A recent article by the Guardian’s Jerusalem correspondent, Peter Beaumont, again shows how what media outlets ignore in their coverage of the conflict is as misleading to news consumers than the errors in the stories they do cover.  The piece (“Trump’s ambassador refers to ‘alleged occupation’, Sept. 1) is critical of the US ambassador to Israel, David Friedman, for his characterisation, during a Jerusalem Post interview, of the situation in the Palestinian territories as an “alleged occupation”

Beaumont quoted a response by an unnamed Palestinian official who warned that “Mr Friedman should realise that denying facts doesn’t mean that they don’t exist”.

Of course, the hypocrisy of a PA official lecturing anyone on factual or historical accuracy was no doubt lost on Beaumont, as the veteran Guardian journalist has consistently ignored the continuous Palestinian denial of Jewish history in Jerusalem and the existence of the Jewish Temple.  Whilst Beaumont critically reported on Friedman’s use of the word “alleged” before “occupation”, he’s failed over the years to acknowledge PA President Mahmoud Abbas’s use of the term “alleged Temple” to question the existence of the First and Second Temples.  

As Palestinian Media Watch (PMW) demonstrated, such denial of Jewish history is actually quite common among PA officials.  PMW reported that, during a one year period, from 2011 to 2012, Abbas and the PA have used the term “alleged Temple” at least 97 times in official statements. And, the PA’s efforts to erase the Jewish historical connection to Israel continues to this day.  In July 2017 alone, an Abbas speech included use of the term “alleged Temple”, as did his ministers of Religious Affairs and Foreign Affairs. 

Such historical lies about the Temple are often used in the context of PA incitement over al-Aqsa Mosque. Here’s a clip of the PA Religious Affairs Minister using the term “alleged Temple” whilst exploiting recent tensions in Jerusalem to warn of Israeli ‘plans’ to destroy the mosque.

The broader question of why such Palestinian misdeeds are rarely noted by the media was addressed by former AP Jerusalem correspondent Matti Friedman in his groundbreaking Tablet expose of the media’s anti-Israel bias and double standards.  Though we urge you to read the entire piece, part of the problem, Friedman argued, lies in the fact that “Palestinians are not taken seriously” by journalists “as agents of their own fate”, and are seen merely as “passive victims” of Israel, the only actor in the regional drama that matters.

Friedman delves deeper into the root cause of the problem in the following 2015 speech, analysing why media outlets such as the Guardian dissect and magnify every conceivable Israeli flaw (real and imagined), while purposely erasing those of the Palestinians.

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