A prominent German journalist last month compared the Jewish state to its enemies in a Tweet, sparking sharp rebukes from Israeli experts on Sunday.
Prof. Gerald Steinberg, the head of the Jerusalem-based NGO Monitor, told The Jerusalem Post: “Unfortunately Esther Schapira failed to fact check the propaganda claims in the Haaretz article. Haaretz echoes the false claims of an NGO linked to the PFLP terror network (Defense for Children International Palestine). And the ‘evidence’ from the local UNICEF branch (from 2013) is also based on the same DCIP demonization.”
Steinberg, who is a political studies professor at Bar Ilan University, added “If Schapira is seriously interested in the treatment of minors worldwide, including by Israel, she should look at the facts, and not propaganda. And she should apologize.”
Esther Schapira, a journalist with the German public television network, Hessischer Rundfunk, tweeted on March 16: “I love Israel and I hate when it is acting like its enemies. Heartbreaking and appalling. Israel jails hundreds of Palestinian boys a year. These are their testimonies.”
Schapira, a German Jew born in Frankfurt, commented in her Tweet in reaction to a March 16 Haaretz article titled: ‘Endless Trip to Hell’: Israel Jails Hundreds of Palestinian Boys a Year. These Are Their Testimonies.
She linked to the Haaretz article in her Tweet.
Dr. Efraim Zuroff, the head of the Jerusalem office of the Simon Wiesenthal Center, told the Post: “Esther Schapira clearly fails to understand the realities in the Middle East. She accuses Israel of behaving like her enemies. So who exactly is she referring to?
The Iranian mullahs dreaming of nuking Israel, the Hamas movement ruling Gaza that shoots rockets at Israeli civilian centers, or maybe that paragon of human rights, the Palestinian Authority which spends millions compensating the families of terrorists who murder Israeli civilians?”
Arsen Ostrovsky, an Israeli international human rights lawyer, told the Post: “Comparing the necessary self-defensive actions of the Jewish state to Palestinian terrorists, including genocidal jihadist groups like Hamas and Hezbollah, who are sworn to its destruction, is utterly appalling, vile and reprehensible. Such comparisons and attempted moral equivalence demonstrate either a gross naïveté about the very real security threats faced by the State of Israel, or willful distortion of reality, including the fact that many terror attacks are carried out by Palestinian minors.”
Ostrovsky added, “At all times, the State of Israel acts in accordance with relevant international law, however the greater issue here is the institutionalized incitement by the Palestinian leadership that leads such minors to engage in acts of violence and terror in the first instance.”
Schapira’s Tweet led to several days of heated debate on Twitter. Malca Goldstein-Wolf, a German Jewish activist, criticized Schapira on Twitter: “The word of a Jew who defames Israel weighs much heavier than that of a non-Jew,” adding that it gives a shot in the arm to antisemites.
After the Post sent the Israeli criticisms to Schapira, she wrote: “‘Like’ is not meant as an equation. Of course, Israel is not like its enemies. Exactly to this difference, I refer yes. A comparison in a concrete point is not an equation and certainly not a general equation. When I received the misunderstood reactions on Twitter, I tried to explain myself. Unfortunately, in vain.”
She added: “Perhaps I should have been more careful in evaluating the Haaretz article. However, so far I have not read any concrete proof that the cases described there are not correct. In retrospect, I think I should have reworded the tweet to avoid misunderstandings. I regret that I underestimated the emotional impact of the Twitter medium, the shortening involved, and the 260 characters.”
She wrote, “It would have been better if I had written ‘The cases described here must urgently be examined. If they are true, then it would be unworthy of a constitutional state like Israel. Otherwise I only know such behavior from Israel’s enemies, such as Hamas or Iran. There children are ruthlessly used for political purposes and abused. In addition, if Palestinian children were truly mistreated in the manner described in the Haaretz article, then they will make them very receptive to Hamas’s hate education.”’
She noted, “And it probably also plays a role that I wrote in English and not in my mother tongue, German.”
Schapira said, “I also have no doubt that the issue of the treatment of Palestinian children is a particularly popular topic for Palestinian propaganda, and that particular caution is needed when dealing with sources.”
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