The State Department's practice of downplaying Palestinian incitement has reached a new low, with its latest report whitewashing not only the Palestinians' behavior but also Secretary of State John Kerry's own words on the subject.
Kerry is not known as a critic of Palestinian misbehavior; the Obama administration has cultivated relations with the Palestinian Authority by turning a blind eye to the PA's objectionable words and deeds. But after the wave of incitement that preceded last November's massacre of three American rabbis and an Israeli policeman in a Jerusalem synagogue, even the normally reticent secretary of state could no longer hold his tongue.
“To have this kind of act, which is a pure result of incitement, of calls for ‘days of rage’, of just irresponsibility, is unacceptable,” Kerry told reporters on November 18, shortly after the murders. “The Palestinian leadership must condemn this and they must begin to take serious steps to restrain any kind of incitement.”
Yet for some reason, Kerry's unprecedented statement on the Palestinian incitement-and-terror wave is nowhere to be found in the just-released State Department report on human rights for 2014. The section on the Palestinian Authority is nearly 26,000 words long--yet devotes just 38 words to the disturbing events of October and November. The report goes out of its way to absolve the Palestinian Authority. There was unspecified "media commentary" by unnamed Palestinians "longing for a world without Israel and glorifying terror attacks on Israelis," the report states. "Following a string of vehicle assaults by Palestinians on Israelis in Jerusalem, the Palestinian press and social media widely circulated cartoons encouraging such attacks."
Why didn't the State Department name those inciters in the "Palestinian press and social media?” Perhaps because they started at the top. It was Palestinian Authority chairman Mahmoud Abbas himself who launched the incitement to which Kerry referred, with an October 17 speech accusing Israelis of planning to "defile" the Al-Aqsa Mosque, Jerusalem's most prominent Muslim religious site. He urged the Palestinian public to respond to the imaginary threat by "standing before them with chests bared" in order to "prevent them, in any way whatsoever, from entering the Sanctuary."
Abbas's incendiary rant was broadcast on Palestine TV, the station run by the PA's Palestinian Broadcasting Corporation. The new State Department report calls it "the PA-supported Palestine TV," misleadingly implying that the station is merely supported, rather than controlled, by the PA. The previous year's report likewise tried to downplay the PA's control of the station, calling it "Palestine TV, the self-governing official PA television station." Is it self-governing, or is it official? Perhaps somebody in Foggy Bottom can explain.
Five days after Abbas's speech, a Palestinian terrorist rammed his automobile into a crowd of Israelis standing at a Jerusalem train station. A three month-old American-Israeli infant, and a 22 year old woman, were killed; seven others were injured. In the days to follow, official PA media were filled with calls for violence. The PA's news agency, WAFA, broadcast Fatah's call for a "day of rage" on October 31 to combat "desecration of Al-Aqsa." Mass Palestinian rioting followed. PA television encouraged the violence by broadcasting Abbas's "defiling" speech no fewer than nineteen times over the next three days. Fatah's Facebook page featured an image of a screaming Yasser Arafat, with the caption "The Jews are defiling Al Aqsa--will you not rage??"
On November 5, another automobile attack was carried out at a Jerusalem train station, this time killing an Israeli police captain and a teenage yeshiva student, and leaving 14 others wounded. The car attacks were followed by a daily torrent of Palestinian calls for violence against Israelis. What was remarkable about the incitement was that it was undertaken not by fringe elements but on official PA television, in the PA's official daily newspaper, Al-Hayat Al-Jadida, and on the Facebook pages of the PA's Security Forces and Fatah, the majority party in the PA regime. PA chairman Abbas is also chairman of Fatah.
A video on the security forces' Facebook page on November 6 defended the car-ramming attacks, while one on the Fatah page that same day praised terrorists who stabbed a "Zionist security guard" as "heroes." Fatah also posted a cartoon supporting car-terrorism, and a photo of an Arab with a rifle and the caption, "Restore your glory."