WID/MEDIA ANALYSIS: AS ARAB TERROR RECOVERS, PALESTINIAN MEDIA ALSO RETURN
TO OLD FORM, ENCOURAGING TERROR, ISRAELI ARAB MILITANCY AND SUPPORTING IRAQ
By Michael Widlanski (The Media Line)
Monday, June 03, 2002 7:23 AM
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
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
"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"
"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 VOP.
"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 VOP 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
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, VOP 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,"
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
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
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
"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
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
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
Indoctrinating Palestinians to hate Israel starts early on Palestinian
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
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
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.
© 2002 Michael Widlanski
Michael Widlanski is senior analyst at The Media Line and lecturer at The
Rothberg School of the Hebrew University. Fuller versions of his articles
are available at www.themedialine.org