Never Again? The moral abdication of journalists ignoring Palestinian antisemitism

As journalists cover Holocaust commemoration events today in Jerusalem, the lofty rhetoric by world leaders, diplomats and intellectuals evoking the idea 'never again' - the moral imperative to never again allow Jew hatred to go unchallenged because we know now where this leads - will ring hollow if the principle of anti-antisemitism is not applied universally. 

We’ve often argued that the British media’s anti-Israel bias is just as evident in the stories they ignore as in the skewed nature of the stories they do cover.

As such, the nearly complete failure of journalists assigned to region to report on the endemic antisemitism within Palestinian society, and the deleterious impact such anti-Jewish racism has on efforts at peace and co-existence, represents one of the more egregious problems with their reporting.

This failure is even more problematic when you consider that instances of Israeli racism, real and, often, imagined, is frequently the focus of media reports, as is the narrative that Israeli society is getting increasingly racist.

Though we’re accustomed to this institutional media blind spot and such double standards, at times there are instances of anti-Jewish racism so extreme that we’ve held out hope that it would possibly pique the interest of Jerusalem correspondents.

A case in point is a recent op-ed published in Al-Hayat Al-Jadida, a Palestinian newspaper controlled by the Palestinian Authority and whose editor was appointed by Mahmoud Abbas, literally calling for someone to shoot and kill a Jew during events in Jerusalem commemorating the 75th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz – in order to disrupt the commemoration.

That’s not all.

Itamar Marcus, director of Palestinian Media Watch, reported recently that Mahmoud Abbas’s Fatah movement just produced a propaganda video about Jewish history in Europe (which it publicized on Fatah’s official Facebook page) claiming that Jews “led the project to enslave humanity”, and that Jewish behavior lead to European antisemitism:

“[Jews] were hated because of their racism and their filthy behavior.”

Further, important religious figures have given sermons on official, PA-owned TV channels going even further, with one cleric even warning that Jews pass on evil in their genes, and that the Jewish threat to humanity can be stopped only by exterminating all Jews.

Yet, none of the British media outlets we monitor have reported on any of these odious examples of hatred and incitement.

So, what accounts for the failure of journalists to report on such extreme racism, including even an explicit call for genocide?

It’s hard to boil it down to one single cause, but we’ve often written about the infantilization of Palestinians, and the failure to impute agency to them – a liberal racism that’s just as pernicious as the right-wing variety.

We also believe one major factor is the influence of intersectional theories based on an intellectually incoherent yet often blindly accepted moral calculus that creates a hierarchy of victimhood, whereby ‘white’ Jews are near the bottom and Palestinians ‘of colour’ often near the top.  It suggests that such victim statuses are immutable, that such power relations explain contemporary racism and thus the only racism that truly matters is that perpetrated by the ‘strong’ against the ‘weak’.

Paul Pagano has written about a related dynamic, which not only applies to the media’s failure to take Palestinian racism against Jews seriously, but also is relevant in understanding why so many in Corbyn’s Labour Party continue to be blind to antisemitism:

…the left is blind to anti-Semitism [because] anti-Semitism differs from most forms of racism in that it purports to “punch up” against a secret society of oppressors, which has the side effect of making it easy to disguise as a politics of emancipation. If Jews have power, then punching up at Jews is a form of speaking truth to power — a form of speech of which the left is currently enamored.

In other words, it is because anti-Semitism pretends to strike at power that the left cannot see it, and is doomed to erase — and even reproduce — its tropes.

Regardless of the factors motivating such omissions and obfuscations, journalists who ignore genocidal antisemitism are not merely doing a profound disservice to their readers in denying them information regarding a key cause of continuing failure of both parties to arrive at a peaceful solution.

It also represents another, far more troubling failure.

As we view coverage of Holocaust commemoration events today in Jerusalem, the lofty rhetoric by world leaders, diplomats and intellectuals evoking the oft-repeated idea of ‘never again’ – the moral imperative to never again allow Jew hatred to go unchallenged, because we know now where this leads – will ring hollow if the principle of anti-antisemitism is not applied universally.

Jerusalem based journalists who fail to adhere to this intuitive principle in their own reporting are guilty of a shameful moral abdication.

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