Why does the Economist treat Palestinian rioters like children?

The media script about rioting at the Temple Mount is as predictable as it is dishonest.

When religious Jews peacefully walk around the Temple Mount (the holiest site in Judaism), and even honor the prohibition against non-Muslim prayer on the site, they are still nonetheless often characterized in the UK media as ‘Jewish radicals’ engaged an inherently provocative act. Conversely, Muslims who riot and attack Jewish worshippers and Israeli Police – in order to “defend the mosque” – are typically framed by the media, at least implicitly, as pious worshippers incited to violence by the presence of Jewish extremists. 

The latest example of this UK media narrative – informed by the refusal of British opinion leaders to take Palestinians seriously as agents of their own fate – comes to us courtesy of the Economist, in an article titled ‘A mount of troubles: Jewish radicals are upsetting the fragile religious balance in the holy city, Oct. 18th. 

The Economist article – about riots on the Mount in general, and one in particular on Oct. 14th coinciding with the visit of MK Moshe Feiglin – tells us nothing about the fact that many riots (including the one in question on the 14th) are incited by Islamist extremist movements who tell Muslims that Israel intends to demolish the al-Aqsa Mosque.

The article also includes this remarkably misleading sentence:

On the day of Mr Feiglin’s visit [Monday, Oct. 14th] Israeli police padlocked Muslim protesters inside the al-Aqsa mosque to keep the peace, and fired stun-grenades and tear gas through its windows

Indeed, it wasn’t difficult to find reports (including even some in publications institutionally hostile to Israel) providing a much fuller picture of the incident – explaining why Israeli Police “padlocked Muslim protesters inside the al-Aqsa Mosque”.

Per JNS:

Overnight Sunday, dozens of youths—among them members of Hamas and the northern branch of the Islamic Movement in Israelcongregated for a riot, amassing rocks, firecrackers, and Molotov cocktails inside the Al-Aqsa mosque in order to clash with police and disrupt the holiday routine for Jewish visitors to the Temple Mount.

Additionally, the youths also built improvised barricades to prevent police from locking them in the mosque, nailing shoe racks to the doors. They erected wooden obstacles inside of the mosque, planning to throw rocks and shoot fireworks at the police from behind the obstacles.

After learning of the riot plans, the Jerusalem District police department prepared to foil the riot. Immediately following early morning prayers, a police force entered the Temple Mount compound to surprise the youths, who barricaded themselves behind the improvised obstacles and hurled rocks and firecrackers at the officers.

The police officers repelled the attackers with anti-riot equipment, removed the barricades, and locked the mosque’s doors with the masked rioters inside. Later in the day, police arrested four Arab youths suspected of involvement in the Temple Mount violence.

Locking the rioters inside the mosque allowed the police to keep the Temple Mount open to more than 900 visitors to the site.

The Economist failed to tell readers that Israeli police “fired stun-grenades and tear gas” through the windows of the mosque only in response to Muslim youths who threw rocks and firecrackers at them from inside the mosque.

Here’s an amateur video of “worshippers” shooting small rockets from within the al-Aqsa Mosque, which is – let’s remember – “third holiest place in Islam”.

Further, it’s important to note that “Israeli police padlocked Muslim radicals inside the al-Aqsa mosque” only in order to prevent further rioting, thus allowing hundreds of worshippers to peacefully visit the site on that day.

The story that the Economist missed is that the Israeli police acted effectively – and with admirable restraint – to prevent violence by a group of Muslims which included Hamas and Islamic Movement extremists.  Though the magazine fancies itself a uniquely sophisticated and erudite journal of news and opinion, when it comes to Israel-Palestine, the Economist continues to demonstrate a Guardian-like propensity to cast Israelis as villains and Palestinians as children who can never be held morally responsible for even the most destructive behavior.

12 replies »

  1. There is a solution to the issue. The land belongs to Israel and we don’t want their mosques – so we announce that the Arabs have 1 year to remove all their ugly buildings from the Temple Mount and move them anywhere outside of Israel.

    Failure to remove them will result in Israel removing them and putting them in a dump.

  2. A must read.
    Palestinian Thugs on the Temple Mount
    Thugs on the Temple
    By David M Weinberg
    October 17, 2014

    On Wednesday morning, for the holiday of Hoshana Rabbah (the last day of Sukkot), 20,000 Orthodox Jews gathered at dawn for prayers at the Western Wall. Waves of worshippers made their way silently on foot in the very early morning twilight through the alleyways of the Old City toward the Kotel.

    Then magically on cue, they belted out the core “Shma” prayer as the sun crested the horizon. Then they waved their lulavim (palm branches) while singing Hallel (psalms of praise to God), and pounded their aravot (willow branches) on the ground in expiation of sin. By 8:30 a.m., the enormous crowd dispersed quietly.

    No one would know about this uplifting holiday event from listening to Israel Radio or checking any Israel or global news website. Because there was no violence involved.

    Because Jews go to pray at their holy sites, not to riot.

    Unlike the Jews described above (of which I was one), Muslim Arabs in, on, and around the Temple Mount launched violent demonstrations that same morning, attacking Jewish worshippers and police all around the Old City. That made the news on Israel Radio.

    After more than three months of incessant Arab violence in Jerusalem, and three weeks of Muslim violence on the Temple Mount, the police knew to suspect trouble on this Jewish holiday, so they restricted access to the Mount to Muslims over 50 years of age. That served as an excuse for more rioting.

    Israel Radio, which often seems to be more of a mouthpiece for Israel’s detractors than a national news station, devoted more than 10 minutes of air time to Israeli Arab MK Jamal Zahalka (Balad) who bemoaned Israeli “aggression” against the “status quo” — whereby Muslims have exclusive control of, and prayer rights on, the Temple Mount. No rebuttal to this canard was offered.

    On Wednesday, masked Muslims attacked visitors on Temple Mount in what could have become a massacre. Hordes of young men surged out the mosques (in which they had slept overnight to surprise the Jews) and fought a pitched battle with police forces, throwing rocks, firebombs, fireworks, metal pipes and concrete slabs that had been stockpiled in advance. They started fires at the mosque entrances for smoke cover. Police had to drive the rioters back into the mosques and lock them inside in order to prevent a mass-casualty incident.

    This is organized thuggery, designed to turn the Temple Mount into the hottest battleground between Israel and the Arab world, and to undermine Israel’s control of the holy city.

    Unfortunately, the Israel Police are under orders to avoid escalation almost at any cost; and as such, have become serial capitulators to the Muslim muggers and the many radical Islamic forces that are encouraging, funding and defending the brutes on the Mount. Jerusalem District Police chief Yossi Pariente ordered his troops to stand down and withdraw last month as Islamic radicals ransacked and burned the police station on Temple Mount. And he has taken no retaliatory or punitive action since.

    It’s obvious that the Netanyahu government fears the response of the Arab world and the international community and is therefore hesitant to change the status quo on the Mount — the situation whereby Jews have only limited visitation rights and are all-together forbidden from praying there while Muslims claim exclusive religious rights and have set up an armed camp there.

    One possible solution would be a time-sharing agreement with alternating slots for Jewish and Muslim prayer on the Mount, similar to the arrangement in place at the Cave of the Patriarchs in Hebron. But alas there are no signs that this government is planning to take that route.

    Nevertheless, at the very least the government has a responsibility to run the ruffians off the Mount and punish them for attempting to turn the holy site into an Armageddon battleground.

    It can do so in two ways. First, it can close the Mount to Muslim worshippers for 24 hours or 24 days each time the waqf allows its premises to become a weapons depository or a staging ground for riots. If the Muslims don’t respect their own houses of prayer and instead turn them into forward attack bases, why should we respect their prayer rights? If the Mount is closed to Jews because of Muslim violence, let it be closed to Muslims, too, for a while.

    Secondly, Israel should make mass arrests among the rioters and fine them 10,000 shekels ($2,700) for each rock thrown while simultaneously stripping their families of the generous National Insurance Institute payments they happily collect each month. Israel should also slap each of the rioters with a criminal rap sheet, and hand down jail sentences, making it impossible for them to gain the visas they covet for study at American and European universities and for anti-Israel propaganda tours abroad.

    Note: Israeli Jews who passively blocked roads in protest against the Gaza disengagement were in some cases thrown in jail for 18 months. So why are we going soft on the Muslim hotheads who are desecrating the holy of holies?

    The terribly mislabeled Palestinian “Authority” has become an extremist, not a moderate, actor in this matter. Its ministers are spreading lies about Jewish threats to the mosques on the Mount, and encouraging the violence. Perhaps it’s time for Israel to strip Mahmoud Abbas’ radical minions of their travel and other VIP rights, as well.

  3. I stopped reading The: Economist decades ago; after many years of subscribing to; when it finally dawned on me that the reason I wasn’t enjoying reading it is because it is just another socialist rag. On the main point of the article I have been puzzled for a long time why Jews are not allowed to pray on temple mount. It’s akin to squatters preventing you from access to your own house..

  4. `cause responsibility is an imperialist, white, islamophob and racist tool invented to suppress the spontanity and nature of the peaceful people of the world which every postcolonialist can easily deconstruct as the antagonism of civlisation and barbarism.construed as legitimisation for colonial enterprises like f.e. the French occupation of the Barbary coast. The narrative goes that the last white slave was freed when Algiers was occupied by French troops, a paradoxical trope.