Israel Resource Review 25th October, 2000


Official PA radio news - the PBC Voice of Palestine - Oct 24


"President Arafat opened the meeting (of the Palestinian leadership) by sending his congratulations to the Palestinian masses for their steadfastness in standing up tocontinuing Israeli aggression for three weeks."-


The Voice of Palestine stepped up its "blood and guts" approach to the current conflict, underscoring that Israeli occupation forces were engaged in "a dangerous escalation." The "Palestinian leadership" called for an international "protection force" to be brought into the area to prevent "further Israeli aggression."

In addition to the now familiar program opening with lists of dead martyrs, wounded heroes and funeral times that have dominated the last two days of broadcasting, VOP has stressed in-depth hospital reports from doctors and even the Minister of Health (Dr. Iyad Zaanoun whose report alone lasted more than 8 minutes).

Field reports from Ramallah (Rashid Hilal), Jenin (Nasser Abu-Bakr), Bethlehem (Said Ayyad) and especially Hebron (Salim Abu-Salih) have become intense sometimes to the point of breathless hysteria, including reports of Israeli warplanes (not just helicopters) shooting missiles. The rapid-fire field dispatches highlight Palestinian allegations of Israeli use of dum-dum bullets, tank shells, airborne missiles and other sorts of heavy machine-gun fire far beyond anything Israel has acknowledged. For example,VOP says that Israel used tank and artillery fire against Bethlehem itself. These reports, punctuated with descriptions of "evil," "wicked," "criminal," and "tyrannical" Israeli actions, never mention whether the Palestinian side initiated the confrontation. Israeli settlers are said to have "criminally attacked" Palestinian olive pickers in several areas.

In Beit Jallah, the fighting of Oct 23 (evening) was depicted as an unprovoked Israeli machine gun (500-mm) on "citizens' houses" as well as on an ambulance of the Palestinian Red Crescent. At the same time, reporters stressed that occupied forces had stiffened their closure of Palestinian cities.

The broadcasts of Oct 24 also had another special quality because today according to the Islamic calendar is the anniversary date of the Prophet Muhammad's mythical night journey. According to some Islamic traditions, Muhammad travelled from Mecca to Jerusalem where he ascended to the heavens. Because of the occasion, VOP announced one day in advance that students would be given time off from school.

Islamic Mufti Sheikh Ikrema al-Sabry was a featured morning interview guest,stressing the need to defend Jerusalem's holy Islamic sites. Throughout the day, broadcasts were sprinkled with prayer services and songs with strong Islamic and patriotic overtones.

As in previous days, there was no general call for tranquility or even such a request in a particular locality. There was no mention of the satchel bomb attack in Gaza on a convoy of settlers.

On the diplomatic front VOP highlighted Morocco's recall of diplomats from Israel-asit had earlier registered favorably Tunisia's similar action a day earlier.

On the political front VOP continued to condemn Ehud Barak for his "attempts to form an emergency government with extreme Right lead by the extremist Ariel Sharon."

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A Parallel Mideast Battle: Is It News or Incitement?
by William Orme

RAMALLAH, West Bank, Oct. 21 When Israel unleashed a retaliatory rocket barrage nearly two weeks ago against the police station here, where two of its soldiers were killed by an angry mob, the helicopters took out a second target as well: the transmitters of the Voice of Palestine, the Palestinian Authority's official radio network, which Israel contends has deliberately incited mass violence and ethnic hatred

"This was the voice of the intifada, and people could express their feelings without censorship," said Ibrahim Milhem, the host of "Good Morning Palestine," a popular call-in talk show. "The only way Israel could stop it was to bomb it."

But the Voice of Palestine was back on the air by nightfall, its signal switched to transmitters loaned by private stations.

Now, with simultaneous broadcasting on several FM frequencies giving it a bigger audience than ever, the network's news bulletins, commentaries and martial music have become the ubiquitous soundtrack to life in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.

As with the two television stations owned by the Palestinian Authority, programs are regularly interrupted by live coverage of clashes with Israeli troops and eulogies for each Palestinian killed in the violence that has claimed more than 100 lives in three weeks.

Israeli military commanders said this sort of coverage has directly provoked attacks against its forces, including the killing of the two soldiers here on Oct. 12.

"They call us murderers, and they show pictures of Israeli soldiers shooting Palestinian children, day and night," said Tsionit Kuperwasser, an Israeli colonel who monitors Palestinian news coverage.

Israel tried leveling another weapon against Palestinian broadcasters: the truce agreement brokered by President Clinton in Egypt.

The pact expressly called for a halt to incitement, a provision read by Israelis as a requirement that official Palestinian news outlets cease their depictions of all Palestinian killed as heroes and all Israeli soldiers and settlers as villains.

But while senior Palestinian officials urged local news media to stress their commitment to the cease-fire, radio and television news directors said they were not asked and have not volunteered to change the basic tenor of their broadcasts.

"Every word the Israelis hear on the Voice of Palestine they think is incitement," Mr. Milhem said. "But what they are hearing is Palestinians demanding our rights."

A 43-year-old former newspaper editor, Mr. Milhem is also the West Bank news anchor and editorial director for Palestine Satellite Television, one of the Palestinian Authority's two channels.

Because the incidents represent instances of the authority's "losing control," he said, his network has never televised the two images that now define the Israeli view of the conflict: that of the Palestinian mob torching and destroying a site known as Joseph's tomb, which is venerated by Orthodox Jews, and the killings of the two Israeli soldiers here.

But Palestinian television has repeatedly shown the furious Israeli responses including the seven missiles fired at the radio station.

Israeli officials said the air strike against Voice of Palestine was justified, citing NATO attacks on state television studios in Yugoslavia, where official media were accused of promoting violence in Kosovo.

Israelis cite as one egregious example a televised sermon that defended the killing of the two soldiers. "Whether Likud or Labor, Jews are Jews," proclaimed Sheik Ahmad Abu Halabaya in a live broadcast from a Gaza City mosque the day after the killings.

Of greater concern to Israelis, said military officials and media monitors dispatched by the government to brief journalists and diplomats, is the Palestinians' unapologetically nationalistic coverage. Radio talk shows praise Palestinian "resistance" and excoriate Israeli "war criminals." Televised funeral processions are replayed in slow motion with video overlays of Israeli soldiers firing their weapons.

A line of text appears at the foot of the screen during a talk show, announcing not an incoming storm front but the latest confirmed death of another "martyr," a category applied equally to rock-throwing children, innocent bystanders and Kalashnikov-firing militias.

Israeli spokesmen also cite as examples of "incitement" the standard recitation of long-standing Palestinian political demands by Palestinian cabinet ministers among them their claim to East Jerusalem and Palestinian refugees' "right of return" to their former homeland.

Mr. Milhem says Israel is asking Palestinians to stop broadcasting incidents that are shown globally by the BBC and CNN, and on Israeli news shows as well. "We are covering the story here, we are reporting the facts," he said. "We have no fabricated pictures, and no fabricated stories."

Israeli news media present a distorted view of the conflict to its own public, Mr. Milhem said. Israeli television's constant showing of the burning of Joseph's Tomb and the killing of the soldiers here inspires hatred of Palestinians, he said.

"They don't show the Palestinian hospitals with the dead and the wounded," Mr. Milhem said, "they don't show the Palestinian trucks that have been burned by Jewish settlers, they don't show the Palestinian ambulances being shot at by Israeli soldiers. They don't show Palestinian mothers crying. They show Israeli mothers crying."

The writer is a correspondent for the New York Times bureau in Israel

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Come all to Jihad -
"Hayya 'Ala al-Jihad":
Listening to Palestinian Media

by Dr. M. Kedar

Listening to the Palestinian media these days gives the clear impression that what the Jews of Israel are facing now is no less than a call for Jihad, a holy Islamic war. The term Jihad itself, while avoided by the Palestinian leadership, is constantly on the lips of announcers and interviewees. I know it is frightening, but it should be said clearly and loudly.

The message of the Palestinian radio - to which I constantly listen - is that the impure Jews (who - according to Islamic tradition - are "sons of pigs and monkeys" - ahfad al-qirada wa-alkhanazIr - Koran 5, 60) are threatening to perpetuate their occupation of the al-Aqsa mosque, and thus to defile the Islamic sanctuaries (tadnis almuqaddasat al-Islamiyyah). The Palestinian media negate the fact that two Jewish temples once stood on that site, since, after all, both the Old and New Testaments are forgeries of Jews and Christians (Ghyyarou wa-baddalou).

Since the Jews are those who have incurred Allah's wrath (al-maghdoub 'alayhim - see al-Jalalayn commentary, Koran 1, 7), how dare they demand the rule over their alleged "Temple Mount"??

Israeli Arab citizens have no choice but to answer the call to Jihad: At the entrance to umm al-fahm there is a big road sign showing the Dome of the Rock in chains, with the inscription "al-aqsa is in danger" (al-aqsa fi khatar).

The unification of the PA and the radical Islamist groups (Hamas and Jihad (!) ) is also a sign of the common Jihadic effort. The "help" of the Lebanese Hizballah, who kidnapped three Israeli soldiers some weeks ago, is another sign of a broad Islamic effort (jd). What Arafat is trying to do is to widen the scope of the war: from national struggle between the Israelis and the Palestinians to religious war between the Jews and the whole Islamic world.

The reaction of the presidents of Yemen (Saleh), Lybia (Qazzafi) and Iraq (Saddam Husayn) is exactly what one could expect - readiness to participate in the Jihad. On the other hand, Egypt's president, Mubarak, who himself is constantly threatened with a domestic Jihad by his own groups of Islamic radicals, is one leader who tries to stop this Jihadic trend in order to maintain Egypt's stability. Bashar al-Asad who also does not relish the idea of Jihad ('Alawis - 1982 - Hamah - remember?) rushed to Mubarak to discuss their mutual fear of Jihad. The Russian minister of foreign affairs, is also concerned about Islamic upheaval, because of his unpleasantnesses in Chechniya and Tataristan, and so was impelled to rush to the Middle East to see what can be done.

The reality is that in these days, in full view of the whole Western world, Israel faces a real, although modern, Jihad, over the question of the future of Jerusalem. The West has to realize that if this Jihad succeeds, the next battle will be over the rest of the State of Israel (al-Diyar al-Muqaddasa) all of which is considered a Waqf (Islamic endowment), and if that battle is won, Europe and the rest of the non-Islamic world (dar al-harb, the house of war) are next.

As an aside, one might recall that Jerusalem was under the rule of King Husayn of Jordan until 1967. Why didn't HE give Jerusalem to the Palestinians as the capital of their state? It seems that they tolerated his rule over the Holy City because he was a Moslem, but the Jews? God forbid...

And another question: Why was the capital of Jund Falastin (the district of Palestine) during the first Islamic period Ramlah, 30 miles from Jerusalem?

Seeing the recent events in the context of Jihad explains what is currently happening in he Middle East between the Moslem majority and the Jewish minority and may offer a reasonable forecast for what might occur in the near fur over Jerusalem is only the beginning.

The writer is a professor of Arabic at Bar Ilan University in Ramat Gan, Israel

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