(Note: The following appeared as an Op-Ed in the Algemeiner on Aug. 25, 2017)
In his dystopian novel 1984, the British author George Orwell famously wrote: “War is peace. Freedom is slavery. Ignorance is strength.” In a similar vein, a recent USA Today report that details anti-Jewish violence is headlined “Palestinians give peaceful protest a chance.”
In reality, the August 3, 2017, dispatch, by special correspondent Noga Tarnoplsky, reported the complete opposite.
The article covered Palestinian Arab objections to Israeli efforts to increase security measures at the Al-Aqsa Mosque, which sits on the Temple Mount —Judaism’s holiest site.
Israeli authorities sought to install metal detectors at the site after a July 14, 2017, terror attack in which three Arab Israelis murdered two Israeli policemen with weapons hidden in the mosque. Holy sites of all faiths around the world employ similar security measures.
Yet the Palestinians reacted to the announcement of measures designed to protect both them and Israelis from violence—with violence.
As the Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting in America (CAMERA) and others have detailed, Palestinian authorities employed the so-called “Al-Aqsa libel”—claiming that Jews held secret designs to “destroy” or “defile” the mosque— to incite anti-Jewish violence.
In the past, this lie has often preceded anti-Jewish massacres. This time was no different.
On July 21, 2017, a Palestinian terrorist named Omar al-Abed murdered three members of an Israeli family in Halamish, stabbing them to death at a Shabbat dinner. Prior to the murders, al-Abed posted a lengthy Facebook diatribe, calling Jews “monkeys and pigs,” and proclaiming his intent to defend Al-Aqsa. The terrorist’s father proudly told The Washington Post in a July 25 interview: “What he did was for al-Aqsa.”
USA Today’s own report noted, if not in full detail, this terror attack. It also claimed that “sporadic violence” occurred at “the fringes of the mass [Palestinian] demonstrations” against Israel’s announcement of improved security measures. The violence, however, was more than “sporadic” as the dispatch itself pointed out:
“The daily protests were not free of violence. In fact, several hundred Palestinians regularly threw rocks and Molotov cocktails at Israeli security personnel. But they were a minority compared to thousands of Palestinians who protested against the metal detectors that Israel installed around the al-Aqsa mosque through peaceful prayers in the streets.”
Indeed, USA Today quoted Israeli police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld, who observed that Palestinians “rocks, explosive bottles and firecrackers aimed directly at police, endangering their lives.”
“Israeli authorities,” USA Today said, “take exception to descriptions of non-violent demonstrations.” One doesn’t have to wonder why.
The USA Today report also omitted some of the exhortations to anti-Jewish violence chanted by Palestinian rioters.
For example, as The Jerusalem Post (among other outlets) noted on July 23, 2017, one of the common Palestinian chants was “Khaybar, Khaybar, ya yahud, Jaish Muhammad, sa yahud.” Translated, this means, “Remember Khaybar, you Jews, the army of Muhammad is returning.” As the Jerusalem Post highlighted, this is a reference to a battle and massacre of Jews in the seventh century — hardly a “peaceful” event or chant.
Additionally, USA Today’s dispatch quotes, and treats as a credible source, Mustafa Barghouti, whom it calls “of the moderate Palestinian National Initiative party.” Yet, Barghouti has openly supported violence, including the 2015 Palestinian stabbing intifada.
Some highlights of this Palestinian terror spree included a baby being stabbed, and dozens more being murdered or wounded by Palestinian attackers. This is hardly a “moderate” action.
It’s questionable to characterize — as USA Today does —“several hundred Palestinians” throwing “rocks and Molotov cocktails” as a “minority.” It’s even more questionable to draw the conclusion that, as the online version of the report was headlined: “Palestinians learn value of non-violent protests in mosque security standoff with Israel.”
That’s certainly not the interpretation that Palestinian leaders seemed to have reached.
In several cartoons posted on its official Facebook page on July 27, 2017, Fatah—the movement that dominates the Palestinian Authority (PA)—portrayed Israel’s July 26, 2017, decision to remove the metal detectors as one “made out of fear,” according to translations by Palestinian Media Watch (PMW).
In an April 24, 2017,interview about “fake news,” USA Today‘s standards editor, Brent Jones, said: “Our job is, in our quest for truth, to be as accurate as possible.”
However, USA Today spurned repeated requests by CAMERA to change the article’s headline to more accurately reflect its content, as well as some of the facts noted above.
“The very concept of objective truth is fading out of the world. Lies will pass into history,” Orwell once wrote. If newspapers do, in fact, offer the “first draft” of history—and if USA Today‘s August 3, 2017, headline is a barometer—Orwell might be correct.