Scotsman op-ed vilifying Israel is riddled with errors and distortions

The hyperbole in an Aug. 1st op-ed by Ben Lynfield published in The Scotsman begins in the headline:

The decision, most likely by Lynfield’s editor, to add “Palestinian Lives Matter” to the headline – words absent from the op-ed itself – represents a cynical attempt to analogise the American debate about racism towards Black Americans with the Palestinian issue.

The slogan represents the increasing tendency by journalists to reduce a dispute that’s involved decades of war and terror – one animated at least as much by antisemitism, extremism and incitement as about land – to a black and white moral tale solely about ‘Palestinian rights’.  It erases repeated Palestinian rejection of peace offers, and falsely presupposes that the only thing standing in the way of a just and peaceful outcome is Israeli withdrawal from the disputed territory.

The highly tendentious and misleading rhetoric continues in the opening sentences:

The fatal bullet that hit the chest of 16-year-old Palestinian Mohammed Hemayel on June 11 in the occupied West Bank was fired by an Israel Defence Force soldier. But the killing was carried out in the service of messianic Jewish settlers who enjoy a symbiotic relationship with the army.

To claim that the alleged IDF killing of Hemayel was “carried out in the service of messianic Jewish settlers” is a theme throughout his op-ed, a narrative that elides the context of Palestinian violence. At the time of this writing, the incident is being investigated by the Military Police Criminal Investigation Division.  But they did release a statement noting that, during the incident its forces responded to violent riots which hundreds of Palestinians took part in, hurling stones, burning tires and shooting off fireworks and throwing explosives.

The Palestinians were demonstrating against Evyatar, the illegal outpost in the northern West Bank which was evacuated six weeks after the incident.

Lynfield then writes:

[The incident] has exposed that much of the IDF’s mission in the West Bank has little to do with defending Israel and everything to do with serving as the enforcement arm of the settlers in a joint effort with the government to poach as much Palestinian land as possible.

To frame the IDF response as carried out “in the service of “messianic Jewish settlers” and that the army serves “as the enforcement arm of the settlers” to “poach as much Palestinian land as possible” is pure propaganda, which we’ll address later in this post.  Of course, protecting Israeli civilians from potential violence – regardless of where they reside or their ideological orientation  – is the core function of the military.

Further, to argue, as Lynfield does, that there’s a coordinated effort by the government, settlers and army to “poach as much Palestinian land as possible” also falsely suggests that all West Bank land is Palestinian, when is only a relatively small percentage of land in the territories is privately owned by Palestinians.  Most is state land, the status of which has to be determined via negotiations.

Reading Lynfield, you’d likely come away with the erroneous conclusion that every square kilometre of territory in east Jerusalem and the West Bank is, by definition, Palestinian.

Lynfield also makes the following claim:

Beita is no exception. Last weekend, the army helped messianic settlers in an effort to establish another illegal outpost, this time in the Jordan River valley in an abandoned army post. The move touched off Palestinian protests, which the army quelled.

We reached out to the IDF Spokesperson Unit, who released a statement to CAMERA UK completely contradiction Lynfield’s assertion.  There was no effort by settlers to “establish another illegal outpost”.  All that happened was that a group settlers took a two-day trip to an abandoned IDF base, after getting consent by the IDF on the condition that they voluntarily vacate at the end, which they did.

But, arguably the most risible assertion in Lynfield’s op-ed is here:

The symbiosis is structural, with each of the settlements having a security coordinator from the settlement who has command power over the troops stationed there

The IDF statement also emphatically denied Lynfield’s claim that settlement security coordinators (who are civilians serving as liaisons between the community and the IDF, and constitute an initial response to security incidents) have “command power” over the Israeli soldiers stationed there.  “The security coordinator has no control over the soldiers”, they said in a statement.

We’ve sent a formal complaint to Scotsman editors asking that they promptly correct these false claims.

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