Can the Washington Post Google Anti-Jewish Incitement?
A July 27, 2017, Washington Post report minimized both Palestinian anti-Jewish violence, as well as the Jewish people’s connection to their ancestral homeland of Israel.
The dispatch, filed by Jerusalem bureau chief William Booth and reporter Ruth Eglash, was ostensibly about Palestinian attacks regarding the Al-Aqsa Mosque, which sits near the Temple Mount, Judaism’s holiest site. Yet — perhaps in keeping with Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) media guidelines — the article failed to inform readers that the Temple Mount is the holiest site in Jewish religion and tradition.
Instead, Booth and Eglash blandly note “the esplanade on which al-Aqsa stands is considered holy by both Muslims, who call it the Noble Sanctuary, and by Jews, who refer to it as the Temple Mount.” In addition to a false equivocation, this omits an important fact: that the Al-Aqsa Mosque has only in recent years been referred to as the “third holiest site” in Islam.
As the historian Daniel Pipes highlighted in the Middle East Quarterly in 2001:
Jerusalem appears in the Jewish Bible 669 times and Zion (which usually means Jerusalem, sometimes the Land of Israel) 154 times, or 823 times in all. The Christian Bible mentions Jerusalem 154 times and Zion 7 times. In contrast, the columnist Moshe Kohn notes, Jerusalem and Zion appear as frequently in the Qur’an “as they do in the Hindu Bhagavad-Gita, the Taoist Tao-Te Ching, the Buddhist Dhamapada and the Zoroastrian Zend Avesta” — which is to say, not once.
Pipes noted that the importance of the Al-Aqsa Mosque in the Islamic faith is largely due to it being located in a city controlled by non-Muslims. In fact, when under Muslim control, Jerusalem was often treated as a “backwater” by ruling Islamic authorities, according to Pipes.
The scholar also pointed out that the mosque’s prominence in recent Islamic traditions rests, in part, on the mistaken belief that it is the “furthest mosque” described in a Koranic passage that was revealed in the year 621. However, at that time — according to Pipes — “furthest mosque” was “a turn of phrase, not a place” — and “Palestine had not yet been conquered by the Muslims and contained not a single mosque.”
The Post report also contained some selective quotations to match its misleading interpretation of history.
The paper noted that Palestinians celebrated the Israeli authorities’ decision to remove metal detectors that were installed near the Temple Mount after a July 14 terror attack in which three Arab-Israelis murdered two Israeli policemen with weapons hidden in the mosque. The Post claimed that, “with news of the victory, Muslims flooded the 37-acre holy complex singing victory songs and chanting ‘God is great.’”
Yet, this was not the only phrase being chanted. As the Jerusalem Post noted, one of the common Palestinian chants heard in Jerusalem after the metal detectors were removed was “Khaybar, Khaybar, ya yahud, Jaish Muhammad, sa yahud.” Translated, this means “Remember Khaybar, you Jews, the army of Muhammad is returning” — a reference to a battle and massacre of Jews in the seventh century.
The Washington Post also cited Mohammed Hussein, who it identified as “Jerusalem’s Grand Mufti” and a “spiritual leader and custodian of the mosque.” Booth and Eglash stated that Hussein “urged Muslims on Thursday to return to their shrine for worship, declaring the crisis over.” Yet, the paper neglected to inform its readers about Hussein’s history of calling for anti-Jewish violence.
As Palestinian Media Watch (PMW) has pointed out, this “spiritual leader” preached at the Al-Aqsa Mosque in 2010 that Jews are the “enemies of Allah.” In a January 9, 2012, sermon show on official PA TV, Hussein also quoted the hadith (sayings and actions attributed to Muhammad) as follows: “The Hour [of Resurrection] will not come until you fight the Jews. The Jew will hide behind stones or trees. Then the stones or trees will call: ‘Oh Muslim, servant of Allah, there is a Jew behind me, come and kill him.’”
The Post omitted all of this while discussing the “custodian’s” comments. By contrast, it identified a democratically elected Israeli politician, Naftali Bennett, as “hard-line.”
What’s old is wrong again
In its story, the paper also uncritically quoted the father of Omar al-Abed, a Palestinian who murdered three innocent Israeli civilians in Halamish on July 21 — brutally stabbing them to death as they prepared for a Shabbat dinner. Al-Abed’s father claimed that “a short video clip” on Al Jazeera, which purports to show Israeli police officers kicking a “Palestinian kneeling on a prayer rug” drove his son to murder.
But this is false.
As the Post itself noted in a July 25 dispatch (“A young Palestinian vowed to die a martyr, then stabbed 3 members of an Israeli family to death”), al-Abed’s own comments on Facebook prior to the attack — which included calling Jews “pigs and monkeys” — suggest that he was committing murder, in part, due to the Palestinian Authority’s (PA) employment of the so-called Al-Aqsa libel. As CAMERA has stated, this is the lie — often propagated by Palestinian leaders — that Jews seek to “destroy,” “defile,” or “change the status-quo” at the Temple Mount. This libel is often seen as a call to violence against Jews and Israelis.
In the Post‘s July 25, report, Jerusalem bureau chief Booth pointed out that al-Abed’s Facebook post stated “All I have is a sharpened knife and it answers for al-Aqsa,” and that al-Abed’s father claimed, “All of us would die for al-Aqsa” and that many Palestinians “support” his son because “what he did was for al-Aqsa.” That article also discussed — with skepticism — claims by al-Abed’s father that his son purposefully spared children in the July 21, 2017, attack. In that article, the Post wrote that, “Survivors of the attack said Abed did no such thing.”
This raises the question: Why did the Post decide to suddenly omit this crucial information about the Al-Aqsa libel — and to treat al-Abed’s father as a reliable source — in its July 27 article? Whatever the reason, it’s a clear failure of journalistic due diligence.
More snark, less journalism
Similarly, treating Al Jazeera uncritically is another marked failure in the Post story. As CAMERA has documented, Al Jazeera is a tool of the state of Qatar. The Arabic outlet frequently disregards accuracy, incites anti-Jewish violence and, not coincidentally, attacks enemies of the Qatari state. As the analyst and journalist Clifford May noted in a July 25, 2017 Washington Times article:
Among Al Jazeera’s brightest TV stars is Yusuf al-Qaradawi, the “spiritual leader” of the Muslim Brotherhood. He has praised Imad Mughniyah, the Hezbollah terrorist mastermind behind the 1983 suicide bombings in Beirut, in which 241 US Marines were killed. He once issued a fatwa, a religious opinion, calling for the “abduction and killing of Americans in Iraq.”
Sheikh Qaradawi favors the “spread of Islam until it conquers the entire world and includes both the East and West [marking] the beginning of the return of the Islamic Caliphate.” Hitler, he has said, deserves praise for having “managed to put [Jews] in their place. This was divine punishment for them. Allah willing, the next time will be at the hands of the [Muslims].”
Yet, instead of highlighting Al Jazeera‘s documented history of inciting violence and praising terrorism (as noted in US Congressional testimony, among elsewhere) — or discussing the fact that its master Qatar is a state-sponsor of US-designated terror groups, including Hamas — the Post treated Israeli claims that Al Jazeera was used for “incitement” with unveiled derision.
Citing Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s vow to shut down the Jerusalem office of Al Jazeera, “for broadcasting images of what he called incitement,” the Post wrote:
Netanyahu’s [press] bureau declined to give specific examples of the Al Jazeera content that might have stoked tensions. Asked for a specific example, a communications adviser in Netanyahu’s office suggested that reporters scroll through Google.
This snarky — and unprofessional — delivery omits a key reality that the Post ignores: Examples of anti-Jewish incitement — by Al Jazeera, Palestinian leaders (“spiritual” and otherwise) and others — are abundant. CAMERA has documented them before, including in correspondence sent to the Post. They are easily found via Google, on websites like CAMERA’s, PMW’s, and elsewhere.
Yet, many major US news outlets, the Post foremost among them, neglect or refuse to report this incitement. The paper’s July 27, report, with all of its lack of self-awareness, is a fine example of the outlet’s willful blindness.
This article was originally published by CAMERA here.