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December 26, 2014 10:54 am

The Mosque That Wasn’t Torched

avatar by Moshe Phillips and Benyamin Korn

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The outside of the West Bank mosque that was torched in November 2014. Photo: YouTube Screenshot

Remember that “arson attack” last month by “Jewish extremists” against a West Bank mosque? Remember how that outrageous assault made headline news around the world? Remember how it showed that “both sides” –not just the Arabs– are guilty of violence, and “both sides” –not only Israelis– are suffering?

Well, guess what: it was a lie.

The period from late October through late November was a time of escalating Palestinian terrorism against Israelis. On Oct. 22, a terrorist (or, according to the Palestinian Authority, a “hero”) drove his car into a Jerusalem railway station, murdering two innocent civilians–one was 3-month-old Chaya Zissel Braun, an American citizen–and injuring eight others.

A week later, a terrorist attempted to murder an American-Israeli rabbi in Jerusalem. Then on Nov. 5, another Palestinian “martyr” rammed his car into a Jerusalem train station, killing two and wounding 13. That same day, in Gush Etzion, another car-terrorist drove into and severely wounded a group of Israeli soldiers.

On Nov. 10, a Palestinian terrorist stabbed an Israeli soldier to death in Tel Aviv. Elsewhere that day, another Palestinian stabbed a young Israeli woman to death at a Gush Etzion bus stop and wounded two others.

At the same time, there were almost daily rock-throwing attacks by Arab mobs against Israeli police or soldiers in Jerusalem and various towns in the Judea-Samaria territories.

And it was all incited by a constant wave of radio and television broadcasts by Palestinian Authority officials praising the terrorists in these attacks and urging more “days of rage” against the Jews.

The wave of incitement and violence made clear that the Palestinians were the aggressors, and the Israelis were the victims. No wonder Israel’s critics in the international news media seemed almost gleeful when they heard the news of a fire-bombing at a West Bank mosque. Here was the ammunition they needed to construct a new narrative — a chance to “prove” that the Palestinians weren’t the only violent aggressors.

A major article in the international news section of The New York Times on Nov. 12 announced: “Further charging the atmosphere at a time of heightened Israeli-Palestinian tensions and religious friction, a mosque in a village in the West Bank was damaged overnight in what was said to be an arson attack, and a firebomb was thrown at an old synagogue in an Arab town in northern Israel, the police said.”

“Said to be an arson attack?” Said by whom? Well, actually it was the mayor of Ramallah, Faraj al-Naassaneh, whose sole basis for calling it arson was that “only Jewish settlers would do this.”

The attack on the ancient synagogue in Shfaram, by contrast, was caused by a firebomb–meaning that anyone who thought it was the work of Arabs weren’t just speculating that “only Arabs would do this.” A firebomb is concrete evidence that somebody intended to burn the synagogue. The fire at the synagogue could not have been caused, for example, by an electrical problem.

Like the electrical problem that it now turns out caused the fire in the mosque.

On Dec. 15, the Israeli police announced that following an investigation aided by the fire department, the Shin Bet security agency, and, yes, Palestinian Authority investigators, the mystery of the fire had been solved: a malfunction in an electric heater.

The mosque was not “torched,” as NBC News reported. It was not an “arson attack,” as Reuters claimed. No evidence of a flammable liquid was discovered. The claim by United Press International that “anti-Arab graffiti was applied to the mosque” was false.

Interestingly enough, it also turned out that someone in the mosque moved the faulty heater from its original place just before the investigators arrived. So apparently it was not true that “only Jewish settlers would do this,” a sentiment that numerous media outlets reported as if it was an obvious fact. Apparently a faulty heater would do it, and a mosque staff member who wanted to avoid culpability and smear Israel was capable of trying to cover up the evidence.

How did The New York Times report this stunning revelation? One paragraph in its “News Briefs” section. The disproportion between the space and prominence allotted to the original “Jews Burn Mosque” story and that given to the “Jews Didn’t Burn Mosque, After All” story is stunning.

But better than nothing. The Washington Post hasn’t reported the follow-up story at all. Will NBC News, Reuters, or United Press International do the right thing?

Would they dare admit facts that would shatter the false narrative of “both sides foment violence?” Don’t count on it. As a wise man (variously attributed to Twain, or to Churchill) once put it: “A lie gets half-way around the world, before the truth has a chance to pull its boots on.”

Moshe Phillips is president and  Benyamin Korn is chairman of the Religious Zionists of America, Philadelphia.

The opinions presented by Algemeiner bloggers are solely theirs and do not represent those of The Algemeiner, its publishers or editors. If you would like to share your views with a blog post on The Algemeiner, please be in touch through our Contact page.

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  • Ellen Solomon

    December 31 – Likud primaries. Time for people to think out of the box. Don’t stay stuck on “only Bibi can save us” – he’s done a great job but we need to grow our leadership, bring in more leaders with vision, honesty and guts. Help support them!

  • me

    mmmmmmmm ok,,,,,,, so it seems like imaginary allah wanted it burned down, must be because the stuff used to build it came from filthy infidels businesses !!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • Jose Duran

    No matter how many times we catch the murderous Palestinians committing acts of savagery, the leftist media , will still condemn Israel.
    They are blind (the media)and stupid. There is a concerted effort on the part of the Palestinian authority, read thugs are us, and their moneyed backer, to destroy the only democracy in the Middle East. The only light of reason among the primitive barbarism shown by the Arab media and population. it is true tha under an environment of controlled media, no democracy, religious intolerance, xenophobia and barbaric culture, it is difficult to expect anything positive coming out of this part of the world. A world area where intolerance rules, and idiotic barbarism dressed as religion, brings the worst of man.

    • Jose Duran

      I am sorry but ,seems sometimes the moderation is not enough when the truth is buried and appears that every country in the region hates Israel. My mouth can’t stay silent when the many talk about its destruction, just because they exist.

  • Didi Miesen

    Mainstream Media disgusting BIAS against Israel has reached IMHO the stage of demonic!! Thank goodness we NOW HAVE SOCIAL MEDIA to get the TRUTH OUT – instead of the deliberate divisive – war mongering hate filled BILE that’s been forced upon us ALL. Shame, shame on them. And shame on us for allowing ourselves to be brainwashed into parroting their lunacy that has done nothing other than divide.

  • I’d like to see as many people, countries NGOs etc condemn the terrorists who firebombed the Shapiro’s car (Ayala bat Rut and her father) as those who incorrectly condemned the so called “price tag arsonists.”
    Please read, comment and share, thanks.

  • Nathan Phatti

    Love is blind, unfortunately the same applies to hate.

  • David Blacher

    The by-lines for news article authors used to be followed by the word “Reporter.” Nowadays, they are followed by the words “News Writer.” The former, by definition, is bound by known and verifiable facts; the latter is judged by creativity, usually to express and validate and opinion.

  • Susan

    This is an on-going pattern, dating from *at least* the Mohammed al Dura “death”.

  • Aaron

    It’s amazing how the Israeli’s never do anything wrong and the Arabs are such horrible people always!

  • Mickey Oberman

    We Jews are now accustomed to such fair and even handed news coverage by the great media of the west, the Muslim mouthpieces.


    • Just a Comment

      Its so comforting as a westerner to know that I am equally hated by both the Muslims and the Jews. (This was sarcasm in case you missed the intent)… Perhaps blaming the ‘West’ accomplishes nothing in bringing peace to the world. Maybe if you decided to speak to you neighbors and quit taking their homes and land you might get somewhere.

  • Robert Sklar

    Thank you Algemeiner for keeping the faithful informed!!!!!

  • Haim Ahmed Emmet

    We are fighting the media and claiming they are lazy and opportunistic.
    In Amsterdam will be a demonstration on January 11.

  • steven L

    But the mass media have no compunction to contradict the fact if they can damage Israel.

  • Joe Ozer

    It is amazing that most News outlets are so ready to find Israel guilty of anything without actual proof or inqiry.

    • Ruth Siegel

      ditto. JOE OZER

    • Mickey Oberman

      They can hardly wait for all the inhabitants of the countries in which they ‘serve’ are obliged to poke their posteriors to the sky five times daily.

      Think of all the photo ops.

      That most if them will no longer be in business does not occur to these dedicated, ‘honest’ reporters/journalists, these gurus of garbage.

    • John Eyes Open

      For proof of Israeli atrocities, one has to look no further than the settlements in East Jerusalem and the West Bank. It is deplorable how people to this day are being forced off their land (often their homes where their families lived for hundreds of years) so Israelis can build their settlements. There is blood on their hands too. If this isn’t obvious, travel through East Jerusalem and the West Bank; see for yourself and explain that to yourself. And without a justice system to prevent this, yes, people throw rocks and attack back. Wouldn’t you?

  • Obama’s relations with Israel and other Nations
    Obama has no respect from many of the International community. Obama has no credibility, he has the least experience in real politics, he is the worst president the U.S. has ever had.
    Obama has alienated many nations and has caused foreign policy damage that is costing the American taxpayer trillions.
    Obama has abused his executive powers and should be prosecuted for his violations. Obama is ignoring the true sovereignty of the Jewish people in Israel and the various treaties and international agreements entered into after WWI and the various congressional resolutions on behalf of Israel and the Jewish people since WWI. Obama’s blatant disrespect of Netanyahu and Israel’s International legitimate rights shows his naivety in International matters and foreign policy.
    Obama’s lack of etiquette is an outright embarrassment to the United States.
    Natanyahu is trying his best, but he will not compromise the security of Israel and that is the way a leader should perform.
    It is interesting to note, that Jordan is a country that never existed in history before WWI and nobody is contesting its legitimacy or territorial sovereignty and control. The same powers that established 21 Arab States plus Jordan after WWI, Established the State of Israel based on the Balfour Declaration and the San Remo Treaty of 1920.
    On the other hand, Israel and its Jewish people have over 4000 year history.
    Many Nations and people are questioning Israel’s control of its liberated territory. No one is mentioning that the Arab countries had ejected about a million Jewish people from their countries, confiscated their homes and assets to the tune of over 990 billion dollars and over 650,00 of these Jewish people were resettled in Greater Israel. The Land the Arab countries confiscated from the Jewish people 120,000 sq. km. which is over 4 times the size of Israel, and its value today is over 15 trillion dollars.
    Let the 21 Arab countries resettle the Arab Palestinians in the land they confiscated from the Jews which is 4 times the size of Israel. Provide them with funds they confiscated from the million Jewish people they expelled and let them build an economy, This will benefit both the Arab-Palestinians and the hosting countries, The other alternative is relocate the Arab-Palestinians to Jordan, (originally land allocated for the Jewish people) which is already 80% Arab-Palestinians, and give them funds to relocate and build an economy. This will solve the Arab-Palestinians refugee problem once and for all. It will also reduce hostility and strife in the region.

    If this is not discrimination against Israel, I do not know what is.
    It seems like nobody cares about land violations in other countries in the world, but when it comes to Israel, everyone has a say. Israel’s rights in the terms of the treaty of San Remo of 1920 are in affect in perpetuity, it clearly states that the Jewish people are the only ones with political rights in the British Mandate of Palestine and that the Jewish people can live anywhere in the British Mandate.
    If the U.S., Europe and other countries will stop meddling, and stop its criticism and involvement in the politics of Israel and the Arabs, than there will be a chance for peace.
    We know the great powers are only interested in the OIL and nothing else, that is the bottom line.
    A true and lasting peace in Israel will bring mammoth economic prosperity to The Israelis and The Arabs alike.
    An approach to peace starts by teaching your children and the people not to hate and condemn any acts violence that hurts civilian population and stop celebrating and rewarding the death and destruction of each other.

    YJ Draiman

    No Jew has the right to yield the rights of the Jewish People in Israel –
    David Ben Gurion
    (David Ben-Gurion was the first Prime Minister of Israel and widely hailed as the State’s main founder).
    “No Jew is entitled to give up the right of establishing [i.e. settling] the Jewish Nation in all of the Land of Israel. No Jewish body has such power. Not even all the Jews alive today [i.e. the entire Jewish People] have the power to cede any part of the country or homeland whatsoever. This is a right vouchsafed or reserved for the Jewish Nation throughout all generations. This right cannot be lost or expropriated under any condition or circumstance. Even if at some particular time, there are those who declare that they are relinquishing this right, they have no power nor competence to deprive coming generations of this right. The Jewish nation is neither bound nor governed by such a waiver or renunciation. Our right to the whole of this country is valid, in force and endures forever. And until the Final Redemption has come, we will not budge from this historic right.”
    at the Basle Session of the 20th Zionist Congress at Zurich (1937)

    “No country in the world exists today by virtue of its ‘right’.
    All countries exist today by virtue of their ability to defend themselves against those who seek their destruction.”
    “Man can live about forty days without food, about three days without water, about eight minutes without air, but only for one second without hope”
    “The Jews are a peculiar people: Things permitted to other nations are forbidden to the Jews.

    Other nations drive out thousands, even millions of people, and there is no refugee problem. Russia did it. Poland and Czechoslovakia did it. Turkey threw out a million Greeks and Algeria a million Frenchmen. Indonesia threw out heaven knows how many Chinese–and no one says a word about refugees.

    But in the case of Israel, the displaced Arabs have become eternal refugees. Everyone insists that Israel must take back every single Arab. How about the million Jewish refugees from Arab countries who lost 120,000 sq. km. of land and assets valued at over 16 trillion dollars. Other nations when victorious on the battlefield dictate peace terms. But when Israel is victorious it must sue for peace and sacrifice its security by conceding land for peace which makes the situation worse.

    Everyone expects the Jews to be the only real most honorable in this world.”