July 14, 2020

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Jerusalem embassy threats – media turning fake news into reality

US consulate in Jerusalem

The Washington Post reports:

Close U.S. allies in the Middle East have warned that moving the embassy might look easy but would be deeply reckless, like painting a big bull’s eye not just on a building, but on the United States and its friends.

A top government minister in Jordan, Israel’s pro-Western neighbor, said the embassy move would have “catastrophic consequences,” inflaming religious passions and rallying extremists.

The Palestinians have called the move “a red line” that would dash hopes for a two-state solution to the long-running conflict.

Palestinian leaders are now pleading with Trump not to do it. They have also asked mosques around the world to offer prayers this Friday against the move.

“The call for prayer is to say we don’t accept this,” said Mohammad Shtayyeh, a senior Palestinian official and former peace negotiator, signaling how quickly the issue had moved from the diplomatic realm to the sectarian street. The Palestinians also want churches to ring their bells in protest of the proposed move.

Shtayyeh said that if Trump moved the embassy to Jerusalem, the Palestine Liberation Organization would consider revoking its recognition of the State of Israel.

If such a threat is carried out, it would mark the collapse of the 1993 Oslo peace accords.

…[S]ome U.S. diplomats, including former Middle East peace negotiators, say the move would do little to advance U.S. interests in the region.

“It was and is a symbol of American policy, which has always been that the status of Jerusalem should be resolved through negotiations, and any effort to move it unilaterally would be disruptive and dangerous for everyone,” said Philip Wilcox, the U.S. consul general in Jerusalem from 1988 to 1991.

It’s playing with fire,” Wilcox warned. “It would quite likely incite acts of Palestinian violence and terrorism, not only there but everywhere. It would alienate other Muslim states and make our role in trying to preserve some stability and peace more difficult. It would alienate the international community. And all it would accomplish is the goodwill of the Israeli right wing.”

This story is not what the media is presenting it to be.

While the PLO has been warning for months about the supposed earthquake that would occur if the US moves the embassy – a move that is perfectly legal and legitimate according to even the most anti-Israel interpretations of international law – it is an earthquake that the PLO is inciting, not warning about.

Until Abbas made a statement about this five days ago, Palestinian Arabic media has been almost silent on the issue. I have not seen any anger about this on social media. And as I mentioned previously, a Jerusalem Post report indicated that Palestinians themselves responded to questions about this with “overwhelming apathy.”

But the PLO’s main weapon is threats, and it has been using the threat of “spontaneous” violence to spook clueless (and anti-Israel) Westerners to pressure Trump not to do anything hasty.

There is no evidence that Palestinians or the Arab world care about this. Jordan only issued its warning about the move at the behest of the PLO to begin with. And the mosques (and now churches) are being directly incited to inflame passions among people who really wouldn’t care otherwise, but who can be provoked into making demonstrations with the right keywords about “Al Aqsa.”

Expect some of these PLO-organized “spontaneous” demonstrations within the next week. And expect the media to cover them as it they are really reflective of reality.

Media outlets like the Washington Post are more than happy to be complicit in this overt attempt by the PLO to turn this fake news of widespread Arab anger over a non-issue into real news by inciting violence where none would occur otherwise.

This is not only about a symbolic move. When the PLO incites anger, it incites terror. People might die – not because of the embassy but because of this direct incitement to violence over a topic Palestinians wouldn’t otherwise care about.

Moreover, the PLO is also directly threatening to abandon the Oslo accords over this non-issue. They won’t, of course, but the threat itself should be exposed as a naked attempt to manipulate public opinion, not as a reflection of any real potential fallout of an embassy move. The story isn’t that Oslo is jeopardized – it is that one of its signatories is so willing to cynically lie about it.

But despite this outrageous behavior by the PLO and Fatah officials, the media is being used as a platform to pressure Israel, not to expose this clear case of PLO incitement to riots and violence – incitement that has been well reported.

Most worryingly, CNN reports that the pressure might actually be working, and that these threats of violence are effective. It says that Trump’s team is floating the idea of having the ambassador work out of the Jerusalem consulate building but not to call it an embassy.

If Trump folds on this issue, it would be a huge victory for the PLO’s diplomacy of fear, the exact sort of thing that the embassy move was meant to expose as hollow.

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