Illustration: Haaretz Newspaper by original uploader Hmbr [CC BY 2.5] via he.wikipedia
INTO THE FRAY: Had Haaretz wanted to give a fair portrayal of my policy proposal, instead of alluding to “The Transfer Method,” the headline would have read “Evacuation-Compensation for Arabs: An answer to Israel’s geographic and demographic imperatives?”
Martin Sherman, the founder and CEO of the Israel Institute for Strategic Studies, is probably the most extreme of all the annexationists. He advocates applying Israeli sovereignty to the whole West Bank …According to Sherman, Israel needs to act vigorously to reduce the Arab presence. How? War is the best way.
Carolina Landsmann, “How Israeli Right-Wing Thinkers Envision the Annexation of the West Bank,” Haaretz, August 18, 2018.
One wintry afternoon, towards the end of January (22nd to be precise), I was contacted by Carolina Landsmann of Haaretz, who asked to meet me.
How it all began…
She told me that she had been referred to me by Women in Green as someone she should talk to regarding an article she was preparing on the various plans being aired for applying Israeli sovereignty to areas across the 1967 lines — particularly Judea-Samaria (a.k.a. the “West Bank”).
As this is something I have been advocating for over two decades, I thought this would be a good opportunity to convey my views to audiences less familiar with them than my regular readership — and immediately sent her several emails I had written on the subject.
The following evening, we met at a popular pub on the wharf in the Jaffa port after an appearance of mine on the i24 TV channel. The meeting lasted over two hours, during which I elaborated on my strategic proposal, entailing large-scale incentivized emigration of the Arab population, resident across the pre-1967 lines. I presented her with detailed arguments of why, in my view, this is the only policy paradigm, that does not entail large-scale military action, which can ensure Israel’s viability as the nation-state of the Jewish people both geographically and demographically.
Likewise, I demonstrated why the proposals of the Left, advocating far-reaching political concessions and territorial withdrawal imperil Israel’s geographical viability; while those of the Right imperil its demographic viability — even if the optimistic demographic assessments of some are correct. Accordingly, the only non-kinetic way to reduce the Arab presence within the sovereign territory, imperative for Israel’s minimal defense requirements, is by means of economic inducements.
Seven months later…
The entire conversation between us was conducted in a most congenial atmosphere, and Landsmann gave the distinct impression that, even if she did not agree with my positions, she did understand them and the rationale on which they were based.
Indeed, this impression was reinforced when Landsmann — on her own initiative — suggested that I should begin writing for the Opinions section of Haaretz, and that I should approach the editor, Aluf Benn, on this matter. However, she recommended that I should wait until the publication of her article before doing so.
We ended the meeting amiably, with Landsmann sufficiently undismayed at my opinions to accept a ride with me back to Tel Aviv, where we parted a short distance from her destination.
Months went by while I eagerly awaited publication, during which I sent Landsmann a considerable amount of additional material, relating to my proposal and its clear advantages over alternatives — material, which she acknowledged receiving with thanks.
As time passed, I began to wonder whether the planned publication had been aborted — especially as several inquiries from me were left unanswered.
Then, last week, on August 12, almost seven months after our initial meeting, I received a short WhatsApp message, informing me that the article was to appear and requesting I send a short CV.
I complied, but might as well not have…
Truncated and twisted
The almost 5000 word article (almost 4000 in Hebrew) appeared in the weekend supplement of Haaretz (August 18 in the electronic edition) — which included reports on other proposals from Education Minister Naftali Bennett, columnist Caroline Glick, Islamic scholar Mordechai Kedar, Jerusalem Affairs Minister Zeev Elkin, veteran publicist Elyakim Haetzni, Ambassadors Alan Baker and Yoram Ettinger and economist Amatzia Samkai.
I was shocked and appalled at the grossly truncated and twisted manner in which my views were conveyed to the reader.
I should point out that, over the last three decades, I have been interviewed a fair number of times in the written media, and although I have not always been accurately quoted, to the best of my memory, I have never felt the need to contact the journalist/editor to vent any protest — and certainly not to devote an entire article to express intense indignation.
It is difficult to convey the sense of outrage I felt at discovering the paucity and perversion of Landsmann’s misrepresentation of my proposed strategic paradigm.
Although she requested a short CV, not a single biographical detail regarding my past experience or positions held in government, academia and the security establishment, were mentioned beyond identifying me as “the founder and CEO of the Israel Institute for Strategic Studies” —something Landsmann was well aware of prior to her requested CV.
Indeed, her blatant bias and disdainful disregard for the wealth of material provided her was clearly evident from the brutally condensed format in which she chose to articulate the content of two hours of face-to-face discussion and almost a score of articles. All of this Landsmann attempted to compress into a piece around 270 words long, with only about 170 relating — misleadingly and inaccurately — to my proposed policy prescription, and three additional, telegraphically truncated sentences alluding enigmatically to my critiques of other sovereignty proponents, chiefly Bennett and Glick.
Disappointing, distortive and deceptive
Apart from the fact that she allotted far less space to my proposal than to the others — although I’d bet a dollar to a dime that most of them had not provided her with similarly comprehensive information as to their preferred prescription — Landsmann’s naked mal-intent to portray my proposal as an emaciated caricature of what it really is, was immediately apparent from the heading of her piece. In the English version it was “Martin Sherman: The transfer method” while in the Hebrew version, it was a little less laconic: “Dr. Martin Sherman: The Transfer method: Let them go to Indonesia; ‘Transfer’ is not a dirty word.”
Clearly, the average reader would get from this the totally unfounded impression that my entire strategic blueprint for dealing with the conflict between Israel and the Palestinian-Arabs amounted to nothing but a simplistic call for the forcible eviction to the Far East of the Arabs, resident in the areas beyond the 1967 lines. Readers, who have followed my writings for the last two decades and more, will at once recognize this is a grave mis-characterization of what I propose.
But the plot thickens.
Landsmann contends: “According to Sherman, Israel needs to act vigorously to reduce the Arab presence. How? War is the best way, Sherman says.”
Again, those familiar with my policy proposal will know that, while I have advocated military action to preempt plainly emerging threats, I have never advocated it as a kinetically coercive initiative to intentionally expel the civilian Arab population living in Judea-Samaria or Gaza.
On reading the alleged coverage of my policy prescription, I immediately sent an outraged WhatsApp message to Landsmann: “Carolina, I saw the article. Disappointing, Distortive and Deceptive!!! The epitome of fake news that creates a malicious caricature of what I presented you.”
The epitome of “fake news”
I pointed out that I have never advocated war as the preferred way to effect evacuation of the Arab population. Indeed, the whole point of my proposal is to accomplish such evacuation without war. Accordingly, I challenged her to find a single instance corroborating her allegations in all the material I sent her. I would call on readers to do the same.
Landsmann did in fact, respond to my challenge, triumphantly quoting a single sentence in one article of many I provided her, which I published in the Sovereignty journal in early 2017, as definitive proof that I endorse “War is the best way.”
As her ultimate proof of my alleged preference for war, she cites this: “In the absence of conditions of wide-scale warfare, in which more “kinetic” measures may be acceptable, the only non-coercive manner to achieve this objective is to put in place an overall system of economic/material inducements designed to increase the incentives for the Arab population, resident across the pre-1967 lines to emigrate, on the one hand, and disincentives for them to remain, on the other.”
So, according to Landsmann’s twisted logic, this sentence, “fished out” of a huge volume of work, is to be interpreted as advocating war. In fact, it was written to convey to Sovereignty readers, some of whom opposed financial incentives to induce Palestinian-Arabs to emigrate, that, as war is NOT a pertinent alternative, material inducements are the only measures to achieve such emigration. Even assuming some ambiguity in a single sentence, and in light of no other evidence of my advocating war as a preferred policy instrument, one might have expected Landsmann, as a responsible journalist, to clarify this seemingly anomalous matter — before publishing it in such a strident manner.
“Fake news” (cont.)
Likewise, I also rebuked Landsmann for her use of the word “Transfer,” and its removal by her from the historical context, in which I mentioned it. After all, as I indicated to her, in the past, the transfer of populations has been accepted by eminent statesmen — such as U.S. President Herbert Hoover, designated “the Great Humanitarian” for his famine relief efforts during WWI, and Nobel Prize winner, Fridtjof Nansen — as a means of conflict-resolution between inimical ethnic groups.
Thus, although the term “Transfer” has been attributed pejorative connotations today — especially in regard to the Palestinian-Israeli question — this is not generally the case. Landsmann chose to make no mention of this — presumably knowing full well the negative impact the use of the word, detached from its historical context, would have on her readers.
Likewise, Landsmann gravely misrepresented my reference to Indonesia as a potential destination for well-funded Palestinian-Arab émigrés. I have, of course, never advocated Indonesia as a practical — and certainly not an exclusive — host nation for departing Palestinian-Arabs. Indeed, the essence of my proposal — and something I have emphasized repeatedly — is not to determine any destination for the Palestinian-Arabs, but to provide them with adequate funding that would make them relatively affluent in terms of global averages and acceptable (even desired) residents in a range of countries from South America, through Africa to Asia.
India as a “red herring”: Adding insult to injury
True, I have never excluded Indonesia, the world’s most populous Muslim country, as a possible destination for well-funded Palestinian-Arab émigrés. However, my primary purpose in referring to that country was to illustrate the scale and scope of the prospective population movements involved in my proposal — by underscoring the miniscule effect it would have on the country’s overall population (less than 2% increase) and the considerable inflow of capital the absorption of incoming Palestinian-Arabs would bring (several hundred billion dollars).
Reacting to my protest regarding Indonesia, Landsmann added insult to injury by mentioning India (in the electronic edition) as another destination suggested by me. Again, this is gross distortion of the context in which I brought up India — presumably to deprecate the feasibility of my proposal. In fact, I told her of an exchange I once had with a young Indian parliamentarian, who apparently impressed by my blueprint, asked: “How many Palestinians are there?” On hearing my response that the total number is hotly disputed, but that no-one believes that it is much above five million, he exclaimed immediately: “Is that all! WE could take them.”
So rather than me designating India as a prospective destination, it was my interlocutor, the Indian parliamentarian, who did so — something no reader of Landsmann’s would understand.
“Evacuation-Compensation” not “Transfer”: Why its scares the “Left”
Of course, had Landsmann really wanted to give an accurate portrayal of my policy proposal, she would have headlined it completely differently. Instead of alluding to “Transfer,” it would have been along the following lines: “Evacuation-compensation for Arabs: An answer to Israel’s geographic and demographic imperatives?”
After all, what I am proposing is application of a principle, often advanced for the removal of Jewish residents in Judea-Samaria — to facilitate the establishment of yet another homophobic, misogynistic Muslim tyranny (a.k.a. Palestinian state). However, instead, I propose its application for the evacuation of the Arab residents of Judea-Samaria — to prevent the establishment of such a homophobic, misogynistic tyranny.
Perhaps, it is its compelling logic and morality that so troubles the radical left proponents of Palestinian-Arab statehood, who hitherto have only wrought tragedy and trauma on Jew and Arab alike, that drives them to attempt to deprecate it with distortion, deception and deceit.
Martin Sherman is the founder & executive director of the Israel Institute for Strategic Studies.