The rightwing Israeli politician Danny Ayalon is back with another of his lying hasbara videos, this time in response to Lara Sawalha and Dana Dajani’s ‘The real truth about the West Bank’.
This time, along with the usual ‘Palestine and Palestinians don’t exist’ denial narrative, the former deputy foreign minister is also promoting the idea Palestinian Christians have been leaving Palestine because of Muslims, which is a lie.
Israel is still smarting from CBS’s 2012 60 Minutes bombshell episode on the plight of Palestinian Christians living under Israel’s oppressive occupation. Even Netanyahu was involved in that push back, with CBS’s coverage compared to a ‘strategic terror attack’ on Israeli diplomacy. Who could forget the spectacle of Michael Oren trying to defend himself on air when host Robert Simon asserted Oren had tried to halt the broadcast. And year later activists from CAMERA were still harassing CBS, dominating a shareholders meeting by demanding an apology and accusing the station of “anti semitism”!
It’s been one train wreck after another for Israel’s image regarding Christians; a racist mayor in Upper Nazareth banning Christmas trees ; trying to paint a pretty face on Israel’s “Draconian” treatment of tens of thousands of Palestinian Christians outside Jerusalem’s Church of the Holy Sepulcher last May 4th didn’t help. The Patriarchs and Heads of 13 Churches of Jerusalem even issued a press release decrying police “brutal treatment” on the most important date of the Orthodox Christian calendar, Holy Saturday the eve of Easter Sunday!
So how does Ayalon erase this record? He shows two headlines hovering in the background of the video with bold headlines, the first “Muslim attacks against Christians on the rise in West Bank” is authored by an anonymous writer “Special to WorldTribune.com“. Dated May 28th, 2012, weeks after the 60 Minutes broadcast, it cites only anonymous “Palestinian sources” with the exception of one ‘Palestinian journalist’ Hisham Jarallah, who just happens to write for the Islamophobic neocon rightwing settler-supporting Gatestone Institute. In fact, Jarallah himself appears to have written about this same incident 3 days before the anonymous World Tribune special report, for Gatestone! Only the headline of his Gatestone article is “What CBS Does Not Want to Hear.” And you guessed it, Jarallah claims “Christian residents of Taybeh have been living in constant fear of being attacked by their Muslim neighbors,” just the opposite of Bob Simon’s 60 Minutes broadcast. Interestingly, Jarallah ends his article suggesting anyone wanting to learn about the “true problems facing the Christians of the Holy Land” should head to Taybeh and conduct interviews with the villagers, though oddly he doesn’t quote even one by name in his article.
There’s no other sources for this “Muslim attack” on the Christian community in Taybeh. In fact, there’s no evidence at all “Muslim attacks against Christians are on the rise in West Bank.”
The next headline Ayalon highlights, from the Telegraph: Christian graves desecrated in the West Bank, from 2009:
Vandals have desecrated about 70 graves in two Palestinian Christian cemeteries in what a Palestinian Authority official said was a rare attack on the Christian minority in the occupied West Bank.
A church official in the village of Jiffna near Ramallah, where the attack took place, called in Palestinian security officials to investigate, but neither he nor the investigators said they had any initial clues who was responsible.
“This unfortunate incident has brought Muslims and Christians closer and many from the Muslim community have shown solidarity with us and have condemned this action,” said George Abdo, Greek Orthodox Church official.
Issa Kassissieh, a Palestinian Authority official and adviser to President Mahmoud Abbas on Christian affairs, said he believed it was “an isolated act against Christian symbols”.
Notice that the perpetrators were not identified. Later the article cites an unidentified ‘official’ saying that “some .. voice fears of less tolerant forms of Islam growing among Palestinians.” So which official are we supposed to believe? Kassissieh, a member of the Palestinian Christian community, or an anonymous ‘official’ who could be from Ayalon’s own office for all we know?
We don’t have to look very far to find out who’s desecrating Christian graves or holy sites, like the vandalization of the Church of the Dormition in Jerusalem last June. And the State Prosecutor’s Office refuses to label the extreme right-wing perpetrators of these attacks as terrorists. They’re merely called “acts of hooliganism“. Here’s coverage of the Church of the Dormition attack near Tel Aviv:
Police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld said that headstones in the Orthodox Christian graveyard in Jaffa, a mixed Palestinian-Jewish area in southern Tel Aviv, were sprayed with Hebrew graffiti and the tires of five vehicles parked nearby were slashed.
“Apparently the incident took place overnight,” he told AFP, saying the attackers had daubed “price tag” and “revenge” at the site.
“Price tag” is the term given extremist hate crimes which generally target Palestinians.
Two weeks ago anti-Christian graffiti was daubed on the Church of the Dormition, one of Jerusalem’s leading pilgrimage sites.
Police said they suspected Jewish religious extremists of spraying the Hebrew-language insults at the site, where tradition says the Virgin Mary died.
Last October four Israelis were caught vandalizing Christian tombstones. Ynet reported that Christian leaders were unnerved by the destruction, and that the vandals were released:
Christian leaders in Israel are up in arms over what they say is a string of relentless attacks on church properties and religious sites — most recently the desecration of a historic Protestant cemetery where vandals toppled stone crosses from graves and bludgeoned them to pieces.
The attack in the Protestant Cemetery of Mount Zion, one of Jerusalem’s most important historic graveyards, has struck a particularly sensitive nerve because some of the damaged graves belong to famous figures from the 19th and 20th centuries, a key period in Jerusalem‘s history.
Police arrested four young Israeli settlers from the West Bank last week, two of them minors, in connection with the cemetery attack, said police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld. But Rosenfeld said the four were subsequently released without charge …..
Or this from October 8, 2011: Muslim, Christian graves desecrated in Israeli city:
At least five tombs were smashed and some 20 others sprayed with Hebrew graffiti, including “Death to Arabs” and “Price Tag,” a slogan used by militant Jewish settlers in the occupied West Bank and their supporters.
The “price-taggers” have vowed to avenge any move by Israel to uproot West Bank settlement outposts built without Israeli government permission, and have set fire to mosques and vandalized both Israeli and Palestinian property.
Need we go on? Things are going from bad to worse for Israel’s hasbara. Yesterday the website Gawker, (with 369,330 followers) shot out this tweet, about an AP article citing Knesset member Yuli Edelstein: “a public display of a Christian symbol could be construed as offensive”:
Israel's government declares war on Christmas. http://t.co/qQCUYoHSlq
— Gawker (@Gawker) December 26, 2013
If you’re a Christian tourist wanting to visit reenactments like Nazareth Village, Israel’s safe for you. But for Palestinian Christians, in the heart of the Holy Land, life can be tough. And for Christians in Gaza, they suffer through the same blockade as their Muslim brothers and sisters and it’s their 5 year anniversary of the massacre today too.
Once again, here’s Banksy’s Christmas card, Joseph and Mary can’t make it to Bethlehem.