On March 8, 2018, Isabel Kershner wrote an article for the New York Times called “No Man’s Land: New U.S. Embassy in Jerusalem May Lie Partly Outside Israel.” The article described that the location of the U.S. embassy would partially lie outside of Israel’s 1949 Armistice Lines with Jordan in an area known at the time as the “No Man’s Land.” It attempted to explain the terminology through a history lesson about the area.
But being the New York Times, the history would be incomplete and distorted.
Consider the opening of the description:
“No Man’s Land encompasses the area between the armistice lines drawn at the end of the 1948-9 war and was claimed by Jordan and Israel. Israel won full control of it in the 1967 war, so the United Nations and much of the world consider it occupied territory.”
As the NY Times does at every occasion, it describes Israel’s administration of Judea and Samaria with a statement that the world does not recognize Israel’s claim and considers the land “occupied territory.” Yet the Times will never print – even here in an article meant to clarify the nature of the land – that Jordan’s claim on the entirety of the West Bank/Judea and Samaria was never considered valid.
The omissions would continue.
Kershner wrote that she would give some clarity to the nature of the land:
“After the 1948 war surrounding Israel’s creation, Israel signed an armistice agreement with Jordan, which controlled the West Bank and East Jerusalem. The sides demarcated the armistice line on a map in grease pencil. Where they did not agree they drew their own lines staking out maximalist positions – the Israelis in green, as far as possible to the east, the Jordanians in red, to the west.
The disputed enclaves, called the ‘areas between the lines,’ were under neither party’s control and came to be known as No Man’s Land.”
Note the many problems of the first sentence. It states that no party is to blame for the 1948 war. A person would never know that the armies of five Arab countries invaded Israel at its creation by the first half of the sentence. The second half would lead a reader to conclude that the Jordanians naturally had controlled the West Bank and East Jerusalem. This is deeply flawed. The Hashemite Kingdom of Transjordan, as today’s Jordan was known back in 1948, invaded and illegally annexed Judea and Samaria and the eastern half of Jerusalem. To state that Jordan simply “controlled the West Bank and East Jerusalem,” makes that illegal seizure seem normative and historic. It was neither. It was an invasion in an offensive war to destroy Israel.
The problems in the “historical unpacking” would continue:
“After 1949, both Israel and Jordan claimed the territory, holding that its status would be determined in an eventual agreement. When the 1967 war broke out, the Jordanian and Israeli armies fought over it.”
The 1967 war didn’t simply break out. Jordan attacked Israel first (again), after Israel repeatedly told the Jordanians to not initiate a war. The point is not a subtle one, as the laws regarding the seizure of land in a war are arguably not the same in a defensive war as an offensive war. Especially when the party that initiated the hostilities (Jordan) had zero claim to the land they occupied (all of the West Bank, eastern Jerusalem and the No Man’s Land!)
The article would also not mention anywhere that Israel formally annexed the entirety of the eastern portion of Jerusalem – including No Man’s Land – in 1980. How could any background on the area omit such a detail?
Further, Jordan gave up any claim to the area in July 1988. How could the article neglect to mention that small tidbit?
In short, the article focused squarely on Israel’s claim to a part of Jerusalem counter to a Jordanian claim that the paper wrote about as a historical reality. In truth, the Jordanians NEVER had an legal claim to any of the West Bank or eastern Jerusalem, and rescinded the false claim to that land 30 years ago.
Jerusalem was divided for roughly 19 years of its 4000 year history, from 1948 to 1967. But the New York Times will continue to try to slice and divide Judaism’s holiest city at every opportunity to minimize the Jewish State’s ties to its capital.
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