On May 15, NPR's All Things Considered aired a piece (accompanied by a website article) by Emily Harris focusing on an alleged "shift" in Palestinian attitudes against anti-Israel violence. The journalist emphasized the "remarkable" claim by PA President Mahmoud Abbas on Israeli TV that his "security guys go inside schools searching students' bags for knives" and counsel students that "this is wrong."
Indeed, Abbas' claim was remarkable, but not necessarily for the reasons Emily Harris suggests. She attributes the noteworthiness of Abbas' claim to the notion that "it's very delicate for Abbas to acknowledge his security forces do things that some Palestinians see as follow Israeli orders" and to the fact that attacks against Israelis were "initially popular among many Palestinians." The implication is that Abbas and his security forces have bravely risked popularity in order to discourage violence.
Those familiar with the situation on the ground, however, recognize that Abbas' remarks to an Israeli audience are notable for an entirely different reason: They indicate Abbas' duplicitous attempt to cover up his and his administration's role in the anti-Israel hate speech and incitement that fuel the attacks, even as the rhetoric continues in official Palestinian Authority (PA) media.
While Harris does note that "Palestinian officials could not or would not verify Abbas's claim" that he has tried to discourage violence and that Israeli sources contend that the frequency of attacks has diminished because of "increased arrests" rather than any effort by the Palestinian leadership to curb violence, she makes no mention of Abbas and his party's active role in encouraging violence. Rather, she focuses on the negative impact stabbings have had on young Palestinian assailants who were arrested or killed while attacking Israelis. She quotes a Palestinian pollster and various Palestinian student leaders and teachers who suggest that support for stabbings is down among the Palestinian public for that reason.
And while Harris acknowledges that "social media" pages and Hamas TV have replayed "video composites of Israeli violence against Palestinians and memorials honoring attackers," she goes out of her way to distance Abbas and his followers from their responsibility for promoting violence. She conceals the fact that in addition to the radical Hamas TV station that graphically encourages the murders of Israelis, and random social media pages that brazenly encourage stabbings, the official Fatah and PA Facebook pages similarly promote violence through videos and cartoons (see here and here and here) , as does the PA-run television station and newspaper, under the auspices of Abbas. Both continue to broadcast and publish anti-Israel hate rhetoric and incitement to violence.
Take, for example, a PA-TV broadcast on April 18 a Palestine Red Crescent children's event where a young child recites what seems to be a prepared anti-Israel statement, asserting that "Jews kill our people," "imprison little children" and "kill worshippers at the Al Aqsa mosque."
This echoes an old Palestinian libel initiated by the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem, Haj Amin Al Husseini, in the 1920's charging Jews with plans to destroy/take over the Al Aqsa Mosque, and calling on the faithful to defend Muslim holy sites from them. These exhortations by Husseini led to the massacres of dozens of Jews in the region. The same libel has been used again and again and again over the years to successfully incite deadly violence against Jews.
Palestinian Media Watch documents in detail the libels and encouragement by Abbas, officials from his Fatah, PLO, and Palestinian Authority, in addition to the radical Hamas, which have fueled the the last eight months of stabbings, car rammings and shootings by Palestinian youth.
Just before the wave of violent stabbings began, President Mahmoud Abbas publicly declared that:
The Al-Aqsa [Mosque] is ours, and [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. President Abbas, Sept. 16, 2015
This was followed by multiple public declarations by Abbas' religion minister, both on PA television and in its official newspaper falsely alleging that Jews were "trying to take over the blessed Al-Aqsa Mosque and destroy it in order to establish its alleged Temple in its place" and calling upon"the residents of Jerusalem and inhabitants of Palestine" to "wage Ribat" (religious war defending Islamic land) and to "defend the Al-Aqsa Mosque" and ensure that it stay exclusively Muslim." The incitement and encouragement have continued unabated since then. Below are just a few recent examples:
*On PA television, a little Palestinian girl is heartily applauded and encouraged by her teacher as she lustily recites a nationalist "poem" calling for "vengeance" against Israel, for "smash[ing] the oppressor and destroy[ing] the Zionist's soul."
*On the anniversary of Fatah, PA TV replays the popular music video encouraging Palestinians to take up arms against Israel. The video was originally broadcast on Jan. 1, 2014 and rebroadcast multiple times until its most recent broadcast a few weeks ago.
*Fatah's official Facebook page calls on Palestinians in the West Bank and Jerusalem "to fight with every possible means, and call on all of their people to mobilize at all points of friction [with Israel] and in direct operations (i.e., attacks) which will place the settlers on the land of Palestine in [fire] range of the rifles of the Brigades, wherever they [the settlers] are."
*PA TV broadcasts a sermon by a preacher calling on Allah to "punish the wicked Jews," to"kill them to the last one, and bring them a black day" and enable the Palestinians to "repel" them.
Harris ends her report by stating that:
While support for knife attacks has appeared to drop, one recent poll also found more than half of young West Bank Palestinians favored continuing some uprising. They were divided on whether it will intensify and whether it will serve Palestinian interests.
But by covering up the role of Abbas and the PA leadership in promoting anti-Israel hatred and encouraging violence Harris deprives listeners the facts they need to understand exactly who and what are perpetuating the violent conflict.