Under the somewhat tortured title “Finding Fault in the Palestinian Messages That Aren’t So Public,” New York Times (NYT) correspondent Isabel Kershner reports that a “new book by an Israeli watchdog group catalogs dozens of examples of messages broadcast by the Palestinian Authority for its domestic audience that would seem at odds with the pursuit of peace and a two-state solution.”
Since at least half of the report is dedicated to “balancing” the evidence provided in the newly published book with anxious questions about the “political correctness” of reporting on the subject, Kershner doesn’t get around to mentioning one of the most widely discussed examples provided in the book: an essay in a youth magazine by a Palestinian girl who describes a dream encounter with various role models including a ninth-century Persian mathematician, an Egyptian Nobel laureate, the historic leader Saladin – and Adolf Hitler.
As the authors of the book correctly point out, it is unfortunately hardly surprising that a Palestinian teenager, growing up in an environment where the killing of Israelis and Jews is routinely glorified, should regard Hitler as a role model.
Interestingly, Kershner herself also emphasizes that “this is nothing new” – where “this” apparently refers to Palestinian anti-Israel incitement. Obviously, Kershner’s statement doesn’t quite square with her article’s headline that mentions “Palestinian Messages That Aren’t So Public;” moreover, Kershner’s lengthy discussion of the potential political implications of reporting on “the subject of incitement” also suggests that any related news are news the NYT is loathe to report. As Kershner puts it: “for many, the subject of incitement and media monitoring has become as contentious as some of the messages, especially since these pronouncements are often used to score propaganda points” – and what''s apparently worst of all is that these could be “propaganda points” for the right.
That would seem to imply that the fact that a Palestinian youngster regards Hitler as a role model can be dismissed as a mere right-wing “propaganda point.” There might be merit to this view if this was an isolated instance – but of course, it is not, as Kershner herself acknowledges when she writes that “this is nothing new.” Indeed, the many examples provided in the book that reports on the essay are merely a small sample of the Jew-hatred that is so pervasive in the Arab media, in entertainment, and in religious teachings. Just how casual Arab antisemitism is was illustrated recently when a Virgin Megastore in Qatar featured an Arabic edition of Hitler’s “Mein Kampf” as recommended reading.
How much do NYT readers know about this incident, which is of course again “nothing new”? Has any NYT reporter ever thought it might be newsworthy to find out how many other German books have been translated into Arabic and are sold alongside Hitler’s “Mein Kampf”? What do NYT readers know about the vicious antisemitic statements of the Muslim Brotherhood’s widely admired “spiritual leader” Yussuf Qaradawi? How ethical is it to ignore or downplay all this as right-wing “propaganda points” that are really “nothing new”?
As I have often argued – for example when I wrote about a “nothing new” sleek YouTube clip that showed a group of cute kids putting on a polished musical performance about the desirability of being martyred for Palestine – the mainstream media are systematically filtering their news about the Middle East in a way that leaves their readers quite ignorant about the realities of which Israelis are only all too aware. That in turn enables the progressive punditocracy to sustain the illusion that it is primarily Israel’s inexplicable intransigence that prevents peace in the Middle East – after all, why not take some risks for peace when it’s "nothing new" when the Muslim Brotherhood’s spiritual leader praises Hitler as a tool of divine providence and a teenager dreams of Hitler as a role model, while stores all over the region sell Hitler’s “Mein Kampf.”
* * *For more on the distortions of our times: