Washington Post Holds Up Palestinian Soccer Red Card

For the third times in 15 days, The Washington Post fell for anti-Israel bait dangled by Palestinian representatives or apologists. In the latest example, “New mediator in a Mideast dispute: The head of world soccer” (May 20, 2015), Ruth Eglash, Post Jerusalem bureau correspondent, repeats Palestinian fabrications as fact and non-sequiturs as relevant.
The Post reports that the Palestinian Football Association has called on the Federation Internationale de Football Association (FIFA)—the body governing international soccer—to suspend Israel in order to, in The Post’s words “embarrass and isolate Israel in international forums, thereby pressuring ordinary Israelis to push their government to make a peace deal with the Palestinians.” The first part is correct; the aim of the Palestinian Football Association’s attempt to ban Israeli soccer players is to single out and isolate the Jewish state.

However, The Post errs in explaining why this is PFA’s aim. It’s one more part of the Palestinian effort not to seek a compromise peace but rather to avoid a “two state” agreement that ends the conflict. The PSA move also violates existing agreements Palestinian leaders have made with Israel, although The Post does not say so.

Jibril Rajoub—who the article identifies only as the Palestinian Football Association chief—is reported as stating that he had no plans to back down from the resolution. Rajoub is quoted as saying, “The Israeli Football Association has tried to cover its ugly face with plastic surgery for its government.” Left unreported by the paper is Rajoub’s own ugly history of violence.

Grenade, soccer ball, no difference
Sports are a second career for Rajoub, former deputy secretary of the Fatah Central Committee and a senior Palestinian Authority official who has equated murder with education. According to him, “building a school and throwing a hand grenade, in my opinion, are resistance. I build the school in order to strengthen the reasons for my people’s resolve, as one of several aspects of the resistance, and when there is a need to throw a grenade [or launch] a rocket, I’ll do that as well out of my belief in the inevitable victory of my cause and its justness.”

Rajoub’s actions match his hateful rhetoric. He was sentenced to life in prison in 1970 for throwing a grenade at an Israeli army truck. On May 21, 1985 he was released, along with 1,149 other terrorists, in exchange for three Israeli hostages taken by the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine. (See “PA and Fatah personalities, Jibril Rajoub,” Palestinian Media Watch, www.palwatch.org.)

The Post’s failure to properly identify a convicted terrorist and prominent Palestinian Authority official—who after his prison release served as national security advisor to Palestine Liberation Organization head Yasser Arafat—is particularly conspicuous.

The coverage not only fails to identify Rajoub fully but also takes at face value his attempt to compare this latest tactic to previous FIFA suspensions against South Africa’s previous apartheid regime and war-torn Yugoslavia instead of recognizing the false equations for the canard they are. Quite unlike South African blacks under apartheid, Israeli Arabs oversee national elections, sit on the Supreme Court, are elected to the legislature, and can—and do—form their own political parties. In sum, they have vastly more rights and democratic representation than Palestinian Arabs living under the oppressive rule of either the corrupt Fatah (Palestinian Authority) or the theocratic Hamas, in the West Bank or Gaza Strip, respectively.

Post reporting fails to mention that Israel—both its governments and citizens of all stripes who vote them in—do not need a “push” to make a “peace deal.” They have offered peace to the Palestinian leadership on the basis of two states on numerous occasions. These include in 2000 at Camp David, 2001 talks at Taba, after the Annapolis conference in 2008, and the Kerry “framework” of last year. Each time the Palestinian side rejected the proposals.

Amnesia trumps recall
The reporter asserts “U.S. led peace talks between Israelis and Palestinians broke down a year ago” and “seem unlikely to restart anytime soon.” Again, essential details are omitted, this time that the 2014 attempt “broke down” because Palestinian leadership rejected U.S. parameters including significant Israeli territorial concessions in Gaza and eastern Jerusalem in exchange for Palestinian recognition of Israel as a Jewish state, and an end to the conflict.

The Post claims “Palestinians have taken steps to join a variety of international organizations and have sought support for resolution at the United Nations and the European Union in a bid to build support for Palestinian statehood.” Yet it fails to note that this in violation of the 1993 Oslo accords—which stipulated that all outstanding issues would be resolved through direct talks between Palestinian Arabs and Israelis. Nor does it remind readers that U.N. Security Council resolutions 242 (1967) and 338 (1973) call for Arab-Israeli peace, secure and recognized boundaries for all states in the region, and expect direct talks between the parties to reach those goals. Likewise the 2003 U.S., E.U., U.N. and Russian “road map.”

According to the newspaper, “Palestinians say Israeli restrictions on their movement” have “prevented their [Palestinian] teams from playing soccer.” This omits the facts that some Palestinian soccer players have been found to be members of the U.S.- and Israeli-designated terrorist group Islamic Jihad, have smuggled money to the terrorist group Hamas, and have thrown bombs at Israelis and committed other attacks. Palestinian terrorists used Gaza Strip soccer stadium itself to launch rockets at Israel during that summer’s Hamas-Israel War.

The Post uncritically repeats that “Palestinians … decry the existence of five Israeli teams from Jewish settlements in the West Bank, developments most of the world’s governments view as illegal.” Such boiler-plate language by The Post virtually is never followed by the relevant facts that League of Nations Palestine Mandate, Article 6 calls for “close Jewish settlement” on the land west of the Jordan River and that the Mandate’s provisions are carried forward by the U.N. Charter, Chapter 12, article 80. The 1920 San Remo Treaty and the 1924 Anglo-American Convention also enshrined the legality of Jewish territorial claims. But this—like much else—goes unmentioned.

Recent Washington Post Israeli-Palestinian reporting (“Washington Post Falls for Breaking the Silence Report, CAMERA, May 5) such as “Israeli soldiers allege ‘ethical failure’ in Gaza” (May 5) has started with the unquestioning assumption that Palestinian grievances and criticisms of Israel, no matter what the sourc
e, are legitimate. Starting skewed, the paper finishes skewed, leaving readers misinformed.

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