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Thursday, October 18, 2012

Ha'aretz lies to paint Israel as "apartheid" (CAMERA)

Two days ago, I started seeing dozens of Arabic articles all gleefully quoting the same Ha'aretz article by Akiva Eldar:
Amid a dry economic report published yesterday in TheMarker lies an official announcement/acknowledgment of unparalleled importance: The government of Israel confirms that between the Mediterranean Sea and the Jordan River there is no longer a Jewish majority. In other words, in the territory under Israel's jurisdiction a situation of apartheid exists. A Jewish minority rules over an Arab majority.

Hila Raz's article reports that the Tax Authority is trying to pass an amendment to the law for the purpose of revising the ceiling for eligibility for tax benefits, whose aim, in turn, is to encourage exports. According to the Export Promotion Law approved in 2005, a factory is entitled to a tax break if at least 25 percent of its income stemmed from sales to a market with at least 12 million residents. A Ministry of Finance memorandum on the amendment to the law notes that in 2011 the population of Israel and the Palestinian Authority exceeded the 12 million mark, which enables manufacturers who market to these consumers to enjoy a tax break. The Tax Authority's diligent officials would like to raise the threshold for qualifying for the benefit by two million residents, so that they will not have to grant the benefit to exporters who sell their wares in Israel and the territories.

According to the Central Bureau of Statistics (which is subordinate to the Prime Minister's Office ), of the 12 million residents living under Israeli rule, the number of Jews is just under 5.9 million (as of April 25 ). Twelve million minus 5.9 million Jews equals 6.1 million non-Jews. In other words, between the Mediterranean Sea and the Jordan River, there is a pretty Jewish state as far as its laws and customs, but the reality is not so democratic. Foreign sources report that Jews had already become a minority in the area of the greater Land of Israel several years ago. From now on, it is an official statistic.
CAMERA looks at the claims and finds, quite simply, that Eldar is lying, purposefully, to make his case:


Let's try to lay out Eldar's false claim, which is based on an item which appeared several days earlier in The Marker, a financial newspaper published by Ha'aretz, regarding the Export Promotion Law. According to this law, a factory is eligible for tax benefits intended to promote exports if at least 25 percent of its income stemmed from sales in markets of at least 12 million residents. Approximately one week ago, the Ministry of Finance sought to revise the law and increase the threshold to 14 milllion residents. Why? Because, wrote Eldar, the population of Israel together with the Palestinian Authority already reaches 12 million people, and therefore even those manufacturers who sell only to the local market are eligible for the aforementioned tax benefit even though it was not intended for them.

At this point, Eldar cites a figure from the Central Bureau of Statistics (CBS), that there are 5.9 million Jews living under Israeli rule. Using basic math, Eldar calculates that the rest of the population totals 6.1 million. In conclusion, given that the CBS is subordinate to the Prime Minister's Office, the government acknowledges that Jews are the minority between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea.

The Falsehood

Apparently, Eldar did not at all read the Ministry of Finance's memorandum upon which he relied. He wrote:
A Ministry of Fiance memorandum on the amendment to the law notes that in 2011 the population of Israel and the Palestinian Authority exceeded the 12 million mark, which enables manufacturers who market to these consumers to enjoy a tax break.
This is an outright falsehood. The memorandum, which can be read (in Hebrew) here, does not at all refer to the population of Israel or the Palestinian Authority and does not mention its number of residents, Jews or Arabs. The relevant excerpt from the memorandum follows:
Since Amendment 60 went into affect, more than seven years ago, the law has not been revised despite the increase in the world's population and its markets.
It is recommended to amend clause 18a  of the law and to determine what will constitute a manufacturer which contributes to the economic independence of the national economy and a competitor for the local product if 25 percent or more of its income from the manufacturer's sales in the tax year are to a certain market of at least 14 million residents.
It is also recommended to establish a mechanism to automatically update the number of residents that constitute a substantial market, of 2 percent per year, in accordance with the world's population growth rate. (Emphases added.)
In other words, the Ministry of Finance is concerned with the growth of the world's population, not with Israel's population. Moreover, the number 12 million does not even appear in the entire memorandum. It only appears in Hila Raz's item in The Marker:
Since 2011 the population in Israel and the Palestinian Authority has surpassed the threshold of 12 million residents, and so an Israeli industrialist who sells to these populations is entitled to enjoy the tax benefit.
That is not a figure from the Ministry of Finance. It is an unsubstantiated claim by The Marker reporter. And Eldar has turned it into an official, governmental statistic.


...To summarize, Akiva Eldar took an unsubstantiated figure which appeared in The Marker (12 million residents from the Jordan River to the sea) and attributed this figure to the Ministry of Finance and the Central Bureau of Statistics, two governmental bodies, despite the fact that neither of them mentioned the figure. And, based on these journalistic acrobatics, we have the false headline "The government's acknowledgement that Jews are a minority in this land. . . "

...Why did Eldar invest so much effort into manipulating this data? The answer appears in the online subheadline, which posits that even the Israeli government acknowledges that "apartheid is here." Appealing to the most rabid anti-Israel activists, Ha'aretz pulls the "apartheid" genie out of the bottle, all by relying on an incorrect, unsubstantiated figure falsely attributed to the government. Ha'aretz knows precisely for whom they are writing overseas, and Eldar knows how to deliver.

As Mark Twain famously wrote, a lie can travel halfway around the world while the truth is putting on its shoes. And here this lie from Ha'aretz didn't just travel halfway.

It spread like wildfire from local Palestinian Arab press to Al Jazeera to Arabic UPI, all falsely claiming as fact that Israel's Central Bureau of Statistics say that there are 12 million people that Israel is ruling. (Not to mention Mondoweiss, whose journalistic standards fall somewhat beneath those of The National Enquirer.)

Palestinian Arab demographics are famously suspect anyway, but to claim that Israel officially inflates them to be hundreds of thousands beyond what even the Palestinian Authority claims itself is something that can only be believed by those for whom facts are merely an option in their quest to demonize the Jewish state.