If Palestinian leaders indoctrinate their people to pursue genocide and TheNew York Times doesn’t report it, is the indoctrination nevertheless of consequence?
In a recent poll of Palestinian opinion – conducted by Stanley Greenberg, leading pollster for the Democratic party, in conjunction with the Palestinian Center for Public Opinion, and sponsored by the Israel Project – 73 percent agreed with a quote from the Hamas charter on the need to kill all Jews.
Those who get their news on the Arab-Israeli conflict from the Times would likely be surprised and befuddled by this result. Alternatively, they might attribute it to hostility generated by Palestinians living with elements of self-government but, at least in the West Bank, that self-governance significantly short of full independence from Israel. Of course, the latter view makes little sense. Those who embrace it would very probably not expect, for example, that 73 percent of Tibetans wish to murder all Chinese, or 73 percent of the people of Darfur desire to kill all Sudanese Arabs; yet these groups live under considerably more onerous conditions than the Palestinians of the West Bank or Gaza.
In addition, the same poll revealed that only 34 percent of Palestinians questioned would accept the creation of a Palestinian state alongside Israel as a permanent solution to the conflict. Presumably, if the “occupation” were the source of Palestinians’ genocidal hostility, they would view attaining an independent state as the arrangement that would assuage that hostility. No doubt the people of Tibet and Darfur, as well as dozens of other populations around the world living under genuine occupation, would be delighted to be offered independence. Rather, 66 percent of Palestinians said that a two-state arrangement might be a starting point but that the Palestinian goal should be the annihilation of Israel.
In fact, Palestinian dedication to Israel’s destruction, and indeed to the annihilation of the Jews, would be of little surprise to anyone who has bothered to follow the agenda set by Palestinian leaders since Israel’s creation. Insistence on its destruction pre-dated Israel’s presence in the West Bank and Gaza, and calls for killing of all Jews is not only part of the Hamas charter. It has, for example, been a fixture of Palestinian Authority indoctrination – at times in cooperation with Hamas – virtually since the creation of the Palestinian Authority in 1994 and subsequent PA control over a large network of media, mosques and schools.
Yet, as central as the promotion of genocide is to Palestinian indoctrination, evasion of the issue is no less central to the Times’s misrepresentation of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict. If there is any allusion to it in the Times, it is almost invariably to minimize its significance and even to ridicule Israeli concern about it.
Emblematic was a story by Times reporter William Orme in October 2000, shortly after Yasir Arafat had rejected Israeli concessions offered at Camp David, had likewise dismissed President Clinton’s additional proposed concessions, had offered no counter-proposals, and instead had launched his terror war against Israel. On October 13, the day after the lynching of two Israeli reservists in Ramallah, the official Palestinian Authority television station broadcast a sermon by Sheik Ahmad Halabaya in which the sheik declared:
“Whether Likud or Labor, Jews are Jews . They are the terrorists. They are the ones who must be butchered and killed, as Allah the almighty said: Fight them; Allah will torture them at your hands, and will humiliate them . Have no mercy on the Jews, no matter where they are, in any country. Fight them, wherever you are. Wherever you meet them, kill them. Wherever you are, kill those Jews and those Americans who are like them ”
Halabaya, in this official Palestinian Authority broadcast, also asserted that all of Israel properly belongs to the Arabs.
Orme, in his Times article published eleven days later, noted Israeli complaints of the PA’s using its official media for incitement, and his tone was clearly dismissive of Israel’s position.
He wrote at one point, “Israelis cite as one egregious example a televised sermon that defended the killing of two soldiers. ‘Whether Likud or Labor, Jews are Jews,’ proclaimed Sheik Ahmad Abu Halabaya in a live broadcast from a Gaza City mosque the day after the killings.”
That is all Orme said of the sermon – nothing about Halabaya’s exhortations to butcher Jews wherever one finds them, nothing about his assertions that all of Israel belongs to the Arabs, nothing about his invoking of Allah as calling for the torture and murder of the Jews.
Orme’s intent was obviously to make the Israeli complaints look unfounded and ridiculous.
The same is true now. The PA declares Israel illegitimate. It denies any historical connection between Jews and the land and insists Jews are simply usurpers in Palestinian lands. It teaches Palestinian children they must dedicate themselves to Israel’s destruction. It lauds murderers of Jews as models whom Palestinian children should aspire to emulate. It promotes the murder of all Jews. Often, PA president Mahmoud Abbas participates directly in this incitement.
And the indoctrination has consequences. As a generation of young Palestinians has grown up knowing only the PA’s education curriculum, and PA media and mosque incitement has shaped broader Palestinian opinion for almost two decades, the indoctrination has rendered the possibility of genuine peace only more remote. The recent poll cited above illustrates this inevitable reality.
But if Palestinian incitement to Jew-hatred and genocide has consequences, so, too, does the Times’s consistent failure to cover that incitement. It distorts readers’ understanding of the nature of the Palestinian-Israeli, and broader Arab-Israeli, conflict. In addition, as the Times remains in some respects America’s newspaper of record whose stances are regurgitated by myriad other news outlets, it inculcates belief in those distortions in a much wider audience.
Kenneth Levin is a psychiatrist and historian and author of “The Oslo Syndrome: Delusions of a People under Siege.”