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Media Belatedly Corrects False Story of NJ Synagogue ‘Sale’ of Palestinian Land

Apartments are seen in the Israeli settlement of Efrat, Aug. 18, 2020. Photo: Reuters / Ronen Zvulun.

On March 6, more than 20 McClatchy news sites across the United States commendably pulled a false United Press International (UPI) story by Adam Schrader, two days after the wire service had itself already independently corrected their mistake.

UPI’s March 3 article, “New Jersey synagogue will allegedly auction off occupied Palestinian land,” had initially falsely alleged:

Palestinian groups are calling for supporters to protest a purported auction of homes on occupied Palestinian land at the Keter Torah Synagogue in New Jersey.

A review of homes listed in the sale at My Home In Israel Real Estate shows cottages in Efrat, a settlement in the West Bank. The cottages are listed for $1.3 million. The sale is expected to take place on March 10, though does not appear on the Keter Torah Synagogue calendar.

“If we allow this sale to go through, we are enabling a local synagogue to violate both domestic anti-discrimination laws and international law,” local activist Rich Siegel told Democracy Now. “Now, there’s other reasons we shouldn’t allow it, OK? There’s a genocide going on right now.”

One day after the publication of Schrader’s story, which was faulty and false on multiple levels, UPI itself made extensive revisions and corrections to the article, starting with the headline.

The improved headline is “Protest planned against synagogue event marketing West Bank homes.”

It’s impossible to know, however, how many people read the first version of the article.

UPI’s corrected story made clear that, contrary to Schrader’s original reporting, there was to be no “sale” of “Palestinian land” at the New Jersey synagogue.

The significantly amended story now reports:

Palestinian groups are calling for supporters to protest an event at a New Jersey synagogue marketing the sale of homes in the West Bank.

A review of homes listed to be showcased in the real estate event by My Home In Israel Real Estate shows cottages in Efrat, a settlement in the West Bank. The cottages are listed for $1.3 million. The event is expected to take place on March 10 at Keter Torah Synagogue in Teaneck, N.J.

Palestinian groups had encouraged supporters to protest the event, calling it an auction. Juda Engelmayer, a spokesperson for the synagogue, told UPI that the place of worship has been rented by a group of developers to hold the event.

“That said, it’s solely educational and informational, discussing the options, tax and financial implications for U.S. citizens buying property abroad,” Engelmayer said. “No sales happen there and it’s not an auction of any sort.”

Furthermore, UPI’s correction appended to the bottom of the updated story notes: “This story has been updated to clarify that the event is not an auction and to include statements made on behalf of Keter Torah Synagogue.”

Additional changes to Schrader’s original report include the deletion of Richard Siegel’s statement to Democracy Now repeating the false charge of a synagogue sale of allegedly Palestinian land against the backdrop of what he called genocide. Similarly, the following two paragraphs platforming the fringe anti-Israel groups Jewish Voice for Peace piling on with the false genocide smear and other unfounded accusations of war crimes no longer appear in the article:

Meanwhile, a local chapter of Jewish Voice for Peace, a Jewish group that seeks an end to the conflict between Israelis and Palestinians, has told its followers on Instagram to protest Keller Williams in Englewood.

“Zionists at Keller-Williams think they’re entitled to steal land from Palestinians and sell it to white Americans,” the group said in its post on Saturday. “Let’s show up on Tuesday and let them know how we feel about them breaking domestic and international laws while the terrorist regime they shamelessly support commits daily war crimes in its genocide of an indigenous population.”

Among Schrader’s numerous errors, he had wrongly reported that the Israeli settlement of Efrat is built on “Palestinian land.” Israeli settlements in the West Bank are built on disputed land, not “Palestinian land.”  The territory’s status, like that of all of the West Bank, is to be resolved by negotiations anticipated by UN Security Council resolutions 242 (1967) and 338 (1973), the 1995 Israeli-Palestinian interim accords, the 2003 international “road map” and related diplomatic efforts taking 242 and 338 as reference points.

The co-authors of resolution 242, US Under Secretary of State Eugene Rostow, US ambassador to the United Nations Arthur Goldberg, and British ambassador Lord Caradon made clear at the time and subsequently that Jews and Arabs both had claims in the territories, that no national sovereignty over the territories had been recognized since the end of Ottoman rule, and that negotiations would be necessary to resolve competing claims. At no time in history were Palestinians ever sovereign over the land on which Israeli settlements are located. Previous media outlets to correct this point include The Los Angeles TimesThe Washington PostVoice of America, and NBC, among many more.

The cooked up story, granting a national spotlight for fringe anti-Israel activists accusing a New Jersey synagogue of illegally selling Palestinian land against the purported context of genocide, puts a target on the back of the Jewish institution at a perilous time when American antisemitism, including violent attacks against Jewish establishments, is on an all-time high. UPI is to be commended for making the much needed changes to the article, which should never have appeared, and hopefully going forward, Schrader’s problematic coverage on Jews and Israel will undergo heightened fact-checking prior to publication.

Meanwhile, by the morning of March 6, Schrader’s false and defamatory reporting still appeared on 20 or so McClatchy newspapers which had yet to update with UPI’s March 4 corrected version

In response to communication from CAMERA, editors at McClatchy subsequently removed Schrader’s story entirely from its publications across the country including Charlotte Observer, Ledger Enquirer, Merced Sun-Star, Miami Herald, Tacuma News Tribune, Fresno Bee, The Olympian, Fort Worth Star-Telegram, The Island Packet, Idaho Statesman, Modesto Bee, Bellingham Herald, Herald Sun (Durham), The State, Wichita Eagle, San Luis Obispo Tribune, Tri-City Herald, Bradenton Herald, Telegraph (Macon), The Sacramento Bee, and Sun News (Myrtle Beach).

As of this writing, March UPI’s post on X (formerly Twitter) falsely reporting “New Jersey synagogue will allegedly auction off occupied Palestinian land,” still appears, although CAMERA alerted UPI to the baseless post on March 6.

ICYMI, @UPI completely rewrote, corrected Adam Schrader’s misreporting. There’s no “auction,” it’s not “Palestinian land,” & developers (not synagogue) ran the marketing event. Not clear why false tweet stills stands @CAMERAorg @judae

— Tamar Sternthal (@TamarSternthal) March 6, 2024

Tamar Sternthal is the director of CAMERA’s Israel Office. A version of this article previously appeared on the CAMERA website.

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‘Any Chance the Media Would Cover This?’ New Video Shows Terrorists in Gaza Using Humanitarian Aid to Help Prepare Rockets

Terrorists in Gaza using humanitarian aid bags to prop up rockets. Photo: Screenshot

Terrorists in Gaza have been using humanitarian aid bags to prop up rockets they were preparing to shoot at Israelis, new video circulating on social media reveals, underscoring the challenges of delivering aid to Palestinian civilians in the Hamas-ruled enclave without it being stolen.

The Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigade — which is the armed wing of Fatah, the political party of Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbasused bags from Turkey and UNRWA — the UN agency responsible for the Palestinians — to prop up the rockets, according to the video.

At least three of the bags say they contain “wheat flour,” and the bag from Turkey specifically says it is supposed to go “to the Palestinian people.” It is unclear whether the bags had previously been opened to extract the food and then refilled with sand, for example, or if it still contained the food that was intended to feed Palestinian civilians.

“Any chance the media would cover this, yet another violation of international humanitarian law?” pro-Israel commentator Hen Mazzig wrote on X/Twitter while sharing the video.

Rafah, Gaza: Hamas is using UN humanitarian aid bags as rocket launchers today.

Any chance the media would cover this, yet another, violation of International Humanitarian Law?

— Hen Mazzig (@HenMazzig) May 29, 2024

Almost every day for the past seven months, Hamas and other Gaza-based terrorist organizations have been shooting rockets into Israel from civilian areas, which is a war crime. Tens of thousands of Israelis are internally displaced and unable to return to their homes as a result.

There is mounting evidence that Hamas has also operated in civilian clothing and in civilian infrastructure such as hospitals. However, these violations of international law are rarely noted by much of the media.

The latest video of terrorists using humanitarian aid for military purposes underscores the issue of making sure such aid gets to Palestinian civilians. 

The US built a pier to deliver 2,000,000 meals daily to Palestinian civilians, but after a few weeks of operation, the Pentagon said none of the aid unloaded from the pier had made it to those who needed it. On one occasion, about 70 percent of the aid has been stolen while en route to a UN warehouse. In other cases, it just never showed up.

Israeli estimates suggest approximately 60 percent of the aid that has gone into Gaza has been stolen — either by Hamas or other groups and individuals. Oftentimes, that aid is then sold to the population at high prices, making it difficult to impossible for most Gazans to gain access to it. 

According to Ehud Yaari, an expert at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, Hamas has made more than $500 million in profit from selling humanitarian aid since Oct. 7.

The terror group began the war last October by massacring 1,200 people in Israel and taking more than 250 people hostage, about half of whom have still not been released.

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Columbia University Anti-Zionist Group Endorses Hamas

Demonstrators take part in an anti-Israel demonstration at the Columbia University campus, in New York City, US, Feb. 2, 2024. REUTERS/David Dee Delgado

Columbia University’s chapter of Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) has endorsed Hamas, a US-designated terrorist organization, the latest sign of its growing extremism and willingness to embrace antisemitic violence.

“The Palestinian resistance is the only force materially fighting back against isr*el [sic],” the group said in a series of posts shared by Documenting Jew Hatred on Campus, a social media account which exposes antisemitism on college campuses. “There is no way to eliminate the resistance without ending the occupation. When you see a video of a young palestinian [sic] boy traumatized in a hospital talking about how iof [the Israel Defense Forces, or IDF] shot his pregnant mother in cold blood in front of his own eyes, do not question how he chooses to resist years later.”

.@Columbia and @BarnardCollege, @ColumbiaSJP is actively promoting terrorism and anti-Israel rhetoric on their social media channels. They are sounding more and more like Hamas spokespeople every day. When is the university going to permanently ban this “student group”?

— Documenting Jew Hatred on Campus (@CampusJewHate) May 26, 2024

Campus Reform, a higher education watchdog which first reported Documenting Jew Hatred on Campus’ posts, noted that Columbia SJP has added an “inverted red triangle” to its social media biography, further indicating its support for Hamas. The Palestinian terrorist group has used an inverted red triangle in its propaganda videos to indicate an Israeli target about to be attacked, and anti-Israel protesters on university campuses have been using the symbol in their demonstrations.

Columbia SJP, a group that has reformed under multiple organizations since being suspended by school administrators during the fall semester, has been central in staging a slew of riotous demonstrations in which anti-Zionist activists verbally assaulted Jewish students with antisemitic epithets, clamorously expressed support for terrorism and Hamas, and caused thousands of dollars in damages to school property.

The group’s behavior after Hamas’ Oct. 7 massacre across southern Israel is the subject of a lawsuit filed by the StandWithUs Center for League Justice (SCLJ).

The complaint alleges that after bullying Jewish students and rubbing their noses in the carnage Hamas wrought on their people, the pro-Hamas students were still unsatisfied and resulted to violence. They beat up five Jewish students in Columbia’s Butler Library, according to the lawsuit. Another attacked a Jewish students with a stick, lacerating his head and breaking his finger, after being asked to return missing persons posters she had stolen.

Following the incidents, pleas for help allegedly went unanswered and administrators told Jewish students they could not guarantee their safety while SJP held its demonstrations. The school’s apparent powerlessness to prevent anti-Jewish violence was cited as the reason why Students Supporting Israel (SSI), a recognized school club, was denied permission to hold an event on self-defense. Events with “buzzwords” such as “Israel” and “Palestine” were forbidden, administrators allegedly said, but SJP continued to host events while no one explained the inconsistency.

The explosion of end-of-year protests held by the group forced Columbia officials to shutter the campus in April and institute virtual learning. Later, the group occupied Hamilton Hall, forcing President Minouche Shafik to call on the New York City Police Department (NYPD) for help, a decision she hesitated to make. According to The Columbia Spectator, over 108 arrests were made.

“Yes, we’re all Hamas, pig!” one protester was filmed screaming during the fracas, which saw some verbal skirmishes between pro-Zionist and anti-Zionist partisans. “Long live Hamas!” said others who filmed themselves dancing and praising the al-Qassam Brigades, the military wing of the Hamas terrorist organization. “Kill another solider!”

Amid the chaos, a prominent rabbi at the school urged Jewish students to leave the campus for the sake of their safety. Ultimately, the university cancelled its main commencement ceremony.

Follow Dion J. Pierre @DionJPierre.

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Guitarist Eric Clapton Says ‘Israel Is Running the World,’ Criticizes US Hearings on Campus Antisemitism

Eric Clapton during his guest appearance on the YouTube channel “The Real Music Observer” on May 22, 2024. Photo: YouTube screenshot

British singer-songwriter and guitarist Eric Clapton promoted the antisemitic conspiracy theory that Israel runs the world during an interview last week on the YouTube channel “The Real Music Observer.”

The Grammy Award winner and Rock & Roll Hall of Fame inductee, 79, referenced recent US congressional hearings where lawmakers grilled presidents of elite universities about surging antisemitism and rampant anti-Israel demonstrations on their campuses.

“I was so enthused about what was going on at Columbia [University] and everywhere. And then I saw, what I couldn’t believe, because it freaked me out, were the Senate hearings, which were like the Nuremberg trials, you know?” Clapton said during his guest appearance on “The Real Music Observer,” hosted by David Spuria. “The Senate committee would be asking pointed questions to presidents of universities, saying, ‘I just want to hear yes or no. Don’t talk to me about context. Yes or no, are you promoting antisemitism in your college? Yes or no.’ And I thought, what is this, the Spanish Inquisition? And it is! It’s AIPAC [the American Israel Public Affairs Committee], it’s the lobby. Israel is running the show. Israel is running the world.”

The hearings that Clapton referenced were held by the House Committee on Education and the Workforce, not a Senate panel.

In November, a little more than a month after the Oct. 7 Hamas terrorist attacks in Israel, Clapton released an instrumental song called “Voice of a Child.” The song’s music video features photos from pro-Palestinian and anti-Israel rallies around the world as well as images of destruction in the Gaza Strip. The music video completely overlooks the Oct. 7 massacre that sparked the ongoing Israel-Hamas war.

Clapton has recently been performing with a guitar that he painted in the colors of the Palestinian flag. Talking about the guitar while appearing on “The Real Music Observer,” he said, “We’re doing a thing now on this tour that I wrote originally as a tribute to Jeff Beck [who died in 2023]. I performed it at a tribute concert and then I didn’t play it anymore. But for this tour I’m doing it under a different guise. It’s the same tune, but I devoted it to the situation in Gaza. It’s called ‘Blue Dust’ because that’s what’s probably going to be left there. And I play a guitar that’s painted like the Palestinian flag.”

Clapton is a close friend of former Pink Floyd frontman Roger Waters, who has openly expressed antisemitic and anti-Israel sentiments, and has performed in garments that resemble a Nazi SS officer uniform. Clapton has defended Waters in the past, claiming that people “misinterpret” the latter’s position on Israel, and said last week that it takes “guts” to share political opinions like his.

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