UK Newspaper Runs Op-Ed Promoting Palestinian Propaganda
Former PLO adviser Diana Buttu has a history of not telling the truth about Israel.
During interviews in the early-to-mid 2000s, Buttu claimed (to several media outlets) that “between the period of 1997 until the year 2000, there wasn’t a single Israeli who died of a suicide bombing inside Israel.” However, as CAMERA revealed at the time, 24 Israeli civilians were killed in six separate Palestinian suicide attacks during that period.
During the 2008-09 Israeli war with Hamas, Buttu bizarrely alleged, during interviews on CNN and Fox News, that rockets fired from Gaza “do not have explosive heads.” In fact, those Palestinian rockets carried between 9-18 kilograms of explosives.
At a Harvard conference in 2012, she repeated the lie about “rockets without explosive heads,” and added another one, claiming that: “there weren’t any grad rockets fired in 2008 and 2009.” Actually, as CAMERA revealed, dozens were fired.
More recently, CAMERA caught Buttu in another lie, complaining to journalist David Remnick (in a September New Yorker article) that the Israeli TV show “Fauda” never mentions the word “occupation,” and that the series doesn’t show “a single checkpoint.” But contrary to Buttu’s claim, the word “occupation” is heard in “Fauda,” and checkpoints do appear.
Buttu’s latest smear against Israel was published in the Guardian.
Her op-ed (“Issa Amro is merely the latest casualty of Palestine’s war on free speech”) primarily focuses on the arrest of a Palestinian named Issa Amro for the “crime” of using Facebook to call for the release of a journalist who was detained by the PA for criticizing Mahmoud Abbas. Amro’s arrest was based on a new law, which allows the imprisonment of Palestinians who use social media to criticize Abbas or other PA officials. Yet in her article, Buttu pivots to Israel by suggesting that Jerusalem has similarly enacted laws to “quash dissent.”
Here is the sentence in question:
As part of Israel’s tactics to quash dissent, it has arrested Palestinians, including Palestinian citizens of Israel, for writing poems, for criticising Israel on Facebook and for broadcasting stories critical of Israel, its occupation or leadership.
Once again, Buttu is being dishonest.
Whilst incitement to violence on social media is against the law in Israel, the police do not arrest Palestinians (or anyone for that matter) merely for criticizing Israel, its leaders or its policies — nor for broadcasting stories critical of the state. As the human rights organization Freedom House reports, there are no Israeli restrictions on criticizing government policy.
Further, the woman likely alluded to by Buttu, who was allegedly arrested for “writing a poem,” is Dareen Tatour. Tatour was indicted in 2016 for several acts of incitement, including a poem that she posted on Facebook imploring Palestinians to “Resist, my people, resist them.” The poem called on Palestinians to join the “caravan of martyrs,” and was accompanied by the following video:
The indictment also cited a Facebook post by Tatour suggesting that she’d become the next shahid (martyr), and another post in which she shared the following message by the terror group Islamic Jihad:
The Islamic Jihad movement hereby declares the continuation of the intifada throughout the West Bank. … Continuation means expansion … which means all of Palestine. … And we must begin within the Green Line … for the victory of Al-Aqsa, and we shall declare a general intifada.”
While reasonable people can argue about whether or not the totality of the Facebook messages posted by Tatour amount to incitement, the suggestion that she was imprisoned merely for a poem criticizing the Israeli government is absurd.
Under British law, you can be imprisoned for sending social media messages that are “indecent or grossly offensive, or which conveys a threat, or which is false, provided there is an intent to cause distress or anxiety to the recipient.” For instance, British courts in 2014 sentenced a 21-year-old man to six weeks in prison for a Facebook post praising the fatal stabbing if a 61-year-old teacher at a college in Leeds. That same year, a man was arrested for posting anti-Muslim material after the jihadist murder of Lee Rigby. And, in 2012, a British Muslim was prosecuted for a Facebook post in which he wrote that “all [British] soldiers should die and go to hell.”
Buttu’s allegations in the Guardian, characterizing Israel’s crackdown on incitement to terror as an “assault on Palestinian dissent,” are both context-free and counter-factual — essentially everything you’d expect from a PLO propagandist with such a well-documented record of lying about the Jewish state.
Adam Levick writer covers the British media for CAMERA, the 65,000-member, Boston-based Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting in America.