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*Editor’s Note: This is the sixteenth installment in ‘Setting The Record Straight,’ the most recent series of articles from Jewish Press Online contributor, Alex Grobman, PhD 

Arabs living in Israel have succeeded in convincing Westerners to believe that what they say in foreign languages is true, and disregard what they say in Arabic. [2]   When Arab leaders are questioned about a belligerent statement against Israel addressed to the locals, they will “simply revise or retract ill-considered remarks by claiming that they have been mistranslated.” [3]


There is no excuse for journalists or anyone else to claim ignorance of the hatred being transmitted against Israel to the Arab masses by their political, religious, academic leaders and educators. Since public opinion influences public strategy, it is essential the media provide accurate information to all. Two primary sources for understanding the Middle East are the Palestinian Media Watch (PMW) and the Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI). PMW monitors, translates, and analyzes Palestine Authority (PA)-controlled newspapers, TV shows, radio programs, social media sites, and schoolbooks to identify the messages the PA and other Palestinian leaders transmit to their people. MEMRI monitor and reports on news in the Middle East and South Asia through their media. [4].

Yet despite these and other reliable sources of news, the mainstream media seldom reports the incitements by Arabs, leaving their readers with a steady stream of accusations of the daily humiliation as a result of the alleged “Israeli occupation.” The refusal of the Israeli government to refrain, halt, or freeze construction in Jewish communities in Judea and Samaria (“settlements”), is viewed an impediment to a peaceful resolution of the conflict. As Sahar Tartak, Editor in Chief of The Yale Free Press wrote, it appears “The Left Is Incapable of Condemning Antisemitism.”[5]

Jewish communities in Judea and Samaria

The argument that once the issue of the Jewish communities in Judea and Samaria is solved, [6] there will be peace is groundless. These communities did not exist before 1967 and there was still no peace. Their presence has not precluded Israel and Egypt or Israel and Jordan from signing separate peace agreements, observed Nicholas Rostow, a professor at the National Defense University. Settlements on the Golan Heights have also not created an obstacle for a cold peace between Syria and Israel. Israel has shown her willingness to make enormous sacrifices, as with their evacuation of the Jewish communities from the Gaza Strip, to hasten peace between her neighbors. [7]

When the Al Aqsa Intifada began in late September 2000, Thomas L. Freidman, one of Israel’s harshest critics, visited Israel and Ramallah where he concluded, “This war is sick, but it has exposed some basic truths…to think that the Palestinians are only enraged about settlements is also fatuous nonsense. Talk to the 15-year-olds. Their grievance is not just with Israeli settlements, but with Israel. Most Palestinians simply do not accept that the Jews have any authentic right to be here. For this reason, any Palestinian state that comes into being should never be permitted to have any heavy weapons, because if the Palestinians had them today their extremists would be using them on Tel Aviv.”[8]

Rare Media Comments About What Attacks Against Israel Mean for Peace Process

Rarely, if ever, is there any mention that the suicide bombings, incitement, car ramming’s, attempts to deny the Jewish connection to the land of Israel, the deadly rock-throwing, fire-bombing attacks, beatings,  stabbings and the failure to acknowledge Israel’s to exist mean about the possibility of peace for the foreseeable future. Journalist Matti Friedman who spent five and a half years for The Associated Press (AP), found “recurring omissions, recurring inflations, decisions made according to considerations that were not journalistic but political,” in a way that “Israel’s flaws were dissected and magnified, while the flaws of its enemies were purposely erased. I saw how the threats facing Israel were disregarded or even mocked as figments of the Israeli imagination, even as these threats repeatedly materialised. I saw how a fictional image of Israel and of its enemies was manufactured, polished, and propagated to devastating effect by inflating certain details, ignoring others, and presenting the result as an accurate picture of reality.”

In other words, “The international press in Israel had become less an observer of the conflict than a player in it. It had moved away from careful explanation and toward a kind of political character assassination on behalf of the side it identified as being right. It valued a kind of ideological uniformity from which you were not allowed to stray. The press was playing a key role in an intellectual phenomenon taking root in the West, but it wasn’t the cause, or not the only cause – it was both blown on a certain course by the prevailing ideological winds, and causing those winds to blow with greater force.” [9]

“Pay for Slay”

And what about the “martyr payments,” known as “pay to slay,” awarded to families of convicted Arab terrorists who are either incarcerated in Israeli prisons or who have died while murdering Israelis ? Incitement to violence against Israel and veneration of Palestinian Arab terrorists are ubiquitous in the Arab media, mosques, and school curricula. Daily examples are so pervasive, it is inexplicable how anyone can realistically discuss a peace process until this demonization and unrelenting determination to destroy Israel ceases entirely. Why is this complicated to understand? [10]

At a meeting of the Council of Foreign Relations, Sander Gerber, Chief Executive Officer and Chief Investment Officer of Hudson Bay Capital, asked [PA] Prime Minister Muhammad Shtayyeh about the PA law which gives $350 million a year to prisoners and families of martyrs. “We are responsible people,”  Shtayyeh said. “Put yourself in our shoes. What do you do? What do you do with orphans? You know, what you call terrorists, whatever you want to call them, they have kids. The kids of a killed man…are called orphans. They lost their father. What do you do with kids? Either you take care of them and give them good education and let them be part of the mosaic of the society or leave them victims to radicals—leave them victims to Hamas and the Iranians….

Second, what do you do with a family that the father has been arrested because he did something harming the Israeli security, and all of a sudden, the family’s house is destroyed by the Israeli army and the whole family, in a collective punishment, become homeless? What do you do with them? You give them some money to rent a house, you give them some money to buy furniture, you give them some money to take care of their kids and so on. What do you do with the family of a person who is in jail serving a life sentence? What do you do with a family of a person who is serving for fifteen years? What do you do with them? You don’t give them any assistance? We are giving people assistance. We are not encouraging people to kill more Israelis.” Yet, as Gerber pointed out, “these payments are not based upon financial need. They are only based upon action.”[11]

When asked in July 2023, if he would stop paying prisoners and “martyrs,” Shtayyeh emphatically said no, despite the fact that Israeli law, enacted on July 2, 2018, directs the state to deduct and freeze the amount of money the PA pays in salaries to incarcerated Palestinian Arab terrorists and families of “Martyrs” from the tax money Israel collects for the PA. As of September 2021 Israel’s Security Cabinet “ordered the freeze of 1.857 billion shekels ($580.15 million) – the amount equal to the PA payments to terrorists in 2018, 2019, and 2020.” [12]

Being Deceived: How and Why?

How is it that so many allegedly intelligent individuals, “living in freedom, can be such hopeless dupes to so ill-intentioned a demopathic ruse?” asks historian Richard Landes, “And for so long? And so widely shared? And at the expense of so many principles of journalistic ethics and democratic principles?” [13]

Landes explains a demopath is “Someone who invokes the values of human rights, equality, and fairness in order to fool those who believe in such things to meet one’s demands, when in fact, one has contempt for those values and seeks to destroy societies based on them: ‘using democracy to destroy democracy.’” [14]

He suggests a partial answer for being so easily deceived might be found in the uniqueness of postmodern Western thought. Research into deception suggests that “Most people believe most of what is said by most other people most of the time. That is, most people can be said to be truth-biased most of the time. Truth-bias results, in part, from a default cognitive state. The truth-default state is pervasive, but it is not an inescapable cognitive state. Truth-bias and the truth-default are adaptive both for the individual and the species. They enable efficient communication.” [15]

Landes calls these individuals “Dupes of demopaths: People committed to progressive values of equality, fairness, freedom, and dignity, who takes demopaths as sincere, thereby, being duped by people playing by winner-take all rules and who consider the dupes’ ‘good faith’ a sign of weakness and cause for contempt and exploitation.” [16]


[1]  Richard Landes, “Fathoming the Intellectual Revolution of our Times: The Disorientations of Lethal Journalism: On Western Media and the Arab Israeli Conflict, Fathom (May 2023):18.

[2] Ibid; Daniel Pipes, “Arafat and the Treaty of Hudaybiya – The Controversy,” Middle East Forum (September 10, 1999); Raymond Ibrahim, “Islam’s doctrines of deception,” Middle East Forum (October 2008); Di Niram Ferretti, “Interview with Mordechai Kedar: At the core of things,”  (July 10, 2017)

[3] Zev Chafets, Double Vision: How America’s Press Distorts Our View of the Middle East (New York: William Morrow & Company, Inc., 1985), 33.


[5] Sahar Tartak, “The Left Is Incapable of Condemning Antisemitism,” National Review (June 2, 2023); Richard Landes, “The Demopath’s Lexicon: a guide to Western journalism between the river and the sea,” Israel Affairs  Volume 26 3, (2020 ): 324.

[6] “Israel’s Historic Miscalculation,” The New York Times (April 26, 2002); Victor Sharpe, “Gaza’s Rich Jewish History,” American Thinker (February 1, 2009).

[7] Nicholas Rostow, Are the Settlements Illegal?” The American Interest (March 1, 2010).

[8] Thomas Friedman, “Foreign Affairs; Ritual Sacrifice,” The New York Times (October 31, 2000).

[9] Matti Friedman, “The ideological roots of media bias against Israel,” Fathom (Winter / 2015).

[10] Maurice Hirsch,” PA defies the world to continue terror reward payments,” The Palestinian media Watch (April 27, 2023); Maurice Hirsch,  “What is US Department of State’s Special Representative for Palestinian Affairs doing to implement the Taylor Force Act? The Palestinian media Watch (May 3, 2023).

[11] “A Conversation With Prime Minister Mohammad Shtayyeh of the Palestinian Authority,” Council on Foreign Relations (November 17, 2020).

[12] “Shtayyeh: We will not stop paying prisoners and ‘Martyrs,’” Al-Hayat Al-Jadida, official PA daily The Palestinian  Media Watch (July 11, 2023); ); Andrew Bernard, “50 US Lawmakers Call on Biden to Negotiate End to Palestinian ‘Pay for Slay,’” the Algemeiner (July 18, 2023); “Congressman Lamborn Re-Introduces the Taylor Force Martyr Payment Prevention Act Alongside Senator Cotton,” (March 14, 2023); Marc Rod, “Senate’s foreign budget bill sets up clash with the House,” Jewish Insider (July 25, 2023).

[13] Landes, “The Demopath’s Lexicon,” op.cit. 324); Matti Friedman, op.cit.

[14]  Ibid. 311.

[15] Ibid; Landes quotes Timothy R. Levine, Duped: Truth-Default Theory and the Social Science of Lying and Deception (Tuscaloosa, Alabama: University Alabama Press, 2019), 176.

[16] Landes, “The Demopath’s Lexicon,” op.cit. 312.


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Dr. Alex Grobman is the senior resident scholar at the John C. Danforth Society and a member of the Council of Scholars for Peace in the Middle East. He has an MA and PhD in contemporary Jewish history from The Hebrew university of Jerusalem. He lives in Jerusalem.