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SA journalist called out for claiming peace plan is ‘worse than apartheid’




On 23 June, Ebrahim wrote that the peace plan unveiled by the White House would lead to a future where Palestinians would be “starved into submission”. She wrote that “Palestinians will be squeezed into a tiny fraction of historic Palestine … they will be confined to cantons or Bantustans, stripped of water, resources, the right to a military, or any real sovereignty.”

But there is no proof to these claims, and HonestReporting has flagged the story as hugely problematic. “While most other mainstream media outlets were commenting on the actual contents of the Trump economic plan and the forthcoming Bahrain Conference, Ebrahim was making it up as she went along based on a clear hatred of Israel,” says Plosker.

“It’s one thing to write anti-Israel hate speech based on nothing more than one’s own misguided and warped opinion. It’s another to claim that this opinion is based on fact – in this case a fully open United States plan that anyone and everyone can see for themselves,” wrote Plosker.

“Maybe Ebrahim believes what she writes, but her opinions are certainly not based on fact. In this case, attempting to invent parts of a US plan that don’t actually exist is a breach of the press code,” he says. His organisation has since lodged a complaint with Independent Media.

The SA Jewish Report also studied the White House’s Peace to Prosperity Plan, and could find no evidence of Ebrahim’s claims.

When questioned, Ebrahim said that in order to verify the information, “I interviewed at length Ahmed Majdalani, a senior executive in the Palestine Liberation Organisation and also social affairs minister in the Palestinian Authority. He has personally verified the accuracy of these tenets of the ‘deal of the century’, as have other Palestinian leaders whom I met recently in the Middle East.”

She also pointed to two links – the Daily Sabah and the Washington Report on Middle East Affairs – which referred to leaked documents on the political part of the peace plan, still to be released. However, neither of these links could provide concrete evidence for Ebrahim’s claims.

In a tweet which referenced a Jerusalem Post story on this supposed leak, United States Special Envoy Jason Greenblatt wrote, “FYI: our plan hasn’t leaked. Reports like this are inaccurate and just speculation. The article itself even says it may be a hoax. Once again, speculation and bad sources don’t do anything to advance peace. If you haven’t heard it from our team, don’t trust it.”

“The economic prong cannot be divorced from the political prong,” says Ebrahim, but admits that “the political prong is not officially published”.

She insists that her opinions are based on facts, and “judging from the political situation which is being planned for the Palestinian territories, there are many who would argue that it is an attempt to concretize apartheid”.

“The idea that the Palestinians would be confined to self-governing disjointed cantons that are not contiguous, and that do not in any way reflect the components of a viable independent state, is an attempt to convince the Palestinians to give up their rights to a state, and to huge tracts of historic Palestine [which are currently illegal settlements] in exchange for money and investment.”

Plosker told the SA Jewish Report that he wouldn’t classify this story as fake news. “When it comes to fake news, our definition is a story that simply isn’t true or never took place. It isn’t something that we happen to disagree with.

“However, in the case of Ebrahim, this is an opinion piece. Any media professional is entitled to his or her opinion, but this doesn’t entitle someone to make up their own facts. In the case of Ebrahim, every credible commentator has been writing about the Trump economic plan and the Bahrain conference based on facts that have been openly disseminated. Ebrahim chose to attack Israel based not on the facts, but her own evident hatred and prejudice.

“South African media outlets shouldn’t believe that they have a free ride when it comes to spreading malicious and hateful anti-Israel propaganda,” Plosker says. “Only the Jewish community has the knowledge of Israel to counter the lies and distortions.

“Ultimately, we’ve seen how hatred of Israel eventually has an impact on local Jewish communities. Every effort needs to be made to ensure that the South African general public doesn’t fall into that trap due to the country’s media.”

Plosker says there is no reason for South African Jews to hide their Zionist identity, even if the media lambasts Israel at every turn. “People should never be afraid to question or criticise Israeli government policies, but at the end of the day, BDS [Boycott Divestment Sanctions] needs to be exposed for what it really is, an organised and vicious campaign that opposes peace between Palestinians and Jews, and advocates the end of Israel as a Jewish state.

“This goes against reconciliation and everything that the new South Africa stands for, and it is vital that the South African people realise that. In addition, as the Israel apartheid libel spreads around the globe, nobody is better positioned to fight this than a Jewish community which knows what real apartheid is.”

Ben Swartz, the national chairperson of the South African Zionist Federation, said Ebrahim’s story was “symptomatic of being influenced by a BDS lobby. Ebrahim gives nothing to substantiate her claims. The White House peace plan is trying to alleviate the situation. We have to start somewhere, and this plan offers a $25 billion [R358 billion] budget to uplift the Palestinians. Her article is all about hating Israel, and has nothing to do with the welfare of Palestinians. She can choose to reject the plan, but she should at least consider it.”

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