By: Ricki Hollander May 1, 2022
Last year, Ramadan anti-Israel incitement and violence — in the guise of a Jihad for Jerusalem — saw many in the mainstream media ignore the historic patterns of provocation by the Palestinian leadership and instead echo their pretexts blaming Israel.
On the day of the Beersheva attack, PA President Mahmoud Abbas falsely alleged that Israel is stealing Palestinian water sources.
CAMERA documented the familiar pattern of incitement as well as the dereliction of the media to report fully and accurately about the violent events, and cautioned journalists to avoid the same pitfalls this Ramadan. But rather than reporting fully and honestly about the noxious role of Palestinian incitement and their stated goals, journalists have repeated the same mistakes, using the same, clichéd blame-Israel mold, shying away from reporting forthrightly about the orchestration of violent Ramadan events.
Incitement With Resulting Deadly Terrorism
Like last year, the weeks before Ramadan saw Palestinian Authority TV repeatedly broadcasting music videos that promoted revolution, terrorism and martyrdom in the name of “Palestine.”
And like last year, the PA and Fatah urged “popular resistance” or “uprising” against Israel (using terms they used to describe the 2015 stabbing intifada). Palestinian Media Watch documented recent calls from PLO officials for popular resistance urging Palestinians to emulate the first Intifada (the 1987-93 violence against Israel that killed some 200 Israelis), and pointed to the PA’s extra stipend (its “pay to slay” payments) to reward the family of the Arab-Israeli terrorist who murdered four people in a March 22 stabbing attack at a shopping center and gas station in Beersheva, although the terrorists were affiliated with ISIS.
While they did not directly sponsor the attack, Hamas, Palestinian Islamic Jihad and the terrorist groups under Hamas’ authority praised the attacks and lauded the perpetrators,
On the day of the Beersheva attack, during the UN-initiated “World Water Day”, PA President Mahmoud Abbas further incited against Israel on his Facebook page by falsely alleging that Israel is stealing Palestinian water sources – a long debunked accusation.
Like last year, the terrorist groups in the Gaza Strip under Hamas authority fomented unrest among Israeli Arabs, urging Arab-Israelis and Palestinian non-citizens to unite and join forces against the Jewish regime. This year, however, the terror groups under Hamas upped the ante by forming a “national commission” to connect Arab citizens of Israel with the Palestinian “resistance” or terror groups operating in the Gaza. According to the chairman of the new commission, Mohsen Abu Ramadan, the organization is meant to promote unity and shared identity between Arab citizens of Israel and Palestinian terrorists in Gaza ―or what they refer to as “the resistance” against Israel. To that end, Abu Ramadan lauded Arab-Israelis who showed support for Hamas during its 2021 war with Israel. At a March 26th rally sponsored by the commission in anticipation of the Palestinian-declared “Land Day” Abu Ramadan urged Palestinians and Arab Israelis to carry out “armed resistance” and unify in a joint struggle “the Israeli occupation.” Senior terrorist officials at the rally declared solidarity with Arabs “inside the 1948 territories.”
Like previous years, they invoked Amin Husseini’s successful battle cry “Defend Jerusalem and Muslim holy sites,” and warned against Israeli “aggressive measures” against Jerusalem, declaring that the “sword of Jerusalem” would “not return to its scabbard.” Other speeches at the rally attacked Israel for its security actions calling them “crimes” against the land, history and holy sites.
The day after that rally (March 27), two Arab-Israeli terrorists from Umm-el-Fahm, associated with ISIS and armed with automatic weapons, took aim at civilians on a central street in Hadera. They wounded a dozen civilians and killed two police officers. Hamas and its affiliated terrorist groups praised and celebrated the murderous attack although ISIS took credit for it.
Like previous years, senior terrorist officials invoked Amin Husseini’s successful battle cry “Defend Jerusalem and Muslim holy sites,” and warned against Israeli “aggressive measures” against Jerusalem, declaring that the “sword of Jerusalem” would “not return to its scabbard.”
Within two days of that attack (on March 29), a terrorist affiliated with Fatah, armed with an M-16 assault weapon went on a killing spree, murdering five more people, bringing the total number of murdered victims to 11 in under two weeks.
Even as PA President and Fatah member Mahmoud Abbas issued an official condemnation of the attack, Fatah leaders held a rally to celebrate the attack. Sweets were handed out and the terrorist was praised as a “heroic martyr” to emulate. Fatah leaders glorified the attack as “a natural response to the crimes of the occupation against the Palestinian people” and “a message to the Palestinian security apparatuses, that they must turn their weapons towards the Israeli enemy.” They called on Palestinians to carry out more such attacks “as long as the Palestinian lands remain occupied.”
Meanwhile, a statement on Hamas’ website made statements similar to those made the previous year to incite the Jihad of 2021, which culminated in Hamas-rocket attacks in an all-out war against Israel. This year their statement declared:
“The Islamic Resistance Movement (Hamas) blesses the heroic operation against the Zionist occupation soldiers in the so-called ‘Tel Aviv’ area, which led to the killing and wounding of a number of Zionist occupiers, and stresses that all the heroic operations carried out by our Palestinian people, in every inch of our occupied land, comes in the context of the natural and legitimate response to the terrorism of the occupation and its escalating crimes against our land, our people and our sanctities. We have repeatedly warned the occupation of the consequences of escalating its violations and crimes, as our Palestinian people will not remain passive in front of it, and will confront its terrorism by all means, and they will protect their sanctuary, the farthest corner and the entire occupied lands, and he will defend it with comprehensive resistance, which will continue to deter the occupation, and to restrain its aggression, until its departure from our land.”
Although the pre-Ramadan provocation to violence followed a similar pattern to that of last year, Palestinian incitement and celebration of the attacks were largely ignored by the Western media and, in some case, even Palestinian self-justification for the terrorist attack were echoed.
NPR’s Blame-Israel Narrative
Take, for example NPR’s coverage of the terrorist attacks in a March 30 broadcast by Daniel Estrin. Following the fifth recent terror attack and third deadly one in a week, Estrin responded to a question about the motivation for the attacks. Far from exploring the incitement that urged attacks on Israel and the celebrations afterwards, he protected the Palestinian leadership, echoing their propaganda blaming Israel. Estrin said:
“… there is a different feeling that this may be a general wave of Palestinian attacks, kind of like what we have seen in different years, attacks that are not necessarily directed from the top, but some kind of momentum that gathers and inspires copy-cat attacks. In the Palestinian territories, this is being described as resistance against Israeli occupation.”
Estrin then turned the tables, reversing victims and perpetrators. His report therefore was not about the innocent Israeli victims of murderous Palestinian terrorists or on their families, but focused on Palestinian grievances, which Estrin amplified along with anything he could think with which to blame on Israelis:
“On the streets, we’ve been seeing far-right Israeli protests. At some of the sites of these attacks, we’ve heard chants like ‘Death to Arabs”. Israelis torched Palestinians’ cars and vowed revenge in one village. And thousands of police today dispatched across the country. And people are jittery. I’ve heard from Palestinian Arab, citizens of Israel who are afraid to go out on the streets to Jewish areas. We saw today police shoot at the legs of some Palestinians at a busy Jerusalem market. Perhaps a case of mistaken identity. And some Israeli cities and even in West Bank settlements are limiting construction sites now because a lot of Palestinian workers come in for construction and these cities don’t want Palestinians coming in today.”
Others Ignore Incitement to Terrorism
The New York Times also steered clear of examining the relentless incitement to anti-Israel violence by Palestinian leaders. For example, an article about the Hadera terrorist attack mentioned that “tensions between Israelis and Palestinians often rise during this period, most recently last May, when Ramadan-related clashes helped lead to an 11-day war between Israel and Islamist militants in Gaza” without noting how the Palestinian leadership deliberately provokes and foments anti-Israel violence during this period.
AP similarly avoided mention of the encouragement of violence by Fatah and Hamas leaders, invoking the hostilities of last year, but with the same blinkered presentation —not as planned, violent jihad against Israel but as a spontaneous eruption of bilateral violence. According to the AP’s formulation:
“Last year, clashes between Israeli police and Muslim protesters during the holy month boiled over into an 11-day war between Israel and Gaza’s Hamas rulers.”
More Incitement as Ramadan Begins
As CAMERA pointed out in its study, Ramadan, the holiest month in Islam, is considered a month of jihad, not only in terms of a Muslim’s psychological inner faith but in terms of physical conquest to expand Islam’s power and reach, as is pointed out by Islamic scholars in the Middle East. In order to emphasize this interpretation of Ramadan, Palestinian Authority TV featured Shariah Judge Mahmoud Al-Habbashan explaining the historical importance of violent jihad during the holy month and urging further anti-Israel violence. Palestinian Media Watch recorded and translated this Ramadan broadcast:
“How was this month [of Ramadan] in the life of Prophet [Muhammad]? … Did the Prophet spend Ramadan in calmness, serenity, laziness, and sleepiness? Far be it from him… The Prophet entered the great Battle of Badr (in 624 CE) during Ramadan… Martyrs fell from among the companions of the Prophet – 14 Martyrs … The companions did not say: “O Prophet of Allah, now is a time of fasting and it is hot” … On the 17th of Ramadan he set out to Badr, and the great Battle of Badr took place… Also in the month of Ramadan, in the 8th year of the Hijra (i.e., 629-630 CE), the Prophet and the Muslims conquered Mecca… The Prophet did not say and did not think when he decided to set out to liberate Mecca and to conquer Mecca that “Now it’s Ramadan, people are fasting, let’s delay it to after Ramadan” … How can we build [our] lives and lay foundations for Islam if we are lazy, Heaven forbid? Ramadan is not a month of laziness but rather a month of activity, of effort, and of hard work, and as it also was in the life of the Prophet, a month of Jihad, conquest, and victory.” (Official PA TV, Allah’s Messenger Muhammad, April 3, 2022)
PA TV featured Shariah Judge Mahmoud Al-Habbash explaining the historical importance of violent jihad during the holy month and urging further anti-Israel violence.
Just days later, on the first Thursday night of Ramadan (April 7, 2022), another murderous terrorist attack was perpetrated in the heart of Tel Aviv when a Palestinian terrorist opened fire on a crowded bar, murdering three civilians and wounding a dozen more before escaping. Following an intensive manhunt for the terrorist, he was killed in an exchange of gunfire with police.
On April 10, 2022, MK Ayman Odeh who heads the Joint List, the third largest parliamentary group in Israel’s Knesset, delivered his own taped Ramadan speech from Damascus Gate in Jerusalem, urging Arab-Israelis to stop serving with Israeli security forces:
‘It’s a disgrace that a young Arab or the parents of a young Arab would agree to enlist and serve in the security forces, which are actually forces of the occupation. Our position is that we will be with our people to end the murderous occupation so that Palestine will rise, Palestinian flags will be hoisted on the walls of Jerusalem and peace will spread on the land of peace. The young people must not join the occupying forces. Throw your weapon in their face and tell them that our place is not with you. We will not be part of the injustice and the crime.”
NYT’s Context of Terrorism
On April 9, NYT Jerusalem Bureau Chief Patrick Kingsley sought to explain the “wave of terrorism” as a by-product of “Palestinian anger over vanishing prospects for a Palestinian state.” Dismissing Israel’s efforts to accommodate Palestinians, Kingsley wrote:
“Though Israel’s recent piecemeal concessions to Palestinians have improved life in small ways, the most fundamental Palestinian aspiration — a sovereign state — remains remote.”
Kingsley did not mention the fact that Palestinians have consistently rejected repeated Israeli offers of a Palestinian state alongside the Jewish state as inadequate, precisely because they’ve never accepted the legitimacy of a Jewish state anywhere in the region.
The Jerusalem bureau chief’s “analysis” was followed the next day (on April 10) with another article ostensibly meant to provide context for the latest wave of Palestinian terrorism. Entitled “In a Village Divided, Palestinians See Their Hold on Territory Eroding,” the piece not only avoided exploration of how the jihad was incited, but, in fact, shielded Palestinian leaders from any responsibility for the situation by amplifying their self-justifying pretexts. Focusing on the Arab village of Wajara as “a microcosm of all the violations that Israel commits” (as one of the quoted interviewees put it), correspondent Raja Abdulrahim provided readers with a compendium of anti-Israel allegations by carefully selected interviewees who alleged that Israel seized land that is by right Palestinian. As for Israel’s own historic claim to disputed territory, Abdulrahim dismissed it in her reporter’s voice as a dubious argument by Israel alone:
“… Israel insists that there has been a Jewish presence in the West Bank for thousands of years.”
It is not only Israel that “insists” there was a Jewish presence in the Land of Israel, but archeologists, historians, and Jewish scholars who have extensively documented millenia of Jewish habitation in the Jewish fatherland, the heart of which was Judea and Samaria, or in current parlance, the West Bank.
Media Mantra: “Convergence of Ramadan, Passover and Easter”
A Wall Street Journal article directly after the Ramadan terror attack studiously avoided addressing the promotion of violence by Palestinian leaders, instead describing the resultant violent anti-Israel jihad as a spontaneous “burst of terrorist attacks on civilians and rising religious tensions in Jerusalem”, the latter of which was attributed equally to both sides. To further remove responsibility from the Palestinian leadership for fomenting a Ramadan jihad for Jerusalem, the article invoked the “convergence of the Jewish holiday Passover and Islam’s holy month, Ramadan.”
Unstated and unanswered is the question of why each religion’s separate observances in Jerusalem would result in violence. It is not as if Israeli authorities had plans to prevent Muslims from celebrating Ramadan. Quite the contrary, they allowed larger numbers of Muslims to enter the Temple Mount to pray. The article, however, implied that Jewish observance of Passover at their holy sites in ancient Jerusalem was somehow reason enough to set off violent rioting:
“Israeli authorities are worried about the next two weeks when Jews and Muslims will seek to pray at the same sites in Jerusalem during an unusual convergence of the Jewish holiday Passover and Islam’s holy month, Ramadan. The presence of Jewish and Muslim worshipers has been combustible in the past, and Israeli security forces have already scuffled with Palestinians in recent days near the Old City.”
Unmentioned is the fact that the combustible nature of the situation lies entirely with the Palestinian leaders who have rejected Jewish rights in the city. They urge jihad to protect Jerusalem from the Jews. To them, having to share Jerusalem with non-Muslims is in itself an affront to Islam that warrants violent jihad. And that is why they’ve incited yet another jihad for Jerusalem on Ramadan.
By blaming violence simplistically on the convergence of the Jewish Passover and the Muslim Ramadan without explaining why – i.e. the fact that Hamas and Fatah and other Palestinian leaders deny Jewish religious and historic ties to Jerusalem and see Jewish prayer and celebration in Jerusalem as a pretext to incite jihad—readers are denied a clear understanding of events in Jerusalem and Israel.
Yet the facile mantra of competing holidays quickly became the go-to explanation/justification in the media for the violent Ramadan jihad.
In an April 8th CNN broadcast, journalists talked of concerns “that the violence will just continue, especially when in the next ten days the holidays of Ramadan, Easter and Passover are all going to overlap in a rare convergence of the calendar. So really a lot of concerns that tensions will only further rise and there will only be more violence here.”
Unmentioned is the fact that the combustible nature of the situation lies entirely with the Palestinian leaders who have rejected Jewish rights in the city.
The fact that Jewish observance of Passover was repeatedly cited as a pretext for a Jihad to “defend” Jerusalem without challenge demonstrates journalists’ unquestioning acceptance of jhadists’ and their inciters’ position that Jewish practice in the holy city of Jerusalem is a provocation to be stopped. Indeed, Arab Joint List Member of Knesset Aida Tourna-Suleiman was explicit in an interview on Israeli Radio Reshet Bet when she asserted that Jews have no right to pray inside Jerusalem at all because “Jerusalem is occupied territory.”
Far from making this clear, the New York Times repeated the same pretext without explanation again and again:
“The festivals are expected to compound tensions in the Old City of Jerusalem, where access to and control over a holy site sacred to both Jews and Muslims — known to Jews as Temple Mount and to Muslims as the Noble Sanctuary — has long been at the heart of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.” (Patrick Kingsley, NYT, April 2, 2022)
“Israel’s security forces remain on high alert amid fears of more unrest and violence over the next month, when the rare convergence of Ramadan, Passover and Easter is expected to raise tensions further between Israelis and Palestinians.” (Patrick Kingsley and Isabel Kershner, NYT, April 6, 2022)
“The assault heightened fears of an even more intense surge of violence over the next 10 days, when the rare convergence of Ramadan, Passover and Easter is expected to raise tensions further between Israelis and Palestinians.” (Patrick Kingsley, April 7, 2022)
On occasion when the New York Times did seek to explain why religious celebrations by non-Muslims might spark anti-Israel violence, it got the story completely wrong, distorting the truth to blame Israel. According to the New York Times:
“Next weekend, the religious festivals of Passover, Ramadan and Easter will overlap in a rare convergence that will drive unusually high numbers of Jewish, Muslim and Christian worshipers to the Old City of Jerusalem. That raises the risk of confrontations between Muslims and Jews, and heightens longstanding Palestinian resentment about the restrictions on access to and control of the Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem.” (Patrick Kingsley, April 9, 2022)
This is simply false. Since 1967, when Jerusalem’s Old City came under Israel’s control in a self-defensive war with Jordan, Israel handed over administrative control of Judaism’s holiest site/Islam’s third holiest site, the Temple Mount/al Aqsa compound to Jordan’s Islamic Waqf. At the same time, Israel retained sovereignty and security control of the area and permitted non-Muslims, including Jews, to visit the site –in contrast to Jordan which had barred non-Muslims from visiting the site. This has been the status quo ever since. Access is limited only when and where there are security threats to worshippers. Strategically omitted from the New York Times explanation was that Israel was explicit in its indication that it would allow more Palestinians from the West Bank access to the al-Aqsa mosque despite increased Palestinian terrorism.
Also unmentioned in the media are the internal Muslim struggles for influence in Jerusalem and the Temple Mount compound that threaten Jordan’s role as the protector of Islamic interests in Jerusalem. Jordan’s Waqf is being challenged by other Islamic factions, including Hamas and the Muslim Brotherhood, the Northern Branch of the Islamic Movement led by Sheikh Raed Salah, and the extremist Hizb ut-Tahrir (Islamic Liberation Party) who want to control the Temple Mount as the centre of a world-wide caliphate. The media, for the most part, failed to research or report on internal Muslim struggles over the Temple Mount in favor of delivereing a simplistic black and white blame-Israel narrative.
Historic “Defend al Aqsa” Pretext
Although the Palestinian pretexts for jihad continually shift, the call to arms has always remained the same: “Defend al-Aqsa,” “Defend Muslim holy sites,” “Defend Jerusalem” from the Jews. As the CAMERA 2021 Ramadan Jihad study pointed out:
“These were the historic battle cries to violent jihad that have garnered wide support among Muslims in the past. They follow a century-old pattern established by Amin al Husseini, the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem between 1921 and 1948. The mufti repeatedly incited jihad to defend Muslim holy sites in Jerusalem – using it as a pretext to attack Jews in the name of Islam. The “Defend Jerusalem/al-Aqsa” war song resulted in the murders and massacre of dozens of Jews in Jerusalem, Hebron and Safed in 1929 and set the stage for many “Jihads for Jerusalem” that were to follow. Waging a jihad for Jerusalem has served – and continues to serve– a political purpose. It moves the focal point of grievances over failures of local leaders onto Israel and garners support amongst Muslims across the world for Palestinians and Islam.”
Hamas, in particular, has been trying to position itself as defender of Jerusalem and Muslim holy sites and its exhortations to violence center on false pretexts about Israel “storming” or otherwise trying to take over the al-Aqsa mosque. And so, it was inevitable that Palestinian leaders would repeat last year’s battle tactic of using the Temple Mount/al-Aqsa mosque compound as a staging ground for attacks on Israeli security forces and Jewish civilian worshippers praying at the Western Wall below with the same pretext —that Israel was planning to take over Muslim holy sites.
This year, the pretext seized on a tiny group of fundamentalist Israelis calling themselves ‘Return to the Mount” who threatened to sacrifice a lamb on the Temple Mount as a Passover sacrifice and as political theatre as part of their stated goal of “redeeming” the Temple Mount. That the group is dismissed as a lunatic fringe by Israeli society, that it is outlawed by religious, political and security authorities, that members were arrested in their homes for concocting and publicizing such a provocative plan, that they were barred from using social media, giving interviews or contacting anyone about it, and that they were banned from even entering Jerusalem until after the Flag March on Jerusalem Day was entirely irrelevant to Hamas and fellow inciters of the jihad. Hamas used their preposterous social media proclamations as pretext enough to “call on the Palestinian people in all parts of our occupied lands, to
“participate in (the Dawn of protecting Al-Aqsa) and mobilize on the yards of the blessed Al-Aqsa Mosque on Friday, April 15, to protect it from the colonial settler extremist groups’ storming of Al-Aqsa and to thwart their plans to desecrate Al-Aqsa Mosque in the so-called ‘slaughtering sacrifices’.”
Like last year, Palestinians heeded Hamas exhortations and barricaded themselves in the mosque with horded stones, incendiary devices and iron bars. Raising Hamas flags, they threw stones at Jewish worshippers at the Western Wall and targeted security forces with their weapons.
According to police spokesman Eli Levy, “in order not to infringe on the freedom of worship, we waited until the end of prayers and then went in to disperse the rioters.”
Nonetheless, the PA and Hamas, vying with each other for the title of defenders of Al Aqsa used it as their pretext for continued violence. PA Prime Minister Mohammad Shtayyeh condemned Israeli police for “attacking Muslim worshippers” while the PA Foreign Ministry’s Facebook page called the actions of Israeli police a “barbaric attack against worshippers at the al-Aqsa mosque” and falsely accused them of harassing Palestinian women, children, the elderly, medical personnel and journalists. Mahmoud Abbas’ spokesman, Nabil Abu Rudeineh accused Israel of “crossing all lines” by “attacking” the al-Aqsa mosque and trying to turn the conflict into a “religious war.”
Wanting to be seen as the guardian of Islam, Hamas spokesman praised those who attacked Israelis from al-Aqsa, calling their attacks a “defense” of the al-Aqsa mosque and threatening to unleash “hell” on Israel.
Hamas has been trying to position itself as defender of Jerusalem and Muslim holy sites and its exhortations to violence center on false pretexts about Israel “storming” or otherwise trying to take over the al-Aqsa mosque.
The media quickly fell into its familiar role of protecting the Palestinian inciters and pretending that Israeli security forces were to blame at least as much as, if not more than, those engaging in violence.
These were some of the headlines and ledes:
“Israeli security forces storm Al-Aqsa mosque”: “More than 150 Palestinians were reportedly injured and four Israeli soldiers were wounded after Israeli security forces fired tear gas and stun grenades inside the mosque.” (ABC News)
“Palestinian And Israeli Police Clash at One of the World`s Holiest Sites”: “At one of the holiest and hotly contested places of worship in the world, a bitter confrontation after Israeli forces stormed the Al-Aqsa Mosque, known as Temple Mount to Jews, and fired tear gas and rubber-coated steel bullets shortly after morning prayers.” (CBS Evening News, April 15)
“Clashes erupt at Al Aqsa mosque in Jerusalem, at least 150 Palestinians wounded”: “Clashes broke out early Friday between Israeli police and Palestinians at the Al-Aqsa Mosque, a major holy site in Jerusalem, and medics said at least 150 Palestinians were wounded. “ (France 24)
“Jerusalem: Over 150 hurt in clashes at al-Aqsa Mosque compound”: “More than 150 Palestinians have been injured in clashes with Israeli police at the al-Aqsa Mosque compound in Jerusalem, Palestinian medics say. “(BBC)
An AP story, cited Palestinian witnesses to blame Israel primarily for the violence that was, in fact, planned by Hamas. They acknowledged only that “a small group of Palestinians threw rocks at police,” but that Israeli forces “entered the compound in force, setting off a wider conflagration.” In other words, responsibility for the violence was shifted to Israeli police trying to bring the rioting under control.
An April 18th NPR Morning Edition segment repeated the convergence of holidays mantra while emphasizing and amplifying the Palestinian pretext that Israel was the aggressor. Host Leila Fadel introduced the segment by suggesting the “unrest” in the region was due to Israeli actions:
Fadel: “Dozens were hurt Friday in and around the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound when Israeli police used tear gas and stun grenades against Palestinians throwing stones. In the middle of Ramadan, police stormed at the mosque, considered the third-holiest site in Islam. Medical officials said 150 Palestinians and three police officers were injured. Hundreds of Palestinians were arrested. On Sunday, Israeli police were back, saying they wanted to clear a path for Jews visiting the hilltop compound revered by Jews as the Temple Mount, the holiest site in Judaism. Police blocked Muslims from parts of the site, and more arrests were made. Palestinians accuse Israel of a dangerous escalation during a rare convergence of Passover, Ramadan and Easter, when even larger crowds of worshippers were visiting Jerusalem. Similar violence a year ago was one of the events that contributed to the eruption of an 11-day-long war in Gaza.”
Mehdi Hasan and Ayman Mohyeldin – MSNBC journalists who function as biased, anti-Israel propagandists –correctly noted that journalists’ descriptions of “clashes” incorrectly impute a false equivalency between the actions of Palestinians and Israeli security forces, but they ranted against this description for entirely opposite reasons as they reversed the perpetrators of violence and the protectors. In their books, those hurling firebombs and stones toward Israeli police and worshippers were harmlessly demonstrating their frustration with Israeli “occupation” while protection of worshippers and riot control by Israeli security forces was unjust violence by the “occupying force.”
In other jihad-related violence, Palestinian attackers attempted stabbing, shooting, and charging attacks on Israeli security officers. They threw firebombs and rocks at Israeli vehicles. They vandalized Joseph’s Tomb, a Jewish holy site, and later shot two Jews going to visit the holy site. In many of these cases, the assailants were arrested or shot and killed by security forces.
The media imposed a false symmetry between the violent and murderous actions of Palestinian terrorists, murderers and assailants and the Israeli response.
Headlines and stories, however, blurred the difference between anti-Israel terrorism with Israel’s efforts to thwart such attacks. For example, an AP story on April 13, headlined “Israeli forces kill 3 Palestinians in raids in West Bank” wrote of “the latest in a wave of Israeli-Palestinian violence that has erupted as Muslims mark the holy month of Ramadan.” Another AP story referred to “a wave of arrests and military operations across the occupied West Bank” that was responsible “setting off clashes with Palestinians.” These AP stories were covered by newspapers and other media outlets.
Like last year, the pretext of defending al-Aqsa and Jerusalem from the Jews provided a new justification for the firing of rockets into Israel by Iran-supported terrorists under Hamas authority in Gaza and later on, from Lebanon.
Throughout, the media imposed a false symmetry between the violent and murderous actions of Palestinian terrorists, murderers and assailants and the Israeli response.
A New York Times article by Raja Abdulrahim on April 16 did exactly that and worse, reversing the focus to present Israel as the aggressor and Palestinians as the victims. Entitled “‘We’re Exhausted’: Palestinians Decry Israeli Raids as Collective Punishment,” the sub-headline set up a contrived equivalence: “At least 14 Palestinians have been killed in a widespread Israeli military operation in the West Bank, launched in response to a string of attacks in Israel that killed 14 people.” The focus of the article, however, was to show an equivalence as much as to highlight Palestinian grievances and display Israel, rather than Palestinians, as the aggressors and villains of the story. To that end, Abdulrahim deceives readers by suggesting that the 14 Palestinians killed were innocent victims of Israeli aggressors when, in fact, the vast majority of them were either attacking Israeli soldiers or involved in gunfights and clashes with Israeli soldiers when killed.
Hamas Expands the “Defend al Aqsa” Threat, With Little Reaction From MSM
As Ramadan drew to a close, Hamas’ Gaza leader, Yahya Sinwar, threatened Jews around the world with the “Defend al Aqsa” battle cry. In a speech on Saturday night (April 30, 2022), he declared:
“Our people must prepare for a great battle if the occupation does not cease its aggression against the Al-Aqsa Mosque. Violating Al-Aqsa and Jerusalem means a regional, religious war…Whoever makes the decision to allow [Israeli security forces in Al-Aqsa] to be repeated, the violation of Al-Aqsa — he has decided to allow the violation of thousands of synagogues all across the world.”
Aside from Jewish media outlets, few Western mainstream media outlets covered this revelatory, anti-Semitic threat by Hamas. (A notable exception was Agence France Presse.)
And so it has continued, with the media following the same pattern as it did last year, highlighting Palestinian terrorist pretexts and finding ways to blame Israel while CAMERA calls journalists out on their misreporting and errors, alerting the world to the truth of what’s really going on and how the increasingly unreliable mainstream media too often distorts it.
Ricki Hollander is a senior media analyst at CAMERA. Her analyses, commentary and letters about the Arab-Israeli conflict and its media coverage have appeared in such publications as the National Review, Middle East Quarterly, Newsweek, Spectator, Chicago Sun Times, Algemeiner and Times of Israel. She has lectured across North America and in Israel about the topic. Hollander is co-author of the monograph “Indicting Israel: New York Times Coverage of the Palestinian-Israeli Conflict.”