On Oct. 4, 2013 Binyamin Netanyahu gave an interview with BBC Persian. Though Netanyahu spoke mostly about the Iranian nuclear issue, there also was a brief exchange in which Bibi said “If the people of Iran were free, they could wear jeans, listen to Western music and have free elections.”
Bibi was correct that there aren’t genuinely free elections in Iran. And, his characterization of Iran’s ban on most Western music was also largely accurate. However, while there are indeed dress codes in Iran which, for instance, forbid women from wearing short sleeves (or, oddly, even leggings) and forbids men or women from wearing shorts, he erred in his ‘jeans ban’ comment. His little faux pas naturally set off the Guardian’s anti-Israel Schadenfreude sensors, and the paper published three stories on Oct. 7 on ‘blue-jean gate’.
Fast forward to Oct. 2015 where the Guardian largely ignored a widely covered story in which PA President Mahmoud Abbas flatly lied about an Israeli “execution” of a young Palestinian boy. As you no doubt recall, Abbas claimed in a speech on Palestine TV that Ahmed Mansara, the 13-year-old Palestinian boy who stabbed two Jews in Jerusalem, “was executed in cold blood” by police. Of course, Mansara was not killed but only injured when he was hit by a car upon fleeing the attack. Photos and video clips of the boy recovering in an Israeli hospital proved that he was indeed very much alive.
Remarkably, the only mention of Abbas’s lie in the Guardian that we could find was in the 14th paragraph of an article by Kate Shuttleworth about an entirely different incident (Stabbed Israeli Jew mistaken for Arab criticises violence, Oct. 15).
Here are the relevant passages.
He also criticised Abbas falsely claiming that a 13-year-old Palestinian, Ahmed Mansara, from Beit Hanina, had been “executed” by Israel. Mansara is in fact alive, and being treated in a hospital in Jerusalem.
Mansara and a 17-year-old friend allegedly stabbed two people, leaving one in a serious condition and one critically wounded. Palestinians were enraged by footage showing the wounded Ahmed lying on the ground after the attack, as bystanders yell at him: “Die!”. He is being treated at Hadassah hospital, in Jerusalem. The Palestinian leadership says Mansara is innocent and was shot in an attempt to kill him.
The significance of the contrast in coverage between the false claims by Netanyahu and Abbas is that the Israeli leader’s comment had no real impact on the lives of Iranians, whilst the PA President’s lie about an Israeli “execution” of a child served to further inflame Arabs amidst a wave of deadly terror attacks on Jews which have been fueled by this very kind of incitement.
But, there’s a broader point that needs to be made about the disparate coverage.
Evidence of Abbas’s lies and incitement – as with his government’s corruption and widespread abuse of Palestinian human rights – will continue to be buried because it is simply not part of their desired narrative on the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict.
If Palestinians MUST be the victims in their drama, then it only stands to reason that any evidence challenging the paradigm will be downplayed, denied or ignored.