On January 11, 2022, the McGill Tribune published a staunchly anti-Zionist exposé written by senior managing editor Maya Abuali. Her premise rests on the two-pronged belief that Jewish people are not indigenous to the Levant and that Zionism is inherently racist. Unsurprisingly, she cherry-picks facts and relies heavily on uncited revisionist historical accounts to make her case. So much for her paper’s code of conduct which demands a “commitment to maintaining the highest standards of integrity and honesty.”
Right off the bat, Abuali incorrectly states that “European Jews colonized the land by force at the behest of the British after World War II.” This attempt to paint Jewish people as invaders is easily refuted by four points:
- The uninterrupted presence of Jewish communities in the Levant dating back thousands of years;
- The 1946 Agrarian Reform and Record of Israel show that Arabs only owned fifteen percent of the livable private land as opposed to the over seventy-five percent of state land before the war, (an amount that has been largely surpassed by the current Arab Israeli population.)
- The multiple British betrayals against the Jews during their reign over the Levant.
- The 870,000 Jewish refugees were absorbed into the country after most Arab countries expelled them from their homes before, during, and after Israel declared independence.
Lies of omission seem to come naturally to this student editor: “Most Palestinians left their homes with the plan to come back when the massacre was over.” No mention of the dramatic number of Arab families who left starting seven months before the 1948 war due to accurate anticipation of escalating Arab violence leading up to the UN General Assembly’s vote on the Partition plan. No mention that there were multiple cases during the war of Arab leaders inadvertently scaring their people into fleeing by promoting lies of coming Jewish brutalities in the hopes to gain military and humanitarian support abroad. And no mention that Israel didn’t start the war and was eager for its end. Suggesting that the Jewish State is responsible here is laughable.
No, the first Israeli government did not “implement a series of land laws that prevented any Palestinians who left from ever returning.” In fact, laws were passed to “prevent unlawful occupation of empty houses and business premises,” and the Israeli government offered to reunite families who were torn apart by the war, repatriate some refugees with no preconditions, and planned to allow more following a signed peace agreement.
Despite the total rejection of this and any Jewish sovereignty by Arab leaders, “Arab claims [justified by those laws] have been settled to the sum of over 200,000 dunams (approx. 50,000 acres) of land, more than 10,000,000 shekels ($3.2 million) has been paid in compensation, and more than 54,000 dunams (approx. 12.4 acres) of replacement land in Israel has been given in compensation.” Once again, Abuali’s assertion is incorrect.
Other well-trodden anti-Israel talking points sprout throughout the piece immediately fall apart when a few inconvenient facts come to light.
First, promoting the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) campaign is immoral because its systemic antisemitism is self-evident. BDS primarily targets Jews; threatening to sever ties with Israeli businesses, universities, and communities.
Second, checkpoints curtail the indiscriminate Palestinian “intifada” campaigns which left thousands of Jewish and Arab Israelis murdered or severely injured. Furthermore, import restrictions on the Gaza Strip are in place to prevent the entry of contraband used by Hamas to fire rockets and mortars into populated Israeli cities and the cement barriers while the newly finished underground cement barrier will prevent the viability of “terror tunnels” built by child labor in order to murder and kidnap Israeli soldiers who have had the misfortune of being near the other end.
And third, it is outrageous for Abuali to whine about her people not receiving adequate help from Israel against Covid while “the world applauded Israel’s vaccine effort.” Not only has Israel already donated 100,000 vaccine doses irrespective of their lack of responsibility over Palestinian healthcare, and “facilitated the entry of Russian donations of the Sputnik V vaccines”, but the PA unequivocally rejected a deal for Israel to provide over a million doses, (roughly a quarter of the total population) because of anti-normalization and internal political reasons. It’s important to note that Israel does not manufacture any Covid vaccines and has an obligation to prioritize the health and safety of its citizens, as do all sovereign nations.
Maya’s bald-faced denial of Hamas’ blatant genocidal ambitions is just as duplicitous. Hamas militants instigated the Hamas-Israel war of 2021, firing over 3,400 rockets from homes, schools, and hospitals into Israel. Blaming it on Israel for stopping a riot near the Temple Mount after Hamas flags and death-to-Israel chants were observed near the site and after police were attacked is as cringe-worthy as it is predictable.
Her accusation that Israel is an apartheid country follows similar fallacious reasoning. This dubious strategy tries to appropriate the moral legitimacy garnered by the South African anti-apartheid movement.
The only legally substantive difference between Arab Palestinians and Arab Israelis pertains to citizenship. Palestinians living under their prospective governments’ jurisdiction are not subject to Israeli laws or privileges because they are not citizens of Israel, an arrangement agreed by the Palestinian leadership laid out in the Oslo Accords. Moreover, Palestinians are regularly treated in Israeli hospitals by teams of Jewish and Arab medical professionals, and Arab Israelis enjoy equal rights under the law.
One final assertion of hers that shouldn’t be ignored is that anti-Zionism is not a form of antisemitism. It is the ideological belief that Jews should not have the right to self-determination. Its proponents seek to dismantle the Jewish state and put the lives of millions of Israelis at risk. Insert any other minority group into their reasoning and the bigotry is clear.
This “report” probably won’t affect the Middle Eastern conflict in any shape or form. It’s not meant to. Like all antisemitic disinformation, the goal is propagating hate and in this case, to ironically justify targeting Jews for discrimination. It’s clear that the McGill Tribune supports her antisemitic crusade. The question is, why does anyone else?
Seth Mendel is a 2021-2022 Fellow for the Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting & Analysis at the University of Colorado, Colorado Springs.
Please note: A slightly different version of this article appeared in TheJ.ca.