Sunday, January 9, 2011

Jeffrey Heller forgets a little something

One of the most pernicious forms of propaganda is known as card stacking or selective omission.  Here, the propagandist deliberately omits certain key facts or other information that would otherwise provide his audience with a more complete understanding of a situation and be able thus, to form an independent opinion free of manipulation by the propagandist.

Take for example, a story by Reuters Jerusalem Editor-in-Charge Jeffrey Heller on Israel's redevelopment of the Shepherd Hotel compound.  Heller proffers a cursory history of the subject property as follows:
In the predominantly Arab neighborhood of Sheikh Jarrah, bulldozers tore into the decaying hotel built in the 1930s for Muslim grand mufti Haj Amin Husseini, who fought the British and Zionists and became a World War Two ally of Hitler.
A project to replace the building with a block of 20 apartments was approved by Israel's Jerusalem city hall in 2009...
The hotel was declared "absentee property" by Israel after it captured and annexed East Jerusalem. The title was transferred to an Israeli firm, which sold it in 1985 to Irving Moskowitz, a Florida bingo king and patron of Jewish settlers.
Adnan Husseini, the Palestinian Authority-appointed mayor of Jerusalem, said knocking down the historic building was an "act of barbarism."
His family claim ownership of the property and had been using the Israeli courts to challenge the steps that had led to its sale.
Heller leaps from the 1930s when the structure was originally built for Palestinian Nazi collaborator and uncle to Yasser Arafat, Haj Amin al-Husseini, to the year 1967 when the hotel came into Israeli hands following the Six-Day War.  Omitted from Heller's synopsis, are a few salient details:
When the British Mandate government deported him [al-Husseini], the building was confiscated and turned into a military outpost for the British Army. At the end of the period of the British Mandate, the building was transferred to the ownership of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan, which expanded the original structure without affecting it, and the building served as the Shepherd Hotel.
Following the Six Day War, the hotel became the property of the Government of Israel. It was used by the Ministry of Justice and as a district courthouse.
On November 5 1985, C and M properties purchased the building and surrounding land from the Government of Israel. With the beginning of the first Intifada in 1987, the Border Police leased the building and stayed there for about 15 years before moving to their new building alongside Highway One.
Note that during the entire period, 1948 to 1967, during which time the property was in the hands of, first, the British and then the King of Jordan, there was absolutely no dispute by Adnan Husseini or anyone else over ownership.  Only after Israel took possession of the compound did Husseini and the Palestinians become incensed and seek to obtain title.

Heller also uncritically parrots Husseini's assertion that Israel is "knocking down a historic building" as "an act of barbarism".  Actually, the developers have agreed to retain a portion of the original structure for historic preservation purposes.  We think this an extraordinarily charitable gesture; after all, how many civilized people would object to the razing of a derelict hotel built for a Nazi-collaborator who once beseeched:
"Arabs, rise as one man and fight for your sacred rights. Kill the Jews wherever you find them. This pleases God, history, and religion.  This saves your honor.  God is with you".

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