ABBAS REGIME MEDIA LIONIZES TERRORIST AS 'MARTYR,' CONDEMNS SOLDIERS FOR NOT
RESPECTING HIS BODY
By Michael Widlanski
JERUSALEM-MAY 16 2005
The Palestinian Authority (PA) lionized a Palestinian youth who tried to
stab an Israeli soldier at a West Bank roadblock, calling the knife-wielder
a "heroic martyr."
At the same time, the Voice of Palestine radio, which is controlled
directly by Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas, condemned Israel for not
treating the body of the dead Arab terrorist with greater respect,
downplaying his attempt to kill the soldiers.
"The youth Omar Mutih Ashrawi, 22 years old, from "Alaj, north of
Tulkarm, was heroically martyred this morning when he was struck by bullets
of the Occupation forces concentrated near Tulkarm," declared VOP radio as
its lead item (10 AM).
"Our correspondent Mu'ein Shadid reports that the body of the martyr
continued lying on the ground, as the Occupation forces prevented ambulances
from reaching it [the body]," asserted Baha Shami, the VOP radio
"According to Israeli military sources, the youth tried to attack one of
the soldiers with a knife before the soldier fired at him," she added.
Tulkarm has been a tension point in recent weeks after Palestinian
leader Abbas had promised Israeli leaders to take control of the area and to
disarm wanted terrorists, but Israeli army field commanders have repeatedly
said this has not happened.
Indeed, Abbas and his top lieutenants inside the PA and the PLO-Interior
Minister Nasser Youssef, Deputy Prime Minister Nabil Sha'ath-have repeatedly
told the Palestinian press that he will not try aggressively to "seize
weapons" from HAMAS, Islamic Jihad or Fatah members who continue acts of
"resistance" aimed at Israel.
Both the Palestinian daily Al-Ayyam and Al-Quds ran lead front-page
articles Saturday (May 14) in which Abbas declared that he was not going to
set off "harb ahaliyya"-civil war-by confronting groups that continue
Elements of the Israeli government and media have attempted not to
criticize Abbas harshly or directly in public, going so far as to give him
credit for disarming "militant elements" based on his promises or interviews
The Israeli newspaper Ha'aretz ran a lead story Friday (May 13), written
by its veteran commentator Ze'ev Schiff, that claimed that Abbas had
already pacified Tulkarm, and the head of Israeli military intelligence,
Maj. Gen. Aharon Ze'evi (Farkash) claimed much the same thing the week
before in an Israeli radio interview.
General Ze'evi complimented Palestinian leader Abbas extensively and
said that he had switched many of the top level PA personnel who had been
loyal to Yasser Arafat, the dead PLO leader, but even a cursory examination
of Palestinian public events and media shows that Ze'evi's account was not
Sources inside the Israeli intelligence community and military
commanders (from the rank of captain through general) have told this
reporter that Israeli officials have steered away from criticizing Abbas so
as not to be blamed for his lack of success.
"When he falls, why should we get the blame for tripping him up," said
[Permission to quote or reprint from article conditional on citing Michael
Widlanski or Michael Widlanski Associates.]
Dr. Michael Widlanski teaches political communication and comparative
politics at the Rothberg School of Hebrew University. His doctorate,
"Palestinian Broadcast Media In the Palestinian State-Building Process:
Patterns of Influence and Control," was based on eight years of research
involving more than 7,000 hours of monitoring Palestinian radio in Arabic as
well as television and newspaper surveys. He is a former reporter,
correspondent and editor, respectively, at The New York Times ,The Cox
Newspapers-Atlanta Constitution, and The Jerusalem Post.
He has also served as Strategic Affairs Advisor to the Ministry of Public
Security, editing secret PLO Archives captured in Jerusalem.
REPORT COMPILED BY MICHAEL WIDLANSKI ASSOCIATES.