December 25, 2003

CODED MESSAGES BELY PALESTINIAN
'CONDEMNATION' OF TERROR

By Michael Widlanski

Several Israeli media outlets reported that Yasser Arafat's Palestinian Authority condemned the Palestinian human bomb attack tonight north of Tel Aviv.

But the truth is a little different.

Neither Voice of Palestine Radio nor Palestinian State television reported the "condemnation," and VOP radio--which is directly supervised by Arafat-- referred to man who set off the bomb as a "heroic martyr."

He was described as having "died a heroic martyr's death" (Arabic: istash-hada, tenth form reflexive verb for martyrdom). Occasionally the Paletinian media have used more neutral terms to describe the deaths of human bombers, but not in this case.
Describing the "martyrdom" of the human bomber in its 10-PM news was not unique during the Christmas Day broadcasts of Voice of Palestine.

Another Palestinian, who blew up while preparing a car bomb Wednesday night (Christmas Eve) was characterized throughout Thursday's broadcasts as havingdied a heroic martyr's death. (VOP 2PM Akhbar al-Yom news magazine show). So do Yasser Arafat and his hand-picked prime minister Ahmad Qrei'a (also known by his kunya, Arabic nickname, Abu 'Ala) really condemn terror attacks?

In fact the "condemnation" appeared as part of a big headline on the PA/PLO-controlled Palestinian news agency known as WAFA (Arabic: Wikalat al-Anba al-Filistiniyya:Palestinian News Agency), but the heart of the article in Arabic is an extreme denunciation of Israeli "massacres," "crimes" and "atrocities." (See www.wafa.pna.net/AraText/25-12-2003/page052.htm )

Although the article, in line 11, says the "Palestinian Leadership repudiates and condemns all attacks on civilians be they Israeli or Palestinian," its tone is far more condemnatory of Israeli attacks on HAMAS, Jihad and FATAH car bomb makers whose deaths are also treated as Israeli atrocities.

Indeed, the language of the WAFA statement clearly leaves the door open for attacking Israeli civilians "beyond the Green Line" as well as all men and women in Israeli army or police uniforms.

In fact, Palestinian radio and Palestinian television openly encourage attacks against Israeli soldiers, policemen and "settlers" by using songs, coded language and film montages enticing young boys to gain entrance to paradise by becoming martyrs in the struggle against Israeli occupation.

Michael Widlanski, a specialist in Palestinian communications, teaches at Hebrew University's Rothberg School, and he recently completed eight years of research on the Palestinian mass media.



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