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The Washington Post’s Fake News Regarding Jerusalem, and the History of Religion

by Kenneth Abramowitz, Founder & President, and Jon Sutz, Editor, SaveTheWest.com

In this era of fake news, there are low-level items, and then, there are items that have the potential to have real, negative consequences, if they are not corrected, fast.  This article is about one of the latter, which was perpetrated recently by the Washington Post.

On January 13, 2017, a news article appeared on page A6 of the Post, entitled, “Palestinians call for Muslims to pray that Trump doesn’t move U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem.”  The article contained a predictable rehashing of Palestinians’ grievances, and predictions of extremely negative consequences if President-Elect Trump fulfills his promise to move the embassy.

But contained within this routine material was this jaw-dropper:

Jerusalem is like no place else, its history sacred and bloody. The city has been seized, razed, lost and fought over for 3,000 years. It not only is a center of three world religions but remains a disputed city today, divided between the occupied Palestinian villages and refugee camps in the east and the Jewish neighborhoods in the west.

Until this article, anyone who said that Islam has any substantive historical connection to Jerusalem would be dismissed as ignorant, the victim of a misinformation campaign, or a liar. 

But the person who wrote these sentences is no bystander: he is the Post’s Bureau Chief for Jerusalem, William Booth.  Clearly, his voice matters.

For clarity, here is a brief review of the audacity of claiming that Islam, as a religion, has any connection to Jerusalem:

Islam’s Tenuous Connection to Jerusalem, by Eli Hertz, MythsAndFacts.com, April 21, 2014.

The Muslim Claim to Jerusalem, by Daniel Pipes, Middle East Quarterly,

Updated: The Battle Over Jerusalem and the Temple Mount, by Ricki Hollander,Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting in America (CAMERA), December 29, 2016.

In summary:

  • Jerusalem has been the center of Judaism for 3,000 years — 1,400 years before the advent of Islam. Jews were forced out of Jerusalem numerous times by Babylonians, Greeks, Romans, Muslims, and Christians.  But Jews never forgot Jerusalem, and always returned when they were allowed to, or were able to.
  • Jerusalem is also important to Christians, as Jesus lived and prayed there at certain times in his life.
  • Jerusalem was never mentioned in the Koran. It was only important to Muslims when Jews or Christians lived there. As soon as the Jews or Christians were pushed out, Muslims soon lost interest in the city.
  • Eastern Jerusalem is not occupied by Jews, but was liberated by Jews from the Arab occupiers. The Jewish presence and control of Jerusalem benefits all citizens and residents there. After all, Israel is the only country in the Middle East that protects Jews, Christians and Muslims.
  • All residents in Israel should be grateful for the Israeli government, the IDF, and local Israeli police, for their dedication to protect Jerusalem, and all of its citizens and residents.

It was presumably atop that body of irrefutable facts that then-Sen. Barack Obama, on June 4, 2008, while campaigning for the presidency, spoke before the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, and emphatically said whatever the outcome of negotiations between Israel and the Palestinian Authority, the agreement:

“must preserve Israel’s identity as a Jewish state with secure, recognized, defensible borders. And Jerusalem will remain the capital of Israel and it must remain undivided.”

While it is true that Obama backtracked on this policy statement less than twenty-four hours later, he did not make this statement off-the-cuff.  This speech, like all of his major policy speeches just before he won the Democratic Party’s nomination, was carefully crafted with his team of Middle East advisers, presumably based on the reality on the ground – and the history of the region.

The fact that he folded on his own policy less than a day later is only indicative of either a) his lack of resolve, or b) his desire to win the presidency overshadowing his adherence to the reality of the situation, and of the region’s history.

In conclusion, we pose three questions to the Post’s editors:

(1) Does Booth really not know the history of Jerusalem, or is he hoping he hoping that people who know the reality will gain no traction in attempts to publicly reveal it?

(2) Does the Post really not know how grossly uninformed Booth is, or is it also operating under this false narrative?

(3) The Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting in America (CAMERA) has assembled a treasure trove of documentation regarding the false, misleading and decontextualized statements in Booth’s articles about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.  Is the Post really unaware of this — or is it just hoping that the general public doesn’t know?

If ever there was a time that America and the world needs accurate, timely and contextual reporting on Israeli-Palestinian affairs, it is now.

We hope that the Post will issue a correction, stop enabling such false narratives to be published on its pages, and will commit itself to practicing responsible journalism.