Media lies are rarely as simple as publishing a story which makes a claim that is explicitly untrue, and which the journalist knows to be patently false.
Rather, most such ethical breaches involve contextualizing a story in a way which obfuscates, ignores or otherwise blurs a politically inconvenient fact or reality.
A recent report by the the Guardian’s Phoebe Greenwood (Newt Gingrich condemned for calling Palestinians terrorists, Dec. 11) is a classic example of such a distortion.
Greenwood jumped on one assertion by Newt Gingrich about the culture of antisemitism in Palestinian society to obfuscate the broader undeniable reality of such incitement (and the glorification of violence against Israeli civilians) in their education system and, indeed, throughout their culture.
“The Republican frontrunner insisted at a candidate debate on Saturday – to warm applause from the audience – that “these people are terrorists. They teach terrorism in their schools. They have textbooks that say, if there are 13 Jews and nine Jews are killed, how many Jews are left? We pay for those textbooks through our aid money.”
“Palestinian officials said Gingrich’s allegations were based substantially on material produced by an Israeli organisation, Palestinian Media Watch (PMW), which has published a long list of entries on its website under the heading ‘Promoting Violence for Children’. An article from 2007 describes Palestinian textbooks paid for with US aid money that deny Israel‘s right to exist.
Xavier Abu Eid, a senior adviser to the Palestine Liberation Organisation, said…”[Gingrich] is welcome to come to Palestine so he can stop speaking from talking points and speak about reality. If he can produce a Palestinian textbook that proves his point, then he should do it. But they don’t exist in our schools – he’s quoting propaganda.”
The suggestion that PMW represents “propaganda” is itself an example of cynical political propaganda, as nobody has ever seriously disputed the accuracy of PMW’s Arabic translations. Further, the fact that the group is based in Israel is of no relevance to assessing the overall rigor of the group’s research.
PMW translators are experts in Arabic with many years of study and work behind them. Indeed, for some, Arabic is their mother tongue. (Additional evidence of antisemitism promoted by the PA, which corroborates the analysis by PMW, can be found at MEMRI.)
Here, Gingrich was correct in principle but his example was not. The PA schoolbooks do not include that particular math question. Instead the PA Ministry of Education does something far worse: It glorifies murderers and terrorists. The PA Ministry of Education has two of its schools named after Dalal Mughrabi…the woman who led the most lethal terror attack in Israel’s history, the Coastal Road massacre bus hijacking in which 37 civilians were killed.
What exactly is the PA message to its children regarding terror? Terror and killing Israelis is not only justified but is even worthy of honor.
Two [PA] summer camps for children this past summer had groups named after her, and one of the camps was sponsored by Prime Minister Salam Fayyad. The entire environment the PA has created for its children envelopes them in glorification of terror.
The PA, it seems, learned that the world would no longer permit it to directly call to kill Israelis, for to do so would cause it to lose American and European funding. So instead of promoting the terror, it glorifies the terrorists; instead of Palestinian children learning that they must kill Israelis, they learn that whoever kills Israelis will become a Palestinian hero.
[Further], the PA educates its children with this dual message that Israel exists but has no right to exist, as expressed in a PA school book for grade 12: “Palestine’s war ended with a catastrophe that is unprecedented in history, when the Zionist gangs stole Palestine and established the State of Israel.” (Arabic Language, Analysis, Literature and Criticism, grade 12, p. 104)
Defining Israel as being created after “Zionist gangs stole Palestine” is the definitive expression of denying Israel’s right to exist. Significantly, this rejection of Israel is not just found in Palestinian schoolbooks but is a central part of the ongoing Palestinian discourse.
When the American congressional candidates criticized the PA for promoting terror among Palestinians they were absolutely correct. When they accused the PA of denying Israel’s right to exist they were merely exposing authentic PA ideology.
Greenwood, by framing the story in a way which sows doubt about such ongoing (and continually documented) Palestinian incitement, again demonstrates why the Guardian continues to excel at ideologically influenced dishonest reporting.