It is a perfect example of how Pslestinian Arab propaganda is accepted, even by intelligent people, as facts. The sheer repetition of lies has concretized them as factual over the years - a remarkable accomplishment, and a remarkable failure on the part of Israel and its friends.
Coogan's historic complaints about Israel rests in this single, counter-factual, paragraph:
In 1948, when Israel declared the independence which the Israeli embassy celebrated recently, more than 90 per cent of the land of present day Israel was in Palestinian hands. Today Palestinians barely hold 10 per cent and illegal Jewish settlements proliferate almost hourly. Israel has, in fact, implemented an unacknowledged policy of ethnic cleansing.
That these three bolded statements are considered so self-evident by people who pride themselves as being knowledgeable about the history of the area is stunning.
The first statement is simply a lie. It is based on the clever manipulation of data by today's Palestinians of a 1946 British map showing land ownership in Palestine. They accurately say that Jews privately held less than 10% of Palestine's lands before 1948 - but they purposefully conflate public and British lands with Arab lands to imply that Arabs owned over 90% of the land. In fact, the British controlled the vast majority of Palestine's lands, and those public British lands became public lands in Israel. It is hard to know the exact numbers, but it appears that privately Arab-owned land was only about 20% of Palestine, not the 90% that Coogan wrongfully assumes. If you want to go into details about the different categories of land that existed before 1948, read this article, in which you will discover that Jews paid twice as much taxes on their private land in Palestine than Arabs did - a feat which would be difficult if Arabs owned 90% of the land!
The second statement is also an assumption of Palestinian Arab propaganda as fact. Israel has frozen the borders of the Jewish towns in the West Bank for years now; essentially all building has been done within the borders of existing towns. Not that Palestinian Arabs are happy about that, but the fact is that these buildings do not make the settlement boundaries any larger. Some settlements have appeared in recent years but these have not been part of Israeli policy, and Israel has destroyed more than a few. The legalities of those settlements is also not nearly as clear as Coogan assumes, but that's an entirely different and much lengthier discussion.
The third statement, that Israel's is a policy of ethnic cleansing, is not only a lie but a slander. The only people ethnically cleansed in the boundaries of British Mandate Palestine are Jews - from Area A, from Gaza, and (some would argue) from Jordan itself. Compare the number of Arabs in Israel with the number of Jews under Palestinian Arab rule and this libelous assertion is shown to be an exact inversion of truth. It is a lie that is repeated so often that someone like Coogan accepts it as fact without the slightest hesitation or fear of contradiction. This is, again, a failure of Israel's public relations.
Most egregious, however, is Coogan's statement that Israel's policies are "anti-semitic," an absurd calumny that the article uses for its title:
But I have to tell you, Dr Evrony, that my earlier enthusiasm has been sadly dampened by having to acknowledge that Israel has become the most actively anti-Semitic government in the world -- the Palestinians are a Semitic people.As any educated person knows, the term "antisemitism" was specifically coined to put a scientific patina on its real meaning, "anti-Jewish." To say that Jews are anti-semites is to again accept a ridiculous and false attack on etymology. It is akin to saying that "terrific" and "terrible" are synonyms because of their shared Latin roots. It is nothing more than an attempt at placing irony where there is none, as well as to minimize the horrendous history of Jew-hatred in the Arab world.
In short, Coogan is demonstrating the ability of lies to infect the minds even otherwise sympathetic and intelligent people. It is a shame that this disease of lies is so contagious as to make him a carrier to infect another set of victims who read his article and accept his statements as truth.