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PMW in the Media
Even Palestinian crosswords reject Israel
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Question: What is the well-known port city of Palestine?
If you answered “Gaza,” you’d be wrong – it’s Haifa, according to crossword puzzles that appear in Palestinian media sources routinely enjoyed by Palestinians of all ages, including children. In fact, going by the clues these puzzles offer, there is no Israel at all - from Metulla to Eilat, from the Mediterranean to the Jordan, with the eternal united capital of Al-Quds (Jerusalem), it’s all Palestine.
The normally innocuous medium of crossword puzzles seems to have become just one more battleground in the long struggle between Israel and the Palestinians, according to a report released yesterday by Palestinian Media Watch. The puzzles which appear, notes the report, are full of rejectionist and antisemitic “clues” - and not only since the outbreak of the “Aksa intifada.”
“It is important to note that these problematic ‘messages’ are not published in the Palestinian Authority newspapers in the aftermath of violence or during times of particular tension in the Israeli-Palestinian relationship,” reads the report. “Rather, these have appeared over the past number of years as a routine part of Palestinian culture and amusement, reflecting normative Palestinian thinking and expectations.”
The report cites numerous clues with a deeply antagonistic message against Jews and Israel, including identifying Yad Vashem as “commemorating the Holocaust and the lies,” the Jewish trait as “treachery,” and Jerusalem as “the Palestinian capital from the dawn of history until eternity.”
Moreover, with the exception of Tel Aviv and its immediate environs, every major city and geographical feature in Israel is identified as Palestinian. This includes numerous references to Lod, Safed, and Jerusalem as “occupied” by the Israelis, as well as including Ashkelon, Jaffa, Acre, Caesarea, Haifa, and geographical features such as Lake Kinneret, Mount Meron, and the Negev desert in the same category.
“We have observed this taking place since we started following the Palestinian media some five years ago,” said Itamar Marcus, director of the organization. “This cultural expression is in many ways more significant than the statements of Palestinian leaders, since it makes us aware of the deep beliefs of the Palestinians. In all the crossword puzzles we’ve seen, we’ve never found reference to any place in Israel as Israeli. Every place is called Palestine.
“This isn’t incitement… it is an honest expression of beliefs.”
Marcus, who intends to extend the Watch’s study to all aspects of cultural expression reflected in the media, criticized Israel’s leaders for ignoring a growing process of radicalization of Palestinian opinion. “I think all the Israeli governments have made a tremendous mistake in ignoring what has been called incitement for all these years,” said Marcus. “By now, it’s no longer incitement - it has been absorbed and adopted, and it now forms a large part of the Palestinian national consciousness. In many respects, we are much further from peace between the people than we were before the signing of the Oslo accords.”


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