Newsworthy

Hazineh Calls for the Murder of Jews and the Mainstream Press Stays Silent

Why did the mainstream media almost completely ignore Elias Hazineh's inflammatory declarations against Jews at the recent Al Quds Day rally in Toronto?

Early in August, at an Al Quds Day rally in Toronto, a speaker called for the murder of Jews. Elias Hazineh, the former president of an organization called Palestinian House, suggested that an ultimatum be given to Israelis. "You have to leave Jerusalem. You have to leave Palestine. We say get out or you're dead! We give them two minutes and then we start shooting. And that's the only way they'll understand." Hazineh spoke to an applauding crowd of around 400.

What was more disturbing than the inflammatory and hateful declarations was the way they were almost completely ignored by the mainstream press. Diane Weber Bederman, a blogger with the Huffington Post Canada, noticed that the Canadian conservative Sun News Network covered the event and speech with live reports from the scene. She wrote, "I haven't seen or heard reports from other mainstream media. Perhaps I missed it."

Bederman didn't miss anything. I checked the website of every newspaper and broadcast outlet in Toronto. I found only one other reference to the rally in the local press. Five days after the rally, the notoriously anti-Israel Toronto Star ran a profile of Hazineh. To provide a veneer of objectivity the story included a quote from Shimon Fogel, the CEO of Center for Israel Affairs, who said that it was "disgusting and outrageous that a speaker at a rally in Canada would call for the murder of Jews in Israel." To the Star reporter, Hazineh admitted the words were "inflammatory" and "inappropriate." Yet the profile is largely sympathetic. In explanation he said: "The language was a metaphor, it was not used as a reality.... I was using to make a point. I was trying to make a point, enough is enough." Some metaphor. For decades, mainstream Palestinian thought has regarded the indiscriminate killing of Jews as legitimate. It's no stretch to see Hazineh's words as an endorsement of blowing up Israeli buses or firing missiles at Israeli cities.

You might think that calling for the killing of Jews before a large crowd might be more than a local story. Indeed, the story was picked up by the Jewish Telegraphic Agency, the American Jewish channel Shalom TV and the Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI). There were also stories on some Israeli websites such as the Times of Israel and the Jerusalem Post. Through an Internet search, I tried to determine how much coverage Hazineh's rant had gotten in the American media. I couldn't find any evidence that the general press had covered the story at all. Among Jewish publications, Algemeiner.com, Vosizneis.com and The Jewish Press covered the story. But all three appeal to right-wing Orthodox readers. Among Jewish publications in large American cities, which have a wider readership, I only found two: Los Angeles's Jewish Journal and the Forward, a national Jewish weekly, ran stories about the rally.

Bederman wrote, "Can you imagine a group of Russians attending an anti-gay rally in Toronto saying, 'We say get out to all the homosexuals or you’re dead!' Or a group of Christians rallying in Toronto saying that about gays in Uganda? What do you think would happen in the mainstream media?"

Actually, what Hazineh said at the rally was really not out of step with statements that are made regularly by the leaders of the Palestinian Authority (PA). Organizations such as MEMRI and Palestinian Media Watch document what Palestinian politicians say and what the government-controlled media broadcasts. The results of their research and videos from Palestinian and Arab television are published on each group's website. Palestinian Media Watch claims, "The PA assigns the responsibility to the Jews for all of the problems of the world. Wars, conflicts and civil wars are all said to be triggered by the Jews. Indeed, the oppression suffered by the Jews throughout history is presented as the legitimate response of nations seeking revenge for the injury caused by the Jews living among them." In one video from Palestinian Television displayed on the PMW website in July, a schoolgirl read a poem calling Jews the "most evil among creations." The PA also continues to articulate euphemisms for the destruction of Israel. A MEMRI report released last March asserted that textbooks used in PA schools inculcate into children the hope for a return to their homes inside Israel.

The reasons for the widespread suppression of the official Palestinian demonization of Jews and Israel are easily discernible. According to the conventional wisdom of Middle East "experts," only Israel's occupation and settlements in the West Bank stand in the way of a "two-state solution" to the Arab-Israeli conflict. The Palestinian hostility toward Jews and Israel makes this myth a hard sell.