Opinion: Innocent Incitement?

Recently, the mother and aunt of a terrorist, who last March took part in the murder of five members of the Fogel family in the Israeli settlement of Itamar, called into a program on Palestinian Authority TV (PA TV). According to Palestinian Media Watch (www.palwatch.org), the aunt called her nephew “the hero, the legend.” Not surprisingly, the Israelis demanded a formal condemnation of the comments.

The response from PA TV was to claim independence from her comments and clarify they do not express the opinion or position of the PA—in essence saying that a journalist who interviews someone does not therefore endorse the person’s statements. This is true. However, the argument collapsed because of what else PA TV said about the comments—effectively proving the Israelis’ point in the midst of an attempted defense.

The WAFA Palestinian news agency reported that PA TV said the aunt’s comments were said, as WAFA put it, “innocently.” In addition, PA TV said they were part of a program seeking to connect relatives with prisoners, while also implying they were taken out of context. However, characterizing the depiction of convicted murderers as heroes as mere “innocent” remarks is virtually incitement all by itself.

News companies interview controversial people all the time, who sometimes say horrific things. But journalists should never defend such comments, seek to justify them or even excuse them. In fact, it’s more likely to hear a journalist remind the audience that the statements are the interviewee’s only and do not reflect the views of the news group.

This is exactly what happened when Hank Williams Jr. compared US President Barack Obama’s playing golf with Republican leader John Boehner to a hypothetical golf game between Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Adolf Hitler.  Williams’ exaggerated comparison of Obama and Hitler drew a disclaimer from FOX newscaster Gretchen Carlson. That’s where PA TV started to go in their own statement, but not where they stopped. And the Hank Williams Jr. comment is nothing compared to what happened on PA TV.

Instead of stepping back from the terrorist aunt’s comments, PA TV all but excused them by saying they were said “innocently.” Can praising a convicted murderer, who took part in a crime during which the throat of an infant was slashed, be anything but abhorrent?

Sadly, the PA TV response is a trend. The Palestinians claim their overt incitement to violence is over—and in many ways they are correct. However, the endorsement of an atmosphere of violence, where terrorists are treated like heroes, continues.

Streets, squares and buildings are named after terrorists, some of whom have murdered dozens. While not all of that glorification of terrorism is officially done by the Palestinian leadership, the leaders implicitly endorse it and often remain silent at best.

Furthermore, Palestinian Media Watch has pointed out examples where Palestinian media has called Israeli cities “Palestinian.” And those aren’t settlements—they are locales considered Israel-proper by the international community, and without them Israel ceases to exist.

Many people try to draw the false comparison between Yasser Arafat, Mahmoud Abbas and other Palestinian leaders to South African leader Nelson Mandela. The argument is that both the Palestinians and Mandela laid down arms and expressed an openness to reach peace.

However, the comparison is more a contrast than anything: Mandela ultimately agreed to reach peace—the Palestinians have turned down multiple deals and currently refuse to negotiate.

Mandela did try to bring some form of reconciliation between the black and white South Africans after being elected. The Palestinians instead promote terrorists as heroes and accuse Israelis of fabricated, horrific actions, all while repeating the false mantra that all of the land of Israel really belongs to them.

There are doubtless a number of innocent white Afrikaners who suffered terribly after Mandela took power—and some who would blame him for it. True peace is often difficult, if not impossible to achieve.

Which is why it’s time to stop pretending that a government—whose media terms the glorification of infanticide as said “innocently”—really is ready for peace.

The only innocents in the tragic Fogel family are the dead. The culture promoted by the Palestinian leadership, however, is still stained with blood.

(By Joshua Spurlock, www.themideastupdate.com, February 2, 2012)