Shimon Peres, one of Israel’s founding fathers who served in numerous government roles in his seven decades of service, including prime minister and president, died on Sept. 27, 2016 at the age of 93. Peres’s death was met with condolences and expressions of grief from many world leaders. The Washington Post, however, decided to uncritically highlight—in an omission-laden article—expressions of hatred towards the Nobel peace prize laureate who U.S President Barack Obama called the “essence of Israel itself.”
The Post’s “To many, a different view of Peres’s legacy” (Sept. 29, 2016) by Cairo bureau chief Sudarsan Raghavan, reported that, “While Western leaders mourned the death of Israeli statesman and Nobel laureate Shimon Peres, many in the Arab world reacted with scorn, viewing him as a key architect of destructive Israeli policies toward Palestinians.”
Who are the “many in the Arab world”?
Post stenography for Hamas and Hezbollah
The Post said that the “Palestinian militant group Hamas described Peres as one of ‘the Israeli occupation state’s founder that was established on Palestinian land, which caused the displacement of millions of Palestinians worldwide until now.’” Further, it quoted Hamas spokesman Hazem Qasem who opined, “Hamas feels sorry that Peres died before he is held accountable according to international justice for conducting crimes against humanity like the Qana massacre.”
Yet, Hamas is not a “militant group.” More precisely, it is a U.S.-designated terrorist group whose charter calls for the destruction of Israel and the genocide of Jews. The article failed to inform readers of this important fact, just as it failed to note that neither Peres nor Israel is responsible for the “displacement of millions of Palestinians worldwide.”
More importantly, why did The Post—upon the death of an Israeli statesman—seek out the views of a terrorist organization that conducts suicide bombings and calls to destroy the Jewish state? Would al-Qaeda’s views be summoned upon the death of an American political figure? Common sense—and good taste—say otherwise.
The Post cited other terrorist entities on Peres’s death—and again failed to properly identify them. For example, the article said that “Al-Manar, the television station of Hezbollah, the Lebanese Shiite Islamist militant group and political party,” called the Israeli leader “the real face of the bloody and colonial policies adopted by the Zionist regime.”
As terror analyst Matthew Levitt has noted, Hezbollah has attempted to mask itself as a Lebanese national movement and a political party (“Experts: No, Hezbollah is Not Some ‘Parochial Lebanese Political Party with an Armed Wing,” The Tower, Oct. 11, 2013). Like Hamas, Hezbollah is a U.S.-designated terrorist group committed to destroying Israel. By the group’s own admission, it is fully funded and supported by the Islamic Republic of Iran. Hezbollah’s current activities in the Syrian civil war, where it fights alongside Iran to prop up Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad, a man who, like his father before him, routinely trampled on Lebanese sovereignty, is but one example that illustrates the group’s actual motives and master.
Al-Manar, as CAMERA has pointed out, is part of Hezbollah’s propaganda arm and was declared a “specially designated global terrorist entity” by the U.S. Treasury Department in 2006 (“Hezbollah’s Media Weapon,” Sept. 26, 2006).
In addition to showcasing Hamas and Hezbollah’s thoughts on Peres’s passing, The Post contented itself with quoting some of the nations which provide support to terror groups. For example, the article noted that the “Qatar-based Al Jazeera network’s Arabic-language website” called Peres a “butcher.” Similarly, Saudi Arabia’s Sabq newspaper said Peres was the “President of Israeli Colonialism…” As CAMERA has highlighted (see, for example “Al Jazeera Uses Classic Canard to Promote Jihad Against Jews,” June 29, 2016), Al-Jazeera, a virtual arm of the Qatari government which both funds and provides shelter to Hamas operatives, is a deeply anti-Western station that promotes antisemitic canards and applauds terrorist attacks against Israel. Saudi Arabia, where the press operates under strict government oversight, has also funded Hamas and has, since 1948—when it provided jihadi recruits to attack Israel during the War of Independence—refused to openly grant the Jewish state legitimacy.
Promoting a PLO-endorsed narrative, again
Other omissions are littered throughout the Post article, as well as vague and inaccurate language. The 2008-2009 Israel-Hamas war, initiated by the terror group, is described as “Israel’s offensive against the Gaza Strip.” The dispatch asserted that, “Critics have long condemned Peres for his advocacy of a blockade of Gaza.” The paper didn’t tell its readers the purpose behind that blockade: to prevent the smuggling of arms and material for Hamas’ war machine. Nor does The Post say who those “critics” are. Judging by what the rest of the article seems to consider legitimate criticism, they could very well be other terrorist groups or their apologists and financiers.
The paper also asserted that “today, tensions between Israelis and Palestinians are deepening again, fueled by a spate of deadly stabbings by Palestinians over the past year against a backdrop of growing frustration over peace talks that have all but faded.” This minimization of anti-Jewish violence, in which Palestinian Arabs have since September 2015—with encouragement by the Palestinian Authority (PA) and the media it controls—murdered and attacked Israelis with rocks, cars, knives, and guns, among other weapons, is as risible as it is inaccurate.
Nor is “frustration” over peace talks the reason behind the violence—although it is a talking point which the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) has encouraged the media to adopt, as CAMERA’s BBC Watch affiliate has noted (“Reviewing BBC compliance with PLO media guidance,” Dec. 8, 2015). Although The Washington Post has recently seemed fond of pushing the “despair” talking point—even devoting a recent article entitled “Attacks in Israel indicate loss of hope” (Sept. 23, 2016) to that narrative—there is little reason to think that it is true, and less to accept it, as The Post does, at face value.
Hamas itself, in a more candid moment, disagreed with The Post‘s PLO-endorsed narrative: Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh declared in a speech at a rally on Jan. 19, 2016, “This intifada [violent uprising] is the not the result of despair. This intifada is a jihad, a holy war…”
In keeping with the apparent trend of the article, the phrase “faded” is nondescriptive. Rather, Palestinian leaders have rejected—without so much as a counteroffer—U.S. and Israeli proposals for peace and statehood in 2000 at Camp David, 2001 at Taba and 2008 after the Annapolis conference, among other instances. If the lack of a Palestinian state—and not the ceaseless incitement and glorification of violence by Palestinian leaders and society—is fueling terrorist attacks, one would think that Palestinian officials themselves would be the target of the violence.
The Post, citing a tweet by Palestinian Authority (PA) President Mahmoud Abbas which expressed condolences at Peres’s death, claimed that some “Palestinians had [a] mixed reaction to Peres’s death.” Indeed, although Abbas has, as of the time of this writing, said he would attend Peres’s funeral, he might not do so. As Grant Rumley, an analyst of Palestinian politics at the Washington D.C.-based think tank, the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, pointed out, you can’t, “rule out [the] possibility of Abbas backing out last minute from attending Peres’ funeral. [It] would be his first trip to Israel since 2010.” One reason for not doing so: according to journalist Dalia Hatuqa, Palestinian activists are using the social media hashtag “paying tribute to Peres is treason” in response to reports that Abbas would attend Peres’s funeral.
This is the core of what The Post, while dancing around it, ultimately failed to convey to its readers. “A different view of Peres’s legacy,” as the paper delicately referred to it, is not predicated on the life and specific deeds of the Israeli politician. It is based on an unremitting hatred; a failure to accept the legitimacy of the Jewish state and its representatives, particularly someone associated with its founding. The Post could have run a thoughtful article on the complex legacy of a man who, for decades, was involved in momentous historical events. Instead, the paper bizarrely—and in remarkably bad taste—quoted terrorist groups committed to destroying Israel.