Washington Post Reports on Israeli Victim but Obscures Palestinian Incitement

The Washington Post’s “Fatal stabbing of Israeli mom fractures 2 families” (June 1) by correspondent Ruth Eglash and Jerusalem Bureau Chief William Booth provided a rare look at Jewish victims of Palestinian terror. Unfortunately, omissions and false equivalency between victims and perpetrators of terror attacks had the potential to mislead.

Booth and Eglash begin their report by noting the personal struggles of Natan Meir whose wife, Dafna, was murdered in her kitchen by a Palestinian terrorist in January 2015. CAMERA has noted that many U.S. news media outlets too frequently ignore Israeli victims of Palestinian terror like Dafna Meir (“NPR Correspondent Emily Harris Humanizes Attackers, Ignores Victims,” Oct. 19, 2015). Dafna Meir’s brutal murder—she was stabbed repeatedly in her chest and head in front of her children—is recounted and the grief of her surviving family members is detailed.

However, The Post failed in its reporting on possible motivations behind Palestinian attacks against Israelis. The newspaper claimed: “The motivation for the spasm of violence has been debated but remains obscure [emphasis added].”

No it doesn’t. In fact, evidence of the motivation for Palestinian anti-Jewish violence is abundant—and The Post is aware of some of it.

In a Sept. 16, 2015 speech on official Palestinian Authority (PA) TV that preceded a jump in anti-Jewish violence, Abbas falsely claimed Jews held secret designs on the al-Aqsa mosque in Jerusalem. The PA leader exhorted, “The al-Aqsa is ours…and they [Jews] have no right to defile it…We bless every drop of blood that has been spilled for Jerusalem, which is clean and pure blood, blood spilled for Allah.”

Abbas’ use of the so-called “al-Aqsa libel” echoed that of previous Palestinian leaders who claimed that Jews planned to “rid” Jerusalem of al-Aqsa, located on Judaism’s holiest site, Temple Mount, as CAMERA has pointed out (“Incitement over Temple Mount Leads to Palestinian Violence, Again,” Sept. 16, 2015). This tactic has been used to incite anti-Jewish violence on a number of occasions, including 1929, 1996, 2000 and more recently the so-called “stabbing intifada” of late 2015-early 2016.
 A loud echo

Other PA officials have echoed Abbas’ calls for anti-Jewish violence. As CAMERA reported, in a Jan. 21, 2016 speech on official PA TV, Fayez Abu Aita—a spokesman for the Fatah movement that controls the authority—urged Palestinian Arabs to “intensify and develop” attacks against Israelis (“Where’s the Coverage? Palestinian Official Calls to ‘Intensify and Develop’ Anti-Israel Violence,” Feb. 9, 2016).

In his March 2016 report for the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs, an Israel-based think tank, retired Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) Brig. Gen. Yossi Kuperwasser wrote that Palestinian leaders intentionally encouraged the attacks in order “to restore international attention to the Palestinian issue” (The Palestinian Knife Campaign: A Policy of Limited Liability).

Palestinian society and culture glorify terrorist attacks against Jews. In one of many examples, in May 2016 an elementary school in the Gaza city neighborhood of Zeitun put on a play in which students, dressed as terrorists, “enacted placing a bomb under an IDF tank and blowing it up, shooting mortar fire at an IDF outpost, and the simulation of a raid on an outpost with the killing of an Israeli soldier—also played by one of the schoolchildren (“Gazan kids put on play of death,” Ynetnews.com, May 31, 2016).”

This hateful indoctrination is widespread in Palestinian society. As CAMERA has noted (“Vox’s April Fools’ Day ‘Reporting’ on Palestinian Terror Attacks,” April 7, 2016), the Mideast Freedom Forum Berlin, a German think tank, published a March 2016 study showing that Palestinian children’s textbooks “consistently portray Jews in a strongly negative manner, and often demonize them.” The effect of which is “that the Jewish presence in modern Israel is delegitimized.” CAMERA made Post staff, including both Booth and Eglash, aware of the German report in an April 15, 2016 email.

Approval of anti-Jewish violence seems ubiquitous in Palestinian society. A September 2015 poll by the Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey showed that a plurality of Palestinian Arabs oppose a two-state solution and a majority support terrorist attacks against Jews.
 Missing what’s already been noted
The Washington Post itself has, on occasion, noted Palestinian incitement and glorification of violence—even if it largely minimized these factors when reporting on them (see, for exampleWashington Post Reports Palestinian Incitement, Still Misses Point,” CAMERA, Jan. 27, 2016). In their article, Booth and Eglash noted that the father of Meir’s murderer speculated that his son, “‘must have flipped out’ watching the video clips aired over and over on news channels showing Israeli soldiers shooting young Palestinians holding knives at checkpoints.” However, The Post failed to follow up on this allusion to incitement.
Despite abundant evidence of the causes noted above, The Post resorted to uncritically quoting “Palestinian officials [who] blame the almost 50-year occupation—the frustration and humiliation of checkpoints, land seizures, raids, military tribunals and the building of the Jewish settlements” as likely motivation for the “stabbing intifada.” The newspaper briefly noted that “Israeli politicians blame Palestinian incitement,” but failed to provide further details.

The claim that despair or “frustration” causes Palestinian terror attacks has been widely asserted by many in the news media. In repeating it, The Post echoed talking points distributed by the Palestinian Liberation Organization in a November 2015 docume
nt called “Key Points to Remember while Reporting on Occupied Palestine.” CAMERA-affiliate BBC Watch noted, that PLO document, among other things, encourages reporters to assert that terrorist attacks are the result of Palestinian frustration over the “occupation” (“Reviewing BBC Compliance with PLO media guidance,” Dec. 8, 2015).

The Post article is accompanied by a misleading graphic. Titled “Approximate Number of Deaths in the Past Eight Months,” the chart showed that 30 Israelis have been killed in the “stabbing intifada” and 200 Palestinian Arabs, but does not distinguish attackers from victims. Yet, in the middle of the article, The Post reported that “some 30 Israelis have died in the wave of violence, along with two American visitors. Almost 200 Palestinians have been killed by Israel forces—most during attacks or attempted attacks, other in violent demonstrations.”

The Washington Post provided readers with coverage of the long-term effects on a grieving family of the brutal murder of an Israeli mother. Too frequently, the stories of the victims of Palestinian terrorism, like Dafna Meir, are minimized or ignored by major U.S. news media. The Washington Post followed up admirably in this case. Unfortunately, by claiming that the causes behind Meir’s murder were “obscure,” obscuring the full story in regard to the cause of the murder—Palestinian incitement—it left readers in limbo.

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