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May 17, 2016

'Stabbing Intifada' Declines, Tribune Papers Tell Half the Story

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The Tribune Newspapers—including The Los Angeles Times, Chicago Tribune and Baltimore Sun—asked, as a Times headline put it, “What’s behind the sharp decline in lone-wolf stabbing attacks in the West Bank?” (May 11, 2016). The same report appeared that day in The Tribune and a shorter version (“Palestinian stabbings decrease, officials say”) ran in the May 10 print Baltimore Sun.

Special correspondent Joshua Mitnick’s timely article included some useful background. It indirectly and anonymously quoted a Palestinian security commander saying, “Many of the attacks [against Israelis] seem to be carried out by youths who suffer from depression or economic hardship,” as well as those who “want revenge for relatives or friends injured in the violence.”

But the article omitted too much. For example:

*It portrayed the Palestinian “stabbing intifada” as “being carried by individuals without ties to militant groups.” But according to a detailed analysis by Adam Shay and Pinhas Inbari (“the Palestinian Authority-Fatah’s Incitement Strategy,” Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs, Feb. 29, 2016), “rather than plan and coordinate violent attacks, [Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud] Abbas uses the Palestinian public debate and the media as a mechanism for instigating waves of violence. The public debate also uses a dialogue based on cultural codes, which broadcast a specific, pre-defined meaning to the Palestinian listener.

“When President Abbas says that ‘they [the Jews] have no right to defile them [the al-Aqsa mosque and the Church of the Holy Sepulcher]…we will not allow them, and we will do everything in our power to protect Jerusalem,’ he is in fact giving permission and legitimacy to intensify the struggle. Within the context of the struggle this is an authorization to move from stone-throwing to knifing and vehicular attacks, as was indeed the case.”

*The Tribune report misses what Shay and Inbari describe as Abbas’ strategy to circumvent Israel’s insistence on direct negotiations toward a “two-state solution” and Israeli-Palestinian peace. Abbas outlined this in January, 2015, eight months before the “stabbing intifada” erupted, declaring in reference to sporadic anti-Israel attacks already occurring: “The popular intifada will continue until the occupation is over and there will be no return to negotiations without full recognition of Palestinian rights. Movement towards a settlement will be achieved through international intervention.” Palestinian support of French efforts to convene an international conference in place of direct talks with Israel reflects that strategy.

*The Tribune Newspapers quote PA official and Fatah movement member Kadoura Fares as claiming of “the stabbing intifada” that “the Palestinian national movement didn’t lead this wave.” Perhaps not with a direct order, but by setting and maintaining the atmosphere, including repeated official praise of “martyrs, it helped spark and sustain that wave. See, for one example among many USA Today Downplays Anti-Jewish Violence as Clashes,” CAMERA, March 7, 2016.

*“What’s behind the sharp decline in lone-wolf stabbing attacks” states, without attribution, “Palestinians want to form an independent state in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, with East Jerusalem as their capital.” This formula tends to appear chronically in news media coverage, usually—as here—out of context. That Palestinian leaders rejected U.S.-Israeli proposals of a West Bank and Gaza “Palestine” with eastern Jerusalem as its capital in 2000 and 2001, replying with the bloodshed of the second intifada, and rebuffed a similar Israeli-only offer in 2008 virtually always goes unmentioned.

In fact, recent polling indicates that pluralities of Palestinian Arabs continue to oppose a “two-state solution,” still favor elimination of Israel as a Jewish state and support anti-Israeli violence over non-violence. See “Poll: Majority of Palestinians Favor a New Intifada,” CAMERA, Sept. 25, 2015

Yes, Israeli authorities have credited PA officials with trying recently to minimize support for “the stabbing intifada,” including among young people via social media. This Mitnick, formerly of The Wall Street Journal, now a Tribune Newspapers special correspondent, reports. But omitted is those same officials’ role in stimulating such attacks in the first place. Also missing is the persistence of Palestinian hostility to Israel and opposition to peace with it as a Jewish state, which fuels those crimes.

Posted by ER at May 17, 2016 05:08 PM

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