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The media has a "double standard" against Israel

Martin Krossel  |
More Double-Standards from Israel's Critics

by Martin Krossel

Recently on Palestinian state television, viewers could watch praise being bestowed on the convicted perpetrators of the random murder of three members of the Fogel family, in a nighttime attack on their West Bank home. The terrorists were referred to as "heroes." Earlier in January, the mufti [main Islamic religious leader] of Jerusalem, Sheik Muhammad Hussein, made a speech in which he recited this passage from a hadith, a saying that is attributed to the Prophet, "The hour will not come until you fight the Jews. The Jews will hide behind stones and trees. Then the stones and trees will call: Oh Muslim, servant of Allah, there is a Jew behind me, come and kill him."

So far, I haven't found any newspaper outside of Israel that reported on Palestinian television's praise of the terrorists. The New York Times buried its only report of the speech in latter paragraphs of a story headlined "2 Palestinian Legislators Are Arrested in East Jerusalem Protest." Both Reuters and the Associated Press reported on the speech, but those dispatches were picked up by just a few newspapers, such as the Washington Post and Jonathan S. Tobin, the online editor of Commentary, who remarked, "The fact that the speech has largely gone unreported tells you all you need to know about the distorted vision of the Middle East, in the mainstream media."

Compare the coverage of the mufti's speech without how much has been written, particularly in recent years, with how much has been written about how Israel allegedly persecutes Arabs both in the territories and in the Jewish State itself.

Consider an article by the American-born Israeli writer Gershom Gorenberg, appearing in the January/February edition of the Jewish magazine Moment. He attributes the increase of "anti-democratic" legislation to the "failure to make hard decisions after the Six Day War, to the occupation of the West Bank since then, and the government-backed settlement enterprise." And the right-wing religious extremists who populate the settlements are responsible for that failure.

Gorenberg is only of a number of writers who have in recent months begun to sound a loud death knell for Israeli democracy. In support of their dire warnings they cite a number of pieces legislation that have either been introduced in the Knesset or already enacted into law. One bill would bar mosques from sounding their call to prayer on the grounds of noise pollution. No similar legislation bans the sounding of sirens that mark the beginning of the Jewish Sabbath or the noise from loud discotheques. Another piece of legislation would limit the kinds of lawsuits that Israeli civil rights groups could file before the Supreme Court. A bill that imposes civil penalties on anyone who calls for a boycott of products from West Bank settlements. Another law passed by the Knesset -- but overturned by the Supreme Court -- would have prohibited Arabs from purchasing homes in certain small communities.

But all of this has a context -- one that Gorenberg, like most of his comrades on the left, consistently ignores. The public praise of the terrorists and the mufti's anti-Semitic speech are manifestation of an intense and long-standing Arab -- and particularly Palestinian -- hostility toward Israel and Jews. Palestinian Media Watch, which has brought many examples of the inflammatory material disseminated by the regime-controlled media to the attention of the outside world, writes, "The years of [Palestinian Authority] promotion of killing Jews and PA religious leaders' citing of the hadith to justify it may contributed to the high acceptance of it in PA society."

On December 20, the Times reported on Palestinian Media Watch's publication of a book [Deception: Betraying the Peace Process] which showed "a pattern of non-recognition of Israel's right to exist, demonization of Israel, and promotion of violence." Shlomo Avineri, a professor at Hebrew University and one of Israel's most distinguished intellectuals, says, "There is no doubt in my mind that in the mainstream of the Palestinian national movement, Israel is not considered legitimate. This is the inner truth of the Palestinians. They really mean it. It's not what they say on CNN, but it is what they teach their children." Gorenberg complains vociferously about the absence of "separation of synagogue and state" in Israel. So why does he refrain from decrying the absence of the "separation of mosque and state" when a regime-paid Palestinian cleric calls for the killing of Jews?

Shamefully, the Palestinian national movement, in the shadow of the Holocaust, calls for the creation of a state that has been purged of Jews. Even more shamefully, prominent Israelis and American Jews support that demand. Earlier this month, Melanie Phillips, a columnist for the British newspaper the Daily Mail, appropriately accused British Prime Minister David Cameron and his deputy Nick Clegg of supporting racism when they called for an immediate cessation of the construction of Jewish settlements on the West Bank and in some Jerusalem neighborhoods. "Some 20 percent of Israel's population are Israeli Arabs? Why don't Clegg and Cameron support the idea that there can be Palestinian Arabs?"

Israel's treatment of its Arab population may not have always been just, and some of the legislation that has been introduced in the Knesset may threaten the vibrancy of Israel's democracy. But once someone, like Gorenberg, has thrown his full support behind the complete ethnic cleansing of Jews from the West Bank, you've lost all moral authority to criticize the shortcomings of Israel's treatment of the Arabs.