Eight Palestinians died in a car crash in the West Bank on January 5. No Israelis were involved. Nonetheless, the Associated Press (AP) managed to turn this story of a car crash into an indictment of Israel. A report on how AP twisted this simple story into a vehicle for anti-Israel propaganda is here: “Associated Press Injects ‘Occupation’ Into Story About Palestinian Workers Killed in Car Crash,” by Gidon Ben-Zvi, Algemeiner, January 10, 2022:
The Associated Press (AP) has managed to turn the death of eight Palestinians in a West Bank car crash into a broad indictment of Israel. In fact, most of the January 6 piece, titled “Road crash in West Bank kills 8 Palestinians, injures 2,” isn’t even dedicated to the events and details of the accident.
Instead, the article veers towards biased territory:
Tens of thousands of Palestinians work in Israel and Israeli settlements, where wages are much higher than in the parts of the West Bank administered by [Mahmoud] Abbas’ Palestinian Authority. The economic disparity largely stems from Israel’s 54-year occupation of the territory and the restrictions it imposes on the more than 2.5 million Palestinians living there.
Israel is being attacked for allowing Palestinians to work, at good wages equal to what Israelis receive for similar work. Isn’t this a point in Israel’s favor? The “economic disparity” between Israelis and Palestinians in the West Bank is due not to Israeli malevolence, but rather, to the mismanagement, misallocation of resources, and corruption within the Palestinian Authority, that has impoverished so many Palestinians. Hundreds of millions of dollars of aid money meant for the West Bank Palestinians has been siphoned off by the P.A. leaders for their own benefit. Mahmoud Abbas and his two sons Tarek and Yasser have amassed a family fortune of between $400 an $600 million. Other relatives, friends, and loyalists of Abbas and other leaders have fared not quite so spectacularly, but many dozens have managed to acquire between $1 and $10 million dollars apiece.
Nepotism is rife, with no-show jobs, or even nonexistent jobs, being handed out to relatives of P.A. leaders, including employment at the non-existent Palestinian airline. It is not Israel’s “occupation,” as the AP tendentiously claims, but the Palestinian Authority’s misrule, that explains the “economic disparity” between Israelis and West Bank Palestinians. Widespread corruption disheartens the many honest Palestinian businessmen who lose the will to compete against the well-connected. Furthermore, Israel has one of the most highly-educated work forces in the world, which has helped to make it the quintessential “Start-Up Nation.” The Palestinians have chosen not to plow what money they have into educating a technologically advanced workforce, but instead spend it on their leaders and on a bloated bureaucracy of the privileged. That choice is hardly Israel’s fault.
In a story ostensibly about tragedy, the AP, a global news service with 1,300 clients such as The Washington Post, ABC News, and Fox News, depicts Palestinians who have the opportunity to earn a living outside of Palestinian Authority (PA)-administered territories as being subjected to alleged repressive Israeli policies.
The Palestinians who manage to be employed in Israel and the settlements do not feel they are “being subjected to repressive Israeli policies.” They feel elated, lucky that they are working for employers who treat them decently, and in any case are heavily regulated by the state — unlike employers in the PA territories — to ensure good treatment of workers. What’s more, they are well-satisfied that they can earn so much more working in Israel and the settlements than they can in areas ruled by the Palestinian Authority. And what are these “alleged repressive Israeli policies” the AP refers to, but for which it fails to provide a single example?
The AP notes that “Palestinian [Authority] President Mahmoud Abbas declared a day of mourning for the victims, who he described as ‘martyrs of trying to make a living.’” Indeed, the Associated Press included Abbas’ quote prominently, in the second paragraph of the piece.
How are the dead Palestinians “martyrs”? They are victims of a car crash, that’s all, no different from any other victims, Palestinian or Israeli, of similar mishaps. Abbas is trying to suggest some kind of fault on Israel’s part, for the poor Palestinians were only “trying to make a living. ”Yes, just like everyone, from China to Peru, who goes to work to earn his daily bread. They are not “martyrs” who died in the service of Palestine. It was a car crash, for god’s sake, without any larger significance.
And what chutzpah Mahmoud Abbas displays, for he is the person most responsible for the economic degringolade in the P.A. territories that causes Palestinians to seek work in Israel and the territories. Israel has not been trying to stop Palestinian workers from “making a living”; Israel was offering them the chance to be gainfully employed at wages far above anything they could expect in the Palestinian territories.
But two obvious questions, which for the reader remain unanswered, are: 1) Why are Palestinians in the first place compelled to find work in places under Israeli civilian and military control? 2) Why are connections between West Bank Palestinians and territories under Israeli authority depicted as a bad thing, given the decades-long effort by the international community to forge peaceful co-existence?…
What is it that makes Palestinians compelled to seek work in Israel and the settlements? The Palestinians in the West Bank receive, either through the P.A. or through UNRWA, more than a billion dollars in support every year. The U.S. alone now gives $360 million annually to the P.A., and more than $300 million to UNRWA. But what does the P.A. do with the money? It paid $17 million for a “palace” for Mahmoud Abbas. It bought him a $50 million plane. It allows enormous sums in aid money to be diverted to the P.A. leaders, their relatives and friends, whose salaries are four times as large as the average Palestinian wage. The P.A. is in the hands not of the most competent but of the best-connected. That’s why the P.A. economy is in such a parlous state, a morass of its own leaders’ making.
Israel is doing its best to support the PA, even choosing to ignore its continued implementation of the “Pay For Slay” policy, by which large monthly subsidies are given to imprisoned terrorists and to the families of those terrorists who died while committing their attacks. It has now committed to advancing almost $200 million dollars in a loan to the P.A.
While the AP makes accusations about Israel being responsible for the poor state of the economy under the Palestinian Authority, it fails to mention that Israel is making enormous efforts to improve that economy. It will not only lend the P.A. nearly $200 million but will legalize the status of 9,500 undocumented Palestinians and foreigners now living in the West Bank and Gaza. In order to stimulate the growth of Palestinian businesses, Israel will provide 600 VIP permit entries for senior Palestinian businessmen, that will enable them to travel freely throughout Israel; the government also has issued permits for 500 of them to enter the Jewish state with their own vehicles. But none of these confidence-building measures by Israel is mentioned in the AP account – for they would show Israel in a good light.
Should we believe the AP, that blames Israel for the state of the P.A. economy, or should we believe, rather, the Palestinians themselves, who see increasing corruption in the P.A. as the main problem with the P.A. economy?
How is it that what should have been a simple, just-the-facts report on a car accident in the West Bank, with no Israelis present, became an indictment of Israel? According to the AP, Israel is guilty of the crime of providing decent employment at good wages to Palestinians and guilty, too, for being so successful in every part of its economy, from agriculture to high tech, a success that has created a demoralizing “economic disparity” between the Jewish state and the Palestinian Authority. And why has Israel done nothing to prevent the mismanagement, misallocation of resources, and colossal corruption in the P.A. that surely, like everything that goes wrong in the Palestinian Authority, must be blamed on the Jewish state?