Wednesday, May 25th | 24 Iyyar 5782

January 27, 2020 9:42 am

Never Again? What About Palestinian Antisemitism?

avatar by Adam Levick


A screenshot of a Palestinian stabbing attack.

We’ve often argued that the British media’s anti-Israel bias is just as evident in the stories they ignore as in the skewed nature of the stories they do cover.

The nearly complete failure of journalists assigned to the region to report on the endemic antisemitism within Palestinian society, and the deleterious impact such anti-Jewish racism has on efforts at peace and coexistence, represents one of the more egregious problems with their reporting.

This failure is even more problematic when you consider that instances of Israeli racism, whether real or, often, imagined, are frequently the focus of media reports, as is the narrative that Israeli society is becoming increasingly racist.

Though we’re accustomed to this institutional media blind spot and to such double standards, there are instances of anti-Jewish racism so extreme that we’ve held out hope that it would possibly pique the interest of Jerusalem correspondents.

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A case in point is a recent op-ed published in Al-Hayat Al-Jadida, a Palestinian newspaper controlled by the Palestinian Authority (PA) whose editor was appointed by PA leader Mahmoud Abbas, literally calling for someone to shoot and kill a Jew during the Jerusalem events commemorating the 75th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz.

That’s not all.

Itamar Marcus, director of Palestinian Media Watch, reported recently that Abbas’ Fatah movement just produced a propaganda video about Jewish history in Europe (which it publicized on Fatah’s official Facebook page) claiming that Jews “led the project to enslave humanity” and Jewish behavior led to European antisemitism.

Furthermore, important religious figures have given sermons on official, PA-owned TV channels going even further, with one cleric warning that Jews pass on evil in their genes and that the Jewish threat to humanity can be stopped only by exterminating all Jews.

Yet none of the British media outlets we monitor have reported on any of these odious examples of hatred and incitement.

What accounts for the failure of journalists to report on such extreme racism, including explicit calls for genocide?

It’s hard to boil it down to a single cause, but we’ve often written about the infantilization of Palestinians, and the failure to impute agency to them — a liberal racism that’s just as pernicious as the right-wing variety.

We also believe a major factor is the influence of intersectional theories based on an intellectually incoherent yet often blindly accepted moral calculus that creates a hierarchy of victimhood, whereby “white” Jews are near the bottom and Palestinians “of color” are often near the top.  It suggests that such victim statuses are immutable, that such power relations explain contemporary racism, and that thus the only racism that truly matters is that perpetrated by the “strong” against the “weak.”

Paul Pagano has written about a related dynamic, which not only applies to the media’s failure to take Palestinian racism against Jews seriously, but also is relevant in understanding why so many in Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour Party continue to be blind to antisemitism:

[T]he left is blind to antisemitism [because] antisemitism differs from most forms of racism in that it purports to “punch up” against a secret society of oppressors, which has the side effect of making it easy to disguise as a politics of emancipation. If Jews have power, then punching up at Jews is a form of speaking truth to power — a form of speech of which the left is currently enamored.

In other words, it is because antisemitism pretends to strike at power that the left cannot see it, and is doomed to erase — and even reproduce — its tropes.

Regardless of the factors motivating such omissions and obfuscations, journalists who ignore genocidal antisemitism are doing a profound disservice to their readers in denying them information regarding a key cause of the continuing failure of both parties to arrive at a peaceful solution.

But it also represents another, far more troubling failure.

The lofty rhetoric of world leaders, diplomats, and intellectuals evoking the oft-repeated idea of “never again” — the moral imperative to never again allow Jew-hatred to go unchallenged, because we now know where this leads — at the Holocaust commemoration events last week in Jerusalem ring hollow if the principle of anti-antisemitism is not applied universally.

Jerusalem-based journalists who fail to adhere to this intuitive principle in their own reporting are guilty of a shameful moral abdication.

Adam Levick has served as managing editor of UK Media Watch, a CAMERA affiliate, since 2010.

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