Latest update: May 24th, 2013
A big week for Jerusalem: Britain’s Press Complaints Commission ruled that newspapers may not refer to Tel Aviv as Israel’s capital, and Palestinian Media Watch publicized five recent examples of the Palestinian Authority’s ongoing attempts to erase Jewish history in Yerushalayim.
The British media flap over Jerusalem began six months ago, when the London-based Guardian correctly identified the holy city as Israel’s capital – and then was pressured to apologize for doing so. As a result, the media watchdog organization Honest Reporting filed a complaint with the UK Press Complaints Commission (PCC).
The PPC is a non-governmental regulatory body that can force media outlets to issue corrections of what it deems “inaccurate, misleading or distorted information.” At first the PPC rejected Honest Reporting’s complaint but reversed course after the latter initiated legal proceedings.
The PPC’s final ruling was that The Guardian was “wrong to refer to Tel Aviv as Israel’s capital,” as this “had the potential to mislead readers.”
Honest Reporting was justifiably proud. “The ruling set a precedent on British coverage of Israel,” the organization announced, “effectively barring all British publications from referring to Tel Aviv as Israel’s capital.” CEO Joe Hyams added the following practical ramification:
“Fatuous claims over the status of Tel Aviv as a means to delegitimize Jerusalem as Israel’s rightful capital will no longer be acceptable.”
The decision has already made its mark. Just in the past few days alone, two other British papers – the Daily Telegraph and the Daily Mail – issued apologies for having referred to Tel Aviv as Israel’s capital. The Mail even went so far as to say it had “mistakenly suggested that Israel’s government was in Tel Aviv when it is, of course, in Jerusalem.”
Several countries had embassies in Jerusalem for decades after Israel declared its independence; unfortunately, not one now remains. Thus, the battle for international recognition of Yerushalayim as unequivocally and eternally Israel’s is far from over. But since the pen is often mightier than the sword, and the keyboard even more so, let us take hope from this media victory, and continue to work toward the day that the nations will realize, as the Prophet Isaiah foretold, that their “house of prayer for all peoples” is in truth the “house of the God of Israel.”
The Palestinian Authority, for its part, is doing all it can to promote the opposite of the above truth. Palestinian Media Watch (PMW) reported that the PA continues to deny both Jerusalem’s Jewish history and the Holy Temple’s existence. The PA consistently refers to the Beit HaMikdash as the “alleged Temple,” as if it never existed – thus denying the very Bible that more than 2 billion Jews and Christians (and many Muslims, at least in principle) swear by.
PMW notes that usage of the term “alleged Temple” to deny Jewish history has been PA policy under Mahmoud Abbas – known for his “moderation” – for many years. PMW issued a list of five recent instances, out of more than 100 since the beginning of 2011, of the PA libel that Israel plans to destroy the Al-Aqsa Mosque and replace it with the “alleged Temple.”
For instance, PA Minister for Jerusalem Affairs Adnan Al-Husseini called last month for an “aggressive Arab, Islamic, and international stand to protect the holy places of Islam and Christianity in Jerusalem, especially the Al-Aqsa Mosque.” He added that for a long time Al-Aqsa has been subject to premeditated Israeli steps aimed at dividing it, “thus facilitating the process of building the alleged Temple on its ruins.”
Similarly, the PA’s Islamic-Christian Council for Jerusalem and the Holy Places declared last month that Israel’s recent excavations beneath the Al-Aqsa Mosque foundations are “a final warning [before] the mosque’s destruction.” The council also declared that “Israeli occupation forces plan to damage and weaken the blessed mosque’s foundations, so that they will easily collapse at the first opportunity.”
In addition, council Secretary-General Dr. Hanna Issa called the digging under the Al-Aqsa foundations a “clear statement of the occupation’s intentions [regarding] the mosque, and its decision to cause its collapse and build the alleged Temple on its ruins.”
Many Jews who have dedicated their lives toward the rebuilding of the Beit HaMikdash hope the above warnings are both justified and correct, but fear strongly that they are not.
About the Author: Chaim Silberstein is president of Keep Jerusalem-Im Eshkachech and the Jerusalem Capital Development Fund. He was formerly a senior adviser to Israel's minister of tourism. Hillel Fendel, past senior editor at Israel National News/Arutz-7, is a veteran writer on Jerusalem affairs. Both have lived in Jerusalem and now reside in Beit El.
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