Tuesday, November 6, 2007

CAMERA Obscura - ICAHD and Jeff Halper - Part 2

As I said in a previous post, in a response to one of my posts about ICAHD and Halper, I was referred to an article by CAMERA .

I have always been intrigued by CAMERA but resisted reading any of its material. I decided to look at this article and attempt to analyze it. In the first article I addressed its comments on house demolitions and the ability of Palestinians to obtain building permits. I appreciate the messages from Zionism on the Web which allowed me to elaborate on some of my points.


From one of my six part series on this Blog entitled Take Your Olive Branch and Shove it!

“Olive trees are very significant culturally and economically for Palestinians. Jewish Israeli settlers (JIS) attack Palestinians, uproot olive trees and fence off Palestinian olive tree groves. IDF soldiers and Israeli civilian authorities, in general, support the actions of the JIS, protect them while arresting Palestinians and bring few criminal charges against the JIS. …In addition, Palestinian farmers in the West Bank now face over 500 physical obstacles and closures including the separation wall that is being constructed by the GOI which restrict their movement and often prevent them from accessing their trees.”

Moving right along, the CAMEAR article quotes Jeff Halper as saying
“since 1967 Israel has uprooted or cut down a million olive and fruit trees”.

And says,

“Halper's claim that Israel has ‘uprooted a million olive or fruit trees’ is also ridiculous, considering the huge increase in olive production.”

As I will comment on below, CAMERA in 2005 produces some figures from ’67-’93 and says that because there was increase in production.

What is this supposed to mean? Is the avid reader of CAMERA supposed to believe that because there was an increase in olive production, this “proves” that there was NO uprooting of ANY olive trees? Or perhaps the avid reader would think that because of the increase there might have only been 100,000 olive trees uprooted? Or maybe only 17?

CAMERA made this bold statement that the claim about olive tree uprooting is “ridiculous.”

CAMERA has to have been aware of the intense efforts of a number of organizations to plant olive trees of Palestinians uprooted by Jewish settlers and the IDF. They had to have read articles in Haaretz and other media outlets about the uprooting of olive trees. They must have been aware of the facts of uprooting of olive trees and intimidation of Palestinians trying to harvest their olives by Jewish settlers which led the Supreme Court of Israel to severely criticize the lax approach displayed by the police and security personnel in their law enforcement work against violent settlers, and to rule that the closure of territory to Palestinians, to protect them from settlers, is akin to granting a prize for violence and to issue an order to the Israeli security forces to protect Palestinian farmers and their property.

If Jeff Halper’s claim that one million olive trees have been uprooted since 1967 is ridiculous, why does CAMERA not provide the reader with its facts? I am not impressed by the argument that something is ridiculous. When I was in law school I learned to rarely use the words “clearly” or “obviously” about anything. That is what CAMERA did. One substitute for “ridiculous” would be statistics. What does CAMERA’s research (and there is no doubt that CAMERA has some very talented researchers working for it) show are the number of olive trees of Palestinians uprooted since 1967?

Suppose it is ONLY 10,000. What then? Would CAMERA justify that?

Forget the violations of international law, human rights law, UN Resolutions for the moment. How would CAMERA respond to my allegation that actions of Jewish people in uprooting olive trees violates Deuteronomy 20:19 which says, “When you besiege a city … you shall not destroy its (fruit) trees … You eat of them, do not cut them down; for man’s life depends on the trees of the field.”


It also quotes Jeff Halper as saying

“the Palestinians are left today with scorched earth …no agriculture”.

In this May 12, 2005 article CAMERA then devotes much space to showing that from 1967 to 1993 (that’s correct, citing in a 2005 article production data ending in 1993), that indicate a substantial increase in production of olives and vegetables and potatoes to “prove” that there is indeed agriculture.

Has anything of note happened in the last 15–20 years?

Oh, the article goes on to note

“There is no doubt that the Palestinian economy was harmed by the first intifada and the second intifada, but that is hardly the fault of Israel.”

How harmed was it, CAMERA?

I have been told that the role of CAMERA is to simply point out inaccuracies it finds in the media. It just provides the facts and CAMERA should be supported if it presents the truth.

This last statement by CAMERA about the intifadas being hardly the fault of Israel. That is such a bold opinion. There are some people who believe that blame for the violence can be placed on BOTH Israel and the Palestinians and that there MIGHT have been some actions by the Government of Israel that could have had some role in caused the uprisings of the Palestinians.

Such a statement by CAMERA is both gratuitous since Jeff Halper said nothing in that quote about the intifada and not at all believable.

I think the process of analyzing this article by CAMERA is a worthwhile endeavor but it is likely that I will not devote much time to reading its material when I finish this effort. My analysis so far has raised serious doubt about whether CAMERA is, indeed, "promoting truth".

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