Israel Resource Review 14th October, 2001


Comprehensive Report:
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 with Israel.

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 Pentagon.

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 themes.

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 latter.

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, respectively.

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

Israel is 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 explain it.

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 met:

  • 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 previously-Jordanian-controlled areas
  • 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 PBC.

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 Crusaders):

"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 spokesman:

"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 report.

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, Urbana-Champaign.

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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