For hours after last week’s vehicular terror in Jerusalem (capped by an attack on passersby with a metal rod), Sky News persisted in not telling it like it is.
Its running news ticker at the bottom of the screen single-mindedly informed viewers that “Israeli police say a driver has rammed his car into pedestrians in East Jerusalem in an ‘intentional’ attack causing several injuries.”
The very inclusion of the verb say sufficed to cast doubt on Israeli communiqués. Then, to chip further away at residual Israeli credibility the word intentionally was tendentiously placed in quotation marks. This surely was overkill, considering that the reliability of the Israeli report was already challenged by the caveat of the opening phrase.
If during the first few minutes of the incident Sky could somehow make excuses for what looked like thinly-veiled antagonism, it certainly couldn’t long after the event. Nevertheless, that hardly objective news bar was still featured when any duty editor of even grudging goodwill or nominal neutrality should have known better.
In contrast, another report was cited with unadulterated acceptance. Sky’s above mentioned “breaking news” flash was accompanied throughout – for as many hours – by a bulletin that stated matter-of-factly (without any caveats this time) that “Israeli police have clashed with Palestinians inside Jerusalem’s al-Aksa Mosque compound after Jewish nationalists announced plans to visit the site.”
The subliminal nuances were unmissable and there was no qualifying vocabulary. The al-Aksa Mosque compound designation suggested exclusive Muslim connections and no Jewish ones.
Then came the unequivocal attribution of causality. The clashes occurred “after Jewish nationalists announced plans to visit,” i.e. Jews instigated the clashes. Not a word appeared about rocks and Molotov cocktails stored in the sacred spot and tossed at Jews praying below in front of the Western Wall.
Such facts may interfere with Sky’s insinuation that Jews are interlopers, trespassing in what has only ever been a Muslim shrine. The implication is that it’s Jews who disturb the peace along with their police “inside” the compound.
The injection of the term nationalists sealed the negative connotation. Nationalists are villains in the lexicon of political correctness.
The sentinels on Sky’s moral high ground know whom to distrust a priori and whom to trust inherently. Uninitiated audiences perceive the world through the broadcasters’ distorting glass. Their opinions are thereby at least partly shaped and their preexisting prejudices are subtly reinforced.
To be sure, Sky isn’t the only overseas news outlet with an attitude. Almost all its purportedly pluralist and tolerant counterparts are equally disingenuous and almost all classify Temple Mount terminology as politically incorrect.
More often than not, anchors and reporters allude to Haram al-Sharif and lest the masses out there not be fully clued in, they add by way of elucidation that “the Haram” is where al-Aksa Mosque is located.
At most, Temple Mount comes in as an aside meant to clarify what the commotion is about. “This is also where Jews claim that their ancient temples once stood,” some correspondents throw in with a pinch of skepticism. Alternative edification is that “this is also what Jews refer to as Temple Mount.”
The undertones here are paramount. Jews invariably “claim.” Their version is hardly one that can be reasonably accorded credence. The Arab insistence that no Jewish temples or Jewish historical/religious ties to Jerusalem ever existed is thus amplified by media quibbling. Out of nowhere Jews seemingly invaded Jerusalem and out-of-the-blue they brazenly seek to overrun Muslim sanctuaries.
The resort to an adverb like “also” isn’t incidental or insignificant. It imparts the impression of precedence and rightful ownership. The Arabs are treated as legitimate proprietors. Jewish claims are ancillary and unsubstantiated.
That’s precisely is the message which the West’s prince of peace, Fatah figurehead Mahmoud Abbas, hones relentlessly. You’ll never hear a Sky commentator dare observe that Abbas’s repeated delegitimization of the Jewish people, their religion, traditions, bonds to Zion – every crucial aspect of their nationhood and history – may perhaps belie the façade of teaching the world to sing in perfect harmony.
The utter expunging of Jews from the annals of Judea shocks no one in broadminded Europe or in America’s Obama Administration. Neither do Abbas’s recurrent racist slurs that portray Jews as contaminants of Jerusalem and its holy sites – both Christian and Muslim.
Inter alia Abbas has promoted himself as the protector of Christendom in a fraternal united stand against the polluting Jew. Not a whisper of protest is audible from organized Christianity and that too speaks volumes.
When Islamist barbarity stuns the entire civilized world, there might be a semblance of safety in insidiously casting aspersions on Jews. Europe had done so quite expediently for two millennia and this may not be the most opportune time to break an old habit.
The trouble is that Abbas’s anti-pollution drive inspires hate and emboldens haters.
An Israel Radio reporter recently did random street in interviews in Arab neighborhoods of Jerusalem, where the responders echoed (in fluent Hebrew) Abbas’s characterization of Jews as contaminants.
“Things here will only improve,” argued one fellow, “after the Jews are gone. Yes we want peace but peace means no Jews.”
Another bystander likewise recommended ethnic cleansing: “Go back to where you came from. Go to Russia, Germany, Poland – anywhere – just not here.”
But there were also kinder voices:”I really don’t like to say so,” remarked a solicitous sort, “but what was done to you in Germany, will be done to you here too.”
These are our peace-partners. It’s spine-chilling to hear such sentiments from ordinary taxi-drivers and green-grocers. They ring alarmingly authentic.
Day after day, deceptively moderate Abbas hectors that the Jews are out to infest and defile al-Aksa. This is no Johnny-come-lately motif provoked by “Jewish nationalists.” Anyone not disdainful of history recognizes the latest al-Aksa hysteria as another true-to-the-original remake of the long-running Haj Amin al-Husseini Horror Show.
Before he fled to Germany in 1941 (where he spent the war years as Hitler’s personal guest), avid Nazi collaborator Husseini had already perfected the calumny of Jewish takeover attempts at the Temple Mount.
He repetitively triggered coordinated mass-murder offensives fired up by that lie. For nearly 95 years, this land shook fitfully as rounds of rampages and massacres followed each other in breathless succession allegedly to keep the Jews from razing al-Aksa.
On April 4, 1920, thousands of Arab raiders, serially inflamed by Husseini’s vitriolic harangues, poured into Jerusalem, descended upon the Old City’s Jewish Quarter and began butchering, raping, pillaging and burning – all in the name of their God.
That unprovoked killing-spree was launched before any of the excuses for Arab bloodlust – now so conveniently prevalent – had existed. There was no Jewish state to fulminate against and no Israeli occupation with which to justify any outrage against Jews.
The 1920 victims were largely members of the old-time, traditional, pre-Zionist Jewish community that had long before then constituted Jerusalem’s absolute majority. Yet this ancient community was deemed fair game. The subtext was that Jews have no rights – not even indigenous non-Zionists.
Considering their penchant for distorting history, Israel’s detractors are doubtless tempted to describe 1920’s predators as oppressed Palestinian peasants protesting against usurper Jews. It must, therefore, be a whopping downer to discover that none of this homicidal fury was unleashed on behalf of Palestine. The Arabs loathed the very name introduced to this country by its new British overlords.
Ironically, it was the Jews who became known throughout the first half of the 20th century as Palestinians and it was the Arabs who scornfully rejected the moniker.
As British rule began, Husseini evinced overnight attachment to the Western Wall. He sanctified it as the hitching post to which the prophet Muhammad tethered his winged steed Burak. Husseini abided Jewish wailing at the Wall only occasionally, after remittance of exorbitant fees for the privilege – providing Muslim sensibilities weren’t offended.
The problem was there was no telling what would give offense. In 1919 wooden benches for the old and infirm were pointed to as insufferable affronts. The British promptly removed them but Arabs then began to regularly drive cattle and laden donkeys through crowds of Jewish congregants. From 1920 the muezzin was dispatched to bellow his loudest chants precisely during Jewish services.
By 1921 the sound of the shofar, blown at the Wall on high holydays, became the next pretext for unrest. The British obligingly forbade the annoying blasts.
The shrillest Arab outcry was raised in 1928 over a flimsy partition put up to segregate male and female worshippers. The British lost no time to tear the insulting screen right at the climax of Yom Kippur prayers.
Even so, the premeditated disruptions at the Wall grew increasingly violent. Husseini exhorted all Muslims to a “Holy War to protect al-Aksa from Jewish conquest.” To fan the flames, provocative photomontages of Herzl (then deceased for 25 years) ostensibly standing near el-Aksa were circulated.
Here was incontrovertible evidence of a high-ranking Jewish visitor to rankle the ranks of the true believers. On August 23, 1929 Husseini sent his disciples to avenge Herzl’s confrontational visit. The week-long bloodbath left 133 Jews slain.
The country-wide pogroms began in Jerusalem, but the most notorious carnage was in Hebron where 67 men, women and children were hideously hacked to death. The centuries-old Jewish community was uprooted, as were smaller Jewish enclaves in Gaza, Jenin, Tulkarm and Nablus. The mandatory authorities expelled them as the “destabilizing element.” The Brits attempted the same in Safed but failed.
Husseini’s riots established the prototype whereby Jews are punished for Arab crimes against Jews. The set pattern was of appeasing Arab wrath – as if Jewish existence were in and of itself a casus belli.
Western antipathy to Jewish self-preservation was already gallingly glaring in 1920, as was indulgent acquiescence to Arab belligerence. It’s scary to realize how little has actually changed.
The enlightened vanguard of the global good-guy brigade – where Sky snugly fits in – still seethes with bias against this land’s Jews. Self-appointed foreign adjudicators – like Sky news editors – don’t hold Abbas accountable for impeding peace, for glorifying the murderers of Jewish children and for inciting to jihad Husseini-style.
All that transpires now was kick-started by Husseini, while Abbas convinces willingly gullible saps of what they’re anyway predisposed to imbibe.
Contrary to postmodern predilections – like Sky’s – the past mustn’t be consigned to irrelevance. Unbroken historical continuities contextualize current events. Nothing springs forth from a vacuum.