CAMERA Op-Ed: Palestinian Incitement

(Note: A version of this article was published as an Op-Ed by the Washington Examiner on July 6, 2016 under the headline “Missing the Palestinian after-terror after party”)
After two Palestinian Arab cousins murdered four Israelis and wounded 16 others in a terrorist attack in a Tel Aviv shopping center, Arabs in the West Bank (Judea and Samaria) and the Gaza Strip celebrated with fireworks and by handing out free food. The June 8, 2016 assault itself received considerable—if sometimes flawed—coverage. But, the Palestinian after-terror after party was ignored by media that frequently underreport anti-Jewish incitement.

A Lexis-Nexis search of U.S. print news outlets including The Washington Post, The New York Times, USA Today, The Baltimore Sun and The Los Angeles Times, among others, failed to show examples of Palestinian celebrations.

Some, such as The Washington Post and The Baltimore Sun, noted an Associated Press report that Hamas—the U.S. designated terror group that rules the Gaza Strip—praised the attack as a “heroic operation.” No additional details were provided and the full scope of Palestinian jubilation went unreported. However, such information was available.

In an interview with Fox News on the night of the attack, Israeli Police Superintendent Micky Rosenfeld said, “Unfortunately, within the West Bank area we have seen Palestinians celebrating this attack. Meanwhile here in Israel…we will be mourning for a week over the people that were lost—and we are talking about four innocent people that were shot to death, literally shot and killed at close range for no reason whatsoever.”

Similarly, The Jerusalem Post related:

“Upon hearing the reports of the shooting, dozens of Palestinians gathered at Damascus Gate in the Old City of Jerusalem, singing out loud and cheered the gunmen. In the West Bank city of Tulkarm, many young men took to the streets and distributed candies to the local drivers, while in the Dheiseh Refugee Camp in Bethlehem dozens of Palestinians participated in a march praising the terror attack (“Palestinians celebrate terror attack in Tel Aviv, Saudis strongly condemn,” June 9, 2016).”

Images of Palestinians distributing candy and setting of fireworks could be readily found on social media network Twitter. The Jerusalem Post reported that a popular Twitter hashtag was “#We broke the fast killing them”—referring to the fact that before the attack, the two terrorists broke their fast for the Muslim holiday of Ramadan.

Palestinian celebrations of terror attacks against Jews is not new. In fact, they have occurred with almost traditional regularity.

For example, on Nov. 18, 2014, two Palestinian cousins, armed with knives and a gun, entered a Jerusalem synagogue and murdered five Israelis and wounded eight others. The attack was reported by major U.S. news outlets including CNN and The New York Times. However, Arabs dancing in the streets and waving flags, handing out desserts and other acts expressing elation were omitted.

Palestinian Media Watch (PMW), a non-profit organization that monitors Arab media in the West Bank, the Gaza Strip and eastern Jerusalem, often reports that Palestinian officials and society in general praise terrorists “martyred” while carrying out attacks against Jews. For example, Muhannad Shafeq Halabi was honored with a posthumous law degree by the PA Bar Association and a tree planted in his memory by the PA Ministry of Education. Before he was killed by police, Halabi murdered two Israelis and stabbed a two-year old child in Jerusalem on Oct. 8, 2015. Again, although that attack was widely reported by news media, the glorification of Palestinian terrorists often isn’t. Reports, like an Oct. 22, 2015 article by the Washington Examiner (“Stopping inciting stabbings, lawmakers tell Palestinian boss”) are one of the few exceptions that prove the rule.

PMW noted that in December 2015, Halabi joined a long line of Palestinian terrorists who were “honored” by having sports teams and tournaments named after them. Memorials to terrorists seem nearly ubiquitous and extend throughout much of Palestinian society in the West Bank or the Gaza Strip.

Al-Quds University, a PA-affiliated institution in eastern Jerusalem whose self-described mission is to encourage students “to develop a worldly outlook, an appreciation of and tolerance for the other, and a humanist moral code,” features an Abu Jihad Museum that honors Khalil Al-Wazir (aka Abu Jihad), a terrorist who helped murder at least 124 Israelis.

According to an August 2015 PMW report, no less than eight streets in the West Bank are named after Abu Jihad.

Residents of areas controlled by the PA or Hamas would likely encounter numerous memorials to those who have killed Jews. So would journalists permitted by the PA or Hamas to report from there.

Yet, reports in most U.S. news media of Palestinian incitement are rare. It is far more common to claim, as a June 1 Washington Post dispatch did, the “motivation for the spasm of violence has been debated but remains obscure.” Perhaps, more in the press should look around. Street signs might offer some direction.

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