Monday, June 02, 2014

2-Jun-14: Palestinian government ministers and the political necessity of speaking out of both sides of the mouth depending on who's listening

The not-so-soft-spoken minister of Waqf in the PA,
Mahmoud Al-Habbash
Over at CIFwatch, they have an excellent post from this past Friday illustrating something that people who watch the Palestinian Arab political leadership know only too well. When an Arabic-speaking audience is focused on them, their message - tuned to the expectations of those hearing them - is frequently blood-and-guts violent, often vicious, using extremist language, imagery and exhortations. Put them in front of non-Arabic-speakers and they conjure up an entirely different, moderate, reasonable and cultured facade. The CIFwatch headline: "A perfect illustration of how the PA fools the UK media into believing they’re ‘pro-peace’":
The PA Minister of Religious Affairs was quoted recently in English criticizing violence and incitement and supporting peace. However, several months ago, in two separate speeches in Arabic, he called for terrorist attacks in Jerusalem and explained - as did Yasser Arafat before him – that the PA’s putative entreaties for peace are merely tactical decisions with the ultimate aim of vanquishing their Israeli ‘peace partners’. 
The minister's name is Mahmoud Al-Habbash. As holder of the Waqf (Religious Affairs) portfolio, he has come out strongly and unequivocally - as he did a few days ago (see the evidence here in English) - against Hamas-style violence and incitement... just as most reasonable people would expect of a man with spiritual inclinations and responsibilities.

Most reasonable people would be wrong.

Here's the man of religion and faith-based tolerance in action. The language of course is Arabic this time, but there are helpful captions in English, courtesy of Palestinian Media Watch:

For those lacking the patience to click and watch the entire one minute and 11 seconds, Al-Habbash is hectoring his assembled audience of Palestinian Arab VIPs, including the "moderate" Mahmoud Abbas who heads the PA, on how the young men who are pointlessly and violently laying down their murderous lives in the name of jihad in Syria ought to think again and go do it in Jerusalem.

In the new Fatah/PLO/Hamas government announced yesterday and due to be sworn in as we write these words, Al-Habbash was replaced in the religious affairs portfolio by Yousuf Idees. Those who want to believe the new man's management of the religious affairs function will be based on open-mindedness, the urgency of finding a path to peace and commitment to the values of religious tolerance are welcome to their views. For us, we will keep watching the Arabic-language media and stay on guard.

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