CAMERA Op-Ed: Arafat’s Incitement, Lies, and Videotape

On May 26, 2001, days before a Palestinian suicide terrorist murdered a score of Israelis, most of them young teenage girls, Yasir Arafat delivered yet another of his propaganda screeds, this time before the Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC) in Qatar. While repeatedly lauding Palestinians for “irrigating the land with their blood” in the struggle for “Palestine” he let loose a tirade of lies against Israel.

Israel, he charged, is using “depleted uranium, poison gases and radioactive material” against the “homes, farms and factories” of the Palestinians. Israel is employing the “most modern weapons of murder, destruction and annihilation.” In a lie especially pitched to inflame his Muslim audience, he also claimed Prime Minister Ariel Sharon has “received the architectural designs to build a synagogue in the courtyard of the Haram Sharif as a basis for building the Temple…”

No American media, with the exception of the Baltimore Sun and the Chicago Tribune which mentioned Arafat’s harangue in passing, considered the crude incitement of hatred against Israel by the head of the Palestinian Authority newsworthy. The speech was distributed on the Internet by IMRA, Independent Media Review and Analysis, but ignored by the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, the Washington Post, National Public Radio, ABC, CBS, NBC, CNN and so on.

Five days earlier, WAFA, the official Palestinian News Agency, had reported Israel is “starting a new genocide against the Palestinian people by poisoning them, using poisoned candy bags dropped from airplanes.” An IDF spokesperson strongly condemned the bizarre accusations as part and parcel of the “Palestinian incitement campaign,” but this too was ignored by the Western media.

News reporters in the Western media have long afforded Yasir Arafat and much of the PA apparatus a scrutiny-free zone in which to purvey the ferocious anti-Israel and anti-Jewish lies and invective that spur the Palestinian populace to hate and kill Jews. Despite the Palestinians’ Oslo commitments against incitement and despite Israeli complaints – official and non-governmental – that the Palestinian masses are being groomed continuously to kill Jews, the dark landscape of PA indoctrination is only occasionally exposed to the light of media scrutiny.

On the rare occasions when an investigative journalist intrudes into the terrain of Palestinian incitement, PA response is indignant and swift.

Thus, NBC’s Martin Fletcher was immediately accused of “forgery and manipulation” when he presented a rare look on May 8, 2001 at the overt Palestinian recruitment of their own children to sacrifice themselves as martyrs. Using video taken from Palestinian television (provided by the monitoring group, Palestinian Media Watch), Fletcher reported:

They are using a stunning tactic – commercials on Palestinian TV asking children to drop their toys, pick up rocks, and do battle with Israel. They are even using actors to recreate the most famous image of the uprising – one that shocked the world – 12-year-old Muhammed al-Dura dying in his father’s arms, caught in the crossfire of a confrontation between Israelis and Palestinians. The commercial shows Muhammed in paradise urging other children to ‘follow him.’

Children are seen in the Palestinian video putting down their toys to choose martyrdom. Death is presented as serene and happy, a place of sunlit green fields and reunion with friends. (In segments not shown on NBC but broadcast as part of the “commercial” on Palestinian television, “paradise” also reveals Muhammed al-Dura frolicking at a beach, at an amusement park and flying a kite in a tree-lined meadow.)

Fletcher also takes the NBC camera to Gaza where children assembled in military-style ranks in a schoolyard are challenged to set aside their fears. They shout: “We ask Allah to destroy the Jews.” Children are seen training for military confrontation.

Why have members of the media, with but a few admirable exceptions, failed to report systematically on the avid and pervasive Palestinian campaign to raise up new generations devoted to the destruction of Israel? Why is Arafat almost invariably given a pass by the media on his outrageous and inflammatory lies about Israel and calls to war?

Is it because of Palestinian intimidation (over the last eight months reporters have repeatedly been beaten, “detained,” and threatened by the Palestinians), or perhaps because of media reluctance to break from the herd mentality that dominates Middle East coverage and chooses to portray Israel as the heavy?

Whatever the explanation, none is acceptable. There is only the unacceptable result: Media dereliction and silence.


Appeared in the Jerusalem Post on June 15, 2001

Comments are closed.