How bad journalism covered up the Palestinian Authority's history of hate.
In mid-December, Palestinian Media Watch brought a troubling fact to the the attention of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization. One of the recipients of UNESCO's largesse, the Palestinian Authority-funded youth magazine Zayzafuna, had glorified Adolf Hitler in an essay appearing in its recent issue.
In the essay, Hitler tells a young girl in her dream that he killed the Jews "so you would all know that they are a nation which spreads destruction all over the world. And what I ask of you is to be resilient and patient, concerning the suffering that Palestine is experiencing at their hands." In her dream, the girl then thanks Hitler for his advice.
PMW’s expose prompted the American Ambassador to UNESCO, David Killion, to issue his own condemnation of the piece on December 22: "UNESCO must let the Palestinian Authority know that this double-speak, using a message of peace for the international community, and another message for domestic consumption that teaches hatred, is unacceptable.” He then called on Irina Bokova, Director-General of UNESCO, to investigate whether UNESCO funding was still being used to sponsor this Palestinian magazine -- and, if so, to end the international community's financing of such hatred. The next day UNESCO announced that they were pulling their funding of the magazine.
Up until this point, it seems a fairly straightforward story. But then the plot thickens. Caught in a crystal-clear PR disaster, the Palestinian Authority’s spokesman claimed that the PA did not approve of such anti-Semitic messages. As the most basic survey would reveal, this was a bald-faced lie. But apparently, no matter how obvious and easily checkable a Palestinian lie is, one can rely on the mainstream media to publish it without scrutiny.
It began with Associated Press. The AP put out its story on December 23 on UNESCO’s “strong condemnation” and its canceling of the funding. But, following standard journalistic procedures, it received a response from the other side, in this case the Palestinian Authority, which sponsors the youth magazine. What was not following standard journalistic procedures was reporting the official PA statement without either checking its validity.
Thus the AP reported that “a spokesman for the Palestinian Authority, Ghassan Khatib, said the article was ‘not acceptable.’” Not only did the AP fail to check the accuracy of this statement, but it went on to faithfully report Khatib’s absurd claim that the Palestinian Authority goes out of its way to “educate young people in our textbooks about the Holocaust and the massacres of Hitler against Jews and against others, and we refer to these massacres as crimes against humanity.”
This would have been the place to for the AP reporter to mention that Khatib was either delusional or lying. Even a cursory review of the subject would reveal that the Palestinians not only routinely engage in Holocaust denial, PA sponsored media is replete with the worst anti-Semitic propaganda. But for the AP, having gotten its quote, its accuracy was irrelevant. What is important is only perceived balance in the story, not actual truth.
But one cannot blame AP alone. Mainstream media vehicles world over went with the AP story without a blink. From Telegraph in the UK to the Washington Post and CBS News, to name just a few, the AP story with PA spokesman Ghassan Khatib’s succeeded in having his lie be the “Lie Heard Around the World.”
Even a basic internet search would have brought up numerous and well-documented examples over the period of more a decade of
- official Palestinian approval of Hitler and the Nazis
- the fact that Palestinian schools and PA-produced textbooks ignore the Holocaust
- that Palestinian propaganda – both internal and external – has appropriated the Holocaust narrative of the Jews, removed the Jews, and adapted it as their own.
A few examples: On Nov. 29, 2000, PA TV presented Dr. Issam Sissalem, a history lecturer at Islamic University in Gaza, and billed a Palestinian expert on Jews and Judaism, on their educational program “Pages From Our History.” Dr. Sissalem began by declaring: “Lies surfaced about Jews being murdered here and there, and the Holocaust. And of course these are all lies and unfounded claims. There was no Dachau, no Auschwitz! [They] were cleansing sites... They [the Jews] began to publicize in their propaganda media that they were persecuted, murdered and exterminated... Committees acted here and there to establish this entity [i.e.: Israel], this foreign entity, implanted as a cancer in our country [Palestine]…, They [the Jews] always portrayed themselves as victims, and they made a Center for Heroism and Holocaust. Whose heroism? What Holocaust? It is our nation” Dr. Sissalem concluded, “which is heroic, the holocaust was against our people... We were the victims, but we shall not remain victims forever.”
In other words: There was no Holocaust against the Jews, concentration camps did not exist, it was all made up by the Jews to gather international support for the Jews to steal the land of the Palestinian Arabs and then carry out a Holocaust against the Palestinians. Denial, then role reversal.
Then there is the PA-sponsored Voice of Palestine Radio which conducted a quiz contest broadcast on November 27, 2007. The question:
“His golden year was 1940, when his armies invaded Denmark, Norway, Luxembourg, Holland, and Belgium and defeated France ... By mid-1942, his country controlled the largest land area in Europe… He refused to surrender and continued to fight for two more years, but, his bitter end came in the spring of 1945 when he took his own life…. Who is he?”
While obviously the answer is Hitler, what makes this such a blasé question in Palestinian Arab society is the sick fact that “Hitler” is so admired that “Hitler” is not an uncommon choice for a first name for more than a few Palestinian babies.
Or consider PA TV from July 17, 2009, when Abd Al-Rahman Abbad, Secretary General of the [Palestinian] Organization of Clerics and Disseminators of Islam, had this to say: “[Jews] exaggerate every action that other [nations] do against any Jew in the world. In this context is the Holocaust issue, which the whole world still [deals with]. There is a place [in Israel] called "Memorial for Holocaust and Heroism," which tells of the killing of 6 million Jews, but it is known that in all of Europe there weren't 6 million Jews.”
A quick glance at the PMW website for April 27th would have given any interested journalist the following report from the PA sponsored daily newspaper, Al-Hayat Al-Jadida, whose Apr. 14, 2011 headline proclaimed: “The [UNRWA workers] Union emphasized its opposition to teaching the Holocaust of the Jews as part of the curriculum in the [UNRWA] Agency's schools...”
The story below the headlines reads: “The [UNRWA] Workers' Union emphasized its adamant opposition to teaching the Holocaust of the Jews within the educational curriculum of UNRWA schools, as part of the topic of human rights. The union said, ‘We emphasize our adamant opposition to confusing the thinking of our students’ by means of Holocaust studies in the human rights study curriculum, and emphasize study of the history of Palestine and the acts of massacre which have been carried out against Palestinians, the most recent of which was the war against Gaza.”
While there are literally dozens of such easily seen and accessible examples, no mainstream media outlets appear to have noticed, let alone published, anything about it.
Palestinian Arab Holocaust denial is not just official PA policy. It starts at the top. PA President Mahmoud Abbas wrote a book entitled: “The Other Side: the Secret Relationship Between Nazism and Zionism”, published in Jordan in 1984. It was based on Abbas’ doctoral dissertation completed in 1982 at the Soviet Patrice Lumumba University and defended at the Institute of Oriental Studies of the Soviet Academy of Sciences, also in Moscow.
In his book Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas maintains that the Nazi Holocaust against the Jews was exaggerated, the murder of six million Jews was a Zionist “myth” – a “fantastic lie” in his words, and those actually murdered was a result of a Zionist-Nazi plot. While not saying much for Soviet scholarship since they awarded him a PhD based on said hogwash, it is clear that Holocaust denial indeed starts at the top in the PA and no self-respecting journalist should accept Palestinian pronouncements to the contrary without some minimal fact checking.
Such checking might have picked up a story on Abbas in the New York Times on March 11, 2003: “ Abbas wrote a book…which claims that the number of Jewish Holocaust victims was not six million, but was less than one million. According to the Anti-Defamation League,” wrote the Times reporter, “ Abbas was asked about the book when he rose to prominence in the mid-1990's. ‘When I wrote “The Other Side,” we were at war with Israel,” Abbas told Maariv [the Israeli daily newspaper]. “Today I [Mahmoud Abbas] would not have made such remarks,” reported the New York Times.
Interestingly, the Times reporter didn’t find this last sentence noteworthy. Does Abbas mean that maligning Jewish Holocaust victims and deliberately denying the Holocaust is acceptable if you are at war with the Jewish State, but now in the post-Oslo period it’s not acceptable?
Clearly, given the current reality in the Palestinian Authority’s official media – for young and old alike, and in the PA/UNRWA educational system – Abbas and his cohorts are continuing the “war with Israel.” But he needn’t worry. Apparently the western mainstream media won’t work too hard to call him out on it.