dubious and ironic. Meanwhile, Christians’ and Muslims’ connection to “their” respective holy sites bore no punctuation marks, and were hence presumed profound and serious:
“The [Trump] plan cites the importance of Jerusalem to the followers of the three heavenly [i.e. Abrahamic] religions, as [are] Al-Aqsa Mosque to the Muslims, ‘The Wailing Wall’ to the Jews and the Church of Holy Sepulcher to the Christians.”
Later, in October, he made another attempt to sow disinformation about Judaism’s undeniable connection to Jerusalem of more than 25 centuries, “reporting” Israel’s alleged scheme to take over the city “by the means of”, to quote the headline, “Tanakhic* Parks”:
“ISRAEL TRIES TO ESTABLISH ITS CONNECTION TO JERUSALEM BY THE MEANS OF ‘TANAKHIC* PARKS’
“Palestinians accuse the Hebrew State of harnessing the city’s archaeology in favor of its historical narrative
“Israel attempts to ‘form a historical connection to the city of Jerusalem’, and to ‘harness’ the ages-old archaeology of the city in favor of its Jewish narrative, according to Palestinian specialists. Beginning with the occupation of the city in the 1967 war, Israel has launched search operations, looking for archaeological [findings] that would confirm its relation to Jerusalem, while Palestinians affirm it has not obtained any scientific proof that could vouch for that.
“Among these measures, [meant] to create a ‘historical root’ in Jerusalem, is the development of a ‘Tanakhic Parks’ belt around the Old City walls in an attempt to link the Jews to ‘the Land of Israel’ and erasing the Arab Muslim and Christian nature of the city.
“According to Jerusalem affairs researcher Fakhri Abu Diab, […] the goal of those parks is ‘imposing a reality of established historical facts that are unproven scientifically, […] He added that ‘Israel exploits ancient archaeology in Jerusalem [of the kind that] goes back to the Byzantine and even Mamluk era[s] and attributes it to the Jews.’
“Cartographer Khalil Tafakji asserts that ‘Aiming to dominate the lands, Israel bestows a religious dimension to what it calls ‘the Holy Basin’ in the Old City surroundings over an area of 2.5 square kilometers, claiming it contains tombs of prophets.
“In turn, ‘Fatah’ movement leader Hatem Abdel Qader views that ‘the goal of those parks is to Judaize the Arab Muslim landscape in Jerusalem via constructing walkways for Jews where they can worship, and placing stone sculptures which indicate Jews’ historical connection to the city.’
Another telling incident was in October 2019, when Mousa conflated the Jewish cemetery in Givat Sha’ul (where a new underground project had been recently inaugurated) with the one on the Mount of Olives, in east Jerusalem (where no such development ever took place). He subsequently reported about a sinister Israeli scheme aimed at, to quote his article’s headline, “consolidating the presence of Jews” in “occupied Jerusalem” using “underground graves” – all fabricated out of thin air due to the mix-up of the two cemeteries.
If that were not enough, in the same report he also argued that the Mount of Olives Jewish cemetery is no more than 110 years old, (in comparison with the Muslim cemetery adjacent to the Golden Gate right across from the Mount, which is 1400 years old). In fact, the oldest Jewish tombstones found in the area date back to the Hasmonean period, approximately 2100 years ago.
Additionally, Jews have been continuously burying their dead on the Mount of Olives and its nearest surroundings since the 1480s AD (late Mamluk period) at the latest. Are these the standards of Western journalism that Independent Arabia is supposed to conform, according to the commitment of its English speaking parent company?
Rather, it is Khalil Mousa’s relentless crusade against Jewish history which disgraces the Independent’s auspices time and time again.