|Israel Resource Review
||31st October, 2001
How the Official Palestinian Authority Press Views Bin Laden
Public Condemnation; Private Glee
Palestinian press treatment of the Islamic suicide attacks on New York and
Washington on September 11 was a prime example of the power the Palestinian
Authority wields over newspapers and media. Both PA-owned as well as
privately-owned newspapers were careful not to praise the attacks attributed
to Saudi billionaire fugitive Osama Bin Laden. At the same time, Palestinian
columnists and news reports expressed empathy with Islamic anger against the
United States and were venomous toward Washington's efforts to call to
account Bin Laden and his allies for the attacks. The newspapers also
condemned the U.S. retaliation against Afghanistan and predicted that any
war against terrorism would be futile. To Palestinians, the message was
clear: Bin Laden's goals can be supported without direct reference to the
Palestinian Authority Chairman Yasser Arafat laid down strict guidelines for
press coverage of Bin Laden's attacks on the United States. The directives
banned any coverage of the widespread demonstrations in support of Bin Laden
in such cities as Gaza City, Nablus and Rafah. But the newspapers were
encouraged to be venomous toward the United States and the West in an effort
to provide a framework of empathy for Bin Laden's attacks.
At first, PA newspapers prominently displayed the condemnation over the
September 11 attacks by Arafat and several leading officials. This included
Arafat's donation of blood in Gaza for the victims in the United States,
Still, the condemnation was selective and included only those Palestinians
who focus on the West, such as PA International Cooperation Minister Nabil
Shaath, PA Information Minister Yasser Abbed Rabbo and Palestinian
legislator Hanan Ashrawi, who is Arafat's unofficial spokeswoman in the
West. Aides to Arafat who dealt with such allies as Iran, Iraq and Syria
At the same time, the PA press avoided virtually all coverage of the
demonstrations in support of Bin Laden in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. The
demonstrations took place hours after Islamic suicide attackers destroyed
New York's World Trade Center and a wing of the Pentagon in Washington. At
first, the PA allowed the pro-Bin Laden rallies as long as foreign
journalists were banned from recording the enthusiasm expressed over the
killing of 6,000 a.m.ericans. But as the demonstrations were being reported in
the West and spread throughout the PA areas, Arafat ordered his security
forces to stop the rallies.
PA Censors Reports on Anti-U.S. Protests
In Gaza City, the efforts to stop the demonstration by supporters of the
Arafat-led Fatah movement and Islamic opposition members were bloody. Three
Palestinian students were killed and a dozen were injured on October 8.
Demonstrators accused Palestinian officers under the command of Brig. Gen.
Ghazi Jabali of shooting at protesters. At first, the PA turned silent and
then referred to the police officers as "masked gunmen." The reason for the
pro-Bin Laden demonstrations was censored. Instead, the Palestinian press
referred heavily to the "unfortunate events in Gaza." The nature of the
pro-Bin Laden rally was not mentioned.
The leading force in shaping the Palestinian message was the Ramallah-based
Al Hayat Al Jedida, which is owned by the PA. The newspaper -- with the
smallest circulation of the three Palestinian dailies but receiving the
largest official subsidy -- viewed the Gaza City shootout as a threat to
Palestinian unity rather than a call to support Bin Laden. The newspaper on
October 10 provided extensive coverage of the calls to stop internecine strife
and heal the rift within society.
"Numerous appeals were voiced by the leadership yesterday, including
nationalist and Islamic forces and human rights roup, to immediately stop
the calls that were voiced in the unfortunate events in Gaza, in which
citizens fell victim and many were wounded, and to ban the internal
fighting in light of the difficult conditions that are taking place at this
time," Al Hayat Al Jedida said on October 10.
At the same time, the PA press was ordered to stress that regardless of the
attacks on the United States and Palestinian support for Bin Laden, the
Palestinian people remained the chief victims of terrorism. The message was
relayed by Arafat to all Palestinian newspapers on October 10. Arafat said he
condemned "terrorist acts against the American people when the Palestinian
people fall victims to terrorism and occupation."
Bin Laden Obtains Understanding
The political editor of Arafat's Wafa news service, elaborated. The editor,
who represents Arafat's thinking, warned Palestinians to refrain from public
support of Bin Laden. The Palestinians were urged not to be swept away by
the support expressed by Bin Laden in the video broadcast on the
Qatari-owned A-Jazeera satellite channel, popular in the West Bank and Gaza
Strip. The editorial warned that words "have a
greater lethality than weapons" and whipped the Palestinian populace into a
Here, the editor referred to the damage of the pro-Bin Laden riots. He said
young Palestinians in Gaza city had engaged in "activities full of
hostility, arsons and various attacks that do not suit our tradition and
what we are going through from the killing terrorism, hunger and tearing of
limbs. What took place in the Gaza Strip, the clashes with our national
police, disturbs us. And it does not matter who is the source or who started
it or who attacked, who shot or who threw a firebomb."
At the same time, the Wafa editor expressed understanding with the
enthusiasm showed by Palestinians over Bin Laden. Bin Laden's target, the
United States, was deemed as a supporter of Israel and an oppressor of
Palestinians. At the same time, the PA news service urged Palestinians to be
wary of Bin Laden's goals.
"Osama Bin Laden threw into the air expressions that the Palestinian people
were forced to absorb," Wafa said. "The Palestinian people do not support
terrorism and operates within the upgrading against the occupation. Nobody
can criticize or condemn us because our true targets are against occupation
troops and settlements and against all that which is opposed by
international law -- not against citizens. It seems that some people are
itching to threaten the United States that oppresses us. This is something
else. Bin Laden's words went to the heart of the frustration by Palestinians
and the oppression they suffer and the treatment they receive from the
United States. But we have to understand that this is a framework that will
turn us into frustrated people. We have to change the conception toward us.
We are not enemies of the United States and the West. The most dangerous
thing about Bin Laden is his attempt to turn the war as a conflict against
Muslims, Christians and Jews and thus sacrifice the Palestinian conflict and
damage the legitimate Palestinian rising."
Palestinian legislator Ashrawi, who is also spokeswoman for the Cairo-based
Arab League, reiterated this theme. She also dismissed Bin Laden's right
to speak for the Palestinian people. But in remarks reported by Al Hayat Al
Jadida, Ashrawi linked terrorism in the Middle East to U.S. support for
Israel. "Washington will act according to its interests and its solidarity
with Israel until it becomes clear to the U.S. that Israel is the source of
instability in the region, something which is costly to the Palestinian
people and the greater Arab world," she said.
Israel Was Behind the Anti-U.S. Riots
When the pro-Bin Laden riots died down, the Palestinian press turned to
condemnation of the U.S.-led war against Afghanistan. Now, those killed by
Palestinian police were no longer termed "wild youngsters." They were termed
"martyrs," a term used for Palestinians killed in Israeli attacks and
regarded as heroes. At the
same time, Palestinian newspapers reported Arafat's assertion that an
Israeli agent was arrested for organizing the pro-Bin Laden demonstrations.
Arafat said the Israeli agent gave 8-10 Palestinians gifts and cameras to
record the demonstrations. There was no confirmation of this charge from any
Al Hayat Al Jedida ran a cartoon on October 11 that showed Uncle Sam, or the
United States, carrying a
missile. Behind Uncle Sam was Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, his hands
full of blood. The cartoon is entitled: "Washington intends to attack other
countries." An accompanying article compared the Palestinian victims of the
war with Israel to the Afghan victims in the U.S. offensive.
The dailies were also full of reports that reflected Palestinian anger
toward Washington. Palestinian newspapers published a poll by Bir Zeit
University that 90 percent of Palestinians believed that Washington support
of Israel was the source of hostility toward the United States. Most of
those polled expressed
hatred toward Washington's policy or the United States. The October poll
reported that more than 72 percent oppose Arab or Palestinian participation
in the U.S.-led war against terrorism.
The Futility of a U.S. Counter-Strike
The Jerusalem-based Al Quds daily took a different approach on October 11. The
newspaper tried to demonstrate the futility of the U.S. war against Bin
Laden. A cartoon showed a fat U.S. general asking a junior officer: "Check
how much damage was achieved by 90 missiles." The soldier replied: "The
damage is 90 missiles, commander."
Al Hayat Al Jedida relayed a similar message on October 15. It showed President
George Bush telling Americans: "We will fight terror." The second image
shows telling Bush: "And we will win." The third image shows a forlorn Bush
on top of an Afghan mountain, remarking "Wow, I have no idea how." The
newspaper featured an accompanying article that termed the U.S.-led war in
Afghanistan as "a war of terror against terror, a confrontation between
terrorists. And here [in the PA], the angel of death is still among us. The
[Israeli] government of murder continues to kill and has exacted several
number of people that fell in the two two towers and those that fell in
The Ramallah-based Al Ayyam continued with this theme in a cartoon on October
19. The drawing showed a huge bat with bared teeth threatening Ramallah. On
the wings of the bat is written "Terrorism." But the "o" in "terrorism"
contained a star of David.
Backlash Against Giuliani
Nowhere was there a greater expression of Palestinian venom against the
United States than in the episode of New York City Mayor Rudolph Giuliani's
rejection of a Saudi gift of $10 million. In October, Giuliani dismissed a
donation by Saudi Prince Walid Bin Talal, terming it "blood money." The
Palestinian press joined with its counterparts in Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Syria
and Gulf countries in terming the attitude of the American as the root cause
of all evil. Here, Giuliani was described as a Zionist supporter who allowed
Jerusalem Mayor Ehud Olmert complete access to City Hall and was even deemed
a deputy mayor.
The Palestinian charge was led by Al Hayat Al Jadida editor Hafez Barghouthi
wrote. Barghouthi poured his wrath on Giuliani, terming him a fraud and
hater. "New York Mayor Rudolph Giuliani became obsessed by his hatred of
Arabs even before the terrorist attacks on New York," the flamboyant editor
wrote on October 17. "He hides his first name, chosen for him by his Italian
father, so as not to remind the Jewish voters of the infamous Rudolph
Hitler. This is why he prefers to shorten it to Rudy."
Barghouthi defended the Saudi refusal to cooperate with the U.S. war against
terrorism. The editor said the Saudi kingdom is defending its rights by
refusing to help in the effort against Bin Laden. Barghouthi did not refer
to the connection between Riyad and Bin Laden.
"There is an intense offensive against Saudi Arabia because it is not
automatically signing up for the American war; on the contrary, it has many
legitimate reservations regarding Western policy towards the Arabs,"
Barghouthi wrote. "Anyone following the Israeli and American columnists
smells a media trap aimed at accusing the Saudi kingdom of terrorism, and
even of harboring terrorists. [This is] not because it is true, but because
Saudi Arabia is fighting alone on several fronts to protect the uniqueness
of Saudi policy. It will not enter into another's war when it does not know
where that war is headed; it fights terrorism in its own way and protects
the interests of itself and its citizens."
Allies of Giuliani were not ignored. This included New York Times columnist
Thomas Friedman, who welcomed the decision by the New York City mayor and
criticized Saudi Arabia.
"Friedman says that the United States is not responsible for what he calls
the widespread 'frustration' among young Saudis that makes them support Bin
Laden," Adli Sadeq writes in Al Hayat Al Jedida on October 17. "He contends
that it is not Washington that maintains an autocratic regime, and denies
young people their political rights. He chides the Arab countries for their
failure to [deal with] the challenges of development, and says that North
Korea's average per capita income in 1950 was similar to that of Arab
countries, but that today Korea has left the Arab states far behind.
According to him, the United States is not responsible for this."
"Thomas Friedman is a liar and a fraud," Adli Sadeq continued. "The United
is the enemy of the democratic aspirations of the Arab peoples; it is the
friend and protector of dictatorships and autocracies; it is the number one
schemer against development in the Arab world. With regard to the media
attack on Saudi Arabia, I maintain that Riyad is doing the right thing.
Refraining from joining the Americans. is counted in the tally of the Saudi
government's good deeds."
The Palestinian reservations regarding Bin Laden did not include the use of
Islamic suicide attacks against Israel, the United States and its allies.
Palestinian newspapers praised the use of suicide bombers, particularly
against Israel. But the newspapers quoted Islamic clerics as promising
Islamic suicide attackers heaven with scores of virgins to service them.
"The Americans and the eunuchs at their sides [i.e. the rulers of Arab and
Islamic countries] think that if
they kill us, they will win," Dr. Yunis Al-Astal, a lecturer in the Islamic
Law Department at Gaza Islamic University, wrote in the Hamas weekly Al
Risala on October 11. "They do not know that with their weapons they only
expedite our arrival in Paradise. We yearn to reach paradise; it is our
abode, and in it are 'the black-eyed,' confined to pavilions, and also there
are [women] with downcast eyes whose chastity has not been violated before
us by either man or jinn. In contrast, the value of this world in which we
live, which they [the U.S. and its Arab allies] think that they have
attained, is in our eyes not worth the wing of a mosquito."
The Islamic Jihad's weekly, Al Istiqlal, focused on the merits of suicide
attacks in the wake of the destruction of the World Trade Center. The
newspaper on October 4 published announcements of the death of suicide bombers
that resembled wedding announcements. Indeed, Islamic newspapers as well as
some secular publications in the Palestinian press regard the suicide bomber
as marrying a "black-eyed virgin" in heaven.
"With great pride, the Palestinian Islamic Jihad marries the member of its
military wing, the martyr and hero Yasser Al-Adhami, to 'the black-eyed,'"
Al Istiqlal writes.
Palestinian Media Watch and MEMRI provided some of the translations for the above report.
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The Double Message of the Israeli Government
It goes without saying that there is universal disappointment
with Israel's information policies.
The problem is not the lack of funds or professional resources
at the disposal of the Israeli government.
The problem remains the double message that the Israeli
A case in point:
On October 28, 2001, the state of Israel spoke in two tongues
concerning Yassir Arafat's responsibility for the current wave
of Arab terror in Israel.
Throughout the morning of October 28th, Israel's minister of
Foreign Affairs, Shimon Peres, gave an endless round of news
interviews, to Israeli and foreign news bureaus in which he said
that Arafat was not responsible for the current wave of terror.
Peres spoke of Arafat's arrests of terrorists, and of Arafat's
efforts to quell Islamic terror groups.
In the afternoon of October 28th, Peres took the unprecedented
step of initiating an appearance on the Voice of Palestine radio
station in which he assured his listeners that the Palestinian
Arab people would soon have a state of their own.
Meanwhile, on the same day of October 28th,, IDF sources met
with more than a hundred journalists to provided data that
connected Arafat and the PLO to every form of Arab Islamic
terror activity that currently plagues the state and people of
IDF sources noted that when Islamic terror groups train and
operate in the full view of the Palestinian Authority security
services, they get the message that their activity operates with
the full blessing of Arafat's regime.
IDF sources provided the media with documentation that the
Islamic Hamas terror group's military wing operates as an
official integral part of Arafat's Palestinian Authority
security forces in Gaza.
IDF sources told the media that they were were not surprised
that on the morning of October 28th that two Hamas terrorists in
the service of the Palestinian security services had that very
morning murdered four more women and wounded fifty civilians in
cold blood at the Hadera bus station.
IDF source emphatically pointed out that the Hamas killers were
on the list of wanted terrorists whom Arafat had refused to
arrest - especially since they were operating in the open.
This double message that the Israeli government has conveyed to
the media and to the world at large, has continued since
October, 1986, when Shimon Peres became the Foreign Minister of
the State of Israel and when Dr. Yossi Beilin became his deputy
at that ministry. Peres and Beilin revised the way in which the
government of the state of Israel would relate to the PLO - Even
though this seeming policy change did not sit well with then-
Likud Prime Minister Yitzhak Shamir
At the orders of Peres and Beilin, no longer would the Israeli
government ministry of foreign affairs distribute the PLO
covenant. No longer would the Israeli Ministry of Foreign
Affairs define the PLO as an enemy. The 1986 Peres/Beilin policy
change paved the way for the US government to recognize the PLO
two years later.
This policy change in the Israel Foreign Ministry became permanent.
Even when the Likud held power in 1990-1992 and 1996-1999,
Israel's Foreign Ministry would not provide governments of the
world with the basics of PLO involvement with terror activity.
Even though Israel Prime Minister Benyamin Netanyahu hired a
high level professional staff to provide the media with weekly
reports of PLO involvement in terror activity, which functioned
under the able direction of David Bar Ilan. Yet when I covered
the negotiations conducted by Netanyahu government with the PLO
in Oslo in August 1998 and at the Wye Plantation in October
1998, the Israeli embassies in Washington and in Oslo did not
distribute any of the material on the PLO that the office of the
Israeli prime minister had prepared in Jerusalem. Upon further
investigation, Iraeaeli embassy officials informed me that this
was a matter of policy.
The bottom line: When the Prime Minister of Israel and the IDF
prepare carefully researched material on the PLO, Israel's
representatives abroad, working under the aegis of Israel's
Ministry of Foreign Affairs, will make sure that material
critical of the PLO will never reach beyond the shores of the
The Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs is invested in an Oslo
process that has engaged in a policy of repackaging Yassir
Arafat and transforming him from a terrorist into a statesman,
reality not withstanding.
The Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs is armed with a
substantial budget to promote that view, and works in tandem
with Dr Yose Beilin, whose Economic Policy Forum, funded by the
European Union, continues to prepare new plans of appeasement
for the PLO.
Neither Peres nor Beilin demand that the PLO disarm the Islamic
terror groups inside their security services not even to modify
the new school curriculum of the Palestinian National Authority
which trains a new generation for war with the state and people
With public opinion polls showing the Israeli left at an all
time low, Peres and Beilin recognize that their current Arafat
appeasement efforts represent their "last hurrah" of a ministry
of foreign affairs which they "reconstituted" in 1986.
Peres and Beilin will now make that one last effort to appease Arafat.
The solution for journalists :To ignore Israel's Ministry of
Foreign Affairs, and to report the reality of the PLO.
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Yusuf Abu Snena - Headlines of his Sermon on Friday, 26th October as Broadcast on the "Voice of Palestine" PBC Radio
The Palestinian War on America
Yusuf Abu Snena is a religious preacher at the Al Aqsa Mosque in
Jerusalem and and an official of the Palestinian Ministry of
"More than 50 were killed during the last week on our holy land, and they
have become Martyrs, not for their own sake but for the sake of our
nation. Israel's call to fight fellow Palestinians, as a condition for
Israeli withdrawal from the Palestinian lands and cities, must be dismissed
out of hand. This is only a tactic to cause a split in the nation and a
civil war, which is unacceptable. the U.S. support for renewed Israeli
occupation of Palestinian land and cities should serve as a lesson to those
who shed tears for the American bloodshed (on 11 of September) and for
those who did not shed tears for the Palestinian loss of blood. All we have
to say is: Trust in Allah and stand up to the insults from the Americans
to the Arab people.
In last week's sermon we warned against believers in the false American
promise to support the establishment of a Palestinian state. which they
wish to be a persecuted and a rebuked country without a nation, if the
criminal aggression continue it will be a weak nation, without dignity,
especially if the vagueness of the other Arab States continues, then the
nation will become no more then a guinea pig prior to its establishment.
The attack on our Islamic allies seems to be a repetition of the First
World War, reminding us of the cooperation between the heretics to bring
down the German nation, which was destroyed by the heretic nations, thus
giving those heretic and imperialistic nations the freedom to invade our
Arab Muslim homelands. These heretic nations are once again attacking, like
dogs, Muslim Afghanistan, and are fighting Islam everywhere. And the True
Believers and the Afghans can only trust in Allah.
Hostile American planes are killing innocent people who are supported by
Arab Muslim and other countries. These are heretic nations seeking to
destroy Islam. but, servants of Allah, do not forget. We must all give
praise to Allah.
Allah will not allow them to conquer Palestine and following that, other
Arab cities like Damascus, Beirut, Baghdad and there after Kabul.
Imperialism is returning to Arab regions, through the guise of a "war on
terror", and therefore the question must be asked: When the English and the
French fought the Nazis, were they then also fighting terror or were they
fighting Islam?. The war in Northern Ireland has been continuing for tens
of years. Why did we never hear the word "terrorism" in this case? Why do
we only hear the word "terror" used against the Muslims, whom the enemies
of Islam want to destroy. This is part of the Crusaders plan . . . .
We must all praise Allah and unite. The events of today are like those of
the past. "The issue today is not only Afghanistan but it also points to
Europe and those who support Europe both from the east and from the west.
This is an attempt to return to the wars of the Crusades."
We urge all Muslims to unite in a war against the Crusaders, and pray that Allah will bring vengeance upon them.
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