Global Media and Leaders Tacitly Accept Palestinian Authority-Backed Violence
Why are attacks carried out by Israeli radicals that are denounced by Jerusalem more worthy of attention from media outlets and diplomats than the non-stop campaign of violence perpetrated by Palestinians with backing from their leadership?
On September 28, on the Jewish holiday of Simchat Torah, dozens of Israelis and Palestinians clashed in the West Bank’s South Hebron Hills. According to eyewitnesses, the violence started in the wake of reports that Israelis had stabbed sheep owned by a Palestinian herder in al-Mufaqara. Israeli extremists went on to injure at least 12 Palestinians, including a three-year-old boy apparently hit by rocks thrown inside his house.
Indeed, videos published by Palestinian media (see here and here) show masked Israelis attacking al-Mufaqara’s residents and damaging their property. In addition, Hebrew media published photos of Arab stone-throwers. According to reports, three Israeli civilians, as well as an IDF soldier, were lightly wounded in the confrontation.
In an attempt to de-escalate the situation, Israeli troops declared al-Mufaqara a closed zone. Defying the military order, several Israelis nevertheless tried to reach the town. Footage from a helmet camera, released on Thursday by Israel’s public broadcaster, documented how at least one Israeli civilian — seemingly under the influence of alcohol — assaulted soldiers enforcing the closure.
Police officers arrested two agitators, a Jew and a Palestinian, on the spot. Five more Jewish suspects — three adults and two minors — were apprehended in the days that followed.
As was the case when some Israelis shouted racist slogans at a Jerusalem march, officials immediately condemned the unacceptable “violent rampage of lawbreakers” perpetrated in the Palestinian village. In a statement, Hebron Hills Council head Yochai Damari said, “Our way is not violence. Not against soldiers and not against Arabs.”
Israeli Foreign Minister Yair Lapid went a step further, condemning the incident as “terror.”
“This isn’t the Israeli way and it isn’t the Jewish way,” Lapid wrote on Twitter. “This is a violent and dangerous fringe and we have a responsibility to bring them to justice.” Similar sentiments were expressed by Health Minister Nitzan Horowitz, other members of parliament and high-ranking military officials. During an unusual visit to al-Mufaqara, IDF Central Command head Maj.-Gen. Yehuda Fox reportedly promised Palestinians that “these [things] will never happen again.”
On Saturday, Israelis joined a solidarity march to the village.
But while Israelis across the political spectrum rightfully unite against terrorism, irrespective of the identity of those responsible, the Palestinian Authority (PA) continues to encourage it.
HonestReporting has written extensively about the antisemitic Palestinian terror in the Samaria region of the West Bank, that has been ongoing for more than 150 days (see here, here, here, here, and here). Over the summer, the perpetrators from the Palestinian village of Beita on at least three occasions set fire to makeshift wooden swastikas embedded within a Jewish Star of David — this, in addition to burning tens of thousands of tires and other acts meant to instill fear into surrounding Jewish communities.
Beita’s so-called “resistance units” also set fire to a model of an Israeli village, in consonance with their stated goal to “burn you [Israelis] alive.” Our research has revealed that the Western-backed PA and its ruling Fatah faction, are actively supporting these anti-Jewish extremists. In fact, a senior Palestinian official praised them just hours after they had set alight the first swastika.
Two days later, Fatah’s legislative body held a meeting in Beita to “support the popular resistance.” Furthermore, the PA recently provided the community with almost $1 million to “strengthen their steadfastness.”
These riots are far from the only recent example of official PA support for violence against Jewish Israelis.
On Saturday, Palestinian Media Watch reported that Fatah is establishing a monument in Jenin for the convicted killer of at least four civilians. Meanwhile, a Fatah Central Committee member called terrorists imprisoned in Israel “our elite and most favored people.” For his part, PA Prime Minister Mohammad Shtayyeh reiterated his commitment to providing financial aid to terrorists and their families.
Despite this, and apparently ignoring Israel’s swift action against extremism, foreign diplomats and international media outlets have only called out the Jewish state over the September 28 occurrence. All the while, the PA’s support for terrorism in the West Bank has been effectively ignored for nearly half a year.
In fact, within 24 hours of the attack on al-Mufaqara, the European Union delegation to the Palestinian Authority issued a statement calling upon Israel to “ensure public order and the wellbeing of the occupied population as well as promptly investigate and prosecute the perpetrators of such attacks.” On September 30, UK Deputy Consul General Alison McEwen paid a solidarity visit to the shepherding community.
The United Nations and US State Department likewise denounced the attack on Palestinians, with Washington being the only capital to acknowledge “Foreign Minister [Lapid’s] and other officials’ strong and unequivocal condemnations of this violence.”
Moreover, international news organizations like The Washington Post, the Associated Press, CNN, and ABC News all covered the Israeli-initiated violence and subsequent developments. The BBC’s Middle East correspondent Tom Bateman’s post about the violence was retweeted over 600 times. Remarkably, none of these outlets ever reported on the PA-supported antisemitism and terrorism perpetuated by the inhabitants of Beita.
Due to HonestReporting’s related work and social media campaign, some European politicians and governments are taking action to counter the PA’s support for terror. In response to our August 19 article, Dutch Foreign Minister Sigrid Kaag confirmed that his country’s representative to Ramallah, Cees van Baar, had raised the issue in a meeting with PA officials.
Nevertheless, many other countries with ties to the Palestinian Authority — in addition to media outlets worldwide — have remained silent, while simultaneously, albeit correctly, condemning Israel for the al-Mufaqara violence.
All parties should apply an equal standard by denunciating or reporting on extremism by all actors, whenever and wherever such activity rears its ugly head.
The author is a contributor to HonestReporting, a Jerusalem-based media watchdog with a focus on antisemitism and anti-Israel bias — where a version of this article was originally published.