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Middle East Issues





Washington Post Muddies Islamic and Palestinian Terrorism Link


Is Islamic terrorism that murdered 130 people in Paris, France on Nov. 13, 2015, 14 in San Bernardino, California on December 2 and similar atrocities elsewhere linked to the terrorism threatening Israelis? Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu says yes. The Washington Post says “not so fast.”

In “Netanyahu links attacks in Israel to Islamist radicals; Prime minister dismisses Palestinians' frustration as key driver of violence,” (December 14 online, December 15 as featured article in the print edition's “The World” section) Post Jerusalem Bureau Chief William Booth editorialized “Netanyahu is pressing his case that Israel, Europe and the United States face a common enemy—and in doing so he is trying to blur the lines between Palestinians wielding knives and Islamic State militants carrying assault rifles.”

The Post noted that immediately after the Paris attacks the Israeli prime minister said “an attack on any one of us should be seen as an attack on all of us.” The paper added he “also compared the Palestinian attackers to the couple who killed 14 people” in San Bernardino.

“In a videotaped address to a U.S. audience at the Brookings Institution … Netanyahu argued  that the source of popular Palestinian violence has little or nothing to do with the growth of Jewish settlements in the West Bank or the 48-year Israeli occupation.” The prime minister also “asserted that the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is not at the center of Middle East strife.”

The newspaper said “Palestinians dismiss the assertion that attacks occurring in Israel and the West Bank have something to do with Islamist extremism or the Islamic State,” The Post immediately added. “Netanyahu is trying to confuse Israelis and the international community about the roots of Palestinian anger. The cause is the frustration of life under occupation, Palestinian leaders say.”

Palestinian leaders do more than say. As CAMERA's BBC Watch affiliate noted (“Reviewing BBC compliance with PLO media guidance, December 8), early in November the Palestine Liberation Organization's “Negotiations Affairs Department, headed by the oft-quoted, frequently erroneous Saeb Erekat (see, for example, “Saeb Erekat's Fabrication Exposes ‘Palestinian Narrative,'” CAMERA, Feb. 19, 2014) issued a guidance document to foreign news media. It was titled “Key Points to Remember When Reporting on Occupied Palestine.” The Post's “roots of Palestinian anger” and “frustration of life under occupation” in essence shorthands the PLO talking points.
 
If "the occupation" (Hamas runs the Gaza Strip, the Palestinian Authority administers daily life for more than 90 percent of West Bank Arabs) was an unbearable cause of Palestinian "frustration" and "anger," why did PA leaders reject Israeli and U.S.-Israeli offers of a "two-state solution" in exchange for peace with Israel in 2000, 2001 and 2008? The Post doesn't say.   
 
Terrorist connects dots

The Post casts doubt on Netanyahu's assertion that “the latest wave of daily Palestinian knife, gun and vehicular attacks against Jewish Israelis [is] part of a globalized assault by extremist Muslims against Western democracies.” But one of the California killers made the connection himself.

A Jewish Telegraphic Agency brief reported on December 6 that “the father of San Bernardino killer Syed Rizan Farook said his son was obsessed with Israel, which shaped his Islamist worldview. … ‘I told him he had to stay calm and be patient because in two years Israel will not exist anymore. … But he did not listen to me, he was obsessed.'”

Israeli Brig. Gen (Res.) Yossi Kuperwasser detailed that obsession and its link to Palestinian terrorism (“Connecting the Terror in Paris with the Terror against Israel” (Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs, December 1. A version appeared in the Israeli newspaper Ha'aretz on November 25). Kuperwasser observed that “those who question the connection Israel draws between the two kinds of terror claim that, whereas the anti-Western terror stems from a militant interpretation of Islam … (this, it must be acknowledged, is certainly a possible interpretation of the Koran and the other central Islamic texts, even if not an exclusive interpretation), the anti-Israeli terror stems largely from nationalist motives ….”

But, explained Kuperwasser, “the struggle that the ultra-radical Islamists [the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, for example] are waging against the West and its allies, on the one hand, and the Palestinian struggle against Israel, on the other, complement each other. Their common goal is to destroy the world order that the West created after the First World War.” This order included the League of Nations' Palestine Mandate, which recognized the Jewish people's right to re-establish a national home on its ancient soil.

Implementation of the Mandate “in the face of Muslim opposition is still rejected by the Palestinians and by radical Islam in all its variants,” Kuperwasser added. “Thus, the terror against Israel and the terror against the West are two sides of the same coin….”

The Post tells readers that Israel's “domestic intelligence agency, Shin Bet, concluded last month that the attacks are being committed by ‘lone wolf' assailants driven by incitement on social media and that the violence is not directed by any militant faction or political organization but instead appears to be ‘spontaneous, popular” acts. … There is, however, support for the Islamic State among Palestinians, according to opinion surveys.”

Another terrorists connects dots

The Shin Bet did make such statements earlier in the “stabbing intifada.” However, some of the attacks have been carried out by Hamas-linked operatives. Much of the incitement has been religiously themed.

Muhammad Abdel Halim Abdel Alhamid Salem, captured after ramming his car into Israelis, wounding four soldiers, one seriously, told interrogators “he was influenced by Palestinian media coverage of the current situation, and specifying claims of the ‘dangers to the Temple Mount [al-Aqsa mosque] and murder of Palestinian children' as his motive” (“Hamas Terrorist Behind Beit Aryeh Car-Ramming Attack Apprehended; Blames Palestinian Media Incitement,” The Algemeiner, December 11).

Not only do some Palestinian Arabs tell pollsters they support ISIS (also called the Islamic State) but—not mentioned in this Washington Post article—Israel recently has arrested members of several ISIS-linked cells.

The newspaper's “lone wolf assailants driven by incitement on social media” are real enough. But they are also at least in part a consequence of anti-Jewish, anti-Israel indoctrination conducted ever since Fatah—the oft-described “moderate, secular, nationalist” movement of Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas—gained control of Palestinian schools, mosques and communications media as a result of the 1990s Oslo process.

This indoctrination frequently invokes Islamic messages. Palestinian Media Watch has compiled many recent examples in which Fatah and Hamas representatives describe Jerusalem and all Israel as Muslim land subject to “ribat” or religious conflict. In one from October 27, Sheikh Khaled al-Mughrabi, a regular preacher at al-Aqsa mosque, asserts “Allah could kill all Jews, but Allah wants Palestinians to carry out Ribat.”
 
Does such incitement resonate with Palestinian Arabs? Months before the “stabbing intifada” began in September, 86 percent of respondents told pollsters from the Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research (December 3-6, 2014) they believed the false rumor that Israel threatened al-Aqsa, Islam's third holiest site, with grave danger. Fifty-six percent said Israel wanted to destroy the mosque and replace it with a synagogue.
 
Lies, damned lies, and indoctrination

One source of such mistaken beliefs, and the violence they bred, was PA President Abbas himself. In September, Abbas invoked the deadly canard begun in 1929 by then Palestinian Arab leader Haj Amin al-Husseini that the Jews threatened al-Aqsa (“Incitement over Temple Mount Leads to Palestinian Violence, Again,” September 16). Abbas declared Jews planned “to get rid of al-Aqsa and establish their so-called ‘Temple.'” He declaimed that “the al-Aqsa is ours…and they [Jews] have no right to defile it with their filthy feet…We bless every drop of blood that has been spilled for Jerusalem.”

Historically, Palestinian Arab anti-Zionism and Palestinian Muslim antisemitism have been intertwined. PLO leader Yasser Arafat used nationalist and religious themes and symbols as circumstances dictated.

Attempting to distinguish them as separate entities apart from pan-Arab and pan-Islamic trends, as does The Post's “Netanyahu links attacks in Israel to Islamist radicals,” may be a fool's errand. The PLO “covenant,” Article 1, declares that “Palestine is the homeland of the Palestinian Arab people and an integral part of the great Arab homeland, and the people of Palestine is part of the Arab nation.” The Palestinian Authority's basic law, while providing for freedom of belief, “states that Islam is the official religion and the principles of Sharia (Islamic law) shall be the main source of legislation.” (“Reports on Religious Freedom: Palestinian Territories,” JewishVirtualLibrary, 2012.)

In “A portrait of the terrorist as a young man, or woman” (Times of Israel, December 6) Israeli Knesset member Anat Berko shed more light on the Islamic radicals-Palestinian terrorists link than did The Post. Before being elected to parliament on the Likud Party list, Berko spent 20 years as a criminologist specializing in suicide terrorists.

She told Times of Israel “the attackers are committing these acts for the sake of ‘glory,' both on social media and in Palestinian society, and like all teenagers, they compete over who can be the biggest hero. The terrorists do not think death is the end, but fully believe they will enter paradise, ‘where they will meet 72 virgins, drink until they're intoxicated and have lots of sex….'

“As for what female attackers can hope to get in paradise, it is often as basic as the right to marry for love. … Berko said many young Palestinians live in communities with a tremendous amount of social pressure, prohibitions and shame. In paradise, they can experience all the things that are forbidden in real life.” Apparently not all frustrations in Palestinian society stem from “the occupation.”

Incitement everywhere, about everywhere

The Knesset member rejected the “lone wolf” argument. “This wave of terror is directed from above. The incitement is insane. It's on TV, satellite broadcasts, in mosques, on the street and in schools, including East Jerusalem, in schools that we actually pay for. It's so bad that it's a surprise that not everyone is a terrorist. If you look at the Web site of the Palestinian Authority, they speak of all of Palestine, pre-1948, not just pre-1967,” she asserted.

The headline over a Palestinian Media Watch bulletin dated November 2 reads “Abbas says all of Israel is ‘occupation'; Abbas: ‘How long will this protracted Israeli occupation of our land last? After 67 years [i.e., Israel's creation], how long? Do you think it can last?'”

Islamic terrorism against the West grew from Palestinian terrorism against Israel, said Prof. Gil Troy (“Center Field: Palestinian terrorism plus Western appeasement equals today's Islamist,” The Jerusalem Post, December 8). According to Troy, of McGill University, “a fact that terrorist-deniers and Palestinian apologists deny [is]: The world's tolerance for Palestinian terrorism, starting in the 1970s, made it the gateway crime to Islamist terrorism—understanding a gateway crime as both evil and trailblazing, normalizing.”

He argued that “when future historians connect the dots to explain the origins of al-Qaeda, Islamic State and today's scourge of Islamist terrorism, the pattern will be undeniable. Yasser Arafat was the grandfather of Osama bin Laden and all modern terrorists. … Arafat's success and the West's limp response helped weaponize an exclusivist, bigoted, triumphalist Islamist ideology, inspiring al-Qaeda, Islamic State and others.”

Washington Post Publisher Phillip Graham is credited with the observation that journalism “is the first rough draft of history.” Not in The Post's “Netanyahu links attacks in Israel to Islamist radicals.”


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