Glossing Over Arab Violence Against Israelis: Forbes Omits Key Facts and Crucial Context in Profile of Palestinian Activist

Reprinted from Honest Reporting.


The traditionally business-oriented publication Forbes has been running a series of articles that highlights the efforts of a handful of Israeli and Palestinian women who are “working to improve relations, and promote equality and coexistence between both groups of people.”

The latest installment is a piece about Rana Salman, who is billed as a Palestinian activist who wants to secure a “better future for both Palestinians and Israelis.”

Part of the article by Allison Norlian focuses on Salman’s happy childhood growing up in the town of Bethlehem in the West Bank until that youthful idyll was shattered following the outbreak of the First Intifada in 1987.

Salman is quoted at length describing the challenges she has faced as a Palestinian resident of the West Bank:

In the beginning, the checkpoints were just a few big stones with soldiers standing there checking your ID, and you cross, but today, you have to get several papers to allow you to get a permit and you need a reason to get a permit.”

While Salman’s experiences are her own and are expressed in the way she feels reflects them, the article’s author fails to adequately offer crucial elements of context and, as such, relies too much on the impressions of a single woman to portray an incredibly complex reality.

For example, the catalyst of the first intifada is stated in one passage:

The intifada, or Palestinian uprising, began in 1987 and included a series of protests, and violent riots, in the West Bank, Gaza Strip, and within Israel. Palestinians were protesting the Israeli occupation in the West Bank and Gaza; the occupation began after Israel conquered the land during the 1967 Six-Day-War. (Before the Six-Day-War, Egypt controlled Gaza, and Jordan controlled the West Bank and East Jerusalem, all areas that Palestinians called home.)”

However, the characterization of the “occupation” as a result of Israel “conquer[ing] the land” is a gross oversimplification. Rather, Israel was forced to make a preemptive strike after surrounding Arab countries — foremost Egypt and Syria — began amassing their forces near Israel’s borders as regional leaders called for the Jewish state’s destruction.

As such, Israel did not march into these territories as a vanquishing power, but took possession of them in a fight for its very survival.

Moreover, Israel immediately offered to return the captured territories in exchange for peace, a proposal that susequenlty led to the infamous “Three Nos.” At the Arab League summit convened in the wake of the 1967 war, a resolution was passed explicitly stating that there would be “no peace with Israel, no recognition of Israel, no negotiations with it….”

Furthermore, it is worth noting that Arab violence perpetrated against Jews pre-dates the wars of 1948 and 1967, with such atrocities having been perpetrated as early as the 1920s – a fact HonestReporting has previously explored in-depth.

Later, the piece expands on Salman’s disdain for the checkpoints that are in place around the West Bank: 

The checkpoints cause issues for a variety of reasons. They force Palestinians who may want to leave their home to go a short distance, maybe to the grocery store or across town, to leave hours before because checkpoints can double or triple their traveling time. If they get held up at a checkpoint by Israeli soldiers, that length of time could be even longer.”

While the article briefly mentions terrorist group Hamas launching waves of suicide attacks following the Oslo Accords in the 1990s, it fails to point out why such checkpoints remain vital today: the ongoing threat of terrorism that targets Israeli civilians and soldiers (see here, here and here).

If the nuisance of such checkpoints had been contrasted with the number of innocent lives saved, readers would at least have the opportunity to determine for themselves whether any inconveniences caused are justifiable.

Norlian then highlights outbreaks of violence that have occurred in the West Bank as a result of Jewish communities being built: 

But checkpoints are just the start. There is controversy over Israel continuing to allow Jewish settlements to be built in the West Bank…. Over the years, there have been reports of Jewish settlers attacking Palestinians and Palestinian villages, most recently in September where a toddler was injured.”

Yet, there is no mention of the fact that Jewish residents of the West Bank have been attacked and persistently face threats to their safety, which means they require constant protection from the Israeli military. Just recently, Palestinian Authority-backed residents of the town of Beita, located south of Nablus, on numerous occasions set fire to swastikas embedded within Stars of David and threatened to “burn [Israelis] alive.”

It is also relevant that Israel’s political leaders have repeatedly condemned acts of violence while Ramallah has openly supported those who murder Israelis, including by providing financial aid to terrorists and their families.

Moreover, Forbes might have done a modicum of research into the organization for which Rana Salman identifies herself as executive director. Combatants for Peace brands itself as a group “started jointly by Palestinians and Israelis, who have taken an active part in the cycle of violence; Israelis as soldiers in the Israeli army (IDF) and Palestinians as part of the violent struggle for Palestinian freedom. After brandishing weapons for so many years, and having seen one another only through weapon sights, we have decided to put down our guns, and to fight for peace.”

However, according to NGO Monitor, in April 2020 the organization published on its Facebook page a quote from a former Israeli military officer claiming that, “One thing is clear: the Coronavirus will come and go. But the Occupation is trying to stay. The Occupation is a dangerous and brutal epidemic. Corona does not discriminate, but the Occupation does, and it finds more and more ways to justify its criminal acts….”

The following month, Combatants for Peace held its first “Nakba Day ceremony,” which commemorates the “Catastrophe” of Israel’s creation 1948, which prompted the full-out attack by numerous Arab nations that led to the displacement of some 750,000 Palestinians. Nakba Day rallies that often devolve into violence are held every year on May 15, the anniversary on the Gregorian calendar of Israel’s Declaration of Independence.

Meanwhile, Combatants for Peace’s co-founder, Yonatan Shapira, allegedly referred to the Israeli army as a “terrorist organization” run by “war criminals”and accused Israel of perpetrating “massacres.”

Be that as it may, Salman’s goals might be noble and Forbes may be highlighting them because the powers that be at the publication agree. But it is a shame that the article ommits important context and salient truths that are necessary to properly explore such a nuanced subject as the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

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