Friday, December 17, 2010

WaPo Reports on Palestinian Incitement

by Leo Rennert

In its Dec. 16 edition, the Washington Post features a page-one article by Jerusalem Correspondent Janine Zacharia, with the following headline: "Palestinian Authority reins in radical imams."

Zacharia reports that the PA's minister of religious affairs last year issued an order to West Bank imams on the PA payroll to end radical incitement in their sermons, as for example urging their flocks to kill Jews and destroy Israel. But it's not until recently that this edict has been enforced with "particular vigor."

"The practice, part of a broader crackdown on Muslim preachers considered too radical, shows the extreme steps the Palestinian Authority is taking to weaken Hamas, its Islamist rival, as it seeks to cement power and meet Israel's preconditions for peace talks," Zacharia writes.

On the face of it, this would seem to be encouraging news for the pace process, and that's how the Post plays it by giving it a prominent spot on the front page. The message conveyed to readers is that Mahmoud Abbas, under U.S. pressure, is finally getting his act together in meeting his responsibilities as a would-be reliable peace partner.

But Zacharia's article also leaves unanswered many questions about Abbas's real dedication to ending anti-Jewish and anti-Israel incitement.

For starters, one wonders why the Post -- after years of hiding from readers the persistent and vast extent of such incitement -- only becomes aware of it when the PA finally seems to be taking a few steps to curb this kind of vicious propaganda.

Furthermore, even if the content of sermons were being purged of the worst kind of incitement, there has been no letup in PA TV broadcasts, including instruction programs for children, which call for the elimination of Israel and creation of a single Palestinian state from the river to the sea. None of this is being reported by the Post.

Nor is the Post reporting Mahmoud Abbas's continuing glorification of Palestinian terrorists, especially those who staged mass killings of Israelis -- whether in Israel or at the Munich Olympics.

Nor, it turns out, is Zacharia herself satisfied whether it's a good idea to crack down on "vitriolic sermons" in the 1,800 mosques under Abbas's direct control.

"Critics say the heavy-handed policy violates freedom of expression, alienates segment of Palestinian society and is harbinger of the kind of police state the Palestinian Authority could become once statehood is achieved," she writes.

Makes one wonder if, on second thought, the minuses might outweigh the pluses in this purported crackdown on radical imams.

"It is disappointing to those who had expected greater tolerance from the Palestinian Authority which rules parts of the Israeli-occupied West Bank," Zacharia sighs.

Notice also what a strange, yet revealing, way Zacharia uses to define authority in the West Bank -- the PA, she concedes, "rules" parts of the West Bank (i.e. Jenin, Nablus, Ramallah, Bethlehem, Hebron and virtually all other major Palestinian population centers) But if that's so, how come she writes in the same breath that the West Bank is "Israeli-occupied." So, it makes no difference that Abbas "rules" all key parts of the West Bank, the Post still peddles the notion of Israel as an "occupier."

Finally, while Zacharia at long last gets into the topic of anti-Israel incitement under Abbas's "rule," she hastens the draw an immediate equivalence with purported incitement emanating from Israel. If the PA is guilty, so is Israel. Here's how she puts it:

"The mosque crackdown comes as Israel and watchdog groups step up monitoring of statements in Palestinian government-run media and educational materials that dispute Israel's right to exist or demonize Jews. For their part, Palestinian leaders routinely complain about statements by Israeli political or religious figures that are hostile to Arabs, which they say undercut peace efforts."

Even when drawing a parallel -- and a false one at that -- Zacharia tilts the scales in favor of the Palestinian side. In her formulation, it is only anti-Arab incitement from Israel that "undercuts peace efforts" -- not the overwhelmingly harsher and far more frequent incitement against Israel under PA ''rule."

Equivalence in incitement? More than a bit of a stretch. Hostile feelings about Arabs pop up occasionally in Israel, but not at the inciteful level of genocidal calls to eliminate Muslims and Arabs. And when some Israelis cross the line, Israeli political and religious leaders are quick to condemn them publicly. For example, when some rabbis recently urged Jews not to sell property to non-Jews, Prime Minister Netanyahu quickly and publicly rebuked these rabbis. So did other political leaders and many other rabbis

By contrast, Abbas has yet to publicly repudiate Palestinian anti-Semitic and anti-Israel incitement, which, in fact, he continues to foment.

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Leo Rennert

Copyright - Original materials copyright (c) by the authors.

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