(March 18, 2022 / JNS) Every time a new Palestinian Arab leader begins to emerge, journalists, pundits and diplomats rush to crown him “moderate.” Well, one of those “moderates” just claimed—to a U.S. congressional delegation, no less—that Hamas has only been shooting “fireworks,” not missiles, at Israel.
Funny, I don’t see that being reported by any of the journalists who previously praised him. I don’t see any of those pundits or diplomats publicly acknowledging that they were wrong about him.
The latest fallen moderate is Mohammed Shtayyeh, who in 2019 was appointed prime minister of the Palestinian Authority by the P.A.’s apparent chairman-for-life, Mahmoud Abbas.
As soon as Shtayyeh’s name was announced, Western journalists raced to paint him as a reasonable, moderate, all-around wonderful kind of guy. They did that for an obvious reason: They want to see a sovereign “Palestine” created in Israel’s backyard, and the only way to make that happen is to convince Israel—and its supporters around the world—that it would be safe to do so.
Agency France Presse called Shtayyeh “a political moderate.” USA Today assured us that Shtayyeh is not some wild-eyed radical; he’s “a British educated economist.”
The Council on Foreign Relations hosted a public event with Prime Minister Shtayyeh. Richard Engel, chief foreign correspondent for NBC News, was the moderator. Engel quickly cast aside his journalistic objectivity and showered Shtayyeh with sympathy. “It must feel more like you’re more alone, though?” Engel asked him. “It must feel like some of your Arab allies have turned their backs on you. … Does it feel more lonely where you are living right now?”
The word “technocrat” quickly became attached to the new prime minister’s name. Shtayyeh’s position is “a largely technocratic post,” determined The New York Times. Shtayyeh is “seen largely as a technocrat,” declared Reuters, not identifying just who it is that sees him that way and carefully using the passive tone so as to cement the idea that the description is a widely-accepted fact that no one should question.
Palestinian Arab extremists are perceived—correctly—as ideologues, ultra-nationalists and violent jihadists. So Shtayyeh’s journalistic friends were anxious to separate the new prime minister from that image. He’s just a “technocrat”—just a regular fellow who is interested only in getting the trains to run on time, that sort of thing.
Shtayyeh’s media allies are careful not to remind the public that he used to be a senior official of Fatah, the ruling faction of the P.A. that openly sponsors financial rewards for terrorists and calls for the destruction of Israel.
This past week, Shtayyeh threatened to upset the apple cart that the media had so carefully constructed in order to protect his image. In meetings with members of Congress who were visiting Ramallah, the P.A. prime minister launched into a series of venomous anti-Israel tirades.
House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) asked Shtayyeh about the 4,000-plus Hamas rocket attacks on Israel last May. Rep. Andrew Garbarino (R-N.Y.) and Rep. David Valadao (R-Calif.) told Jewish Insider that “Shtayyeh dismissed Hamas rocket attacks against Israel as ‘fireworks.’ ”
That’s right, “fireworks.” Which somehow managed to murder 10 Israelis and severely damage countless Israeli homes, schools and kibbutzim.
Garbarino said that Shtayyeh’s outrageous statement “really annoyed people” in the delegation and indicated that “[the Palestinian Arabs] are not ready to have an adult conversation.”
Jewish Insider reported that Shtayyeh also falsely accused Israel of “apartheid.” Remarkable! The prime minister of the P.A., which forbids Jews from living in its territory and forbids Arabs from selling property to Jews under penalty of death, accuses the Jews of apartheid.
According to Jewish Insider, House Democratic Caucus chair Hakeem Jeffries (D-N.Y.) “forcefully pushed back” against Shtayyeh’s “apartheid” lie. To his credit, Jeffries recently wrote that accusations of Israeli apartheid are “demonstrably false, dangerous and designed to isolate Israel in one of the toughest neighborhoods in the world.”
Rep. Young Kim (R-Calif.) came away from the meeting with Shtayyeh convinced that the P.A. leaders have “such a victim mentality.” Rep. Valadao said, “I just didn’t get the impression that [Shtayyeh] is someone who is looking for long-term peace with Israelis in the region.” And Rep. Kathleen Rice (D-N.Y.) charged Shtayyeh with engaging in “revisionist history.”
The truth is that Shtayyeh is no different from any of the other Israel-haters, revisionist liars and terror apologists who comprise the leadership of the Palestinian Authority. The only difference was that the media had done a good job of hiding him from serious scrutiny. Still, they can’t hide his own words.
Stephen M. Flatow is an attorney and the father of Alisa Flatow, who was murdered in an Iranian-sponsored Palestinian terrorist attack in 1995. He is the author of “A Father’s Story: My Fight for Justice Against Iranian Terror.” Reach him @stephenflatow.
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