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Tuesday, April 01, 2008

PCness at the Times: Incitement to 'martyrdom' = 'Insults' that 'complicate peace'

In the alternative reality of the New York Times, Hamas' children's television's incitement to 'martyrdom' is nothing more than a series of 'insults' that 'complicate peace.'

That's the upshot of a lengthy feature in today's Grey Lady by Steven Erlanger, the Times' chief Jerusalem correspondent:
Hamas’s grip on Gaza matters, but what may matter more in the long run is its control over propaganda and education there, breeding longer-term problems for Israel, and for peace. No matter what Israeli and Palestinian negotiators agree upon, there is concern here that the attitudes being instilled will make a sustainable peace extremely difficult.
Erlanger acts as if this is something new and as if until Hamas' takeover of the Strip last June, there was no incitement on 'Palestinian' television. He attempts to distinguish between Fatah's media and Hamas' and to shield himself against criticism from Israel's 'Palestinian' media watchdogs by including interviews with representatives of both Palestinian Media Watch and MEMRI in his article.
Such incitement against Israel and Jews was supposed to be banned under the 1993 Oslo accords and the 2003 “road map” peace plan. While the Palestinian Authority under Fatah has made significant, if imperfect efforts to end incitement, Hamas, no party to those agreements, feels no such restraint.
In fact, Fatah's media has never stopped inciting to 'martyrdom' and has made no effort to end incitement against Israel and Jews. Recall this from just two weeks ago:
The official Palestinian Authority daily newspaper describes the murderer of eight yeshiva students in Jerusalem as a "groom" and his burial as his "wedding celebration." The story in Mahmoud Abbas's Al Hayat Al Jadida goes on to evoke the neighborhood Jabal Mukbar's "week of anticipation... preparing themselves for the wedding procession."

The term "wedding" is the expression commonly used in PA society, and in PA schoolbooks as well, to describe the death of Shahids - Martyrs for Allah. According to Islamic tradition, they will wed the 72 Dark- Eyed Maidens (Virgins) of Paradise.

The article then reports the "shocking news" for the "thousands who were waiting" that the Israeli Army had decided to force a pre-dawn burial to prevent community celebrations of the murders and the murderer. It bemoans the fact "that the groom was buried in the [early] morning without a celebration and without a wedding procession."

However, the PA daily vows that the wedding celebrations will continue:

"The wedding will not end this way... it will last three consecutive days in which [the town] al-Sawahra will welcome all of those who come to congratulate the groom and will hang his portrait embracing the nation's flags."
And this from three weeks ago:
The official 'Palestinian Authority' daily al-Hayat al-Jadida has placed a picture of Jerusalem terrorist Alaa Abu D'heim on its front page with the caption "The Shahid Alaa Abu D'heim." A shahid is a "Holy Islamic martyr." Abu D'heim murdered eight Israeli yeshiva boys and wounded nine others at Yeshivat Merkaz HaRav in the Kiryat Moshe section of Jerusalem on Thursday night. In a front-page article, the newspaper also refers to the murders as "a shahada-achieving action." Itamar Marcus of Palestinian Media Watch points out that
In so doing, the PA is sending its people a straightforward message of support for the terror murders and the murderer. According to the PA interpretation of Islam, there is no higher status that a human being can achieve today than that of Shahid.
The 'Palestinian Authority' is the 'good terrorists' of Fatah led by 'moderate' 'Palestinian' President Mahmoud Abbas Abu Mazen, Condi Rice's and George Bush's 'man of peace.
And recall this video from 2004 - eleven years after the 'Palestinian Authority' agreed to stop 'incitement' - in which 'Palestinian Authority' television told its children that Jews threw 'Palestinian' children into crematoria ovens.

If I spent a couple of hours going through my archives, I could cite dozens more examples of the same kind of incitement from Fatah that Erlanger half-heartedly criticizes when it comes from Hamas. But the point should be clear: The distinction between Hamas' and Fatah's media is false. Both incite to terrorism and both do far more than spout 'insults' that 'complicate peace.'

Let's return for a minute to the Times article and to Hamas' al-Aqsa Television. If you read between the lines, the objections many 'Palestinians' have to Hamas' television (and other media) is not that they incite against Jews, but that they promote a radical brand of Islam that prevents 'reconciliation' with the more secular Fatah. Here are some examples (emphases all added by me):
Radwan Abu Ayyash, deputy minister of culture in Ramallah, ran the Palestinian Broadcasting Company until 2005. Hamas “uses religious language to motivate simple people for political as well as religious goals,” he said. “People don’t distinguish between the two.” He said he found a lot of what Al Aksa broadcast “disgusting and unprofessional.”

Every Palestinian thinks the situation in Gaza is ugly, he said. “But what is not fine is to build up children with a culture of hatred, of closed minds, a culture of sickness. I don’t think they always know what they are creating. People use one weapon, language, without realizing that they also use it against themselves.”


Some Hamas videos, like one in March 2007, promote the participation of children in “resistance,” showing them training in uniform, holding rifles. Recent shows displayed Mr. Abbas kissing Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and Prime Minister Ehud Olmert of Israel, under the slogan “Palestine doesn’t return with kisses, it returns with martyrs.”


The chairman of the Palestinian Scholars League, and a Hamas legislator, Mr. Abu Ras is popularly called “Hamas’s mufti,” because he is ready to give religious sanction to Hamas political structures.

Last month, he criticized Egypt for closing the Gaza border at Israel’s request. He complained, “We are besieged by the sons of Arabism and Islam, as well as by the brothers of apes and pigs.”

He tried to distinguish between religious and political language, and then said: “The Israelis can’t accept criticism. They overreact, like any guilty person.” Israel for him is an enemy. “This is an open war with Israel, with each side trying to press the other,” he said. A war? “If it’s not a war, what is it?” he asked.
But at least Erlanger cleared up one mystery for me.
Saraa, the host of “Tomorrow’s Pioneers,” is the niece of Fawzi Barhoum, a Hamas spokesman.
I was close (I assumed she was his daughter).

Read it all.


Further comments on this story from CAMERA here. They raise an important issue of which I was not aware.

Interestingly, Erlanger wrapped up his tenure in Jerusalem last month and left for Paris. In his nearly four years as Jerusalem bureau chief, he gave scant attention to the key issue of Palestinian hate indoctrination against Israel and Jews. In fact, not even when he covered the "lost generation of Palestine: its most radical, most accepting of violence and most despairing" on March 12, 2007, did he discuss incitement as a factor in their radicalization. (In the 3,400-word feature, he devoted only one sentence to indoctrination, presenting it as an Israeli "claim.") Thus the obvious question: why now? Why did the Jerusalem bureau chief of the New York Times wait until he was no longer in the region to address this deep-rooted problem in Palestinian society? Did he not feel safe to report on incitement while he was working in the West Bank and Gaza Strip?


The timing of the article raises serious questions, though, about whether Erlanger felt the need to censor himself for his own safety and/or for continued access in the Palestinian areas. This is not unconceivable. After all, Eason Jordan, the former chief news executive of CNN, admitted that the network refrained from reporting on human rights abuses in Iraq for fear of jeopardizing access to Saddam Hussein's government.

And Riccardo Christiano, of Italy's RAI television, sent an infamous letter to his “Friends in Palestine” denying that his network released footage of the October 2000 brutal lynching of two Israeli reservists. “We emphasize to all of you that the events did not happen this way, because we always respect the journalistic rules of the Palestinian Authority for work in Palestine,” the Italian reassured, and clarified that Mediaset, a competing Italian station, had distributed the footage.

After the publication of Christiano's confidential letter, Mediaset's correspondent was recalled to Europe in a move to protect her life. Perhaps Erlanger, now in Paris, also found that reporting a story potentially damaging to the Palestinian cause is imprudent for a journalist working in the Palestinian areas. All this raises the larger question of how readers can obtain an accurate and complete picture of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict when correspondents on the ground may be unwilling or unable to report essential information.

Read it all.


At 10:43 PM, Blogger NormanF said...

Given the way they look at Jews any cessation of violence can only be temporary.

Then again Condi Rice, Ehud Barak and Ehud Olmert know that more Jews are going to get killed. Its simply a question of when.


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