WASHINGTON POST-WATCH: Seeing Through Rose-Colored Glasses

Responding to terrorist bombings of the U.N. headquarters in Baghdad and an Israeli civilian bus in Jerusalem on August 19, the August 20 Washington Post lead editorial, “Terror in the Middle East,” started strongly.

Both attacks were the works of terrorists who saw nothing wrong with taking innocent life to make a political or propaganda point. Both were designed to set back the cause of peace in the region.

Its segment on Israel also ended strongly, correctly asserting that “the organizations dedicated to terror must be dismantled, as the road map insists.”

Unlike many Post news stories, the editorial accurately refers to terrorists and terror, not to militants, activists, or only neutrally to “attacks.”

But in between, the editorial derails.

Meaningless relativity

“The attack in Jerusalem came after a period of relative calm, during which radical Palestinian groups had promised to observe a ceasefire ….”

According to the Israel Government Press Office, from the start of the “cease-fire” on June 29, to August 13, five Israelis and one foreign national were killed in 180 terrorist attacks, three of which were suicide bombings; 120 of which were shooting attacks. Another 40 attempted assaults were prevented by security forces. More than 200 terrorists were arrested. As CAMERA has noted elsewhere, even without allowing for the fact that the United States is 45 times larger than Israel, such a "relative calm" in this country would force the terrorism alert code to peak at the “red” level.

Unsupported Assertions

The editorial alleged that both bombings “were despicable acts intended to thwart the will of majorities — of Palestinians, of Israelis, of Iraqis — who do not share the terrorists’ goals.”

1) Reliable public opinion surveys have indicated repeatedly that a majority of Israelis favor a compromise peace with the Palestinian Arabs even if large concessions are required of Israel.

2) Public opinion in post-Saddam Iraq has yet to be reliably sampled and reported.

3) A survey conducted by the Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research among adults in the West Bank and Gaza found that in July 2003, 60.9% opposed “an end to violence and terrorism” or action by the Palestinian Authority “to arrest or restrain those who conduct and plan violent attacks on Israelis anywhere.”

According to Post editorial writers, “radical Palestinian groups” declared a truce “because the pressure was overwhelming from the majority of Palestinians” who do not share their goal of Israel’s destruction.

1) There is no substantive basis for asserting that a majority of Palestinian Arabs would not prefer the transformation of Israel from a sovereign Jewish state into something less, if not its complete elimination. While a recent poll by Khalil Shikaki of the Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research indicated that only 10% of Palestinian refugees (and their descendants) say they would actually move to Israel if given the chance, 95% indicated that the so-called “right of return”is sacred and must be part of any agreement with Israel. Since no one knew at the time they took the poll how many refugees or their descendants would choose to move to Israel, this means that 95% insisted on the possibility of millions of Palestinian Arabs moving to Israel and completely changing the demographics of the country.

2) As widely reported, Palestinian terrorist groups declared a three-month “cease-fire” because frequent Israeli raids and targeted assassinations had devastated their ranks and they needed time to regroup and rearm; Bush administration insistence that they disband echoed U.S. anti-terrorism rhetoric before America’s invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq; and they use “cease-fire” talks to maintain dialogue with Palestinian Prime Minister Mahmoud Abbas and the Palestinian Authority.

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