Recent media coverage of the Mideast conflict has focused almost entirely on internal Israeli tension as Israel's 'disengagement' from Gaza approaches. It's broadly recognized, though, that Israel's sacrifice of its Gaza communities will only foster peace if accompanied by deep cultural reform on the other side ¯ including Palestinian education for coexistence, and a free, moderate press.
Yet important developments in those areas routinely slip under the western media radar:
The official Palestinian Authority newspaper continues to glorify terrorists, flouting the PA's obligation under the road map for 'all official Palestinian institutions [to] end incitement against Israel.' These two men recently murdered an Israeli couple visiting Gaza, yet the official PA paper described them as Shahids ¯ 'holy martyrs':
All Palestinian journalists, moreover, have been banned from covering internal Palestinian conflict or the PA security forces (violators face 'personal and legal consequences of their deeds'), and urged to celebrate Israel's Gaza 'retreat'. This clearly fails the all-important 'town square test' recently endorsed by Condoleeza Rice, citing Natan Sharansky:
if a person cannot walk into the middle of the town square and express his or her views without fear of arrest, imprisonment, or physical harm, then that person is living in a fear society, not a free society. And we cannot rest until every person living in a fear society has finally won their freedom.
Meanwhile, a San Francisco Chronicle reporter visited a Hamas summer camp, where he found this disturbing scene:
"In this camp we learn the important things of life ¯ good behavior, respect," said Osama, who was spending the summer at a Hamas-run camp on the beach outside Gaza City. They also learn how to sing "intifada songs," including one urging them to "kill Zionists wherever they are, in the name of God." Here's a sample camp activity:
At one beach camp, attended by approximately 100 kids, an instructor wore a heavy flannel shirt under which a webbed belt could be seen strapped to his stomach. Asked by a reporter what it was, he answered, with a broad smile, "Boom!"
While the Chronicle should be commended for this coverage (on the heels of its recent, HR-documented slipup), this story ¯ along with the continued lionizing of the first Palestinian woman suicide bomber as a popular hero ¯ demands far greater awareness.
For more on the problem of Palestinian incitement, visit HR affiliate Teach Kids Peace, and sign the TKP petition calling on world leaders to demand reform in Palestinian education, and media outlets to greater publicize the issue.
Why so little western coverage of these disturbing events? Martin Peretz, Editor-in-Chief of The New Republic, explains:
The PA has so many times obliged itself to Bill Clinton, George Bush, and the Israelis to stop official incitement against Jews and Israel. But the most grotesque and genocide-provoking hatred for the Jewish people and their state continues to flood the official marketplace of what you might not want to call ideas. I've known this for years, and American journalists have known it for years, but it has gone largely unreported. It's not their kind of story because it ruins the story of Palestinian moderation, to which so many reporters, columnists, and editorialists are wed.
As Israel prepares for its painful withdrawal from Gaza, HonestReporting calls on western news outlets to recognize the ongoing media restrictions, incitement and education to hate in Palestinian culture ¯ which threaten Israel's voluntary effort to generate peace with its Palestinian neighbors.
Thank you for your ongoing involvement in the battle against media bias.