On Feb.22 a suicide bomber on a Jerusalem bus killed 8 Israelis ¯ including two teenagers on their way to school ¯ and injured over 60.
The attack was perpetrated by a member of the Al Aqsa Martyrs' Brigades. While it is generally accepted that this terrorist group is connected to Yassir Arafat's Fatah party, most major news agencies continued to downplay that relationship in today's reports:
¯ Associated Press: "The Al Aqsa Martyrs' Brigades, a militant group loosely affiliated with Yasser Arafat's Fatah movement, claimed responsibility for the attack and identified the bomber as Mohammed Zool, 23, from the village of Hussan near Bethlehem."
¯ Washington Post: "Hezbollah television station Al-Manar reported that the bombing was carried out by the al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades, the militant group that associates itself with Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat's Fatah movement..."
¯ CNN: "The Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigades ¯ the military offshoot of Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat's Fatah movement ¯ claimed responsibility for the blast in a statement."
¯ Agence France Presse: "The bombing, claimed by the radical Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigades, an armed offshoot of Arafat's Fatah movement..."
The evidence, however, clearly indicates that the Al Aqsa Martyrs' Brigade is not some "loose offshoot," but rather has a direct and ongoing bond to the Fatah party, which holds a majority of seats in the Palestinian Parliament. The Palestinian government, therefore, bears direct responsibility for the group's heinous terrorist acts:
▪ In November, 2003 a BBC investigation found that up to $50,000 a month was funneled by Fatah directly to the Al Aqsa Martyrs' Brigades. When BBC reported on today's attack, their terminology was consistent with these findings ¯ unlike the outlets above, BBC described the relationship between Fatah and the terrorists in an entirely accurate manner:
The militant al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades, part of Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat's Fatah faction, has claimed responsibility for the suicide attack.
▪ Documents captured by the IDF in 2002 indicated Fatah's "systematic, institutionalized and ongoing financing" of the Al Aqsa Brigades, including a special allocation to the Bethlehem branch of the organization (the very group that dispatched today's bomber). After inspecting these documents, President Bush called for Arafat's removal in June, 2002.
▪ The leader of the Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigades in Tulkarm told USA Today on March 14, 2002: "The truth is, we are Fatah, but we didn't operate under the name of Fatah...We are the armed wing of the organization. We receive our instructions from Fatah. Our commander is Yasser Arafat himself."
▪ Last week, British MP Jenny Tonge went to visit Al Aqsa Martyrs' Brigades' Bethlehem branch. BBC's Radio 4 carried a report in which the terrorists themselves admit they are "part of Fatah...the militant part." (Click here to hear the report ¯ the statement regarding Fatah is about 2:50 in.)
HonestReporting calls on other media outlets to follow the BBC's lead and specify the integral connection between Fatah and the Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigades.
This is not merely a semantic matter. The close ties that bond the Fatah-led PA to terrorist groups are the fundamental problem that prevents progress toward peaceful reconciliation. The dominant political party in the PA remains a direct sponsor of ongoing terrorism ¯ the ruling politicians and the terrorists are one and the same.
| High school students mourning a classmate|
If media outlets fail to convey this, their readers and viewers certainly can't understand Israel's position in the raging debate over the security fence, which tomorrow reaches the world court at The Hague.
One paper that clearly doesn't "get it" is The Chicago Tribune, which published today three op-eds (1,2,3) railing against the security fence, all under the theme "Build Bridges, Not Walls."
Israel has been attempting to build bridges with her Palestinian neighbors for over fifty years. But as a terror-free Palestinian leadership has never emerged, and Israeli families continue to be torn apart by senseless terrorist murder, no other option currently exists. Until there's a Palestinian partner who forsakes terrorism, Israeli citizens deserve the protection of an imperfect wall.
In reporting on today's attack, did your local paper indicate the direct connections between the perpetrators of the horrific attack and Yassir Arafat's ruling Fatah party? If not, write a letter to the editor, using the talking points above, and stressing the significance of accuracy on this particular issue ¯ which cuts to the heart of the entire conflict.
Thank you for your ongoing involvement in the battle against media bias.