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Middle East Issues





Winner's Husband a Terrorist, and Other Missing Washington Post Details


If the devil's in the details, what happens when dark details vanish? They take context with them, certainly for Washington Post readers in three recent cases.

*From thousands of entrants, a Palestinian Arab teacher won the 2016 Global Teacher Prize. The Varkey Foundation, an English non-profit that describes itself as promoting high-quality teaching in developing lands, established the prize. The ruler of Dubai—part of the United Arab Emirates—sponsored the $1 million grant that came with it. Hanan al-Hroub's award was announced by Pope Francis, to congratulations from Great Britain's Prince William and U.S. Vice President Joe Biden.

This according to The Washington Post's “Letter from the West Bank: A ‘safe' space for the children; Winner of Global Teacher Prize says her goal is to reduce violence” (March 23, 2016 print edition, March 22 online).

The Post feature, by Jerusalem Bureau Chief William Booth, received prominent play. Al-Hroub teaches elementary age pupils who “‘come from stressed-out environments,' she said. They've lived through riots and raids, shootings and funerals. They've seen death.”

The Global Teacher “grew up in the Dheisheh refugees camp outside Bethlehem. ‘I lived a very hard childhood,' she said. ‘Even now, I cannot forget it.' Today she lives with her husband, a lawyer, and their five children in a Ramallah apartment. … She decided to go into teaching the day her husband was shot at by Israeli forces while driving their children home from school in October 2000, the beginning of the second intifada, which was marked by Palestinian suicide attacks.”

Why was he shot at? The Post doesn't say.

The dog that was muzzled in the night

“To much of the world,” The Post reported, “Hanan al-Hroub is inspirational. To Israelis, she is slightly suspect. That is because Israel blames incitement of Palestinian youth, at schools, on kiddie TV shows and social media, for the current wave of Palestinian knife and gun attacks.”

The Post did not report that her husband, “Omar, served 10 years in an Israeli prison after being convicted as an accomplice in a deadly 1980 bombing attack in Hebron in which the [six] victims were walking home from Friday night Sabbath prayers. … Omar al-Hroub was a chemist who provided chemicals needed for making the bombs, Associated Press reported” (Times of Israel, “Husband of Palestinian who won ‘world's best teacher' served time for terror,” March 31). He is now “a senior Palestinian official who is close to [Palestinian Authority] President Mahmoud Abbas…”

His wife “said she developed her nonviolent method after her children witnessed her husband being shot by Israeli soldiers during the second intifada. … Meir Indor, chairman of the Almagor Terror Victims Association, an Israeli advocacy group, said he didn't blame the teacher for the husband's actions, but that she nonetheless should not have received the prize. It made ‘a mockery of those murdered by her husband,' Indor said.”

The Web site Israellycool highlighted Omar Al-Hroub's background in a March 18 post, four days before The Washington Post article appeared. CAMERA suggested a follow-up report to The Post on March 31. As of this writing, none has appeared in print. The AP report drawn on by the Times of Israel, “Foundation defends award to Palestinian teacher,” March 31, can be found at The Post online.

Three swings, three misses

*At least three major details went missing from The Post's “Biden warns Iran for testing missiles that can reach Israel; Weapons don't violate nuclear pact but have raised calls for penalties” (March 10). Also by Booth, this dispatch reported that “analysts said the missile tests appear to be an attempt by the [Iranian] hard-liners to assert their continued relevance after the election setbacks [emphasis added].

“ ‘They're not doing particularly well,' said Trita Parsi, president of the National Iranian American Council. ‘When you get this type of repudiation from the Iranian public, and you're sensing that the perception of power is starting to shift, you want to make marks of this kind.'”

Failing to parse Parsi's politico-babble, The Post also said “Iran's semiofficial Fars News Agency reported that the missiles tested Wednesday were stamped with a message in Hebrew: ‘Israel must be wiped out.' However, there was no confirmation of the report, and no such markings were seen in state-issued photos and video [emphasis added].”

Although the newspaper referred to “analysts,” Parsi was the only one named in the print version. Booth's online file did offset Parsi to some degree with Mike Eisenstadt from the Washington Institute for Near East Policy. In a quote print editors should have included to balance Parsi, Eisenstadt said Iranian leaders are “able to claim they are sticking to their nuclear obligations. But the missiles enable them to intimidate their enemies by implying they have an option in the long run to develop nuclear weapons.”

More egregiously, The Post's online and print versions failed to provide readers any background on Parsi or NIAC.

As CAMERA's Special Report, “The National Iranian American Council: Tehran's Best Friend in Washington” details:

—The Iranian-born Parsi, a Swedish citizen, founded NIAC to counter the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, the largest U.S. pro-Israel lobby. NIAC and its predecessor organizations with which Parsi was affiliated opposed U.S. and international sanctions against Iran for its purported nuclear weapons programs.

Parsi has described Iran's Shi'ite Muslim dictatorship, considered by the United States as the leading state sponsor of terrorism, as a force for regional stability. He and NIAC vigorously advocated the 2015 deal between the United States, United Kingdom, France, Germany, Russia and China and Iran to lift nuclear sanctions in return for limitations on Iran's program. (See “The National Iranian American Council; Tehran's Best Friend in Washington”

—Iranian “hard-liners” suffered few setbacks to “moderates” and “reformers” in recent elections for the legislature and a clerical council. That's because under Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei's theocratic police state, they continue to dominate. They barred actual moderates and reformers from competing in the elections. As a result, voters decided among candidates representing competing groups of regime loyalists. See, for example, CAMERA's “The Media and the Myth of the Moderate Mullahs,” March 2. But regime apologists like Parsi flog the notion of “moderates” undermining the power of “hard-liners” in Tehran to journalists who fail to look behind the curtain.

—The “Israel-must-be-wiped-out” Hebrew inscription on one of two missiles recently tested by Iran plainly is visible in photographs released by the same Fars News Agency that Booth reported issued photos and video with “no such markings.” See “The Iranian Missile Photo That CNN Missed,” CAMERA, March 21. The picture was provided by the semiofficial Fars (See, “The Iranian Missile Photo CNN Missed,” CAMERA, March 21.)
 
Who ‘punks' who? And why?

*”For Netanyahu's new U.S.-born spokesman, ‘outspoken' may not cover it,” was a Booth “WorldViews” blog item that ran in print on March 19. It tried to strike notes both humorous and informative. The correspondent said that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's new, U.S.-born foreign media adviser, David Keyes, “is best known as a wisecracking human rights activist who liked to ‘punk' Iranian and Saudi dignitaries in pointed ‘mockumentaries done in a ‘Daily Show' style.”

But near the item's close, The Post's Jerusalem bureau chief wrote that “in his advocacy, Keyes has pressed for human rights for Arabs—though his critics note he has not taken up the cause of Palestinians living under Israel's 49-year military occupation.” “Israel's 49-year military occupation” amounts to a sort of robo-call from Booth; it crops up repeatedly, apropos of unrelated information, as in this case. It almost always appears out of context. See, for example “Israel doesn't trust NGOs that get money from U.S. and Europe. Here's why” (Jan. 31, 2016) and “Israel's Netanyahu blames children's shows for Palestinian terror” (January 25).

Israel's “49-year military occupation” of what? In a successful war of self-defense in 1967, Israel captured the Egyptian Sinai Peninsula, Syrian Golan Heights and the disputed Gaza Strip, West Bank and eastern Jerusalem. Gaza was occupied illegally by Egypt, the West Bank [Judea and Samaria] and east Jerusalem occupied illegally by Jordan. It returned the majority of the territory, the Sinai, to Egypt as a result of the 1979 Egyptian-Israeli peace treaty. It unilaterally withdrew from the Strip in 2005.

Israeli offers to negotiate a return of part or all the Golan to Syria have been rejected. U.S.-Israeli and Israeli-only proposals of a West Bank and Gaza Strip state, with eastern Jerusalem as its capital, in exchange for peace with Israel, have been rebuffed by Palestinian leaders in 2000, 2001 and 2008. (See “Stop Giving Palestinians a Pass,” by Amb. Dennis Ross, The New York Times, Jan. 4, 2015 and “The Historic Betrayal of the Palestinians,” by Bassam Tawil, Gatestone Institute, April 5, 2016).

So “Israel's 49-year military occupation” of West Bank Palestinian Arabs remains primarily the result of their refusal to end it by making peace with the Jewish state. Why that's a cause Keyes should take up, The Post does not explain.

As for “human rights for Arabs,” Israeli Arabs, like Israeli Jews but unlike Arabs pretty much everywhere else in the Middle East, living under Arab rulers, have them. So no need for Keyes to focus on them either, not that The Post clarifies.

When the hole is bigger than the bagel, buyers know to beware.

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