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Media Watch: Netanyahu Off The Hook

Media Watch: Netanyahu Off The Hook

Most everyone, from Dubai to London, now focusing on failure of Abbas.

Associate Editor

Jake Tapper, ABC’s White House correspondent, tweets: “Crap, I’m still writing 5770 on my checks.”

Correspondents at PATV, the Palestinian Authority’s TV station controlled by President Mahmoud Abbas, welcomed Rosh HaShanah on a more ominous note. As the camera (Sept. 10) panned from the Dome of the Rock to Jews praying at the Western Wall, the voiceover says, “They [Israelis] know for certain that our roots are deeper than their false history. We, from the balcony of our home, look out over holiness,” the Dome of the Rock, “and on sin and filth,” the Jews at the Wall.

The TV clip is available at Palestinian Media Watch, the latest evidence of ongoing anti-Semitic incitement in the Palestinian media that is almost completely ignored in the English-language media, other than the Jerusalem Post, Arutz Sheva and blogosphere.

Although Abbas represents the Palestinians of Gaza, as well as the West Bank, at the peace talks, even fewer in the American media have reported that the hottest video in Gaza is a mock execution of Gilad Shalit.

Similarly, although the Associated Press put it on the wire, almost no one except the Jewish media and the Christian Broadcasting Network reported the ruling by a Palestinian court that Palestinians in the West Bank will automatically face the death penalty for selling real estate to Jews.

Some might suggest that Abbas and the Palestinians were getting sanitized by the pro-peace media who put all the onus on the Israelis for the absence of peace, such as with last week’s Time cover, “Why Israel Doesn’t Care About Peace.” The New York Times has repeatedly made the case, in several editorials, that “We have long been skeptical that Mr. Netanyahu really wants a deal,” without equal skepticism about Abbas.

The problem, to listen to the Times and various critics in The New York Review of Books and elsewhere, is Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

Meanwhile, mainstream coverage of the peace process has pretty much ignored the question of Gaza, where 40 percent of all Palestinians live and elected Hamas as their government. Several of those Times editorials scolding Netanyahu did not mention Hamas at all. Peter Beinart’s highly publicized essay this past June in the New York Review of Books, explaining how Netanyahu’s right-wing government was so anti-peace that young Jews could no longer be both liberal and Zionist, mentioned Hamas only twice over the course of 4,000 words: One mention was simply, “Yes, Israel faces threats from Hezbollah and Hamas,” only to add in the same paragraph that “The drama of Jewish victimhood … strikes most of today’s young American Jews as farce.”

And then, on the eve of the peace talks, four Israelis driving on the West Bank’s Highway 60 were murdered on Aug. 31, including a pregnant woman; shot point-blank by Hamas terrorists after the Israelis’ car was ambushed. Palestinians danced in the streets. The first sentence of the Times story, before even attributing the murder to Hamas, declared that the murders only “underscored the disruptive role that the issue of Jewish settlements could play in the already fragile negotiations.”

Always, even with four dead Jews, it always comes back to settlements, according to the Times. Don’t be distracted by the dead Jews, said advocates of the peace process, like the Wizard of Oz telling Dorothy, “Ignore that man behind the curtain.”

It was Hamas behind the curtain.

Israel, the United States, and the PA prefer to ignore Hamas, but the Christian Science Monitor (Sep. 16) headlined Hamas “is being ignored in the ongoing Israeli-Palestinian peace talks. Some think that’s a big mistake.”

The BBC reported: The “reality is that Mr. Abbas does not represent all Palestinians… It is hard to see how there can be a complete and lasting peace between Israelis and Palestinians until there is peace and agreement between Fatah and Hamas.”

And in London’s Guardian: “What you will almost never hear from the western media, however, is that the fault for this pending collapse cannot be laid at Israel’s door. Forget settlements; forget the wall; forget East Jerusalem; the biggest reason why these talks will fail is that Mahmoud Abbas … is not capable of getting his own house in order.”

The Guardian’s columnist, George Grant, adds, “Moreover, even if Abbas could by a miracle produce a deal that would be acceptable to ordinary Palestinians, he cannot control the Islamist militants who still reject any negotiations with Israel, still more a peace agreement, as anathema. For Hamas, Islamic Jihad and others, the problem is not so much Israel’s presence in the West Bank; it is Israel’s presence.”

Grant says an Israeli cab driver summarized it best: “Israel will give a lot for peace, including East Jerusalem and most of the settlements, but if by giving so much she cannot even expect peace in return, then why should she give at all?”

For all the talk that Israel has bad public relations, it was not Netanyahu who was getting beat up but Abbas who was getting pummeled like a “featherweight boxer” in the ring with heavyweights, said Dubai’s Gulf News.

What qualifies Abbas to even be at the table, asked Sami Mounbayed in Gulf News. “This is the same man who has … failed since 2007 to bring about reconciliation with Hamas for the sake of uniting Palestinian territories and families.” Abbas has “nothing to lean on for support except the goodwill of [President] Barack Obama.”

Another writer in the Gulf News notices, “Why are the people of this region, including most Palestinians, displaying an uncharacteristic lack of interest” in the peace talks? “Whenever I mention the topic to my Egyptian neighbors and friends, they tend to soulfully shake their heads, change the subject or stifle a yawn. Who can blame them? … Abbas is not a viable peace partner; he doesn’t speak for the majority of Palestinians and, secondly, his presidential tenure expired last year.”

Netanyahu? In Newsweek (Sep. 14), where Netanyahu has been so often cited as the obstacle to peace, we’re now told, “The most important talks aren’t between Israelis and Palestinians — they’re between Palestinians and Palestinians … It’s hard to imagine [Israelis] abiding a process that includes regular rocket attacks on Israeli towns.”

In The Washington Post (Sep. 13), columnist Jackson Diehl says “The conventional wisdom … goes something like this: Abbas is a moderate who genuinely wants a two-state settlement” while “Netanyahu is a hawk who … doesn’t really accept Palestinian statehood. So how come it is Netanyahu who has spent the past week talking up a ‘historic compromise with our Palestinian neighbors’ and promising ‘to embrace original thinking’ to achieve it … And why has Abbas, who has described himself as having been dragged into the talks, been giving interviews in which he has repeatedly threatened a walkout…”

Of course, adds Diehl, “Palestinian partisans rush to explain: Abbas says such things only because he is under terrible domestic pressure, not only from Hamas but from the Palestinian ‘street.’ But is he?”

Meanwhile, writes Diehl, “Abbas has managed to convince the Obama administration that he is serious about a peace settlement.”

Who else is convinced?

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