By Sean Durns
On a near-daily basis, Palestinians encourage and praise violence against Israelis. And just as frequently, many major U.S. 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 aid from the United States and the European Union.
The Palestinian Authority, which rules parts of Judea and Samaria — what is popularly known as the West Bank — and is dominated by the Fatah movement, is a frequent perpetrator. So, of course, is Hamas, the U.S.-designated terror group that controls the Gaza Strip.
The evidence of their support is abundant. Tragically, so are its 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 from a movement which the Post and others have frequently labeled “moderate.”
The 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, as 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 and others have pointed out, Palestinian Arab leadership have a history of claiming that Jews hold designs to “rid” Jerusalem of the al-Aqsa mosque, located on the Temple Mount. As the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs notes in a lengthy report on the subject, the ” ‘al-Aqsa is in danger’ [cry] is a classic libel that was embroidered in the first half of the 20th 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 future Nazi collaborator, the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem, Haj Amin al-Husseini. In 1929, the Mufti — hailed as a “pioneer” by Fatah leader and P.A. President Mahmoud Abbas — used lies alleging Jewish designs on the mosque to inflame an already organized and armed Palestinian Arab populace, leading to attacks on Jerusalem’s Jewish neighborhoods and nearby Jewish communities. Those attacks 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 Sept. 16, 2015, Abbas exhorted on official P.A. TV: “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.”
The month prior, Abbas claimed that Jewish history in Jerusalem was a “delusional myth” and the media that his autocratic government controls said that the “so-called Temple” was the “greatest crime and forgery in history.” This mirrors attempts by U.N. 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, Palestinian leadership largely incited it and has continued to provide incentives via media praise and payments to terrorists and their families — the latter 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 P.A. Bar Association and a tree was planted in his memory by the P.A. Ministry of Education. Before he was killed by police, Halabi murdered two Israelis and stabbed a two-year old child in Jerusalem on Oct. 8, 2015.
At the time, the Post initially failed to report Abbas’ use of the al-Aqsa libel — failing to prepare readers for the violence that was sure to follow. Yet again, the paper didn’t inform readers that official P.A. media rebroadcast speeches of Abbas using the libel after this year’s July 14 attack. Unsurprisingly, unrest followed, with the P.A. protesting Israel’s installation of metal detectors at all entrances to the Temple Mount — a security measure found outside other mosques and holy places throughout the world. (Israel later removed them.)
It might seem counterintuitive 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 tweet by Jerusalem bureau chief Booth might provide an answer. The Post employee decried that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin “Netanayahu showed Trump a video alleging Abbas incitement in order to stoke the American president’s emotions.” In other words, Israel — by providing evidence of the P.A. encouraging terror — was the party responsible for incitement.
Sean Durns 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.