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‘Center for Investigative Reporting’ omits human rights violations in report on Israeli wall

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I was listening to the show “Reveal — From the Center for Investigative Reporting Up Against the Wall” last Saturday, March 4, 2017.

The show wanted, as it is stated on Reveal’s web page, “to explore the political, logistical and geographic barriers that could get in the way of President Donald Trump’s plan for a border wall.”

At minute 23 the host, Al Letson, informed us that “other countries have put up similar barriers” and reporter Emily Harris (who spent three years as a foreign correspondent in Israel) has an “up close look at the Israeli wall” that becomes the focus of a large part of the show.

There are several disturbing parallels, omissions, twisted facts that are delivered in this show relating to human rights, which are worrisome considering that the Center for Investigative Reporting (responsible for this show) is presented on Reveal’s site as “among the most innovative, credible and relevant media organizations in the country” and “our award-winning journalists hold the powerful accountable and reveal government fraud and waste of taxpayer funds, human rights violations, environmental degradation and threats to public safety”.

I will try to touch on each and every one of these disturbing blatant distortions of facts/omissions/twisted parallels.

First, you compare the wall President Trump intends to build along the Mexican border, routed along an internationally recognized border, to a wall that Israel has built almost entirely on Palestinian land, outside of its internationally recognized borders. The former is a legitimate, legal, though absurd, plan to seal the border between two nations, along an international border. The latter is an illegal operation, condemned and declared illegal by the International Court of Justice (see the advisory opinion of 2004) and by a document published by the UN Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People. This operation is clearly meant to steal land from the Palestinian people, incorporate illegal Israeli settlements in the West Bank and East Jerusalem within the borders of Israel and obstruct the free circulation of Palestinian citizens inside their own region and from one town to another.

None of these grave violations of international law and human rights were cited in the show.

Later in the show, Ms. Harris informed us, ”Israel’s best-known wall is part of about 300 miles of barrier that twists between Israel and the West Bank.” Except that even just “a glance at a map detailing the separation wall’s route quickly reveals that the vast majority of it—85 percent —is, or is planned to be, built within the West Bank, not along the Green Line or the 1949 Armistice Line, the border between Israel and the Palestinian West Bank recognized by the international community,” journalist William Parry wrote in Al Jazeera in January, continuing, “The purpose of its meandering deviation from Israel’s border, and into the West Bank, is to unilaterally annex the land on which the majority of Israel’s illegal settlements and outposts have been built.”

In other words, the wall doesn’t “twist between Israel and the West Bank”, as reported on your program. The wall almost entirely twists inside the West Bank, which is outside of the internationally recognized borders of Israel, separating Palestinian villages and towns and annexing, de facto, 10 percent of the West Bank, including prime agricultural land and strategic water reserves.

At times, Ms. Harris seemed to touch on the controversial issues raised by the construction of the Israeli wall, but her words minimized the flagrant violation of international law. She reported that the wall “often cuts deep into the land that Palestinians claim for a future country of their own.”

Emily Harris 

Land that “Palestinians claim,” is not the same as land that is outside of the international borders of Israel and that is illegally occupied by the Israeli army, as stated by the International Court of Justice (ICJ), and is explicitly designated by the ICJ as “occupied Palestinian territory.”

In the show, Ms. Harris also made no reference to the 250 Israeli settlements and illegal outposts built on Palestinian land in the West Bank and East Jerusalem where nearly 600,000 Israelis now live, in violation of the Fourth Geneva Convention.

These settlers are under the protection of Israeli soldiers inside of the West Bank.

South African lawyer John Dugard, a United Nations expert on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, wrote in a 2006 report to the UN Commission on Human Rights that the Israeli “settlers are able to terrorize Palestinians and destroy their trees and crops with impunity.”

Ms. Harris also says that “Armed Israeli security forces work both sides of the barrier”. This is a very strange way to describe an occupation and it seems to give the impression that the presence of foreign occupying troops in Palestine are part of a regular, normal, legal security routine (like the regular controls performed by the border patrol along the U.S. borders), and not the manifestation of a brutal, violent, illegal occupation.

“Most Israelis say that the West Bank barrier has helped lower the number of Palestinian terrorist attacks done inside Israel,” Ms. Harris added.  But if Israel wanted to “lower the number of Palestinian terror attacks done inside Israel,” it could simply have built the wall on its internationally recognized border.  If it chose instead to build the wall inside occupied Palestinian territory, it was manifestly not to stop Palestinian terror attacks “inside Israel,” but to steal Palestinian land.

An earlier version of this letter was sent to the Center for Investigative Reporting and Emily Harris. 

Sergio Lima

Sergio Lima is an Italian architect who lives and works in the United States.

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7 Responses

  1. Ossinev on March 8, 2017, 12:48 pm

    Reporters from the slavishly ProZio MSM will willingly spew out on demand the usual Hasbara about the wall being a “security barrier” as opposed to a “land grab” and Palestinian “claims” as opposed to rights to their stolen land. Not sure where NPR fits into the equation. Obviously in order to get access to Zioland and ergo access to official sources and access to locations reporters like Ms Harris have to (increasingly ) follow the Zio script otherwise they might be classified as existentially threatening newspeople and denied entry into the Land of Desecration.

    On a completely separate (or is it ) point does anyone out there know how Israeli Realtors (Estate Agents in UK speak ) market properties in Zioland which face the wall. Do they leave out mention of it altogether or do they spice up the appeal(and cost) with such comments like “with stunning reassuring views of the security barrier”. Would love to know. I would have thought that property prices would have nosedived when those wonderful views out to the ancestral hills (sob) were compromised by the 8 metres of concrete in between . Again would love to know.

  2. JLewisDickerson on March 8, 2017, 5:39 pm

    If Trump were really serious about keeping out all of those “bad (Mexican) hombres” [how embarrassing, but I guess we’re lucky Trump didn’t call them “wetbacks”], he would dig a trench along the border and fill it with hungry ‘gators particularly fond of spicy Mexican food. That would teach those “bad hombres” to stay in Mexico where they can get decent-paying jobs (including benefits) with the CIA-affiliated drug cartels!

    • JLewisDickerson on March 8, 2017, 5:55 pm

      Trump’s “bad hombres” = brown-skinned men who dream of grabbing our white women by their “pu^^ies” without even saying pretty please!
      SAD! REALLY SAD! ! !

      P.S. Trump learned everything he knows about Mexicans from Lawrence Henry “Larry” Summers!

  3. Mondowise on March 9, 2017, 11:57 am

    Bravo Mondoweiss, I genuinely thank you for such excellent reporting!!! I am quite upset after reading this. I found this article so disturbing that for the first time in my life, I actually contacted the source, Emily Harris, and left a strong message to her. I kindly demanded that she read this Mondoweiss article and immediately issue a public correction of all the misleading/false/twisted points on Reveal/Center for Investigative Reporting website that are referenced here, that she indeed hold to account the powerful. Doubt it will do any good, but her kind of reporting is totally unacceptable and inexcusable. Her report was an unconscionable act and incredibly harmful at multiple levels and the reputation of their websites has lost all credibility due to her blatant and grave ‘omissions’.

    Wow, I can’t believe it! Emily Harris just now called me back right as I was finishing my comment here. Suffice it to say, we had a very nice, cordial and rather lengthy conversation and she was very appreciative of my call, said that it was important and she thanked me more than once. But I would not and did not back down on any of her whitewashing, twisting and omitting FACTS despite her rhetoric of e.g., “matter of perception”, “out of context”, etc. Words are words, facts are facts (which do not change regardless of ‘perception’), and putting it in writing is putting it in writing. She related to me that Mondoweiss is very good and does a great job reporting and she did agree to read this article. Still, I strongly urged her to address all the concerns/falsities, etc…in writing…on their website! Hopefully, she will understand how her reporting affects their credibility and reputation and do just that. We shall see…

    • Mondowise on March 9, 2017, 12:23 pm

      One more thing. Correct me if I’m wrong, but doesn’t being a good journalist involve clearly stating the facts…as well as…differentiating how a journalist interprets said facts based on their individual perception? I would think anyone in journalism, particularly investigative, would strive to make such clear distinction for the sake of presenting truth to the readers…..else it becomes “alternative” truth.

      • Sergio Lima on March 9, 2017, 7:48 pm

        I had sent a previous, much more abrasive, version of this letter to Emily Harris but I did not hear back. The part that personally bothers me the most is that these kinds of shows are aired on KQED, a channel considered “liberal” by most people in the US. It’s been a while now, but a few years ago, during the negotiations for the Iran nuclear power plan, I listened to a couple of shows where they were interviewing people in the military who were talking about a war to Iran as a normal, viable solution. The interviewer seemed perfectly at ease. No questions were asked about the Israeli nuclear bombs, nor any questions about the history of US intervention in the Middle East and their disastrous consequences.

      • Mondowise on March 10, 2017, 1:51 pm

        Mr Lima, thank you for your informative reply. I hope to see more of your work, it is indeed moving. Honestly, I’ve now lost complete faith in at least Harris’ websites, and there’s enough crap journalism elsewhere that I don’t even feel the need to compare those websites with skilled journalists’ sites, such as Mondoweiss. But their losing readership is the least of my concerns. I’m appalled, disgusted and very distressed that the people involved in “these kind of shows”, as you put it, apparently do not consider the untold harm they potentially and actually do. Countless innocent lives are at risk and at stake. That they…and…in the most sensitive, volatile region/subject/conflict in the entire world….that they have little to no insight whatsoever as to how their whitewashing, twisting, omitting critical objective facts, further oppressing the oppressed, etc can (and does) become a reality on the ground of more hate, violence, abuse, death and even war is what blows my mind right out of this universe…..especially when it comes to those who claim to supposedly be fair and objective investigative journalists! Oh, really??? Unbelievable!

        Any attempt by anyone to ‘normalize’ any kind of hate, violence, abuse, war-mongering, racism, etc. etc. etc……..must be called out and dealt with to stop it. Hence my call to Ms Harris. That she did not respond to you, the very author of this article, is even more disturbing and more evidence of all of what you’ve said in both the article and your reply to me. Responding to you, at the very least, would’ve been professional courtesy, and at most would signify a genuine desire of her to understand, care, correct and check herself prior to future releases, whether spoken or written. I am truly sorry she didn’t get back to you, sorry for you and sorry for all the lives she’s put in harm’s way with her poor-quality work.

        I suppose an unanswered question remains: how many readers/listeners do not listen or read beyond those shows, do not seek truth enough to compare, research further, seek broad spectrum knowledge & understanding of the subject, etc.? That scares the hell out of me. Too few results in too much ignorance in the general population, and ignorance translates into the greatest WMD there is. Crap journalism only perpetuates that very real danger. Time for all of us to act. Enough!

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