WaPo Justifies Palestinian Violence
The Washington Post, in its Dec. 2 edition, publishes a lengthy article about rising Palestinian violence in the West Bank, questioning whether this augurs a third intifada or reflects isolated, individual attacks against Israelis. ("In West Bank, a wave of unorganized violence -- Killings are up, but analysts say it's an 'intifada' of individuals" by Wiliam Booth and Ruth Eglash. Page A14)
To bring readers up to date, the Post's Jerusalem correspondents harken back to the first intifada in the 1980s and the second intifada in the early 2000s. But how did these violent Palestinian uprisings come about?
Well, here's how Booth and Eglash put it: "During each of those periods, an outpouring of Palestinian anger at Israel led to a rash of targeted attacks and suicide bombings, triggering a brutal crackdown by the Israeli military... Palestinian analysts say the (current) attacks are being carried out by frustrated citizens rather than trained militants -- "the bitter harvest of grinding military occupation."
Thus, as the Post correspondents would have it, the blame for such violent bloody attacks rests not with Palestinian terrorist killers but with Israel. Intifadas merely reflect "an outpouring of Palestinian anger" in the face of a "brutal crackdown by the Israeli military" -- Israelis are targeted by "frustrated" Palestinians -- the bitter harvest of a grinding military occupation."
The clear impression left by this Booth-Eglash coverage of rising violence in the West Bank is that Israel is asking for it. Never mind that Israeli security forces have a long history of avoiding unnecessary or excessive force in defending Jews against Palestinian terrorists. In the Post view, it's the Israeli victims, not the Palestinian offenders, who are the bad guys. In criticizing and falsifying Israeli tactics, the Post's correspondents leave readers wondering whether they'd prefer that the IDF simply turn the other cheek and let Palestinians do their worst without retribution.
But this is not the only anti-Israel spin in the Booth-Eglash article. High up in their piece, in the second paragraph, they write that recent West Bank killings have "left four Israelis and at least 24 Palestinians dead this year." Imagine, six times as many Palestinian fatalities as Israeli ones. A clear indication, one is led to believe, that the real victims of all this violence are really Palestinians -- not Israelis. Except further down in the article, Booth and Eglash belatedly concede that "in each Palestinian death, Israeli officials say, security forces were responding to a "potential threat" -- in less euphemistic terms, all Palestinian fatalities were the doing of suspected terrorists.
As for example, when an Israeli border police volunteer killed a Palestinian "who tried to stab him." Or when Palestinians attacked Israeli "army installations." Also, like a Palestinian "who used a tractor to ram the gates of an Israeli army base."
Those episodes, recounted later in the Post's piece, shed a quite different light than the simple and misleading comparison of Israeli fatalities with much larger numbers of Palestinian fatalities. The latter were assailants, the former victims. But it takes quite a bit more reading to overcome the initial, false impression of excessive Israeli tactics.
Overall, readers are left with a sense that earlier intifadas and the current wave of isolated attacks are the product of Israeli, not Palestinian, conduct in the West Bank. Palestinian exculpation ranks high in Washington Post coverage.
Leo Rennert is a former White House correspondent and Washington bureau chief of McClatchy Newspapers