During the month-long Israeli military (IDF) operation in the West Bank, Yasser Arafat’s voice – the Voice of Palestine radio- went silent for several weeks, as the IDF kept the Palestinians off the air.
But when the Israeli army withdrew its forces around Arafat’s headquarters and when Arafat himself actually allowed his radio and some newspapers to publish Arafat’s own condemnation of one terror attack (the May 19 bombing of the Netanya market), there was the hint of a hope that things might be changing.
A survey of the Palestinian print and broadcast media over the last two weeks, however, shows that Arafat’s state-controlled media have not entered a more moderate period, but have returned with more force to their old ways:
- Winking at attacks on Israeli civilians, but especially encouraging attacks on Israeli soldiers and “settlers”;
- Hinting broadly at support for Iraq’s Saddam Hussein;
- And boldly encouraging militancy and separatism by Israel’s own Arab citizens.
“Israel is expanding its terror that is directed against the sons of our people inside the Green Line,” declared Voice of Palestine anchorman Nizar al-Ghul, opening the Sunday morning. news hour (June2).
Al-Ghul and his colleagues at Voice of Palestine radio in Ramallah and Palestinian state television in Gaza have never used the term “terror” (“irhaab” in Arabic) to define any Arab act against a Jew, and they, like Arafat himself, have never clearly labeled those who commit attacks on Jews of any kind as “terrorists.”
But over the two-week period surveyed the broadcasters of Palestinian radio and television routinely called Israeli actions “terroristic,” “criminal” and “Nazi-like.”
“The Israelis have not stopped carrying out their terrorism and their aggression against the inhabitants of Nablus and the Balata Refugee Camp,” announced Sunday Muhammad Sanouri, who reads news bulletins on V.O.P.
“In another new Nazi crime, the occupation soldiers interrupted a celebration and bound the hands of Bakir Najiy Alaan of Beit Hanina, keeping him bound for several hours,” said Sanoury.
“The Israeli soldiers also carried out their terrorism against other members of the area,” added V.O.P. announcer Sanoury, never telling listeners that Israeli authorities had already captured several suicide bombers in Beit Hanina and nearby Shuefat in northern Jerusalem in the last two weeks.
Indeed, Avi Dichter, the head of the Israeli counter-intelligence organization – commonly called the “Shin Bet” or the “Shabak”- told a committee in Israel’s parliament that 40 such bombers had been arrested or killed in the last three weeks before they reach their targets inside Israel.
Sanoury, al-Ghul and the other announcers never mention that Nablus and the Balata Camp have been bomb-making centers for Arafat’s own FATAH organization, especially the “Brigades of the Martyrs of Al-Aqsa” which has carried out scores of suicide bomb attacks on Israel in recent months.
When members of these organizations have blown themselves up inside Israeli malls, supermarkets and hotels, they are still described as “shouhada”-an Arabic word meaning “martyrs.”
The act of suicide bombing itself is described in the Palestinian broadcast media and the Arafat-controlled newspapers Al-Ayyam and Al-Hayat al-Jadida as “amaliyya tafjiriyya” -“an explosive operation” or “Amaliyyat istish-haad”-“an operation of heroic martyrdom.”
Arafat and other members of his Palestinian Authority (PA) have formalistically criticized “terror attacks on civilians of any side,” hinting that attacks on Israelis inside “the Green Line” (the pre-1967 frontiers of Israel) was “counter-productive.”
But the Palestinian Leadership and its media openly embrace those who kill Israeli soldiers and Israeli “settlers.”
In a strange Sunday morning feature that appeared right after the news bulletin, V.O.P. reporter Juma’a Kuneis described internet and computer games where virtual Israelis are virtually shot and blown up.
“Israeli and Arab ‘hackers’ attack each other regularly on this channel,” remarked Kuneis.
She offered a recommendation for one such internet game that was careful to allow shooting only at settlers and soldiers, not at targets inside Israel. “There is no sign of the explosive operations inside Israel,” concluded Kuneis
Israel, however, is a fair target for Palestinian media incitement aimed at Israel’s own Arab citizens, openly encouraging them to stake out more militant positions and to adopt a separatist stance.
“The relations of the Arab masses in Israel are in a state of constant decay because of Israel’s racist policies,” proclaimed Hashem Mahmid, an Israeli Arab member of Knesset (MK), Israel’s parliament, in a broadcast interview last week.
Mahmid and other Israeli Arab parliamentarians-Muhammad Baraka, Azmi Bashara and Ahmad Tibi-have become regular features of Palestinian television and radio, making statements they would hesitate to make on the Israeli airwaves.
“The extremist right-wing Jewish members of the Israeli parliament will not stop until they have evicted all Arabs from the parliamentary game,” asserted announcer Al-Ghul as he introduced an interview with Ahmad Tibi, the Israeli Arab MK who has also served as a political advisor to Arafat himself.
The mustachioed Tibi, who likes to strike a pose of “moderation” and “against violence” when on the Israeli airwaves, takes a totally different stance when he thinks only Arabs are listening.
“We have to assail (Israel’s) ‘democracy’-around in the world and in newspapers– because of its limitations and its inherent racism,” said Tibi, whose first profession was gynecology but who has been accused of being less than delicate in his second profession as politician.
An Israeli parliamentary committee voted last week to limit Tibi’s parliamentary immunity after at least four brawling incidents where Tibi physically assaulted Israeli police or court officers during the last year.
“Just show me who they are, and I’ll make sure they can never walk the street again,” yelled Tibi inside the Knesset committee room when told that even one or two Arab MK’s were embarrassed by his behavior and privately asked that he be disciplined. Tibi did NOT know that his comments were picked up by radio reporter outside the committee room.
“There is no one who can keep me from visiting the sons of our people in Gaza and in Ramallah,” bragged Tibi on Palestinian radio last week.
“They are my people,” he said referring to West Bankers and Gazans, “and no one can stop me.”
The growing radicalization and Palestinian media prominence of Israeli Arab politicians comes at a time when an increasing number of Israeli Arabs have been taking part in Palestinian terror operations against Israel.
The most recent publicized case involved two pairs of sisters from the towns of Arabeh and Sakhneen in northern Israel, and these cases have brought calls inside Israel for tougher policies against Arab militants.
That is why, privately, some Israeli Arabs are not so fond of the militant policies of Tibi and his fellow MK’s.
“His name is Ahmad Tivi, but inside his home town of Taibeh, people have started to make fun of him by calling him ‘Ahmad TV,'” said an Israeli intelligence official.
The Palestinian state media themselves openly court Israeli Arab citizens, who are called “our brothers inside the Green Line” or “our brothers from 1948.” The Palestinian do not use the term Israel in reference to Arabs, hinting broadly that the Israeli Arabs will one day return to join their brothers under Arab rule.
Another area of Arab solidarity in the Palestinian media is the constantly favorable attention given to Iraq’s Saddam Hussein.
The newspapers Al-Ayyam and Al-Hayyat al-Jadida both featured front page stories in their internet editions last week, supporting Saddam.
“Two martyrs in southern Iraq in missile attack by Americans,” said one headline, giving “martyr” status to Iraqis killed in the battle against American and British planes.
Another front-page story favorably summarized the chances for a mending of fences between Iraq and Saudi Arabia.
Speeches by Saddam and diplomatic meetings between Iraqi officials and other Arab officials are also always covered favorably-partly a sign of Palestinian thanks for continued Iraqi financial payments to the families of Palestinian martyrs, particularly suicide bombers who died attacking Israelis.
Indoctrinating Palestinians to hate Israel starts early on Palestinian television.
For the last two weeks, perhaps as a lead-up to the World Cup soccer tournament, Palestinian television has featured afternoon movies that include an Israeli atrocity committed against Palestinian children playing soccer.
In the short film features, which air at two or three in the afternoon (for optimum viewing by children), a gang of Israeli soldiers (played by Egyptian and Palestinian actors) decides to use the ten-year-old Palestinian soccer kids as shooting targets.
There is no reason for the attack by the Israeli soldiers, most of whom are pictured wearing kipot or yarmulkes-the Jewish skull caps worn by religious Jews.
After killings several of the kids in the middle of the field, the Israeli soldiers are seen patting each other on the back laughingly while the camera moves in for a close-up shot of the dead Palestinian children.
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