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Palestinian incitement: Genuine problem or right-wing dream?

It’s not uncommon to hear Israeli leaders accuse the Palestinian Authority and its media outlets of inciting to violence against Israelis and Jews. But is it actually true? A closer examination of the evidence reveals that the habitual blaming of the Palestinian Authority is not only mostly unfounded, it is the product of a direct line between right-wing groups and the Prime Minister’s Office.

By Yizhar Be’er (Translated from Hebrew by Miriam Erez)

John Kerry’s arrival in the region and the looming “threat” of a final-status agreement have compelled right-wing leaders to pull out the old canard of “Palestinian incitement.” So, in a frenzied attempt to keep us all on our toes, the Israeli cabinet dedicated two full hours to the latest strategic “threat” hovering above us, once again calling in the “experts,” with zero advance notice, to present the latest “Palestinian Incitement Index” findings.

Government leaders in Israel habitually blame the Palestinian Authority and its prime minister’s incitement for impeding a peace agreement. “True peace cannot come into being without a halt in incitement against Israel and without education toward peace,” said Netanyahu in a cabinet meeting. Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon claimed, “The Palestinians still educate toward incitement and bigotry based on quotes from Hitler. They claim that there’s no Jewish people.” Justice Minister Tzipi Livni accepts the served-up-as-truth campaign as unassailable: “The incitement on the Palestinian side is horrible. It’s terrible to educate children to hate,” she said, despite her conclusion that it is precisely because of this that we need a diplomatic solution.

PMW YouYube clip titled: “A look at the Palestinian media,” according to which Abbas incited to violence when he referred to terrorists as heroes. (YouTube screenshot)

PMW YouYube clip titled: “A look at the Palestinian media,” according to which Abbas incited to violence when he referred to terrorists as heroes. (YouTube screenshot)

Which sources are fed to Israeli leaders when they accuse the Palestinian Authority of incitement, at a time when security coordination between Israel and the Authority is tighter than it has ever been, and when, in the eyes of many, the PA is lead by the most moderate Palestinian leader there has ever been with whom we can reach a historic compromise? Against this backdrop, the time has come to examine the factual basis upon which rests the incitement crusade against Abbas and the Palestinian Authority.

An extraordinary opportunity to study the issue was laid at the doorstep of the Israeli courts in the form of a series of lawsuits filed against the Palestinian Authority by the families of settlers killed during the Second Intifada. The plaintiffs claimed that incitement in the official Palestinian media led to the murder of their family members.

The plaintiffs based their claims on an official assessment drafted by Palestinian Media Watch (PMW), one of several resource-rich right-wing think tanks that track the Palestinian media as well as remarks made by individual Palestinians, monitoring words of incitement. PMW’s findings are quoted by Israeli officials and are sent to members of Congress. The organization is lead by Itamar Marcus, who lives in the West Bank settlement of Efrat, and who represented Israel in the Wye summit in 1998 on the issue of incitement. Marcus is also a member of the Prime Minister’s Office’s Palestinian Incitement Index Monitoring Committee, whose findings were presented at the most recent Cabinet meeting. Marcus himself writes position papers on incitement for the Prime Minister’s Office and the Foreign Ministry. He also briefs the prime minister, cabinet ministers, advisors, and defense personnel on the subject. In the interest of full disclosure, I was asked to submit a professional assessment for the defense (Yossi Arnon, defense counsel, representing the Palestinian Authority) in the aforementioned trial.

This state of affairs is strange in and of itself: during the course of a violent struggle between two opposing national movements and two opposing narratives, the legal system of one of the sides is asked to hand down a ruling on whether incitement took place on the other side of the barricade; and whether or not this alleged incitement led to the murder of its citizens. In other words, Israeli judges were called upon to rule over whether the Palestinians are guilty, even as the question of the proportional blame of each of the sides for bloodshed was not even addressed.

If so, let us address the first trial and its verdict. This court heard the claim of the family of the late Gilad Zar, who was murdered in Samaria (northern West Bank) during the Second Intifada. The centerpiece of this lawsuit, like others filed in its wake, was incitement. The lawsuit is based on 78 accounts of alleged incitement that Marcus collected over the 14 years from 1995 to 2009, which allegedly prove that the PA and its leaders view the killing of Israeli soldiers, civilians and even children as a national mission, and that it supports and encourages the murder of Jews and Israelis via the media. This period was indeed characterized by bloody clashes between the IDF and Palestinians, wherein thousands were killed and dozens wounded, and emotional temperatures on both sides rose to new heights. Nonetheless, anyone who bothers to glance at the data presented in court cannot fail to raise a skeptical eyebrow in the face of their paucity.

A point-by-point analysis of Marcus’s examples show that nearly half of them are not at all relevant, as they were taken from the Hamas-operated media, Iranian television, or quotes from the press or far-fetched interpretations of innocent remarks.

Incitement and conspiracy theories

Here are some accounts of incitement as submitted to the court: “Allah commanded us in this life to humiliate Jews,” attributed to Sheikh Yusuf Abu Snina on Palestinian TV; a voiceover in a video commemorating Muhammad a-Dura: “He was no different than any other child in the world in terms of his play, his joy, his innocence, his dreams, his laughter, and his tears. All this was cut short by bullets of Zionist hatred.” Another clip shows a child dropping a toy car and in its place, picking up a stone. Voiceover: “We’ll meet one day, Muhammad, child of Palestine” [Palestinian TV, May 2001]. Head of the Fatah’s Shabiba organization in Al-Hiyát el Jdida: “The occupation must pay the price for its aggression against the Palestinian people.” Each of these “accounts” is taken from the beginning of the Second Intifada, and most are based on general terms such as “resistance,” “intifada” and “struggle against the occupation,” which are extrapolated as calls to murder Jews, despite containing no actual calls for violence.

Screen capture from a Palestinian TV clip. The Palestinian Mufti calls for murder of Jews via a quote taken from Islamic tradition, according to PMW.

Screenshot from a Palestinian TV clip. The Palestinian Mufti calls for murder of Jews via a quote taken from Islamic tradition, according to PMW. 

The accounts included a picture in a Palestinian newspaper captioned, “Burning a model of an Israeli bus in a parade in Tulkarem yesterday”; a remark made by an unidentified youth who speaks of his desire to become a shaheed; and a pre-suicide video recorded by a young Hamas member. For the record, the Israeli papers also quote suicide videos when they get a hold of them. Yet another account, published in Al-Hiyát el Jdida, was a report of masked Palestinians carrying Qur’ans in a protest with calls for violence in the background — the event, however, took place in the Ein el-Hilwa refugee camp in Lebanon. Another one of Marcus’ “accounts” is a crossword clue in Al-Hiyát el Jdida whose answer was “Yahya Ayyash [a Hamas arch-terrorist].

Simple arithmetic shows that in this period, 15,530 newspaper editions were published, each containing dozens of articles. In the same period, Palestine TV and radio aired tens of thousands of broadcast hours, and the PA’s religious and political leaders appeared at thousands of events. The few accounts of incitement represent just a handful of instances – an inconsequential percentage of the entire media discourse in this 14-year period. In any event, only a minority of the Palestinian population is exposed to said incitement.

An analysis of the incitement document submitted to the court shows that 41 accounts were submitted wherein one discerns an alarmist discourse taking place during the most violent years of the relationship between Israel and the Palestinian Authority – the overwhelming majority of which can be categorized as nationalist discourse that presents Palestinian collective narratives, neither calling for nor aimed directly at, murder of Jews.

Based on these few accounts, gathered laboriously and forced into the square hole labeled “incitement,” it is difficult if not impossible to prove the claim in the charge sheet: “There is no doubt that the Palestinian Authority and its leaders viewed the murder of Gilad Zar as carrying out the order to kill.”

Marcus’ is a known method used by right-wing monitoring groups that advise our government: random, non-methodological gathering of accounts over many years, the majority of which are not even attributable to the Palestinian Authority, which our government is currently attempting to depict as a regime of incitement. In these questionably-gathered accounts, no attempt is made to distinguish between statements issued by the official Palestinian Authority media and those of Hamas, who are known for attacking the Palestinian Authority no less rabidly than they attack Israel. Moreover, a misleading mixture was concocted of news content and individuals expressing opinions. The “juiciest” accounts for Middle East news commentators, such as remarks made by a Gaza Sheikh calling the Jews monkeys and pigs, are mainly found in the Hamas-controlled media.

Furthermore, the gatherers of “evidence” of incitement do not bother to employ any accepted fact-checking methods whatsoever, nor do they adhere to even the most basic research protocols. Every media researcher knows the time-tested methods for analyzing media content: qualitative, quantitative, or a combination of the two. Yet the opinion-makers on the subject of Palestinian incitement against Israel make use of none of these. The argument that the Palestinian media, an official organ of the Palestinian Authority, incites against Israelis has never been tested using any valid research tools.

Moreover, a disturbing similarity can be found between right-wing claims of incitement and conspiracy theories. Researchers reject conspiracy theories in the absence of sufficient findings that confirm sightings, or testimonies that contain a kernel of truth to which other items, not supported by facts, are added. Nearly every conspiracy theory confuses hypothesis with proof, i.e., they assume the hypothesis that they try to prove. In most cases, conspiracy theories do not try to raise hypotheses and then prove them, or alternatively, refute them. Rather, they assume – absent any factual support – that their hypotheses are fact.

Another conspicuous characteristic of conspiracy theories and incitement spin is the representation of the enemy as an abstract entity whose members act uniformly and consistently toward a single objective — in our case, killing Jews. If one can state, for example, that all Jews are part of a plot to control the world, or that the U.S. government acts methodically to conceal testimonies of sightings of UFOs, then there is no problem in stating, as per the professional assessment of PA incitement submitted to the court on September 2010, that the PA (via its media outlets), is the responsible, monitoring entity that supports, backs, and encourages terror and suicide attacks. Positing that a symbolic, uniform entity enables conspiracy believers to easily reject every refuting fact or claim.

As per this view, this same symbolic entity (in our case the Palestinian Authority/Palestinian media) is all-powerful, and its activities are characterized by slick efficiency and perfect coordination between all of its organs. Such an entity acts without regard for moral considerations, and without recognition nuances, moral relativity or contradictory arguments.

What gives rise to conspiracy theories is the desire to find a convenient explanation for events or situations for which the existing explanation is felt to be insufficient or uncomfortable. Imagine the effect on many Israelis of the “knowledge” that peace cannot be achieved due to Palestinian incitement, rather than the intransigence of the right in their refusal to give up on their dream of the Greater Land of Israel. Wouldn’t such “knowledge” provide catharsis?

The other side is always to blame

We cannot truthfully state that there haven’t been incidences of defamation and even incitement against Israelis by the Palestinian media and the Palestinian Authority. Of course there have been, just as there has been incitement from our side. By the way, even simple editing, choice of words and camera angles in news coverage are much more efficacious at delegitimizing and dehumanizing than direct, unfiltered incitement, which tends to repel readers and viewers.

Like all nations involved in a long-running conflict, both Israelis and Palestinians employ these devices almost daily. And like any national, ideological conflict, each side in claims history to be on its side, while engaging in violence, killing and human rights violations. The narratives of both sides are to a great extent mirror images of each other, with each side insisting that the responsibility of the for violence, killing, and injustice lies with the other, while minimizing its own responsibility.

In this situation, the media discourse on both sides is the main arena where the contradictory narratives are expressed. The media, particularly during crises, becomes the conduit for trumpeting the justice of each side’s cause, pointing to evidence of the murderous and heinous nature of the opposing side, and even encouraging the use of force with the objective of preserving national pride, strategic deterrence, or negotiating power over the other.

Modern history is rife with examples of both public opinion and the media during national conflicts, which, when they reach crisis mode, tend to circle the wagons, becoming more “patriotic” than in ordinary times. This is done by rationalizing emergency measures in defense and security; wanting to see their side triumph; and encouraging aggression toward the enemy. These can all be observed in Israel during wartime, as they could in the UK during the Falklands crisis of 1982, and in the U.S. at the beginning of the Iraq war in 2003.

Claims of incitement without acknowledging the relativist quality of the two sides’ national narratives cannot be taken seriously without the following: addressing the circumstances of the conflict and its components; attempting to analyze the relative responsibility of each side for the deterioration in relations and escalation of violence; and examining the functioning of the media on both sides.

National narratives are complex, encompassing concepts from the fields of sociology, psychology, philosophy, and communications. In his Archaeology of Knowledge, Michel Foucault insisted on the complexity of the formation of narratives. Discourse is not only language, he claimed, but also a system of structuring reality. In the term “discourse,” Foucault attempted to explain how knowledge is produced, by whom, and in what framework, as well as what interests lie behind its production, and who this knowledge serves. By drawing connections between such concepts as “knowledge” and “truth” in power relations, institutions, and interests, Foucault called into question how we perceive these concepts.

If indeed knowledge and public communications and discourse are, among other things, products of a power struggle between institutions and societies, then our dominance in power over the PA has an apparent unequivocal effect in creating the narrative and myths that claim that the PA is exclusively or mainly responsible for violence, incitement, and the deterioration of the peace process. Such views have evinced sharp criticism both on the parts of former senior defense personnel in Israel, and in studies conducted by Israeli institutions, as we will see below.0

Intelligence experts, among them GSS and IDF Intelligence chiefs, who undergo thorough professional training of the highest quality, are exposed to first-hand intelligence material and know the relevant data backwards and forwards. Their consistent testimonies indicating the absence of factual basis for claiming that the PA is directly responsible for terror and murder speak for themselves. Senior intelligence personnel such as Ami Ayalon, Amos Malka, Mati Steinberg, and Ephraim Lavie have testified to this (and their words have been published elsewhere). In short, the right’s conceptualization of exclusively blaming the other side for incitement, violence, and the absence of a peace agreement is problematic, to say the least.

Scum of the earth

In contrast to the impression one might get from remarks made by members of the Israeli right wing, a reading of the treaties since the Gaza-Jericho agreement – signed as part of the Oslo Accords in 1994 – reveals that the matter of incitement is two-sided. That is to say, Israel officially confirms that it too must address the issue as it pertains to its actions. The interim agreement (Oslo II) stated that there is mutual obligation [my bold] to make efforts to prevent incitement. In the Wye Accords of October 1998, it was agreed to form an Israeli-Palestinian Committee to Prevent Incitement. The committee met for just one year, and until this day has not reconvened.

Abbas claims that it was the Israelis who refused to reconvene the committee. Just recently, Israel refused a Palestinian-U.S. initiative to convene a tri-lateral committee on incitement. The Sharm-a-Sheikh Accords signed by Ehud Barak and Yasir Arafat in 1999 include a clause addressing the “prevention of incitement alongside cooperation between the sides.” The matter of incitement as a two-sided problem also appears in the Bush Road Map of April 2003, the Mitchell Report and in UN Security Council Resolution 1397 (March 2002).

Prime Minister Ariel Sharon: 'We must paralyze every village from which shooting comes.'

Prime Minister Ariel Sharon: ‘We must paralyze every village from which shooting comes.’

Have words of recrimination and incitement ever been uttered in Israel against the Palestinians? Of course they have. Who cannot recall government spokespeople and news pundits, in a moment of anger, using harsh words about Arabs? Shas leader Ovadia Yosef said the following in 2001: “This is what will happen to the Arabs: their very thinking will be spoiled, they’ll get what they deserve, their seed will be lost, they’ll be destroyed and subdued, and they’ll be lost to the world,”; “The Arabs are crybabies, scum of the earth. Their cries conquer people, they kill. Crocodile tears. Do not show them any mercy!”; “It is forbidden to show them mercy. Send them missiles, go to town. Destroy them, those scum of the earth.” In 2010, Yosef even yearned for Abbas’ death: “Ovadia Yosef wished death upon Palestinian Chair Abu-Mazen and his people, calling them ‘villains, enemies of Israel’.” Former Interior Minister Eli Yishai called for blowing up thousands of [Palestinian] homes and destroying Gaza. In 2002, Knesset Member Ahmed Tibi claimed that as Chief of Staff, Shaul Mofaz was responsible for war crimes after the latter demanded that IDF commanders kill at least sever Palestinians per day during the beginning of the Second Intifada. But of course, the words of sages are uttered quietly, not with raised voices.

Knesset Member Uri Ariel to Yediyot Aharonot in 2001: 'Take out Arafat and the Palestinian Authority.'

Knesset Member Uri Ariel to Yediyot Aharonot in 2001: ‘Take out Arafat and the Palestinian Authority.’

Textbook incitement

Alongside claims of incitement by the Palestinian Authority and in the Palestinian media, the Israeli right talks a great deal about incitement against Israel and Jews in Palestinian textbooks. Is there anything to the claim?

Most Israeli and foreign entities that have checked the matter reject the claim. A Knesset Research and Information Center study submitted to the Knesset Education Committee on June 30, 2010, at the request of then-Chairman of the Commission Zvulun Orlev, on how the Jewish people, Israel, Zionism, and peace are presented in Palestinian textbooks, no evidence of direct incitement to violence was found. The report’s conclusions state:

A review of the main reports from recent years of new Palestinian textbooks does not point to an unequivocal picture of direct, overreaching incitement to violence or [to] terror [aimed at] Jews or Israel. At the same time, the studies indicate that in Palestinian textbooks there is an absence of education toward peace…regarding the credibility of studies on Palestinian textbooks conducted by Jewish NGOs, there prevails a certain controversy, some claiming that there are entities ‘walking the thin line between research and politics’…

In addition, there are those who claim that Israeli textbooks do not contribute to advancing the peace process, as they contain expressions of delegitimization of Palestinian nationalism and negative stereotypes of Arabs, among other things, and thus call for a review of their content as well.

The Knesset Research and Information Center report also addressed the findings of previous reports. The 2006 UNESCO report stated: “In none of the reports reviewed [do we find] support for the claim that incitement against Israel or anti-Semitism can be attributed to Palestinian curricula” [p. 11]. The 2002 MEMRI (Middle East Media Research Institute, considered a conservative think tank) report also rejected the claim of direct incitement in Palestinian textbooks:

The new Palestinian textbooks reflect an overall attempt to reduce the venom of the anti-Israeli messages, in contrast to the Egyptian and Jordanian textbooks previously used. Direct incitement in books has decreased, explicit calls for violence are greatly reduced, and efforts have been made to incorporate the values of democracy and liberty.

Three reports compiled on Palestinian textbooks during 2003-2006 by IPCRI (Israel-Palestine Research and Information Center) stated:

Overall, the orientation of the new textbooks is that of peace, despite the difficult and violent reality of Palestinian society and that of the region. The textbooks do not contain direct incitement against Israel or against Jews, nor do they contain direct incitement toward hatred or violence…while the textbooks do not contain direct encourage of hatred and violence, they also do not preach brotherhood and friendship…

On September 9, 2004, Akiva Eldar wrote in Haaretz that the report by the Coordinating Committee in the Territories stated at the beginning of the Second Intifada that in comparison to Egyptian and Jordanian textbooks used in the past, there is improvement in the new Palestinian textbooks, and that “efforts can be discerned on the part of the Palestinians to moderate the sense of enmity toward Israel.”

Only one organization has reached opposite conclusions: Palestinian Media Watch, upon whose findings current government advisors base their comments. For instance, the PMW report of 2007 states:

The textbooks are rife with the terminology of hatred and demonization that reinforce the message that Israel must not be accepted as a neighbor who has the right to exist and with whom it is possible to live in peace…Certainly in the 12th grade textbooks, Israel’s right to exist is rejected…The Israeli-Palestinian conflict is not depicted as a national or territorial one alone, but rather as part of an uncompromising religious struggle of Islam in Israel…It appears that there is an attempt reduce as far as possible addressing topics related to the peace process between Israel and its neighbors and to the Oslo Accords…

The wide gaps between the PMW’s conclusions and those of other reports raise suspicion that its right-wing agenda, as well as that of its director, create distorted perceptions of reality. Unfortunately, these misperceptions are adopted by Israel’s prime ministers.

The court tries to apply interpretation and meaning

On August 28, Tel Aviv District Court Judge Dalia Ganot issued an unprecedented ruling completely rejecting Marcus’s assessment that PA incitement led to the murder of Gilad Zar. From her ruling:

This question was not examined by the expert Marcus, who does not distinguish between his assessment and news media content, or expression of opinion, or broadcasts on social issues…and in any case [he] did not attempt to estimate the time frame of issued remarks of incitement proportionate to total broadcast times, and therefore, the expert Be’er’s [the author] statement is correct in its clarity:

The matter of the assessment submitted by the plaintiffs in the name of Mr. Itamar Marcus, is an attempt to interpret and attach meaning to selected content sampled randomly from the entire discourse occurring in the Palestinian Authority during the clashes and the Second Intifada…taking into account the absence of any accepted valid testing method, that could serve as a foundation for some sort of suit, his assessment is [hereby] rejected…

Marcus did not elucidate in his assessment the body of knowledge that he studied, how many texts were included therein, and what the proportions were between the level of texts that prove his claim of incitement, and the quantity of texts that reject it, and I hereby accept these remarks in the language in which they are written, and as aforementioned, the conclusion is that the plaintiffs did not bear the burden of proof imposed upon them, and did not prove their claim.”

The court’s verdict dismantled the foundation upon which rest the Israeli right’s claims of Palestinian incitement. And while the first lawsuit was unsuccessful, there are at least seven similar suits are being tried currently, all based on assessments by the same source: Ittamar Marcus and PMW.

Judge Ganot’s verdict will likely not change much beyond having saved the Palestinian Authority the heavy costs of victim compensation, just as the French court’s verdict that the photos of the late Muhammad a-Dura were authentic, will not change the belief of many that a-Dura is alive and well and residing in Gaza. After all, our present leadership believes – or so it would seem – that there is a need to find a convenient explanation for the uncomfortable reality that makes so many squirm. And what’s more convenient for an Israeli citizen than the “knowledge” that peace is unattainable due to Palestinian incitement, and not to the right’s intransigence? What a catharsis, right?

Read more:
Judge dismisses credibility of Palestinian Media Watch testimony
Hamas textbook incitement and Israeli manipulation

Yizhar Be’er is a former journalist who serves as director of Keshev, which monitors Israeli media coverage. This post originally appeared in Hebrew on Haokets.

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    1. bob wisby

      Why can’t the arabs take their destruction and displacement quietly? Why must we be assaulted by the continual incitement? Is it because they have such a stranglehold over the World’s media?

      Reply to Comment
    2. Samuel

      I am not sure what point this article is trying to make.

      If one reads it, even it admits that clearly there IS incitement going on against Jews and Israels in Palestinian society. Even Abbas admits this. He admitted it at a recent meeting between himself and 300 left wing Israeli students. End of story.

      Is the incitement on the decline? Is there incitement by all parties in all conflicts? Is there incitement against Palestinians in Israel too? Yes or maybe yes. But none of that negates the fact that there IS incitement against Jews/Israelis in Palestinian society.

      Maybe a better question would be to ask, who started this vicious cycle? The clear answer to that is: the PALESTINIANS back, under the Mufti of Jerusalem since the 1920s. Why is that relevant? Because the onus to lead the charge to decrease the cycle is on the party who started this all. Is that happening? I doubt it.

      Reply to Comment
      • Ronen

        I think this article quite clearly shows that the Israeli government’s claim that the PA has an explicit or implicit policy of incitement against Israel is simply not true.

        Reply to Comment
        • Vadim

          “I think this article quite clearly shows that the Israeli government’s claim that the PA has an explicit or implicit policy of incitement against Israel is simply not true.”

          Sadly, this article does no such thing. It overwhelms you with information, selectively quotes reports and unnecessarily drags Israel into the picture.

          The simple fact remains – you can still find disgusting hateful clips on PA channel. You can claim they are few in number or that they are not a result of a policy – but why would an official channel air hateful crap? It was either told to do so, or it expected the crap to be received positively by the audience… What alternative do you prefer?

          Reply to Comment
    3. The Defense Minister has already signaled his intransigence to whatever Kerry is doing; asking for all incitement to end prior to an agreement is just another road block. Tzipi is right that attitudes change upon functioning agreement.

      We all have a tendency to create a monolithic other as enemy. So PMW uses a statement coming out of the Lebanon camps as indicative of “Palestinian thought,” while certainly also holding a complete bar on “right of return.” In consequence, a single opponent is painted which, by construction, will never accommodate to any peace agreement. Similarly, Abbas becomes responsible for any statement in Palestinian media.

      Neither Abbas nor the Israeli government can walk away from honoring “national heroes.” Strangely, Ronald Reagan, certainly a great supporter of Israel, saw this when he offered to attend the graves of German SS as they were, paraphrasing, “fighting for their country,” that fight not inherently wrong. I cannot claim sympathy for the view; yet a solid conservative and nationalist made it.

      If nationalism is used at home for defense, yet ever flagged as incitement when used by opponents, conflict becomes nigh metaphysically necessary, for only the nationalism one lives is true; or, rather, my truth informs me of the danger of others’ truths, requiring their muzzling. I do not know of the statement Abbas makes, that there is incitement talk in the PA, reported by Samuel, above; but I would read it as acknowledgement that in nationalism no one controls all, and that Abbas is aware of the danger inherent in that force which has made that which protects so many–the nation state. Do you really want him to fail?

      Reply to Comment
      • Samuel

        Sadly, even if one believes that Abbas is a genuine peace maker, which I don’t, even then, peace is not possible at this time. Why? Because HAMAS is the dominant party amongst Palestinians.

        So long as that is true, or until HAMAS mends it’s ways, no peace deal signed by Abbas is worth the paper that it would be written on. Sad but true.

        Reply to Comment
        • I partly agree. Whatever the Kerry process is doing, we know Hamas, so Gaza, is not involved. Hamas will not step down (nor would most in that situation), and they have a clear destabilizing incentive. Nor do they have an incentive to allow elections. If they win, why should they not expect another round of ostracism from the West and Israel? So why risk electoral failure?

          Coupled with the Israeli imperative for control of the Jordan Valley (which, as I’ve said elsewhere, I suspect the Kingdom of Jordan somewhat wants, not trusting PA security long term), this means a real agreement is impossible. Which is why I advocate an economic agreement between the PA and Israel, creating independent economic courts for cross border transactions, with the West funding start up enterprises to that end, this a quasi federation with Israel.

          If you disallow all improvement in the WB (and improvement entails ventures with Israel), how can there not be new clashes? On your own evidence, Abbas was being honest. I actually doubt you can do better than him, although the ties he has forged over decades may be holding him back. Few leaders work in a vacuum, as Bibi shows us.

          All signs for me point to either a Greater Israel or federated “state.” The difference between the two is relative, not absolute. So the question before you is what kind of future do you want to nudge things toward.

          Gaza has been excised for the moment, but not from Palestinian nationalism. It may not be a nationalism you like, but it is as real and heart felt as your own. Improvement (better than “peace agreement”) will require two strong nationalisms to live with one another. Both of these nationalisms have internal divisions. Israel’s has a mechanism of electoral resolution; the Palestinian one does not, being both PA WB and Gazan Hamas–and sometimes the camps in Lebanon. I think “peace agreement” is a mistaken concept now; improvement need not be. But there are gambles and risk. Anyone who denies that is not being honest, perhaps with themselves.

          Reply to Comment
    4. Jim Beab

      It appears that the US Senate who have verified the continuing incitement of the PA in its official organs (and despite this article) is proceeding towards a vote that will withhold further funding from the PA until they can show palpable evidence of turning down the anti Israel/Jewish incitement. They have their own investigation going on separate and apart from the so called “right wing”

      Reply to Comment
      • Gearoid

        In fact, they do not. They rely on the same biased, often racist far-right NGOs as the Knesset does.

        Reply to Comment
    5. Vadim

      This article is overwhelmingly long and should have been split into several parts. It’s very hard to comment on something so long.

      I have a dream, a right-wing dream –


      People can write long articles and cite reports but they make absolutely no sense while this kind of crap is being shown. On PA official TV, where the content is approved by the PA.

      This is just one example, there are many more. I don’t know how many people watch this and if it has a real negative effect (it most certainly don’t have a positive one) – but the simple fact that this is shown on PA TV shows that there is a policy of incitement by the PA. That’s why I find Judge Ganot’s ruling to be exceptionally silly.

      One should also read the Knesset’s information center report and not rely on the summary provided by this article, better yet – read the reports it cites. The gap between these reports and the “right wing dream” as expressed by PMW doesn’t seem that large.

      Lastly, making hard concessions during peace negotiations requires preparing the people. This is clearly felt in Israel – where the media keeps its usual downplay of Palestinian “bad” behavior and endlessly repeats why the Kerry initiative is the only and last chance Israel has (that’s why the BDS is suddenly mentioned in prime time). This is very similar (though subtler) to what took place before and during the Oslo accords – where the future was bright and all opposition to the agreement was silenced.

      When will we see something similar on the other side? When will PA’s TV start to describe Israel as a potential partner? Or show that normalization and the end of the conflict may be good? Or that’s time to leave old dreams of return behind and move on to a better future? Or anything?!

      Reply to Comment
      • I wish Yizhar Be’er could comment on the video you provide; in fact, I think some such video should have been placed in the piece, show how extreme, pathetic, and usury propaganda can become; these little girls have no idea what they are saying, really. I would like to know where it was created, Gaza or the WB, and how often it likely aired on PA TV. Nothing is gained, and much lost, by hiding these events.

        But I think you are mistaken about the judges decision on incitement. For incitement to be used in a civil case it must be shown to have a likely causal impact on a specific individuals’s behavior. Even several videos as this one would not reach that standard alone. Recall that the court said the percentage of actual hate encouraging videos such as this in the provided data set was quite small. The court used a civil standard, and that standard does not aggregate events into a set across, here, the PA, inferring that any event in the aggregation could have been the incitement; rather, a direct or probable relationship between specific propaganda and instanced harm must be shown. It’s a very high standard to meet, a standard derived from intra-Israeli suits.

        Not to throw a liberal what about this at you, consider the riot in South Tel Aviv. That evening rallies were held stirring up feelings, certainly some of those present later in the riot. Yet even here no charge of incitement was sustained, although the relationship was much more direct than the purported effect of PA video airings.

        The PA has a policy of allowing hateful videos to air within some sort of spectrum of other kinds. This is not necessarily a policy of incitement as such. If the video was aired constantly or at high frequency a better case could be made. What is certain is that a mirror image video would not survive in Israeli media.

        If this video was produced in Gaza, the actual policy might have been symbolic Gaza inclusion rather than intent to incite others to bodily harm Israelis. I think it should have been banned. But intent and effective incitement are different matters.

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        • Vadim

          Greg, I think you are being too picky on the terminology.

          Regarding Ganot’s ruling – I’m not a lawyer and don’t know how the law defines stuff like incitement. That’s why I don’t know if the ruling following the civil suite is right or wrong. However, I still find Ganot’s logic flawed and silly. The “percentage of actual hate encouraging” is completely irrelevant. So is the effect. You either air hateful materials or you don’t. If your propaganda is not working or not shown enough – it’s still propaganda. I don’t care if it’s called incitement by some legal definition – this is nothing short of incitement to hatred in my eyes.

          Regarding south TA – I hate the hateful speech I too often hear on that matter. Many stuff being said are incitement in my eyes.

          “The PA has a policy of allowing hateful videos to air within some sort of spectrum of other kinds.”

          Greg, there are not other kinds. Please prove me wrong, show me anything in which Jews or Israel are presented in a positive or understanding manner.

          This specific video is not the issue. The fact that I can find dozen such videos by spending several minutes is.

          By the way – I’m not getting into the antisemitic material produced in Syria, Iran or Egypt. Palestinian channels also share this fetish.

          Reply to Comment
          • When propaganda does not work, either in contact or through infrequent exposure, it cannot be legal incitement. Legal incitement is an asserted partial cause of an specific event. What Ganot said was that on her reading of Israeli civil law no such causal relation had been proved. Since the PA shows many things on the air, and since it is impossible to know what the violent actor regularly saw or focused on (say, recording the very video you provide for repeated personal replay) the court has no choice but to employ a relative frequency analysis. The court does not have to prove the causal link independent of what the plaintiff provides in support, rebutted by the defense or court appointed experts. In this case the court said the proof was inadequate. There really is a high threshold.

            As to hate propaganda aired by the PA, I think you would find distinctions therein as seen by the producers. Such as where the video was produced, and what role children play, if any. I suspect that Gazan video are given air time to paper over the division. In the PA there must be a constant fight over resources based on personal networks and variants of ideology which might seem pretty meaningless to outsiders.

            As propaganda, the video you showed us should be barred totally. For some reason, neither our translated piece author nor the judge feel that the content of this video is representative of most surely still angry and hateful content; but neither anger nor hate in a televised forum need reach incitement. I wish our author would respond to these points. And I still think a video such as this should have been linked so that the problem could be better understood.

            On S Tel Aviv, I know of no real effort to charge anyone with incitement there. Some MK’s spoke at the prior rallies and had immunity. If Israeli prosecution and courts cannot find incitement in that rather direct case, I do not see how they can honestly conclude aired video reaches incitement more powerfully. Sometimes, one’s own yard needs to be cleaned up before forcing another to clean up.

            I think Tzipi Livni is right that the use of the young girls in the video you provide is horrible; but she is also right that attitudes change after peace agreement, not before. To bar advance until to PA does what you want means there will be no advance. I have suggested one method of advance to that end further down this thread.

            You have to walk around barriers sometimes, not burst through them.

            Reply to Comment
          • Vadim

            Greg, I think you’re still missing my point.

            I don’t want to go into a length discussion of incitement vs. propaganda. There’s a simple fact – PA TV airs such crap, it’s not hard to find dozens of such clips. Now, why do you think they do that?

            “but she is also right that attitudes change after peace agreement, not before”

            No! No! No! We felt it after Oslo, attitudes don’t change for the good after “peace treaties” around here. Attitudes change years after such and other institutionalized incitement ends. After normalization is not deemed a crime. And after various organizations that benefit from the violence stop their work. Not after some treaty is signed.

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          • I think we both know that forcing such broadcast changes on the PA without compensation is impossible. If you want to make it part of an agreement, then it depends on what is offered in return. If, as your Defense Minister seems to say, it is a necessary prior to agreement,it’s hopeless.

            I have offered a speculation on a modest yet risky agreement in this thread with Samuel. If you wanted to attach removing such videos from the air, if might be worth a shot, if the PA side, not homogeneous, decides the internal strife is worth it. But as a precondition Livni is right, it is just a way to continue the creeping forward status quo.

            I do understand what you are saying. I can indeed see placing removal of these videos as an agreement clause, although it would inflame Gaza in Hamas; under my speculation, however, Gaza is de facto excluded.

            However, I retain the view that use of the courts to define propaganda as instanced legal incitement is wrong on legal grounds. Propaganda is far from instanced legal incitement and, as I pointed out, Israel refrained from considering incitement in the S Tel Aviv riot case where the causal chain was rather direct; which makes a much weaker propaganda chain much harder to affirm. Using the courts to try to impose payable damages I think quite counterproductive. However, the piece says there about 5 other such suits in process; who knows–maybe another judge will go the other way.

            You say: ” Attitudes change years after such and other institutionalized incitement ends. After normalization is not deemed a crime. And after various organizations that benefit from the violence stop their work. Not after some treaty is signed.” and I think you largely right. In itself, a treaty does nothing. One needs implementation, incremental implementation so both sides can deal with their internal changes and resistance. I suggested such a path to Samuel. Altering PA broadcasting and waiting will not work. Resistance will grow inside until the material re-airs. Doing so as other mechanisms unfold might. That’s about all I got on this.

            Reply to Comment
    6. Samuel


      You are “preaching” to the converted. And you are surprisingly close to what Netanyahu advocates about economic incentives and cooperation.

      Where you and I disagree though is this:

      If ever Israel would drop the ball militarily, you just watch the atrocities that would be perpetrated against us Israeli Jews. What happened in places like Bosnia would be small fry compared to what would happen to us. Syria should give you a hint of what people in this region are capable of doing to each other. As bad as you think WE are, we are rank amateurs compared to them.

      On the other hand, if Hamas would drop the ball militarily, and moderate it’s policies, the outcome would be a reasonable quality peace and prosperity that would benefit both Palestinians and Israelis.

      As for a binational state, forget that. It would be a recipe for our destruction. Anything that would threaten the concept of the IDF as it stands today, would be a losing game for us. A confederated state based on economics may be a possibility as long as the do gooder types don’t attempt to use it as a blackmail against us by pretendinding that such a confederation requires a mixed army of both nationals under a unified command. If we would be stupid enough to fall for such blackmail or allow even a hint of it, then we would need our collective heads examined because it would lead to the death of us.

      Let’s be real though. Right now, Hamas opposes any form of cooperation with us and Abbas is playing games. He is trying to discredit us for the sake of politics in order to extort concessions that we cannot afford to make. He is not really trying to make peace. So nothing is happening.

      Reply to Comment
      • I dearly hope I am wrong, but I fear Kerry, by framing final resolution as the objective, has made a grave mistake. These social worlds need to grow into a final resolution, not have one forced upon them. Yet I believe that Kerry is quite right that unless something is done something akin to another intifada is inevitable. If I am right, I can only hope the US uses failure of final resolution to force the beginnings of economic development on both parties. It is in my view crucial that 1) independent economic courts with real power be created, with judges from both sides (Palestinian judges would help develop a common judicial logic within the WB), possibly with foreign judges as well (I could see three person panels, an Israeli, Palestinian, maybe European); 2) an independent agency provide economic development grants for joint Israeli/Palestinian ventures (Israel cannot decide on these alone, for there is now too much bad blood). Israel will have to cede some sovereignty which it comes to adjudicating joint ventures/contracts.

        In honesty I think I should note that over time I think these courts would come to deal with rights outside of contract to some extent. For example, a Palestinian in a joint venture might need to stay in Israel awhile, but find it hard to do so under existing rules. The courts must have the ability to protect the ventures, and this could come to a decision that ingress for business into Israel, given the contract is standing, must be allowed. This is a guess of trajectory. But economic growth redefines rights by highlighting new dilemmas. And that is integration.

        I would think the IDF would be in complete control of the border for some time. The PA would be quasi autonomous without border control. But, again, issues of export/import under joint ventures would have to be adjudicated in the economic courts. Whether the PA ultimately contributed to border control would be incremental and negotiated.

        Whether only Jews should be in the IDF is an internal matter. My view is that an extension of the logic now being applied to the ultra orthodox is necessary: equal burden for all citizens. If Israeli Arabs are ever to become full citizens, some form of mandatory national service will be necessary. I could see a national service draft for Arabs which allows a small percentage to opt for the IDF if they want (after all, it is not unheard of for Arab citizens to volunteer for the IDF), that percentage increasing if things seem to be working out. However this may be, it is not a matter for confederation real or constructed. The IDF, as it is, would be the confederation military force.

        I hope you see that this scheme, only a thought, is not without sacrifice for Palestinian nationalism. They must live with their former occupying force, something they hate as of now. It is also not without risk and sacrifice for Israel, for Israel must cede real authority to the economic courts AND STICK BY THAT if there is to be any hope to reduce the distrust and anger on the PA side. Actually both sides, for Israel needs to see joint ventures can actually work if its level of distrust is to be reduced.

        I have left out of this how Palestinians are treated under occupation. But there should too be some method of redress when IDF soldiers do wrong–and they do do wrong, like any policing force will. That has to be an internal Israeli matter. But it is necessary, I think, for stories of wrong grow in the retelling. And this means some settler actions now unpunished must stop.

        Gaza is left totally aside. There will be much anger over that. But I see confederation in development as your only way out. No final agreement, moderate risk, but everyone must accept possible change thereby. And I think you would need an outside funding source to get it going.

        Reply to Comment
        • Samuel

          What about redress when Palestinians do harm to Israeli civilians?

          That happens too you know. And right now the PA treats terrorists as heroes instead of offering redress for their crimes against Israeli civilians.

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          • The economic courts suggested would be neutral, that’s why I envisioned something like three judge panels, an Israeli, Palestinian, and, say, European (I actually doubt internationals would sit). Certainly some Palestinians will violate contract, commit fraud, steal–just like some Israelis. Redress would be based on contractual law and evidence of the case, not national past histories or narratives of any kind.

            Political wrongs are not part of economic transaction. In fact, the whole idea is to cordon off economic transaction from such politics. How the PA treats released prisoners is purposefully ignored so joint economic action is possible. One might include a provision that those with criminal records are not eligible for venture grants. But Israel has placed people in jail for many things, not all direct terrorism or its support. However, a blanket prohibition would be the only way to not open another fight zone over what crimes are included, unless direct violence is the measure. But then what about criminal support, also know elsewhere as resistance for the People?

            Many Palestinians who live the political fight would hate this proposal. Those venturing into joint projects would be assuming some risk. Peace and changed attitudes happen through progress, not before it. The mind fields of your joint lives would be there for some time.

            As to violent acts against soldiers (an issue separate from the economic ventures), if the IDF deployed a true grievance procedure which held soldiers responsible (through example publicized) for violating meaningful guidelines, violence against soldiers otherwise would provide immunity in proportional reply, just as with police. But this problem, again, is distinct from that of ventures. I do not believe, however, that progress can be made if the soldier is not better regulated by the IDF in micro events; and, too settlers.

            In Greater Israel you still have Palestinians. They are not going to go away, life everywhere presses forward–as Judaism well knows. That’s why I speculate with these proposals.

            Reply to Comment
          • Samuel

            “As to violent acts against soldiers (an issue separate from the economic ventures)”

            “also know elsewhere as resistance for the People?”

            Greg, again; I was talking about terrorist attacks against Israeli civilians. That happens too you know. Are you saying that is legitimate resistance?

            I repeat, What about procedures to redress that in your brave new world that you are proposing?

            Reply to Comment
          • No, Samuel, terrorist attacks, blowing up buses with women, children, the aged, hell anyone, is horribly wrong.

            But there is a distinction between cause and morality. In my view, if you don’t find a way to encourage growth by individualizing enterprise, I think the violence you fear will recur. I may hate cancer, but it may come nonetheless upon exposure to certain chemicals.

            At no point in what I have suggested has Israel lost any security options. Indeed, one fear would be that those opposed to this process might decide to act horrifically to topple it.

            I am not proposing a Brave New World. I am proposing risk in the belief that growth is necessary. But throughout the IDF retains its present function, although likely redirected in actual legal cases about actual enterprises and contracts at times; not, however, over border security or general occupation (with abuses curtailed in law). This would be a confederation with the PA (or whatnot) the minor confederated. General mobility throughout Israel would not apply, although economic transaction would lead to some businessmen visiting Israel.

            Greater Israel has come. The question is what will you do with it. I’ve just provided one idea. I haven’t done it to destroy Israel or to advocate its destruction. I’ve done it because I am very worried for the future and see this as a possible new approach.

            Thank you for reading and writing. I’ve said what I can, but I am of no importance at all. Your end is the important end. I’m just a kibitzer.

            Reply to Comment
          • Samuel

            Greg, first of all, we already agreed on the need for economic incentives and cooperation. In fact, I mentioned to you that even Bibi proposed that but that probably went past you. In any case, no need to labor that point, we BOTH agree.

            Where we seem to have a discrepancy, and I hope it is only an oversight on your part, is this:

            You talked about the need to tighten the procedures against IDF soldiers who commit wrong-doings against Palestinians. I then pointed out to you the quid pro quo need to tighten procedures against Palestinian terrorists who commit wrong-doings against Israeli civilians.

            I hope you do agree with me on that? After all it is only fair. Otherwise, no cooperation will be possible. It is just common sense.

            Reply to Comment
          • No, I noticed your reference to Bibi, but I rather suspect he wouldn’t be all to excited over an independent economic court with judges of both nationalities and an autonomous granting agency. But maybe he would go for it, if the price is right.

            You are going to have to be explicit on how terrorism would be further “tightened” in control. The way I see it, the IDF, with overwhelming force, has the ability to police its own, plus settlers. That can and should be done on ethical grounds alone; it should not be a bargaining chip. If by “terrorism” you mean rock throwing, I think the venue (e.g., thrown at soldiers vs civilians, babies, or cars) is all important. When trying to change attitudes one must enforce slowly; the whole idea is to allow venture enterprise to change attitudes and I bet the changes will be small for awhile.

            Rather than speculate on what you mean, just provide examples, just like Yesh Din does. I kind of suspect it will be harder to tighten “terrorism control” greater than now, but show me wrong. In any case, real harm to civilians should be and is illegal. That wouldn’t change at all. Indeed, if the confederation was working (over time) I would expect more cooperation thereby. As it is, I believe the PA and Israel work pretty closely right now on hard terrorism.

            Gaza is out of this scheme. Nothing can be done there, and tying my speculation to Gaza undermines it at once. The whole idea is to make progress in the WB given Gaza is locked out.

            Real examples of tighter control, if you like. Keep in mind this thread will likely vanish within two days or so. I will look again tomorrow. I have been extremely forthcoming, with no personal gain possible, and hope the same for you.

            Reply to Comment
          • Vadim

            Greg, you still miss my point.

            I don’t want to force them to do anything. I want them to WANT to remove these videos. I want them to see them as the hate promoting crap they are.

            And while they they don’t, I don’t believe they desire a compromise and peace.

            Reply to Comment
          • Ah. Now I get it. If there is no incremental change on the ground, that will not happen. There are too many redresses needed, and Palestinian nationalism will tend to fuse events in Gaza and the West Bank.

            The venture enterprise I suggested might start a dynamic where some within the PA will want to do as you say. And that’s the point: the matter will be in internal contention; your “side” needs ammo, and I think expanding joint businesses could provide that. It could also be considered at the start of such a deal.

            But if you are resolved to wait until the PA unilaterally withdraws all such videos–well, I hope they do, but don’t expect that. After all, some members of the PA undoubtedly feel that all settlements must be withdrawn for “peace,” and that the coalition presence of “Jewish Home” is an affront to any true peace. They will say the taking of land is worse than videos. So should we wait until Jewish Home fails the coalition? I think such a position dooms all to another generation or more, with uprisings inevitable.

            Thank you for talking to me and finally getting through to me on your view. I was stuck in “peace negotiation” mode. This thread is about to vanish, so bye for it.

            The approach I suggested with Samuel, above, would not provide full solution; in fact, it is motivated on the premise that full accord is impossible. Small real steps with real benefits, which allow a new ground for new steps later. That’s the only positive thing I can see anymore.

            Reply to Comment
    7. Joel

      I watch Israeli TV and have never seen an instance of incitement against Arabs.

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      • directrob

        You are supposed to use [satire] or [irony] indicators for statements like yours.

        Reply to Comment
        • Samuel

          I didn’t know you speak Hebrew, Directrob? I thought you are Dutch? So how do you know what is on our TV? You know because you believe Arab and anti-Zionist propaganda?

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    8. Vadim

      Directrob – I bet you can bring examples, right?

      Reply to Comment
      • directrob

        Israeli television never shows incitement? Even if Israeli television makers were saints they would still have to show all voices within Israel.

        An example:

        Reply to Comment
        • Tzutzik

          Every bit of what Glenn Beck said in that video is true. He concluded with the saying:

          “Bad things can happen when good people do nothing”

          Do you disagree with that?

          He was referring to Iran and to Jihadis. Do you think he is wrong about them Rob? If you do, then you have your head in the sand, ostrich style.

          Oh and Rob, telling the truth is NOT incitement. It is telling the truth and truth is not relative.

          Reply to Comment
        • Vadim

          Directrob – Really, is this the best you could find?! I think that even I, a Hasbarah troll that I am, can find better.

          But event the worst crap I’ll find would be milder than the almost anything shown on PA TV.

          In addition, Israel doesn’t have “official” channels (even “IDF Radio” is to really controlled by the IDF or the MoD). The PA does, and it airs worse crap than you could imagine.

          The day their incitement will look like our incitement will be a great day. The day Jews and Israel will be shown in any kind of positive light will be a great day. Sadly, those days seem very far away.

          If you’re going to search for more Israeli incitement, here’s an example of how it should look like –







          Reply to Comment
          • directrob

            Vadim, I am sure you can find better examples, that was exactly the point I made.

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    9. Eric

      So ehm…..

      when will Israeli incitement (from Politicians to normal citizens, magazines and Media) be addressed in the comments here?

      This article clearly states that there is Israeli incitement too, while CLEARLY showing that there is no incitement whatsoever in PA Media, Schools, etc.

      Shouldn’t it be time for Israelis in General to take a good look in the Mirror ?

      Reply to Comment
      • Tzutzik

        “there is no incitement whatsoever in PA Media, Schools, etc”

        Ehm … really, Eric? Even Abbas admitted recently in a talk to 300 Israeli students that there is incitement. Do you think he is making it up?

        Reply to Comment
        • No he’s not making it up. And that’s the point. It’s a tiny start, yes, but start.

          Reply to Comment
        • Eric

          Ok, maybe there is some. But what about the Israeli side ?
          Isn’t the vote on the sovereignty over the Temple Mount no Incitement ? Or Moshe Feiglin taking a walk over the Temple Mount ? Or Bennetts’ calls for annexing the West Bank or to construct settlements in E1 ?

          Where is the outrage about that ?

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