|Israel Resource Review
||14th October, 2001
What Message Has Arafat's PBC Radio Newsreel Conveyed Since the September 11 Terror Attacks in the US?
The Palestinian Authority has actually escalated the
war-making component of its propaganda organs: Voice of
Palestine Radio and Palestinian Television---even as
it tells the West that it is entering a cease fire
In addition, the PA has been issuing a strong
undercurrent of anti-American material before, and even
after, the attacks on the World Trade Center and the
In the material below, we sketch out the principle
themes and sophisticated media manipulation techniques
employed by the Palestinian state media.
During the late summer and early autumn, the
Palestinian Authority has executed a sophisticated
communications policy that encourages political
violence against Israeli targets as well as the
intermittent use of anti-American and pro-Islamist
It is a sophisticated policy because it rarely sinks
to the level of directly calling on listeners to "kill
all the Jews" or "destroy America," although there
have been some instances of such remarks, even in the
weeks leading up to the attacks on New York and
Washington.1 By referring to those who blow up buses
as shuhada (martyrs) and by classifying all Israeli
victims as mustawtaneen (settlers) and land-grabbers,
the Palestinian Authority in effect puts a halo on the
heads of the former and a bounty on the heads of the
It sends a message, a very clear message without
having to spell it out. By doing this, the state-run
media of the PA are engaging in what Professor Robert
L. Merritt dubbed "subtle manipulation" in the form of
"structural communication" which is a "powerful
strategy of persuasive communication."2 What is the
purpose of such communication?
"Its basic idea is to create situations in which the
communicator does not have to tell the targeted
audience anything at all, but in which the audience,
left to its own devices, can only come to the
conclusions desired by the communicator."3
Nevertheless, it is critically important to remember
that the Palestine Broadcasting Corportation and the
Voice of Palestine radio (Arabic: Sawt Filasteen) are
not being controlled by that famous blow-hoard Ahmad
Shukeiry4 ("throw the Jews into the sea") but rather
by Yassir Arafat, man who is a master of modulating
his messages to different audiences, at different
times and in different languages.5
Israeli policymakers are referred to as "criminals"
and "settlers." Israel's policies are repeatedly
called "irhab dawli" (state terror). Attacks on
Israel -- even in the heart of Tel Aviv are never called
"irhab," and therefore, Arafat has no problem
occasionally "condemning terror" in comments for
Western audiences or when pressed by Western leaders.
He means something entirely different by "terror."
For example neither Saddam Hussein nor Osama
Bin-Laden nor for that matter any member or any action
of the Hamas, Islamic Jihad, nor Hizballah have ever
been labeled as terrorists or as terroristic,
Seven Techniques of Palestinian Communication Campaign
Violence against Israel is not only not condemned, but
applauded. On the very rare occasions that terror is
"condemned," the acts -- not the perpetrators -- are
criticized as working against Palestinian interests,
not as having done something inhumane.
Ignoring attacks against Israeli civilians. Many
attacks are just not reported. For example the sniper
attack on a crowd of holiday worshipers in Hebron
October 4, 2001 was not reported, but the Israeli
reprisal was called an "act of genocide and racism."
The same day, a Palestinian attack on the Afula Bus
Station (in which two Israelis were killed and six
wounded) was not reported. When such attacks -- even
inside "The Green Line" cities of Afula, Beit-Shean,
Jerusalem and Tel Aviv -- are reported, they are treated
as attacks on Israeli settlers or soldiers (therefore
legitimate "resistance") . For example a drive-by
murder on a main road in northern Jerusalem between
Ramot and French Hill was described as having occurred
on "a settlement route."
There is a strong undercurrent of anti-Americanism,
and even after the WTC/Pentagon attacks, there are
instances of outright support for the attackers. There
is no condemnation of Osama Bin-Laden or Saddam
Hussein, nor is there ever any reference to them as
"terrorists." The anti-American and anti-Western tone
is especially evident in the Arafat-subsidized mosque
speeches on Fridays that are broadcast live on
Palestinian state television and radio. In the last
week (Oct5-October 11), the Voice of Palestine has
relayed several reports claiming Israeli Mossad
involvement in the World Trade Center attacks, along
with complicity of American citizens, not Arabs.6
Suicide bombers are still given the highest accolades.
They are called "shahid" (Arabic singular form for
"martyr") or "shuhada" (Arabic plural form for
martyrs, and they are often characterized as "Kawakib"
(Arabic: stars). This last term is one that Bin-Laden
also used to describe the Palestinian suicide bombers.
Defining Terrorism In/Out of Existence
by definition "terrorist," and its actions, no matter
what are irhab dawli (state terror) and must be
condemned. Any Arab attacks on Israelis are muqawwama
(resistance) and not ever condemned.
Intifada is a form of " peaceful" persuasion, and that
is why it will continue because it is not a violation
of the peace process because it
is "al-Intifada al-Silmiyya" (Arabic: the peaceful initifada). If you
don't understand the Palestinian dialectical thinking
(how Yassir Arafat can "condemn all terror" and "call
for a ceasefire," while still openly calling for
"continuing our glorious Intifada") this may help
Leaders of Islamic radical movements -- such as Hamas
and Hizballah -- are treated with respect and furnished
a forum for their message.
Non-Palestinian reporters are deliberately impeded
and intimidated when trying to cover news that may
embarrass the Palestinian National Authority.
Five Major Themes of Palestinian Broadcast Media
The Intifada will continue until Palestinian goals are
- removal of all settlements, all soldiers and all things
Israeli establishment of a Palestinian state with Jerusalem
- its capital return of refugees and restoration of their
rights removal of Israeli presence from
- Israel is the aggressor, and any military measures Israel
takes are by definition aggression.
- Islamic and National forces in the Palestinian
community must unite to fight the aggressor
The Israeli government is led by war criminals Ariel
Sharon and (Army chief of staff) Shaul Mofaz and
supported by other war criminals such as "the
occupation mayor" Ehud Olmert.
Israeli claims to Jerusalem are a forgery. The
Jewish Temple is repeatedly called "the alleged
temple" (al-heikal al-maz'oum). Crowd control of
potential (and actual ) Palestinian rock throwers from
the high ground of Islamic shrines (Dome of the Rock)
onto worshipers below at the Western Wall is termed a
"plot" against Palestinian religious freedom (October
5 broadcasts and others).
Examples of PLO Propaganda
The Voice of Palestine and the PBC have been basically
approving terror against Israel and hinting strongly
that the same thing will befall the US (and Britain)
up to the day of the WTC bombings.
1. On 9 September 2001
On Voice of Palestine's (V.O.P.) 2:00-PM Panorama news
broadcast, Hannan Ashrawi, who was recently appointed
Arab League spokeswoman, was asked to comment on the
attacks against Israel that same day. Ashrawi
replied: "The only language Sharon understands is the
language of violence."
2. In the first two weeks of September, up to and
including the WTC/Pentagon attacks, it should be noted
that the V.O.P. coverage, that the only ones being killed
were soldiers and settlers. This causes the
Palestinian Authority to do some strange things: when
a bus carrying school teachers was attacked in the
Jordan Valley in early September, killing one teacher
and the driver. The attack was described as an attack
on a "settler transport" (that killed a teacher and
wounded the driver) even though no settlers were
involved. Indeed, on the noon V.O.P. news, the assault
was described as "an attack on a transport of settlers
from the settlement of Maaleh Ephraim, built on land
taken from the citizens of the Jordan Valley."
The murdered teacher in the Jordan Valley was Sima
Franco from Beit Shean (within the Green Line).
On the day of the WTC bombing, September 11, at 5 p.m.
local time (one hour after the bombing in NY), V.O.P. used
very restrained coverage of the WTC bombings and
thePentagon bombing, using them as the fifth or sixth
item in their news show then and throughout the
evening and the following day.
On September 12, V.O.P. opened its morning drive-time news
show thus: (Nizar al-Ghul.announcing):
"Tanks in Jenin, and the Resistance Continues
Tanks in Nablus and the Resistance Continues,
And meanwhile, there is Hell in New York".
It should be noted that for several days before Arafat
warned that "if the Israelis continue their Oranim
operation, they will reap Hell."
On September 14, Sahir Habash, a senior member of the
Fatah leadership, said: "We have to stand firm in
these difficult days until the Americans understand
that most of the catastrophes that befell them or are
likely to befall them are due to their own
one-sided-ness and their participation in the
aggression against the Palestinian people."
Note also that the Mufti, Sheikh Ikrem al-Sabry has
been explicitly threatening the US and Britain in his
Friday mosque sermons broadcast on V.O.P. and telecast on
On August 24 at about 12:30 p.m. he said:
"O Allah, destroy the Occupation and its agents and its abettors.
O Allah , destroy America and its agents and its abettors.
O Allah destroy Britain and its agents and its abettors."
Elsewhere in the Khutba or mosque sermon, Sheikh
al-Sabry called on all Muslims to unite to follow the
path of Sallah al-Din (Salladin, who repelled the
"O Allah, prepare and unite them (the Muslims) and
guide them in the path of Salah al-Din."
Throughout the speech, the sheikh called on Muslims to
follow the path of Jihad, holy war.
Also note: three key Palestinian officials have
'threatened' America in the last eight months using
almost identical language: Yasser abd Rabbo,
Information Minister, Nabil Amr, Civlian Affairs
Minister, and Nabil abu Rudeina, Arafat's personal
"If American does not restrict Israel, then there will
be a regional, even a global calamity. If the United
States does not stop Israel's aggression, then it, too
(the US) will suffer a great disaster."
1 An example of such messages appears later in this
2 Robert L. Merritt, "Transforming International
Communications Strategies," Political Communication
and Persuasion, Vol. 1, No. 1, New York: Crane Russak,
1980, pp. 36-37. At the time of the article, Merritt
was Vice President of the International Political
Science Association and the International Studies
Association as well as Professor (and head) of the
Department of Political Science and Research Professor
in Communications at the University of Illionois,
3 Merrit, p. 37.
4 The PLO leader from 1964 to 1968.
5 See Jim Lederman, Battle Lines: The American Media
and the Intifada, New York: Henry Holt and Co., 1992,
p. 67, where Lederman, one of the longest-serving
foreign correspondents in the Middle East says of
Arafat: "To the Arabs he portrayed himself as a
fighter to the bitter end. The West, he tried to
portray an image of moderation."
6 Voice of Palestine, October 7, 2 p.m. broadcast, said
there were reports that three Israeli Mossad cells
were intercepted by American securit
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