Guardian repeats ‘700,000 Palestinian prisoners’ lie

On Sept. 21, the Guardian published an extract from a soon to be released book (A Day in the Life of Abed Salama: A Palestine Story) by Nathan Thrall.  Thrall is an American author and anti-Israel propagandist who, CAMERA has shown, condones Palestinian terrorism as an effective means to chase Israel out of the West Bank.

The section of Thrall’s book published by the Guardian focuses on the early to mid-2000s, and the plight of a Palestinian woman named Huda Dahbour and her family – including her son Hadi, who was imprisoned around that time. Though nothing written by someone who endorses violence should surprise us, it’s still notable that Thrall actually attempts to attribute both a brain haemorrhage Huda suffered from and needed surgery to repair, as well as her divorce, on the stress from, yes, Israel’s occupation.

Thrall’s references to young Palestinians who served time in Israeli prison also omits the context of terror from the equation, and, at one point, uncritically cites a claim “that the presence [of soldiers] of seemed designed to provoke the [Palestinian] students so they could then arrest as many of them as possible”. He also accuses the IDF of brutality and even torture of  young Palestinian suspects without providing evidence.

At one point, we’re told that Dahbour’s son had been tortured by police.  The ‘evidence’ he provides is merely the fact that he had bruises on his body, and that Dahbour, being a doctor, could tell (from seeing his bruises in court) that it was from torture. How she determined the cause of her son’s bruises merely by sight is unclear, and it appears that Thrall didn’t do any cross-checking of sources to verify this or any other Palestinian accusation.

Thrall also follows the desired script in completely rewriting the story of Oslo. He writes, putatively to add historical context to the story, that Dahbour thought that that the Oslo Accords were “meaningless”, before adding, in his own words, this revisionist history of the Accords:

Rabin was emphatic that there would be no Palestinian state, no capital in Jerusalem, more settlements annexed to Jerusalem, more settlement blocs in the West Bank and that Israel would never withdraw behind the boundaries it had prior to the 1967 war, even though they comprised a full 78% of historic Palestine. Somewhere within the West Bank and Gaza – or the part of it that Israel hadn’t settled, annexed or set aside for permanent military control – the Palestinians would be granted “less than a state”, as Rabin called it. But even these crumbs were too much for some Israelis: Rabin was assassinated by an Orthodox Jewish nationalist a little over a month after Huda and [her husband] and their children crossed into the West Bank. Hearing the news at his home in Gaza, Arafat wept.

First, the 78% of Palestine narrative falsely suggests: 1) There was, previously, a sovereign Palestinian Arab state. 2.) That this mythical state encompassed all of the land Israel, the West Bank and Gaza. 3) That, therefore, any territory that Israel controls between the Mediterranean and Jordan is illegitimate in that its rightly Palestinian. What Thrall’s “78% of historic Palestine” in fact refers to is the territory that encompassed the British Mandate Palestine, was part of the Ottoman Turkish Empire before it was British, but was never Palestinian.

Also, regarding Thrall’s other claim, let’s recall that five years after Rabin was assassinated, and Arafat “wept”, the Palestinian leader was offered, but rejected, much more than just “crumbs”.  The government of Ehud Barak agreed to a US brokered peace deal that would have created the first sovereign Palestinian state in history – territory which encompassed most of the West Bank, all of Gaza and a capital in east Jerusalem.  Mahmoud Abbas, in 2008, rejected an even more generous offer from the government of Ehud Olmert.

At the end of the extract, Thrall writes that “a UN report found that 700,000 Palestinians had been arrested since the occupation began, equal to roughly 40% of all the men and boys in the territories.”

However, as was noted on these pages previously, this is a completely discredited claim which dates back to testimony from Addameer – an NGO affiliated with the PFLP terror group – during the 2009 Goldstone Commission report. So, it’s not a UN-researched fact, but an un-sourced claim by a radical, terror-affiliated NGO. (Elder of Ziyon refuted this claim most recently in 2020.)

But, even leaving aside the fact that the 700,000 number is bogus, Thrall’s narrative on the question of Palestinian prisoners gets the moral question completely backwards. The fact that (regardless of the exact number) there have been so many Palestinians convicted for committing acts of violence against Israel’s citizens is not an indictment of Israel, but of the individual Palestinian terrorists and the society that incites and incentivises such behavior.

As such, not only is it deeply immoral for Nathan Thrall to justify violence targeting innocents, but it’s been persuasively argued that Palestinian terrorism during the 2nd Intifada (the time period Thrall addresses), which traumatised a generation of Israelis, represents the greatest single factor for the absence of peace.

Thrall may fancy himself a defender of the Palestinian people. But, by nurturing the pathologies of the most radical members of their society about the glory of ‘martyrdom’, he’s pushing them further and further away from anything resembling peace.

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1 Comment

  1. says: Michael Zeffertt

    Referring to bogus statistics it is easy to report that 700,000 Palestinians had been arrested if you count each arrest as a separate person. The truth is, of course, that many arrestees have been arrested multiple times. So even if the 700,000 figure is correct in terms of the number of arrests, the number of people arrested is considerably fewer. These bogus statistics are constantly used. I attended a PSC meeting some years ago addressed by a Palestinian “lawyer” alleging that over 200,000 “children” had been held without trial since 1967. The faithful lapped up this statistic with enthusiasm.

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