Only days before Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas visits Washington to ask for money and to exhibit reform and moderation, Abbas’s official media have again supported terror assaults on Israeli targets while attacking America and Israel in ways that recalled the worst instances of the regime of the late Yasser Arafat.
Meanwhile, for the second week in a row, another one of Abbas’s official mosque preachers speaking in an official broadcast, called for armed resistance to “the new American occupation of Iraq.”
For the fourth consecutive day, Dr. Abbas’s state-controlled media praised men who attacked or tried to attack Israel targets with missiles, mortars, rifles and road-side bombs, calling them “martyrs,” while accusing Israel of war crimes for killing the terrorists in the course of their attacks.
“An as-yet-unidentified man was martyred this morning in a clash with forces of the Israeli Occupation near the colony of Kfar Darom which is built on Palestinian land,” asserted the opening morning news broadcast of Voice of Palestine radio, which is controlled completely by PLO chairman Abbas.
“Two martyrs in Khan Yunis and Rafah fall to occupation bullets and missiles,” shrieked a bold color headline in Thursday’s (May 19) Al-Hayat Al-Jadeeda, a newspaper of Abbas’s Fatah Party, that, like other Palestinian media, soft-pedaled the fact that the “martyrs” were attacking Israel when killed.
Abbas’s newspaper continued the hero treatment of the “martyrs” by running a huge front-page picture of the body of one terrorist, his body festooned with verses from the Quran and propaganda messages from Hamas, the Islamic terror organization which Abbas is trying to bring into a coalition government.
Both Hamas and Islamic Jihad have agreed in principle to join Abbas’s government and to participate in national elections in July, and Abbas had promised the US and Israel that he would persuade both Islamic groups to stop attacking Israel. However, there has been a sharp increase in attacks in the last three weeks, despite a supposed “cooling-off” period supervised by Abbas.
A cartoon in today’s Al-Quds newspaper reflected the official position of the Abbas regime that the increase in violence was the fault of Israel, which, according to Abbas’s top ministers and aides, is deliberately trying to torpedo the “tahdiyya” or cooling-off period or “lull.”
The cartoon showed the flag of truce being shot up by Israeli rockets and bullets.
Abbas has also not really imposed restrictions on incitement to violence and hatred against Jews, Christians, Israel and the United States, and he has reacted angrily to outside criticism of his performance, accusing Israel of “incitement against me.”
In newspaper interviews published in all three major Palestinian dailies last Friday, Abbas claimed that he was suffering the same treatment as his mentor, Arafat, and in these same interviews he said he would ask the United States for increased economic aid as well as a less-pro-Israel position.
Front Page of Al-Hayat Al-Jadeeda, May 19, 2005.
The picture shows a mass funeral led by finger-waving members of the Hamas movement, while across the page PLO Chairman Abbas was shown reviewing a army troops on a visit to China.
The Palestinian coverage of the increased attacks on Israeli targets has been more than one-sided, ignoring that one terrorist died when his 90-pound bomb blew up in his hands ahead of time, or that Palestinian gunners were launching rockets at towns in Israel and its settlements in Gaza, which Israel is set to evacuate in three months.
Meanwhile, a publicly broadcast mosque speech on Abbas’s radio network accused the Bush Administration of leading the forces of discrimination and “terror against Muslims around the world,” and the speech fit a pattern of official Palestinian incitement against both the U.S. and Israel.
Speaking in Jerusalem’s Al-Aqsa Mosque, Sheikh Ikrema al-Sabry, the PA-paid and appointed Mufti of Jerusalem, again accused the United States of desecrating the Quran, Islam’s scripture, in its base in Guantanamo Cuba, even though a magazine report on such supposed conduct has been discredited and largely retracted.
Sheikh Sabry held up “the victorious sword of Saladin” (Salah al-Din), who defeated the Christian crusaders, as a role model for today’s mosque worshipers, and he strongly implied that American forces in Afghanistan and Iraq were but a new version of those earlier medieval crusaders.
He cited “war crimes against the Islamic peoples of Iraq and Afghanistan,” implying that this was a deliberate American policy.
The top Palestinian cleric said America was guilty of a policy of terror and discrimination against Muslims worldwide, making it difficult for them to travel or immigrate “under the pretext of protection against the danger of terror.”
Last week, two other mosque speakers-Sheikh Sheikh Ibrahim Mudeiris and Sheikh Yousef Abu-Sneina-struck similar themes on Palestinian television and radio, respectively. They accused America and Israel of wanting to conquer the entire Islamic world and of lusting for war.
Palestinian Prime Minister Ahmad Qreia and chief PLO negotiator Saeb Arikat have similarly accused Israel of lusting for war and of desiring to torpedo the peace process, in their respective media appearances over the last week.
They and the mosque speakers have also spoken almost daily about Israeli threats and attacks on Islamic holy places in Jerusalem.
“They want to target Al-Aqsa and to attack it in order to replace it with their supposed temple, God Forbid” shouted Sheikh Al-Sabry.
The sheikh used the term “al-Heikal al-Maz’oum”-Arabic: the supposed temple or the so-called Temple-that is standard usage in the broadcast media controlled by the Abbas-led Palestinian Authority.
[Permission to quote or reprint from article conditional on citing Michael Widlanski or Michael Widlanski Associates.]
Dr. Michael Widlanski served as a special advisor to Israeli delegations to peace talks in 1991-1992 and as Strategic Affairs Advisor to the Ministry of Public Security, editing secret PLO Archives captured in Jerusalem. He is a specialist in Arab politics and communication whose doctorate dealt with the Palestinian broadcast media. He is a former reporter, correspondent and editor, respectively, at The New York Times, The Cox Newspapers-Atlanta Constitution, and The Jerusalem Post.