On Thursday, at the height of his goodwill tour of Israel and environs, President Obama held a press conference in Ramallah with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas. The event was noted by all major media. But there was a difference in the coverage.
NBC Nightly News, for example, dutifully reported the good (Abbas warmly greeted Obama when he stepped off the helicopter) and the bad (crowds in the streets were restive, chanting, “Obama, go away. We don’t want you here.”) But the network went out of its way to avoid the “ugly,” as did ABC, CBS, The New York Times, and other elite media.
All of them tightly cropped their stills and videos of the stage at the Muqata Presidential Compound, where the presser was held. The purpose was not just to focus on Obama’s handsome mug but to omit another face looming overhead — that of former PLO leader and “father of modern terrorism” Yasser Arafat.
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One reporter who did notice the larger-than-laugh smiling visage was Daniel Halper of The Weekly Standard, who points readers to an Aarfat “Timeline of Terror” cobbled together by the Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Rerpoting in America (CAMERA), which notes:
[U]nder Arafat’s direct or indirect command — including Fatah, Black September, Tanzim and Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigade — were responsible for hundreds of bombings, hijackings, assassinations and other attacks, including the 1972 murder of 11 of Israel’s Olympic athletes in Munich, the 1973 murder of the American ambassador to Sudan, Cleo Noel, and the 1985 hijacking of the Achille Lauro cruiseship (resulting in the murder of wheelchair-bound Leon Klinghoffer).
Niles Gardiner of The Telegraph calls the move a “blunder” on Obama’s part, writing, “It is simply astonishing that the leader of the free world would agree to speak against a backdrop of a murderous terrorist with American and Israeli blood on his hands.”
But one wonders if Obama’s action wasn’t deliberate. How far removed is he ideologically from former President Jimmy Carter, who on a 2008 visit to the Middle East laid a wreath on Arafat’s grave, describing him as a “crusader for just causes”?
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