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Thursday, September 02, 2004

Palestinian Authority Condemns Bombings in English, but praises them in Arabic

While official Palestinian Authority statements condemned the double suicide attack in Be'er Sheva, the PA's Arabic media were telling a different story. English and Arabic reports in the PA were also at odds with each other.

Palestinian Media Watch (PMW) , a watchdog organization overseeing the PA's media, reports that the official PA daily paper granted the status of "Shahid" - Holy Martyr - to the two suicide terrorists who murdered 16 Israelis in Be'er Sheva on Tuesday. This definition of the murderers as Shahids in the opening sentence of the top story of the PA's official Al Hayat al-Jadida newspaper stood in sharp contrast to the English-language "condemnations" issued shortly after the attack by PA official to international media.

PMW's Itamar Marcus and Barbara Crook also noted a sharp contrast between the English and Arabic news broadcasts on PA TV. The three Arabic language news reports following the Tuesday attack, each 20-30 minutes long, made no mention whatsoever of the mass murder of 16 Jews. The Arafat-controlled English language newscasts, on the other hand, which target foreign audiences and media, told of the attack and the PA condemnations.

Moreover, wrote PMW's Marcus and Crook, while the PA officials condemned the attack, the reason they gave "was that it harmed PA 'national interests' - and not that it was morally wrong." The PA statement explained,
"the Palestinian national interests require not to harm civilians in order not to give Israel the pretexts to continue its military aggression against the Palestinian people and their holy sites."
PMW notes that PA policy has long been not to condemn Palestinian suicide terror on moral grounds but only on grounds of "national interest," and never to condemn the terrorists, who are all granted Shahid status.

For example, an open letter by Hannan Ashrawi, Sari Nusseibeh, and other leading PA figures in June 2002 calling for a halt to suicide terror against civilians stated,

"We believe that these operations do not advance the fulfillment of our endeavor, for freedom and independence... Military actions are defined positively or negatively not by its own criteria [i.e. the success of the attack itself] but rather according to the achievement of political goals..."

See also PMW's cartoons and photo section ~

Al-Hayat Al-Jadida, Aug 24, 2004