If you are seeking an example of bias in the media's coverage of what journalists are calling the latest round of Israeli-Palestinian "violence," consider the case of Ahmad Manasra.
In an angry speech on Wednesday night, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, appealed for calm but accused Israeli security forces of killing Palestinian boys "in cold blood," singling out the 13-year-old Manasra as one of the Palestinian youths Israel had "executed."
The Palestinian press, and even some American newspapers, dutifully included Abbas' charge and displayed photos of the bleeding Manasra sprawled out on a Jerusalem street in their coverage of the monthlong wave of stabbings and other violence by Palestinians against Israelis, the worst violence since Israel's war last year with militant Hamas, which rules Gaza. Seven Israelis have been killed this month in some 28 attacks, many of them in Jerusalem, while Israeli security forces have killed 30 Palestinians suspected of carrying out such attacks or in other violent protests.
There are at least two major problems with Abbas' charge: First, Ahmad Manasra was not "executed" or even shot by Israelis. He is alive and recovering in an Israeli hospital from wounds he incurred on Oct. 12 while fleeing the scene of an alleged knife attack on a 13-year-old Israeli boy riding a bicycle. Second, the Israeli adolescent Manasra stabbed is in critical condition in an Israeli hospital, fighting for his life.
The Times of Israel, an English-language online newspaper, and several other Israeli papers and TV stations – but not the Arab media – showed photographs of Manasra at Hadassah Ein Karem hospital on Friday that were distributed by Israel's official Government Press Office. In one of them, Manasra is awake and making a hand gesture that some have interpreted as an Islamist symbol. Israeli police say Manasra was hit by a car after he and his cousin, Hassan Manasra, 15, went on a furious stabbing spree. Hassan Manasra was shot and killed after he charged the police with a knife, police say. The deputy head of the hospital described Ahmad Manasra's wounds as "moderate to light" and said he would probably be discharged in a few days.
So far, President Abbas' office has not responded to the evidence of the alive-and-recovering would-be Palestinian "martyr." On Thursday, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's office issued a statement responding to Abbas' speech, accusing him of spreading "lies and incitement," charges Netanyahu repeated in Hebrew and English at a news conference. Israeli sources said that after their vituperative exchange of words, the Israeli and Palestinian Authority presidents exchanged letters whose contents have not been officially disclosed. One Israeli source said that while Abbas' letter repeated his accusations against Israel, Netanyahu's letter assured his counterpart that he was trying to calm things down and keep the knife attacks from escalating into a third intifada, or larger-scale terror attacks similar to those in 1987 and 2000. He also was said to have assured Abbas that Israel was not contemplating any change in the status of the Temple Mount, a site in Jerusalem that is sacred to both Muslims and Jews.
The latest outbreak of what appear to be largely spontaneous, lone-wolf assaults on Israelis by Palestinians – known in Arabic as the "Intafadat el-Sakeen," or "Uprising of the Knife" – was triggered in part by demands from right-wing Israeli parliamentarians for such a change in the status of the Temple Mount, which Arabs call al Haram al-Sharif and includes the al-Aqsa Mosque.
In a speech last month, Abbas denounced right-wing Knesset members' demands to visit the Temple Mount, which Netanyahu has now forbidden. Abbas warned against the "filthy feet" of Jews trampling the holy Muslim site and praised "every drop of blood shed ... for the sake of Allah," which prompted a rare reprimand from U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon. But Abbas included his inflammatory accusations against Israeli policy in a speech to the U.N. General Assembly address a week later. Little of this important background has been reported extensively by the American press.
While the American media have reported the growing Palestinian fury over continued Israeli settlement building in the West Bank and frustration over the lack of progress in the peace process, American journalists rarely dwell on the incendiary statements and cartoons that appear regularly in the Palestinian press and are quoted often by senior Palestinian Authority officials.
David Pollock of the Washington Institute for Near East Policy's Fikra Forum wrote recently that senior PA officials have explicitly praised violence against Israeli civilians and have called Israeli settlers "legitimate targets." In early October, he reports, the Palestinian Cabinet issued a statement that failed to mention Palestinian violence but accused Israel of acting "to kill and assassinate defenseless children and civilians ... summary executions and cold-blooded murder."
Only when Palestinians stab Israelis is terror called "tensions."