by Leo Rennert
Joel Greenberg, the pro-Palestinian Jerusalem bureau chief of the Washington Post, is in top form in the November 16 edition with a piece about a group of Palestinian agitators from the West Bank trying to take a bus ride from the West Bank into Jerusalem without requisite security permits.
The headline, splashed across three columns, reads:
"'Freedom Riders' arrested on the bus to Jerusalem - Palestinian activists tried to ride through Israeli checkpoint."
Here's how Greenberg uses his lead paragraph to shape his latest pro-Palestinian oeuvre:
"HIZMA CHECKPOINT, WEST BANK - Evoking the nonviolent tactics of the American civil rights movement, six Palestinian activists boarded an Israeli commuter bus linking Jewish settlements in the West Bank to Jerusalem on Tuesday and were arrested as they tried to ride through an Israeli checkpoint on the outskirts of the city."
Greenberg goes on to describe how these "activists" call themselves "Freedom Riders" so as to link their tactics to civil rights demonstrators who challenged segregated buses in southern U.S. states in the 1960s.
However, Greenberg's attempt to analogize these Palestinian agitators with non-violent challenges to segregation in the United States is a bit of a stretch too far - as even Greenberg has to admit farther down in his story, when he writes the following:
"Israel tightened restrictions on entry of Palestinians to Jerusalem after a string of suicide bombings in the city during a violent uprising in 2000."
Thus, Greenberg ends up arguing against himself. First, he extols Palestinians as non-violent "Freedom Riders" - in the headline and in the opening paragraphs -- only to acknowledge farther in his piece that Jerusalem has a history of violent suicide attacks by Palestinians encroaching into Israel's capital from the West Bank. This violent part of the equation gets buried, with no mention in the headline or in Greenberg's lead.
Actually, one doesn't have to go back 11 years, as Greenberg does, to find good reasons for Israel to maintain security checkpoints in West Bank approaches to Jerusalem. Since 2000, there have been numerous attempts by armed Palestinians to ram through Israeli checkpoints. Blood has been spilled by knife-wielding Palestinians as they tried to push their way through roadblocks.
American "Freedom Riders" left no such violence-soaked legacy. The analogy Greenberg touts between a genuine campaign of non-violence in the segregated south with a Palestinian propaganda ploy that tries to camouflage ongoing security threats against Israel is an affront to history.
By minimizing and trivializing these security threats, Greenberg follows a well-trod agenda that challenges Israel's basic right to defend itself.
In line with this agenda, Greenberg ignores or whitewashes Palestinian adherence to a violent struggle -- whether by camouflaging Mahmoud Abbas's glorification of suicide bombers or by failing to report, during the same news cycle, continued rocket fire from Gaza, including a rocket that hit near a kindergarten in the Negev just as the Post was putting the finishing touches on Greenberg's ode to Palestinian "Freedom Riders."
Leo Rennert is a former White House correspondent and Washington bureau chief of McClatchy Newspapers.
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