The extremist Peace Now organization in Israel has been compelled by a court order to publicly apologize and pay monetary damages to the residents of the Jewish community of Revava in Samaria for lying and publishing false statements that the town had been on Palestinian-owned land. Peace Now and activists Hagit Ofran and Dror Atkis lied in claiming in a report titled ‘A sin leads to another sin,’ that most Jewish towns in Judea and Samaria were built on land stolen from local Arabs. Among other things, the report said 71.15 percent of the land on which Revava was built was stolen from Arabs. The Fund for Redeeming the Land, which legally owns 100 percent of the territory on which Revava is built, demanded that Peace Now correct its false report regarding Revava and issue an apology. The group refused to apologize, as did the authors of the report. The authors agreed to only partially correct the mistaken claim regarding Revava, changing the report to say 22 percent of the land was stolen, not 71 percent.
When Peace Now refused to apologize, the Fund sued the organization with the help of Attorney Doron Nir Tzvi. The group charged Peace Now and authors Ofran and Etkes with slander and the court found the three defendants guilty. Besides ordering them to apologize, Justice Barclay ruled that they must pay the Fund for Redeeming the Land 20,000 shekels plus tax and to publish an apology in both Maariv and Haaretz newspapers. “The time has come to end the serial lies issued by various leftist groups,” Attorney Nir Tzvi said following the court’s decision. “The public should doubt any report they write.” Nir Tzvi called on Jews living in Judea and Samaria to “stand up for their good name” when facing false accusations from groups like Peace Now. (Maayana Miskin, ‘Peace Now to Pay and Apologize for Maligning Town,’ Israel National News, December 11, 2008).
This is not the only false claim of illegal land grabbing leveled by Peace Now against Jewish communities in Judea and Samaria: in its same 2006 report, Peace Now alleged that the large city of Ma’ale Adumim was built on land of which 84.6 percent was Arab-owned land when in fact it turned out that a mere 0.54 percent of the land in question was owned by Arabs. Peace Now only grudgingly corrected this blatant lie in a subsequent publication, without noting its original error. (Alex Safian, ‘Peace Now’s Blunder: Erred on Ma’ale Adumim Land by 15,900 Percent,’ Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting in America, March 16, 2007).
ZOA National President Morton A. Klein said, “We are pleased that justice has been done by this court decision which, by demanding public admission and apology for false claims of theft of Arab land by a Jewish community in Samaria, ensures that justice is both done and seen to be done.
“We find it disturbing that Peace Now and other extremist left-wing groups have sought to defame law-abiding Jewish communities in Judea and Samaria as thieves in pursuit of a far left political agenda of withdrawing from Judea and Samaria and uprooting all Jews living there in the process because such is the nature of Palestinian demands. Such groups should argue honestly for their positions without trying to dignify it by defaming their political opponents, including the law-abiding Jewish residents of Judea and Samaria.
“It is also disturbing that so much misinformation about Jews in Judea and Samaria is permitted in our American Jewish press. Last week, ZOA was the only major Jewish organization to publicize the fact that the Jews residing in Beit Hashalom in Hebron had been forcibly removed despite the absence of a court order demanding their removal and while the question of the building’s ownership was still in the courts. We were distressed to see that several American Jewish organizations inaccurately claimed or implied that the eviction had taken place in accordance with a court order demanding eviction. By misrepresenting the facts, these organization’s constituents were misled from knowing the truth.
“Here, too, very little publicity has been given to Peace Now’s exposure in court for their utterly false claims of theft of Arab-owned land by Revava. It is only right that the facts should be more widely known and reported. We call on Jewish organizations, the Israeli government and editorial writers to publicly condemn the extremist group Peace Now for their promotion of lies and falsehoods at the expense of the good name and honor of Jews and Israel, simply to promote their extremist political agenda of appeasement.”
* * *
The Zionist Organization of America, founded in 1897, is the oldest pro-Israel organization in the United States. The ZOA works to strengthen U.S.-Israel relations, educates the American public and Congress about the dangers that Israel faces, and combats anti-Israel bias in the media and on college campuses. Its past presidents have included Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis and Rabbi Dr. Abba Hillel Silver.