Jewish holy city of Safed is latest Wash. Post Israel-bashing target

Whether it's Janine Zacharia, the Washington Post's Jerusalem correspondent, or Joel Greenberg, a Jerusalem-based special correspondent, these Post reporters are well aware of what kinds of dispatches editors expect from them -- pieces that invariably give Israel a black eye.

The latest such predictably Israel-bashing piece is by Greenberg, reporting from Safed, a hilltop town in Northern Israel that is revered as one of Judaism's holy cities.  Since the 16th Century, it has been notable as a major center of Kaballah, Jewish mysticism.  Jewish ties to Safed date back to the Middle Ages.  ("Allegations of racism and questions about a town's character" page A20, Nov. 14).

Safed's history, however, takes a backseat to Greenberg's real interest -- town-and-gown tensions between Safed's Jewish population and Arab students from the local community college.

Greenberg zeroes in on edicts by local rabbis asking residents not to rent to Arab students in their zeal to protect Safed's Jewish character.  Greenberg reports that young Jews also recently attacked a building housing Arab students.

From this, Greenberg -- citing civil rights advocates -- deduces "a window into ugly currents of racism in Israeli society -- a general atmosphere of growing intolerance under a government and parliament dominated by parties of the nationalist right."

Never mind that, despite an occasional flare-up, Arabs in Israel enjoy greater civil and political rights than anywhere in the Arab world.

Still, putting aside for the moment Greenberg's overwrought generalizations about Israeli "racism," Arab-Jewish clashes in Safed are a fair reporting topic.

What is not fair on the part of the Washington Post is that it shows no interest whatsoever in warts and blemishes in Palestinian society that raise serious questions about the character and agenda of the Palestinian Authority under Mahmoud Abbas.

While Abbas assured President Obama and Secretary of State Clinton in May that he "will work against incitement of any sort" against Israel, he repeatedly has broken this pledge -- without the Post taking any notice.

Since spring, even when there were a few glimmers of serious peace negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians, Abbas and other PA leaders unleashed a drumbeat of anti-Israel incitement, delegitimizing its very existence, denying its right to exist, promoting hatred through demonization and blood libels, and glorifying terrorism and violence.

Yet, even as the Post keeps firing away at Israel's shortcomings, it completely ignores far graver symptoms and provocations by Abbas & Co., when they speak in Arabic to their own people, again grooming them for Palestinian rejectionism of any potential two-state negotiating formula.

Here are a few samples of highly toxic anti-Israel PA propaganda, according to researchers at Palestinian Media Watch -- a media-monitoring organization -- that never registered with the Washington Post:

--Abbas and his PA continue to teach Palestinian children on educational TV programs that Israeli cities like Haifa are Palestinian cities.

--Official PA media deny Israel's right to exist by using terminology that refers to Israel as "Palestinian Interior" and the "homeland occupied in '48."

--PA maps erase and replace Israel with "Palestine."

--PA TV and other media, led by Abbas, spread libelous accusations that Israel killed Yasser Arafat.

--Abbas and his prime minister Fayyad honor the bloodiest among Palestinian terrorists and glorify them as holy "martyrs."

--PA summer camps teach kids a "culture of violence and guns."

If local tensions with Arab students roil an otherwise fairly tranquil Safed, one would think that the Washington Post would seize on some or all of these far more troublesome Palestinian obstacles that threaten to torpedo the peace process.  Yet, the Post keeps averting its eyes, pretending that Abbas is a "moderate" who qualifies as a genuine peace partner under U.S.-mediated negotiations.

And beyond areas under Palestinian jurisdiction, which also includes Gaza's Hamas rulers and their avowed objective to eliminate Israel altogether, where is the Washington Post's interest in real "racism" against Christians and Jews in Saudi Arabia and other parts of the Arab/Muslim world?

Why isn't the Post reporting that the only place in the Middle East where gays and lesbians can live normal lives is Israel, while their very lives are at risk in neighboring Arab countries?

And finally, why did the Post fail to report that when President Obama during his Asian tour stopped off in Indonesia, the most populous of all Muslim countries, he never once brought up Jakarta's ban against letting Israelis visit that country, even as he was quick to opine where Jews cannot live in Jerusalem?

The answer is fairly clear -- Washington Post editors demand only Israel-bashing dispatches from Jerusalem-based correspondents.  Putting Arab/Muslim societies under the same critical lens is strictly taboo.
Whether it's Janine Zacharia, the Washington Post's Jerusalem correspondent, or Joel Greenberg, a Jerusalem-based special correspondent, these Post reporters are well aware of what kinds of dispatches editors expect from them -- pieces that invariably give Israel a black eye.

The latest such predictably Israel-bashing piece is by Greenberg, reporting from Safed, a hilltop town in Northern Israel that is revered as one of Judaism's holy cities.  Since the 16th Century, it has been notable as a major center of Kaballah, Jewish mysticism.  Jewish ties to Safed date back to the Middle Ages.  ("Allegations of racism and questions about a town's character" page A20, Nov. 14).

Safed's history, however, takes a backseat to Greenberg's real interest -- town-and-gown tensions between Safed's Jewish population and Arab students from the local community college.

Greenberg zeroes in on edicts by local rabbis asking residents not to rent to Arab students in their zeal to protect Safed's Jewish character.  Greenberg reports that young Jews also recently attacked a building housing Arab students.

From this, Greenberg -- citing civil rights advocates -- deduces "a window into ugly currents of racism in Israeli society -- a general atmosphere of growing intolerance under a government and parliament dominated by parties of the nationalist right."

Never mind that, despite an occasional flare-up, Arabs in Israel enjoy greater civil and political rights than anywhere in the Arab world.

Still, putting aside for the moment Greenberg's overwrought generalizations about Israeli "racism," Arab-Jewish clashes in Safed are a fair reporting topic.

What is not fair on the part of the Washington Post is that it shows no interest whatsoever in warts and blemishes in Palestinian society that raise serious questions about the character and agenda of the Palestinian Authority under Mahmoud Abbas.

While Abbas assured President Obama and Secretary of State Clinton in May that he "will work against incitement of any sort" against Israel, he repeatedly has broken this pledge -- without the Post taking any notice.

Since spring, even when there were a few glimmers of serious peace negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians, Abbas and other PA leaders unleashed a drumbeat of anti-Israel incitement, delegitimizing its very existence, denying its right to exist, promoting hatred through demonization and blood libels, and glorifying terrorism and violence.

Yet, even as the Post keeps firing away at Israel's shortcomings, it completely ignores far graver symptoms and provocations by Abbas & Co., when they speak in Arabic to their own people, again grooming them for Palestinian rejectionism of any potential two-state negotiating formula.

Here are a few samples of highly toxic anti-Israel PA propaganda, according to researchers at Palestinian Media Watch -- a media-monitoring organization -- that never registered with the Washington Post:

--Abbas and his PA continue to teach Palestinian children on educational TV programs that Israeli cities like Haifa are Palestinian cities.

--Official PA media deny Israel's right to exist by using terminology that refers to Israel as "Palestinian Interior" and the "homeland occupied in '48."

--PA maps erase and replace Israel with "Palestine."

--PA TV and other media, led by Abbas, spread libelous accusations that Israel killed Yasser Arafat.

--Abbas and his prime minister Fayyad honor the bloodiest among Palestinian terrorists and glorify them as holy "martyrs."

--PA summer camps teach kids a "culture of violence and guns."

If local tensions with Arab students roil an otherwise fairly tranquil Safed, one would think that the Washington Post would seize on some or all of these far more troublesome Palestinian obstacles that threaten to torpedo the peace process.  Yet, the Post keeps averting its eyes, pretending that Abbas is a "moderate" who qualifies as a genuine peace partner under U.S.-mediated negotiations.

And beyond areas under Palestinian jurisdiction, which also includes Gaza's Hamas rulers and their avowed objective to eliminate Israel altogether, where is the Washington Post's interest in real "racism" against Christians and Jews in Saudi Arabia and other parts of the Arab/Muslim world?

Why isn't the Post reporting that the only place in the Middle East where gays and lesbians can live normal lives is Israel, while their very lives are at risk in neighboring Arab countries?

And finally, why did the Post fail to report that when President Obama during his Asian tour stopped off in Indonesia, the most populous of all Muslim countries, he never once brought up Jakarta's ban against letting Israelis visit that country, even as he was quick to opine where Jews cannot live in Jerusalem?

The answer is fairly clear -- Washington Post editors demand only Israel-bashing dispatches from Jerusalem-based correspondents.  Putting Arab/Muslim societies under the same critical lens is strictly taboo.

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