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The International Media Bias Against Israel Is Beyond the Pale

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avatar by Steven Emerson

The Washington Post headquarters in DC. Photo: Wikipedia.

The Washington Post headquarters in DC. Photo: Wikipedia.

The willful blindness of the Western media and intellectual elites to Palestinian incitement and their hyper-focus on any incident they can use to portray Israel in a negative light were on abundant display last week when footage emerged of an Israel Defense Forces soldier shooting a wounded and disarmed Palestinian terrorist.

Since then, The New York Times and The Washington Post have run no fewer than 16 stories about the incident. This volume of coverage reinforces the patently mendacious Israel-is-evil “narrative” promoted by the mainstream media, the liberal elites in bed with Palestinian and jihadist killers, the demonstrably one-sided United Nations, and the sanctimonious rants of several congressional leaders who claim they are speaking out in the name of human rights.

Meanwhile, these same news outlets consistently fail to speak out against the massive and ongoing denial of human rights, suppression of basic freedoms and daily torture meted out to any Palestinian dissident by both the Palestinian Authority and Hamas. Many of these violations have been investigated and documented in horrific detail by the courageous Palestinian human rights advocate Bassam Eid.

No, the “narrative” does not allow mainstream news outlets to file negative reports on Palestinian human rights violations, their rampant corruption, and most importantly, their massive incitement to terrorist violence, which is being promoted by the very leadership of the Palestinian Authority. This includes vile lessons in how to kill Jews, taught in US-sponsored Palestinian schools and universities, and instructional videos on stabbing and murdering Jews being shown to thousands of Palestinian schoolchildren.

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The latest incident to manifest the “narrative” took place on March 24, when two Palestinians in the West Bank city of Hebron stabbed an Israeli soldier. Soldiers then shot them in self defense, killing one and leaving the other critically wounded and lying on the ground. Video of the incident taken by an activist belonging to the left-wing group B’Tselem showed an IDF soldier shooting the wounded Palestinian in the head, in clear violation of military rules. The IDF says it intends to seek manslaughter charges.

The shooting took place in the midst of a six-month wave of terrorist attacks by Palestinians, who have been attacking Israeli civilians at random, not just in the West Bank, but throughout Israel. Palestinians have slaughtered at least 34 Israelis — stabbing them to death in stores, in synagogues, in their apartments and on the street, and ramming them to death with their cars. Daring to step out onto the street almost anywhere in Israel has become a game of Russian roulette these days.

The B’Tselem footage went viral and sparked a major debate in Israel. The attention that the two newspapers have given to this story rivals the attention they have given to major, far more lethal, terror attacks, clearly demonstrating their anti-Israel bias. They have disproportionately played up the support for the soldier among the Israeli public, minimizing the significant number of Israelis who, according to polls, condemn this soldier’s actions. More egregiously, they have disproportionately underreported the massive anti-Israeli incitement that the Palestinian Authority government, educational institutions and media have engaged in for years — especially these last six months — that helped incite these terror attacks against Israeli civilians.

Make no mistake. This is the real scandal: the deliberate suppression of this news that is vital to an informed public.

Contrary to what the Western media would have us believe, particularly in light of the torrent of stories in the Post and Times, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and the IDF unreservedly condemned the soldier’s actions from the moment it was reported to them.

“What happened in Hebron does not represent the values of the Israel Defense Forces,” Netanyahu said on the day of the shooting. “The IDF expects its soldiers to behave level-headedly and in accordance with the rules of engagement.”

Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon likewise condemned the shooting: “Even when our blood is boiling, we must not allow such a loss of sense, such a loss of control. … Woe to us if we act contrary to our moral values and our conscience.”

IDF Spokesman Brig. Gen. Moti Almoz stated: “The chief of staff [Lt. Gen. Gadi Eizenkot] views the incident with severity and has ordered a full probe. This is not the IDF, these are not the values of the IDF and these are not the values of the Jewish people.”

Yet instead of giving equal attention to these condemnations, the Times and Post have continued to play up the support within Israel for the soldier, who has claimed in his defense that he feared the wounded Palestinian was wearing a suicide vest and still posed a threat. Worldwide media coverage — led by the two newspapers — has faithfully followed the “narrative” in portraying Israel as violating all the norms of civilized nations regarding warfare.

In reality, the IDF is one of the most moral armies in the world, a fact attested to in 2014 during Operation Protective Edge by the widely respected former commander of British forces in Afghanistan, retired Col. Richard Kemp.

“No army in the world acts with as much discretion and great care as the IDF in order to minimize damage,” he stated after studying Israeli tactics, which included warnings to civilians in advance of airstrikes. “The US and the UK are careful, but not as much as Israel.”

Between March 24 and March 30, the Times and the Post published a total of 12 stories focusing on this one episode, twice as many as they published on the suicide bombing in Pakistan last week that killed 70 civilians. That’s four times the number of stories the two papers published on the massive Palestinian incitement during the six months of the latest terror wave, involving knifings, shootings and other terrorist killings.

In contrast to the Times‘ and Post‘s obsessive interest in the story of the Israeli soldier, it is important to note what happens when a Palestinian terrorist kills an Israeli civilian. How do the New York Times and Washington Post cover such incidents? The answer is simple: They barely cover them, and when they do, they are sure to assert with equal weight the Palestinian rationalization for such terrorism. Say, if the Post and Times were held to equal journalistic standards covering terrorism, why don’t we read about Islamic State’s justification of beheadings and massive executions?

In the past six months alone, the veteran and highly regarded organizations Middle East Media Research Institute and Palestinian Media Watch have documented scores of incidents of official Palestinian governmental and institutional incitement to carry out terrorism against the “Jew” and the “infidel.” Both MEMRI and PMW have recorded and translated dozens of videos and Palestinian media recordings of Palestinian leaders, reporters, Islamic leaders, school teachers, and schoolchildren glorifying horrific acts of terrorism, wildly celebrating the murders of Israeli mothers, teaching 10-year-olds how to fatally stab Jews, allowing mosques and schools to be staging grounds for acts of terror, or simply making one incendiary accusation after another, such as accusing Israel of being behind the Brussels terror attacks.

None of these stories received any coverage in the New York Times or Washington Post:

• A Palestinian Authority columnist claimed that Israel carried out the terror attacks in Paris and Brussels in order to punish Europe. Muwaffaq Matar, a columnist for the Palestinian Authority daily Al-Hayat Al-Jadida, wrote: “I do not want to point fingers, but why is it that ISIS’s crimes and massacres in France and Brussels coincided with Europe’s first attempt to liberate itself from Israel’s blackmail and from the [guilt] complex over the persecution of the Jews in Europe? [Why did they coincide] with the European parliaments supporting the Palestinians’ right [to a state], for the first time?” He concluded: “ISIS does not have the ability to strike wherever and however it pleases. Some element or elements have infiltrated it to the core, and are using it as their current tool to take revenge on Europe and rip out its heart” (MEMRI, March 28).

• Ramallah District Governor Laila Ghannam met with the family of one of the murderers of 16-year-old Israeli Ofir Rahum; Ramallah’s Facebook page later praised the killer as a “heroic prisoner” (PMW, March 20).

• The Palestinian Authority’s message on International Women’s Day was that the female terrorist Dalal Mughrabi, who was responsible for murdering 37 Israelis, was “one of the fighting sisters, and it may be that she paved the way so the sisters could continue. She was a source of pride for the Palestinian woman” (PMW, March 10).

• Fatah, which is controlled by “moderate” Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, lavished praise on the murderers of Taylor Force, an American tourist, West Point graduate and Iraq war veteran who was stabbed to death on a trip to Israel with an American university, and numerous other victims who were slashed to death (PMW, March 9).

• Palestinian Authority TV news dubbed Force, a decorated American war hero, a “settler” and hailed his murderer as a “holy martyr” (PMW, March 9).

• Hamas’ Al-Aqsa TV featured two Hamas-affiliated clerics, Yunis Al-Astal and Wael Al-Zard, saying that the Jews were the “enemies of mankind” who “wallow in the shedding of blood” (MEMRI, Feb. 25).

• Hamas bomb maker Yahya Ayyash, whose bombs murdered hundreds of Israeli civilians in suicide bombings on buses and in malls and cafes, was killed in 1996 but is remembered as a hero among Palestinians. In February, Palestinians praised him on social media as “the first to arrange free collective death rides for the Zionists.” Another claimed: “He embarrassed the enemy with his actions, and was the first figure to pave the way to liberation and the arrival in Jerusalem. May his soul rest in Paradise, and may his students endure and be victorious” (PMW, Feb. 12).

• Fatah hailed the three Palestinian terrorists who murdered 19-year-old Israeli police cadet Hadar Cohen as “role models” (PMW, Feb. 4).

The Times and Post also ignored Israeli Arab terrorist Nashat Milhem’s plan to slaughter Israeli children in kindergarten. Milhem, who brutally murdered three Israelis in Tel Aviv on New Year’s Day, was recently discovered to have plotted to enter a Tel Aviv kindergarten and kill the children inside. Coverage of it in the Western media noted that “while The Washington Post chose to write about Hamas’ hacking attack, no mainstream U.S. media outlet, including The New York Times, saw fit to report on a terrorist’s plan to massacre Israeli schoolchildren.”

Milhem’s premeditated plan to slaughter civilians got nothing approaching the attention given to the IDF shooting in the Western media. As we have noted in the past, imagine the headlines if the roles had been reversed, and an Israeli had been discovered to be plotting an attack on Palestinian youngsters. The coverage would have continued for days. Storylines would have included detailed examinations of the Israeli public’s reaction and what the incident meant about the wellbeing of Israeli society.

We are seeing that very dynamic play out in response to the shooting episode.

The irony is acute. Hundreds of Palestinians have brutally murdered innocent Israelis in terrorist attacks, only to be praised as “martyrs” by the Palestinian Authority and Palestinian society, with their families even being paid stipends. But none of this praise and glorification of the Palestinian terrorist attacks — which goes on all the time in Palestinian media and society — draws the attention of the Western media the way this shooting by an IDF soldier has.

Yet we never see anything parallel to these condemnations in Palestinian society when it comes to killing Israelis. Instead, Palestinians pass out candy and celebrate in the streets when Israeli civilians are murdered. But these facts are little known in the West because of the viciously biased reporting of the Times, the Post and the rest of the mainstream media. We rarely see any of the Palestinian glorification of terrorism in the Western media.

This bias has a devastating effect. Ten Democratic Party lawmakers, led by Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vermont), formally requested that the State Department investigate Israel for human rights violations. In a letter explaining their request, they referred to media reports claiming that Israeli forces were torturing and killing Palestinians. Netanyahu responded with a reminder of the truth that has been obscured by the media double standard: “The [IDF] and the Israel Police do not engage in executions. Israel’s soldiers and police officers defend themselves and innocent civilians using the highest moral standards against bloodthirsty terrorists who come to murder them. Where is the concern for the human rights of the many Israelis who’ve been murdered and maimed by these savage terrorists?”

Not in The New York Times or The Washington Post. “This letter,” Netanyahu continued, “should have been addressed instead to those who incite youngsters to commit cruel acts of terrorism.” He is right; but Leahy would never have been able to read about such people in the United States’ leading newspapers.

The American media, led by The New York Times and The Washington Post, is not just grossly negligent and dishonest. It is complicit in Palestinian terrorism when it ignores Palestinian incitement. This indirectly exonerates Palestinian terrorists of all responsibility for their acts.

By ignoring Palestinian culpability for terrorism and deliberately not reporting on the massive Palestinian incitement to carry out terrorism, The Washington Post and The New York Times have essentially become co-conspirators with the Palestinians, letting them get away with murder.

Steven Emerson is executive director of the Investigative Project on Terrorism, based in Washington. This article is cross posted with Israel Hayom and on the IPT website.

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