Last week Palestinian Media Watch revealed that the Mufti Muhammad Hussein, top cleric of the Palestinian Authority, had approvingly quoted a hadith calling for the genocide of Jews. Hussein, who was appointed to his post by PA president Mahmoud Abbas, did so at a ceremony marking the 47th anniversary of the Fatah movement. The moderator at the ceremony chimed in that “Our war with the descendants of the apes and pigs [i.e., Jews] is a war of religion and faith.” As for Mufti Hussein, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu ordered Israel’s attorney-general to investigate him for incitement.
Palestinian Media Watch now reports that the mufti’s words have drawn international condemnation. This, actually, doesn’t amount to much—far less than, for instance, the typical round of condemnations when Israel announces plans to build homes in parts of Jerusalem that the enlightened world thinks should be Judenrein.
Alistair Burt, the UK minister for the Middle East, said: “I condemn the inflammatory words used by the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem and others…. To refer to the Jewish people in such a way and to talk of killing Jews is anti-semitism, pure and simple.” More surprisingly—seemingly—Palestinian Media Watch also offers a quote from Americans for Peace Now. This organization, founded in 1981 to drum up support for its Israeli parent-organization, Peace Now, states that it
strongly condemns the belligerent anti-Jewish comments made by the Palestinian Authority’s Mufti of Jerusalem at a public event in the West Bank earlier this month…. “We are appalled by these comments, coming from the most senior Muslim cleric on the Palestinian Authority’s payroll,” said Debra DeLee, APN’s President and CEO. DeLee added, “What we find particularly disturbing is that these vile comments were broadcast on the Palestinian Authority’s official television channel, amplifying their inciting [e]ffect.”
I was surprised by those seemingly unequivocal words, and checked the original statement on APN’s website.
Indeed, the context reveals that they weren’t unequivocal at all. Immediately after her above-quoted words, DeLee said further:
People in positions of religious authority, on all sides, bear a heavy responsibility of avoiding incendiary rhetoric. The Israeli-Palestinian conflict is a dispute between two national movements with conflicting claims to the land between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean. Clerics on both sides must prevent this conflict from being perceived as a religious conflict and from becoming one.
DeLee, then, quickly turned her censure of the mufti’s words into an admonition to “both sides.” The problem is that, presumably, neither she nor the organization she represents could be so ignorant as not to realize that this is disingenuous.
Incendiary statements about Palestinians by Israeli rabbis are rare, confined to a fringe, and heavily denounced by the mainstream—if not leading to arrest, as in a case last year involving a rabbi who wrote a preface to an obscure book arguing that non-Jews could be killed in certain situations in wartime. Mufti Muhammad Hussein is, as mentioned, the governmentally appointed religious leader of the Palestinian Authority, and made his statement on official PA TV. Still more significant is that his words were hardly a fringe phenomenon but, instead, a standard and typical part of the PA’s comprehensive campaign, through media, mosques, and schools, of anti-Israeli and anti-Semitic incitement.
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