Scottish outlet peddles ‘settlers-only roads’ lie

Cohav Hashachar

The Dumfries and Galloway Standard (a regional affiliate of the Scottish Daily Record) repeated the lie about “settler-only roads” in the West Bank that we prompted countless corrections to over the years – a myth so discredited that not even the Guardian peddles it anymore.

In fact, in 2018 alone, we prompted corrections to that inaccuracy at five publications – the Independent, Financial TimesTelegraphGuardian and the Daily Mail

The Dumfries and Galloway Standard article in question, by Sharon Liptrott, in the print edition, (“Support for our friends in Asia; Palestine Solidarity Campaign”, Oct. 3) about an event hosted by the “newly-formed Dumfries and Galloway Palestine Solidarity Campaign”, includes other errors by framing claims by the speaker at the event, Michele Abendstern of Saddleworth Palestine Women’s Scholarship Fund, as indisputable facts.

This includes her reference to events around 1948 – that is, the Arab war of annihilation against the nascent Jewish state – as the “forced expulsion of 750,000 Palestinian people from their homes in 1948.”

In fact, as CAMERA has methodically documented, most of the 700,000 or so Palestinians who took flight during the Arab war against Israel were not expelled by Israel, but either left of their own accord to escape the violence, or were told to leave by Arab leaders who assumed they would be victorious.  In fact, in our experience with the UK media, almost all news outlets use language to make clear that only some Palestinians were expelled, while others fled.  There are no serious scholars or historians who claim that there was one single factor involved in the Palestinian flight.

The article also uncritically cites claims by Abendstern that UN Resolution 194 “enshrines the ‘right of return’ to all Palestinian refugees“, a false allegation that has also been corrected at multiple outlets over the years following communication with CAMERA.

As noted by colleagues recently in the context of a correction they prompted to that claim at Deutsche Welle, the UN General Assembly resolution in question conditions the return of refugees (Palestinian refugees are not specified, and therefore the resolution equally applies to Jewish refugees from Arab countries) on their willingness to “live at peace with their neighbours,” a condition that was not accepted by the Palestinian leadership or the vast majority of the refugees themselves who invoked Resolution 194.  Furthermore, the resolution placed repatriation, resettlement and compensation on equal footing; meaning that return is one of several possible options.

Finally, the fact that 194 is a General Assembly resolution, as opposed to one adopted by the Security Council, means that it can not ‘guarantee’ or ‘enshrine’ anything.

However, the reporter – neglecting to distinguish between mere allegations and facts – then writes that Abendstern “pointed out that this right is denied to the Palestinians”, when she clearly should have used the word “claimed” rather than the words “pointed out”.

The article continues framing misleading or inaccurate claims as facts when she uncritically notes that, when the speaker went to ‘Palestine’, she saw the “settler-only roads that further fragment Palestinian land and enable illegal settlers to avoid checkpoints”.

There are no ‘settler-only roads’

As we’ve explained on numerous occasions, there are, for security reasons, a very small percentage of roads in the West Bank restricted to Palestinians (roughly 40km).  However, all roads are open to all Israeli citizens of all religious backgrounds and foreign nationals of all religious backgrounds.  There have never been religiously based restrictions on roads in Israel or the West Bank – nor have there ever been roads only for settlers.  To place this restriction on Palestinians in context, Israelis are forbidden to drive on all roads in the PA controlled West Bank (Area A).

We’ve complained to the outlet asking that, per the Accuracy Clause of the Editors’ Code, the erroneous and misleading claims be corrected.

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4 Comments

  1. says: Wa Go

    Why no link to the original article?
    The link to Sharon Liptrott’s produce at the publication doesn’t list this piece.

  2. says: Anthony Jacobs

    Where is “West Bank?” I can find Lloyds, HSBC, Barclays & Metro Bank, but no West Bank.
    Do you mean Judea, and if so, why won’t you call it by its 3,000 years old name? What’s it’s name in Arabic now, and what did the “Ancient Palestinians” of 2,000 years ago call it? When did it become Palestine and what language is that name derived from.

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