Republished with permission of HonestReporting
According to her Twitter profile, Daire Louise O’Dowd is a geography and English teacher. Sadly, judging by her inaccurate and ill-informed mess of an article on IrishCentral, a US-based news site catering for the global Irish diaspora community, she should certainly not be educating anyone about the Israel-Palestinian conflict or the region.
O’Dowd relates her experience traveling in the Palestinian territories based on what appears to be a severe failure to understand what she is seeing and a superficial background knowledge and history that likely came from anti-Israel hate sites.
“More or less just one wall”
She begins by inaccurately describing Israel’s security barrier:
The looming grey and towering walls along the West Bank border are intimidating to look at.
It is more or less just one wall, with one purpose, to effectively shut out and restrict Palestinians from freedom of movement to Jerusalem and other parts of Israel and indeed overseas.
If you could imagine one wall running the length of Northern Ireland’s border you get the idea.
“More or less just one wall?”
Definitely less. In fact, Israel’s security barrier is over 90% fence. While O’Dowd asks readers to use their imaginations, it’s clear that hers is running wild.
And why would this barrier restrict Palestinian access to Israel? Given the thousands of Israelis murdered or injured as a result of Palestinian terrorism before the building of the security barrier, the answer is clear. Yet, to O’Dowd,
“The wall is an enforcement of segregation under the pretense of security.”
“Littered with leather belts, kids shoes, and sneakers”
Walking into the checkpoint, it’s littered with leather belts, kids shoes, and sneakers along the narrow barricaded walkway in.
These are all items that have to be taken off going through the daily checkpoint.
A bizarre observation. It’s hard to believe that anyone crossing a checkpoint is unable to retrieve items such as shoes and belts assuming that there is nothing prohibited hidden in them. Indeed, airline passengers at major international airports have, sadly, become accustomed to removing their belts and shoes for routine security processing. Given the particular security issues for Israel, this is hardly earth shattering.
“Stopped and asked my religion” in Hebron
O’Dowd then visits Hebron, a city where there are most certainly contentious issues. However, through selective and prejudiced framing, she paints a particularly questionable picture:
Entering Hebron, the Irish brogue must stand out. I’m stopped and asked my religion and told I cannot enter the paved main road in as I am a Christian. Instead, I resign myself to walking along another dirt track steeply down a hill.
O’Dowd, having already used the false apartheid analogy in her piece, now attempts to imply that she is being singled out due to her Christian religion. This is very hard to believe.
One can only assume that O’Dowd is on the small stretch of road leading to the Cave of the Patriarchs where both Jews and Muslims pray separately and are kept separated in order to prevent friction and potential violence.
O’Dowd writes that Hebron “is divided into two: H1 controlled by the Palestinian Authority and H2 administered by Israel and is more or less a segregated area within a larger segregated area.”
In fact, H1 makes up some 97% of the area and Arabs are able to move freely including through a security checkpoint into the other 3% that makes up H2. It is Jews that are unable to cross freely into the Palestinian-controlled majority of the city.
And so the selectivity goes on:
What once used to be a busy meeting point for Palestinian produce and business in the ‘70s is now derelict and ransacked. For protection against settlements, chicken wire was put over the roofs of businesses in the marketplace to stop the influx of oncoming rubbish from overhead settlers.
The star of David is sprayed across shutters on shop buildings to intimidate business owners and attempt to drive them out of increasingly Israeli settler areas. What historically is a meeting point of both religions is now a battleground for expression.
O’Dowd paints a false and selective picture of modern Hebron. You can better understand the reality by watching this video, which gives one of the most informative overviews of the complex Hebron situation that we’ve seen.
False information about Arab Israelis and Jerusalem residents
Yet more inaccuracies:
And the segregation goes on. Within the Israeli apartheid system, there’s a hierarchy of importance indeed; Jewish nationals being top of the list, of course.
Then we have those Palestinians with Israeli citizenship. This luxury means that they can pay significantly high prices for a piece of paper allowing them to enter into Jerusalem for work, pay taxes and see no benefits of a system which they contribute to.
“Palestinians with Israeli citizenship” are Israelis and have the same legal rights as Jews. Contrary to O’Dowd’s false claims, Arab Israelis have the same freedom of movement as every other Israeli, do not need any papers to enter Jerusalem, pay taxes like every other Israeli and receive benefits from local and national government such as health and education.
Then we have Jerusalem residents – separated into their segregated area zones.
Palestinian residents of Jerusalem are not “separated into their segregated area zones.” On the contrary, while there are many neighborhoods that are majority Jewish or majority Arab, there are also mixed neighborhoods and Palestinians with Jerusalem ID cards are legally entitled to live in any part of the city and even vote in municipal elections. While the security barrier runs through part of the city, those Palestinian residents on the other side have the right to cross the barrier and to live and work on either side.
Kids spades blacklisted from Gaza.
Referring to the blockade of Gaza, O’Dowd claims:
Even kids’ spades are on the blacklist of prohibited items allowed in and out. Because heaven forbid these are such a security threat when four young boys are killed in 2014.
Certain types of plastic are on the list of items that have been classified as potentially “dual use” as are certain construction tools that are prohibited from entry without a permit. But kids’ spades? It’s unclear where O’Dowd came up with this. As to “four young boys are killed in 2014,” we can only assume that she is referring to the kidnap and murders of three Israeli teens by Palestinian terrorists (Eyal Yifrach, Gilad Shaar and Naftali Fraenkel) and the murder of an Arab boy (Mohammed Abu Khdeir) by Jewish terrorists in the summer leading up to the Gaza conflict of that year. But we cannot understand what O’Dowd’s point is.
For a geography teacher, O’Dowd has a very limited understanding of maps, borders and boundaries:
With President Trump’s recent acknowledgment of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and his relocation of the US embassy there, I think awareness is vitally important. He has shown more or less a complete disregard for existing boundaries and once more as we have seen a complete and utter redrawing of the map.
In fact, moving the US embassy to Jerusalem did not affect any “existing boundaries” and nor did it entail any “complete and utter redrawing of the map.” The map of Jerusalem remains the same as it did immediately before the embassy move.
Faulty statistics and a false narrative
One can only hope that O’Dowd doesn’t teach mathematics, statistics or history:
Perhaps President Trump is unaware of the 8.1 million Palestinian people displaced and denied the right of return to date, 6.14 million of whom are 1948 refugees during “The Nakba” in which we saw the division of the land and the implementation of “Plan Dalet.” That very clearly stated that “there is no room in the country for both people … the only solution is the land of Israel, at least a Western land of Israel without Arabs.”
“The Nakba” period of 1948, thus becoming the largest and longest displacement of people in the world.
Where did O’Dowd get her figures? Around 700,000 Palestinians became refugees in 1948 rather than the 6.14 million claimed by O’Dowd. There are today some 5.87 million registered refugees according to UNRWA which counts the descendants of those 700,000.
And where did O’Dowd source her history? Plan Dalet as explained by historian Benny Morris was “the master plan of the Haganah – the Jewish military force that became the Israel Defence Forces – to counter the expected pan-Arab assault on the emergent Jewish state.” Morris makes it clear that there “was no Zionist “plan” or blanket policy of evicting the Arab population, or of “ethnic cleansing””
And Plan Dalet did not very clearly state the quote that O’Dowd uses. This quote allegedly came from a 1940 diary entry of Yosef Weitz, a political figure in the pre-state Jewish Yishuv. Even if he personally expressed certain views, these were certainly not quoted in Plan Dalet, which was conceived several years later.
“The newly British-mandated state of Israel”
Another bizarre claim that demonstrates O’Dowd’s muddled and ignorant thought process:
This permanent displacement is made solely achievable by the Israelis through their implementation in the 1950s of the “Law of Return” giving rights to Jewish people born outside the newly British-mandated state of Israel whilst denying non-Jewish native-born Palestinians the right to return.
The Law of Return bestows the right of any person recognized as a Jew to immigrate to Israel. The law does not even refer to Palestinians. And what exactly is the “newly British-mandated state of Israel?” The British Mandate and the State of Israel were two different constructs and even after the end of the Mandate, Britain did not vote in the UN for the creation of the Israeli state.
O’Dowd, unsurprisingly concludes with a call to support the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) campaign, which neatly sums up where she is coming from vis a vis her views on Israel.
Her piece is so littered with inaccuracies and falsehoods that it’s hard to believe that it has been treated as a serious piece of writing. Unfortunately, for a readership unable to make that distinction between fact and propaganda, such nonsense has the capacity to cause serious damage.
Daire Louise O’Dowd is entitled to her opinions, however misguided and hateful they may be. She is not, however, entitled to spread blatantly false information.
In addition, IrishCentral readers deserve better than to be fed this misinformation. The media outlets editors should know better than to allow a piece of this nature to be published without any fact checking or oversight.
You can write to IrishCentral and make your concerns known – email@example.com
Featured image: CC0 Pixabay with additions by HonestReporting;