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PMW op-ed: Lies, Libels and Historical Revisionism in the Palestinian Authority

Itamar Marcus  |

Libels, lies, and false accusations against Israel and Jews are frequent, prominent components of the Palestinian leadership’s public discourse, and of the Palestinian media. Suha Arafat’s accusation, made while standing next to Hillary Clinton, that Israel was poisoning Palestinians, was consistent with standard Palestinian libels.

The quantity and intensity of these libels have increased lately with the aim of presenting Israel and Jews as evil, treacherous enemies that pose a mortal danger to the Palestinians, to Islam, and to all that is holy to them. The intent of this campaign is to intensify the hostile atmosphere toward Israel and is consistent with the Palestinian Authority’s policy of fostering hatred toward Israel.

Yasser Arafat, at the recent Davos Economic Forum, called on the international community to protect the Palestinians from Israeli actions, asserting that Israel is using ammunition tipped with depleted uranium and other prohibited weapons.

In a sequel to Suha Arafat’s accusations, the Palestinian Authority’s newspapers reported again about gas poisonings:

“Medical sources reported yesterday evening that more than 40 residents were injured in a strange occurrence of hysteria and nervous collapse as a result of their inhaling poison gas, fired for the first time by the Israeli occupation forces on defenseless residents. Medical specialists are of the opinion that it is nerve gas, prohibited by international law. [Al-Ayyam, Feb. 13, 2000, and a similar report in Al-Quds]

Two other recent Palestinian “medical” reports:

“Senior medical sources related yesterday that the occupation forces used a new kind of lethal bullets against innocent residents… The new bullets have sharp metal wings and they fly at great speeds…” [Al-Hayat Al-Jadida, Oct. 28, 2001]

“Authoritative medical sources revealed that there is an increase in the average number of deformed births in the Shafaa hospital in Gaza. They do not deny the possibility that this phenomenon is associated with depleted uranium.” [Al-Hayat Al-Jadida, Jan. 31, 2001]

There is of course no basis to any of this. Not only has the Israeli Army categorically refuted the allegations, but it is clear that these claims are in the same category as the Palestinian libel that Israel infected Palestinians with AIDS.

The Palestinians often issue false statements contradicting even publicly known facts. The entire world saw the televised destruction of Joseph’s Tomb by Palestinian mobs and police. Yet the Palestinians reported the event as follows:

“Yesterday, the City of Nablus began the rehabilitation and renovation of the demolished parts of ‘Joseph’s Tomb’ … It is important to note that heavy damage was caused to the tomb and to a large number of nearby structures during these disturbances, in the wake of the shootings by the occupation forces which are concentrated on Mounts Grizim and Eival, and because of their use of heavy machine guns.” [Al-Ayyam, Oct. 10, 2000]

A significant almost daily lie during the continuing violence, is the portrayal of Israel as the attacker and the Palestinians as the defenders, in news accounts of
Palestinian terrorist and shooting attacks. They also attribute to Israel sophisticated plots:

The permanent [Palestinian] Military Court in Hebron sentenced the [Palestinian] officer Hassan Massalem, 55, yesterday morning to death by firing squad … The military prosecutor accused Massalem with conspiring with Israeli intelligence… and with firing a pistol from the Hebron neighborhood of Al Sheikh toward Israeli positions on orders of his Israeli controllers, in order to give the occupation soldiers a pretext for massively shelling the residential neighborhood…” [Al-Hayat Al-Jadida, Feb. 12, 2001]

The portrayal of Israel as wanting to expand to occupy all the Arab states is a common lie. This is exemplified in a particularly venomous video clip entitled "This is How they Humiliated My Mother" that began airing recently. A teacher is depicted in the video clip with a classroom of Jewish children wearing kippot (religious skullcaps) in front of the Israeli flag, teaching: “The Land of Israel from the Nile to the Euphrates.” [PA TV, Feb. 14, 2001]. The video clip is shown as if were an actual classroom in a Jewish school. The actors speak Hebrew.

The denial of Jewish history and tradition with the goal of negating Israel’s historical right to exist, is policy within the Palestinian Authority’s formal and informal educational frameworks. In textbooks and similarly in educational television broadcasts, the P.A.’s leadership and educators erase the entire Jewish past, denying Jewish presence in Jerusalem and the Land of Israel. The Palestinian go to especially great lengths to try to refute that Jerusalem is the site of the Temple.

This week Sheikh Ikrama Sabri, the PA-appointed Mufti of Jerusalem, released a religious ruling, a “Fatwa,” denying the Jewish connection to the Kotel:
“No stone of the Western Wall has any connection to Hebrew history.”

Recently the Mufti responded to a viewer’s question on TV as to why the Jews pray in the direction of the Al-Aqsa Mosque, with the following distortion of Jewish tradition. He did not simply explain the truth - that the Jews are praying in the direction of the Western Wall of the destroyed Temple upon which the Muslims built the Mosque. Rather he stated that the Jews call the “Western Wall” the “Wailing Wall” and then creates a bizarre fantasy for their “wailing”:

“… The Jews call this the Wailing Wall for two reasons. The first, the overt [reason] is that they cry because they lost one of the Ten Commandments [tablets], and they lie and claim that the Commandment [tablet] was lost in the area around Al-Aqsa. This is why religious Jews are apprehensive of entering the Temple Mount, because of the fear that they might step on a paving stone underneath which may be the lost commandment [tablet]. The second reason, that is not openly stated is that the Jews cry, repent, and remonstrate before Allah that He chose Mohammed from among the Arabs and did not choose a [prophet] from among the Children of Israel… In Mohammed’s time the Jews thought that the final prophet would be a Jew, and they prepared themselves to receive him and they even threatened the Arabs and said to them that ‘When the new prophet comes, we’ll see what we will do to you’ and then the prophet turned up from among the Arabs and they (the Jews) became angry and bitter that he (Mohammed) is the prophet. What they are crying about is their protest ‘Why wasn’t the prophet [chosen] from among the Children of Israel, as they had anticipated.” [PA TV, Jan. 11, 2001]

The PA often invent Jewish or Israeli “supporters” for their denial of Jewish traditions. Dr. Suliman Alshrafaa, a Palestinian academic hosting a religious television program:

“We often hear those false claims of the Jews that their Temple Solomon’s Temple is located underneath the Al-Aqsa mosque... There is a professor by the name of Menachem Klein from Bar Ilan University, located in occupied Palestine [Ramat Gan, adjacent to Tel Aviv - Ed. note] whose specialty is Jerusalem and argues that the false arguments that the Temple is located underneath Al Aqsa are deeply rooted Jewish claims... [However leading] Rabbis maintained that it is totally incorrect that the Temple is underneath the Al-Aqsa Mosque...”.
[PA TV, Dec. 23, 2000]

These distortions are all aimed to convince PA society that Israel has no historical right to exist, and that the Palestinian are the sole owners of the Land of Israel, thus creating hatred for Israel as “thieves of their land”. As an ideology it can be summed up with the words of the Mufti:

“There is not a single stone in Palestine that proves the Jewish existence [in the land].” [Al-Hayat Al-Jadida, Oct. 15, 2000]