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Only for Israel is bad rhetoric worse than murder
The mainstream news media rarely covers Palestinian government and community activities, unless they can spin them as a negative and critical news report. When they do, they exaggerate the controversies, add words and phrases that were never there, and use them to underscore why Israelis are “better” than the Palestinians. This week’s target, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas
By Ray Hanania
Every since protests began to commemorate Land Day, when Israeli police shot and killed several Israeli Arabs in 1976 who were protesting against government land confiscations of non-Jewish lands inside Israel, Israel snipers have targeted and murdered more than 50 Palestinian protestors.
The deaths received some media coverage but the stories are written by the pro-Israel mainstream American news media and portrayed as unavoidable consequences of an unending conflict, provoked by Palestinians who “forced” Israel to commit the killings.
The mainstream news media rarely covers Palestinian government or community activities, unless they can somehow twist them into controversies that make Palestinians look bad and Israelis look good.
Last week was a good example, when Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas convened a rare meeting of the Palestine National Council — it hasn’t met in nine years — and he spoke about the increasing killings by Israel, the plan by President Trump to open a U.S. Embassy in occupied Jerusalem, and efforts to force Israel to implement the promises it made and broke in the 1993 peace process.
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And then he added some off-the-cuff comments about how many anti-Zionist Jewish writers have argued that “Jewish leaders” were partly to blame for the rising anti-Semitism in Europe that led to the Holocaust.
Had he not mentioned that, no one would have cared about what the Palestinians were trying to do to kick-start the peace process and force Israel to live up to its many broken obligations and promises from Camp David and Oslo. Abbas was quickly and widely denounced without any restraint and totally out of context.
The Abbas speech was broadcast live on Palestinian TV, which is often targeted by the Israeli military during censorship crackdowns. Abbas spoke for about 90 minutes and many pro-Israel mainstream media described the speech as “rambling.”
Of course, the news media covered Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s wild assertions and rambling remarks against Iran last week. Netanyahu asserted that Iran has been secretly building nuclear weapons, violating the nuclear deal it signed under naive former American President Barack Obama. Netanyahu’s press conference could easily have been described as “rambling,” and he could have been wildly criticized, like Abbas was, because the fact is that Israel is the ONLY middle Eastern region nation, not Iran or Syria, that actually has developed and continues to develop nuclear bombs, and weapons of mass destrcution.
The media saves negative pejoratives only for the Palestinians, and anyone, any government, or any organization that Israel claims is an “enemy.”
The mainstream news media’s motto is “The enemy of Israel is my enemy, too.”
Netanyahu isn’t the world’s worst war criminal, but he is pretty bad. The protests in Gaza began March 30 and have been held every Friday to protest Israel’s theft of lands from Palestinian Christians and Muslims hat the mainstream news media doesn’t waste it’s time covering. During the protests, Israeli snipers, on Netanyahu’s orders, have targeted dozens of the protestors shooting them int he head, often in the back as they were walking away from the border fence.
Netanyahu has reigned over an era of the worst massacres of Palestinian civilians, whom he falsely asserts without any proof but that is accepted and repeated by the biased mainstream news media, that they are all terrorists. Among the murdered are dozens of children and teenagers who were intentionally shot after soldier snipers targeted them in their high-powered scopes.
In his speech, and Abbas asserted that Jews in eastern and western Europe had been periodically subjected to massacres over the centuries, culminating in the Holocaust, and although he denounced the killings, added this:
“But why did this used to happen? They [anti-Zionist Jewish authors] say, ‘It is because we are Jews.’ I will bring you three Jews, with three books who say that enmity towards Jews was not because of their religious identity but because of their social function. This is a different issue. So the Jewish question that was widespread throughout Europe was not against their religion but against their social function which relates to usury and banking and such.”
The media, not Abbas, inserted the phrase “money-lending” to fire up the anti-Semitism accusations, and that phrase has been disseminated widespread by pro-Israel activists including like Israeli Knesset member Michael Oren.
The Israeli media wildly denounced Abbas, using phrases and terms he never used. The mainstream news media followed suit, republishing the Israeli stories and Israeli interpretations and narrow focus only on the brief remarks in which he criticized Israel’s Jewish leadership.
But, when it comes to Israel’s atrocities, who cares about facts?
Many Israelis don’t like the reality of where their nation originates. Many of Israel’s founders were Ashkenazi Jews from Europe, and many believe those European Jews were converts.
Ironically, Israelis argue Palestinians do not exist and they are “converts,” too, of sorts, who migrated “illegally” to Palestine from other areas. They ignore the facts that many Palestinian Christians were actually Jews who converted to Christianity over the past 200 centuries.
Don’t you dare to ever question the Jewish heritage of the founders of Israel. But bash the Palestinians all you want.
The real issue here is the hypocrisy. The double standard. Israelis and their supporters including many anti-Arab racists in America, can libel the Palestinians and their history, and nothing is said. Nothing is noted. Nothing is reported. But when Israelis and Jews are libeled, or in most cases, criticized, holy hell breaks out in the media coverage. Total exaggeration. The media and the critics ignore the facts, such as that Abbas and many Palestinians have denounced those who deny the Holocaust.
But the focus is on the hypocrisy of how it is OK to challenge the legitimacy of Palestinians and Arabs to the land of Palestine — many Israelis deny that Palestine existed, something I consider to be an equivalent to Holocaust denial.
The Holocaust did happen. I trust the history books when they say 6 million Jews were murdered by the Nazis. My father and uncle, both Palestinians, fought in the U.S military against the Nazis. Holocaust denial is disgusting, and usually the result of either anger or anti-Semitism. Israel’s don’t see any difference, though, except when they act in violence against Palestinians. Anti-Semitism, true anti-Semitism, is wrong, too.
Oftentimes, criticism of the Holocaust is the result of anger and frustration caused when Israel murders Palestinians, violates Palestinian human and civil rights, all without ever being held accountable. Israel is killing Palestinians in the Gaza Strip, and they have been stealing Christian and Muslim lands in the Occupied West Bank and in Occupied Jerusalem.
Anger caused by a “Jewish State” that violates the rights of Christians and Muslims cannot be described as being true “anti-Semitism.”
If all things were equal, I would argue that Abbas made some stupid comments. Why even go there? Why even bring up the Holocaust? Because the debate and discussion that ensued at the historic PNC meeting reflected the intense anger Palestinians feel over Israel’s impunity in killing Palestinians and violating Palestinian rights without being held accountable. Without the media condemning that immorality.
The media denounces Abbas for his words, but remains silent or complicit when Israel actually takes the life of a Palestinian child, shooting them int he back of the head. Or, when Israel murders journalists who are Palestinians and clearly marked as “journalists” and “media” covering the protests in Gaza.
The problem Abbas has is the problem most Arab leaders and activists have. They have no sense of the power of perception and propaganda. They don’t understand strategic communications. Abbas has no real public relations or communications strategy. Instead of releasing a text of his speech in both Arabic and English to control the message and allowing the world to see his true remarks in context, he just “wings it” the way most other failed Arab leaders do.
The truth is by failing to do his own public relations, he is allowing his words to be reported by a biased Israeli and mainstream news media. In fact, that is the only place where most of the public will ever hear or read about Abbas’ comments. They will only hear or read about a narrow aspect of his remarks. They will never see his full comments or understand the context of what he was saying. And context — the suffering of the Palestinians while struggling to achieve a just and fair peace — is important.
These failed leaders believe that because they have truth on their side and uncaring about the power of perception, propaganda and spin.
Abbas is trying to work with the U.S Government to implement a new peace plan with Israel, but that effort is not given any value at all. I argue that’s because Israel really doesn’t want peace. Israel wants to continue the conflict so they can avoid peace and confiscate and steal all oft he lands belonging to Christians and Muslims living in Israel and inside the Occupied West Bank and Occupied Jerusalem.
The truth is that Israel’s Netanyahu can order the indiscriminate murder of Palestinians without any consequences, without being held accountable and without having to endure biased, unobjective criticism from the mainstream news media.
But if a Palestinian says anything, regardless of intent or context or accuracy (without making up words that were never said), all Hell breaks loose.
Because criticism of Israel is a greater crime in Israel and in the mainstream news media than is the murder of a Palestinian child.
Abbas symbolizes “anti-Semitism.” But Netanyahu and his violent government never symbolize mass murder.
That’s pretty pathetic. And you wonder why there is no peace today.
(Ray Hanania is an award winning Palestinian American columnist and the author of several books including “Yalla! Fight Back” which details a strategy to counter anti-Arab racism and media bias. Reach him on his personal website at www.Hanania.com or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.)
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"I write about three topics, the Middle East, politics and life in general. I often take my life experiences and offer them in an entertaining way to readers, and I take on the toughest topics like the Israel-Palestine conflict and don't pull any punches about what I feel is fair. But, my priority is always about writing the good story."
Hanania covered Chicago Politics and Chicago City Hall from 1976 through 1992. Hanania began writing in 1975 when he published The Middle Eastern Voice newspaper in Chicago (1975-1977). He later published “The National Arab American Times” newspaper which was distributed through 12,500 Middle East food stores in 48 American States (2004-2007).
Hanania writes weekly columns on Middle East and American Arab issues for the Arab News in Saudi Arabia at www.ArabNews.com, and at www.TheArabDailyNews.com, www.TheDailyHookah.com and at SuburbanChicagoland.com. He has also published weekly columns in the Jerusalem Post newspaper, YNetNews.com, Newsday Newspaper in New York, the Orlando Sentinel Newspapers, and the Arlington Heights Daily Herald.
Palestinian, American Arab and Christian, Hanania’s parents originate from Jerusalem and Bethlehem.
Hanania is the recipient of four (4) Chicago Headline Club “Peter Lisagor Awards” for Column writing. In November 2006, he was named “Best Ethnic American Columnist” by the New American Media. In 2009, Hanania received the prestigious Sigma Delta Chi Award for Writing from the Society of Professional Journalists. He is the recipient of the MT Mehdi Courage in Journalism Award. He was honored for his writing skills with two (2) Chicago Stick-o-Type awards from the Chicago Newspaper Guild. In 1990, Hanania was nominated by the Chicago Sun-Times editors for a Pulitzer Prize for his four-part series on the Palestinian Intifada.
His writings have also been honored by two national Awards from ADC for his writing, and from the National Arab American Journalists Association.
The managing editor of Suburban Chicagoland Online News website www.SuburbanChicagoland.com, Hanania's columns also appear in the Southwest News Newspaper Group of 8 newspapers.
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