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PMW in the Media
Some Call Media a Weapon in Intifadah (abridged)
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JERUSALEM - The same day that two Israeli youngsters were stoned to death near the West Bank settlement of Tekoa, an Israeli group that monitors the official Palestinian press issued one of its regular reports.
On Wednesday, the group, which employs translators to scour the Palestinian print and electronic media for content inciting violence against the Jewish state, focused its report on the remarks of Palestinian religious leaders in the state-run media. Israel has long complained that media outlets run by the Palestinian Authority – Palestinian radio and television and the Al-Hayat Al-Jadida newspaper – regularly agitate against Israel and against Jews, even while Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat engaged Israel in peace talks.
Israeli officials say that since the outbreak of Israeli-Palestinian fighting last September, the broadcasts and writings have turned more vicious, sometimes calling on Palestinians outright to strike at Israelis.
Palestinian Media Watch director Itamar Marcus cited a column on religion that appeared April 27 in Al-Hayat Al-Jadida, which quoted Islamic writings to justify the killing of Jews. The column contained a chilling omen to the killing of the two 14-year-old Israelis near Tekoa, who were found in a cave Wednesday and presumed by Israelis to have been murdered by Palestinians.
'”The day of judgment will not come until the Muslims will fight against Jews and kill them, until the Jews will hide behind stones and trees and the stone and tree will say, ‘O’ Muslim, O’ servant of Allah, there is a Jew behind me, come and kill him,’” it said. Alongside their street battles and bombing campaigns, Palestinians and Israelis are both engaging in a war of words. On the Israeli side, some cabinet ministers dub Arafat a murderer and a terrorist and talk about razing Palestinian neighborhoods where gunmen are shooting at Israel.
But on the Palestinian side, the words may have a more potent effect. In the warring that has gripped the West Bank and Gaza for the past eight months, Israelis and Palestinians play very different roles. Israelis are putting down an insurrection. The majority of the 400 Palestinian casualties have been killed by Israeli soldiers acting on orders or responding to shootings. Palestinians who attack Israelis often act on something more visceral – the impulse to inflict pain on an indomitable enemy. As such, analysts say, they are probably more receptive to incitement.
'”Here you have a situation where people happen upon kids and they feel like they’re doing Allah’s work by smashing their heads,” said Marcus, who has been monitoring the Palestinian press for the past six years. “It’s a direct effect of the broadcasts.”
Marcus said articles in the Palestinian press routinely deny Israel’s legitimacy, spin tales about Israeli machinations and massacres, and refer to the Holocaust as a Zionist myth. Though Marcus himself speaks no Arabic, his six translators are fluent, most having performed similar work in army intelligence. In addition to the Palestinian media, his group has analyzed the content of West Bank school textbooks and crossword puzzles…


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