The Washington Post Passes on Palestinian Incitement
On a near-daily basis, Palestinians encourage and praise violence against Israelis. And just as frequently, many major US news outlets — the Washington Post foremost among them — ignore it.
Calls for anti-Jewish violence permeate Palestinian society. School textbooks condone it. Mosques lionize it. Sporting clubs and street signs are named after terrorists. And it’s all sanctioned by the entities that govern Palestinian life — some of which receive extensive funding from the US and the European Union.
The Palestinian Authority (PA), which rules the West Bank, and is dominated by the Fatah movement, is a frequent perpetrator of these crimes. So, of course, is Hamas, the US-designated terror group that controls the Gaza Strip.
The evidence of their support for terror is abundant. And tragically, so are the aftereffects.
On July 14, three Arab-Israeli citizens murdered two Israeli Druze police officers near the Temple Mount, which is Judaism’s holiest and Islam’s third-holiest site. The terrorists were shot dead by police. Fatah’s official Facebook page commemorated the murderers as “martyrs,” sharing pictures of them and calling for a “day of rage.” This was from a movement that the Washington Post and others have frequently labeled as “moderate.”
The Washington Post reported on the attack, noting that Israel increased security measures at the Temple Mount and detained several members of the Jordanian Islamic Waqf, which administers the site, because they were “suspected of aiding the three attackers or for inciting violence against Israel.” The Post blandly told readers that the site “is often a flash point of violence between the sides.”
Yet, the paper failed to detail why this is the case.
As the Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting in America (CAMERA), and others have pointed out, Palestinian Arab leaders have a history of claiming that Jews want to “rid” Jerusalem of the Al-Aqsa Mosque, which is located on the Temple Mount. As the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs (JCPA) noted in a lengthy report on the subject, “‘Al-Aqsa is in danger’ is a classic libel that was embroidered in the first half of the twentieth century against the Jewish people, the Zionist movement and, eventually, the State of Israel.”
JCPA points out that the “birthfather” of this enduring libel was a Nazi collaborator, the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem, Haj Amin al-Husseini. In 1929, the mufti — hailed as a “pioneer” by PA President and Fatah head Mahmoud Abbas — used lies alleging Jewish designs on the mosque to inflame an already organized and armed Palestinian Arab populace. His actions led to attacks on Jerusalem’s Jewish neighborhoods and nearby Jewish communities, which killed 133 Jewish men, women and children, and wounded 339.
Use of the Al-Aqsa libel to stir violence against Jews has been repeated many times since, including during the Second Intifada (2000-05), during which more than 1,000 Israeli citizens were murdered. On September 16, 2015, Mahmoud Abbas stated on official PA TV that,“The Al-Aqsa is ours, and they [Jews] have no right to defile it with their filthy feet. We will not allow them to, and we will do everything in our power to protect Jerusalem.”
In August of that year, Abbas claimed that Jewish history in Jerusalem was a “delusional myth,” and that Israel had no rights over the Temple Mount. This mirrors attempts by UN agencies, such as UNESCO, to try and erase the Jewish people’s connection to their ancestral homeland.
Anti-Jewish violence, in the form of vehicular and stabbing attacks and shootings, predictably followed Abbas’ remarks. Many press outlets, including the Post, referred to this as the “stabbing intifada” and claimed that it consisted of “lone-wolf” attacks. In fact, the Palestinian leadership largely incited it and has continued to incentivize terror via media praise and payments to terrorists and their families — the latter of which was whitewashed as “social welfare payments” by Post Jerusalem bureau chief William Booth in a May 3, 2017, report.
In another event ignored by the Post, Abbas met with the families of slain terrorists in February 2016 and March 2017. One terrorist, Muhannad Shafeq Halabi, was honored with a posthumous law degree by the PA Bar Association, and a tree was planted in his memory by the PA Ministry of Education. Before he was killed by police, Halabi murdered two Israelis and stabbed a two-year-old child in Jerusalem on October 8, 2015.
It might seem odd that the Post and many other media outlets routinely ignore a precursor of anti-Jewish violence and other forms of Palestinian incitement. A July 1, 2017, tweet by Jerusalem bureau chief Booth might provide an explanation for this. In the tweet, Booth decried that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu “showed Trump a video alleging Abbas incitement [of terror] in order to stoke the American president’s emotions.” In other words, Israel — by providing evidence that the PA encourages terror — was the party truly responsible for incitement.
The writer is a senior research analyst for CAMERA, the 65,000-member, Boston-based Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting in America. His views are his own.