By Michael Widlanski, who teaches at the Hebrew Unviersity’s Rothberg School,
is a former reporter for The New York Times, The Cox Newspapers, and The
Boston Globe. He recently completed his doctoral dissertation on the
political role of the Palestinian mass media.
January 14, 2004.
In an unprecedented show of support for a human bomb attack, Yasser Arafat’s
official radio greeted with elation the news of latest suicide assault in
the Gaza Strip.
“Citizen Rim al-Riyashi was heroically martyred when she carried out an
explosive operation at the Beit Hanoun Junction , killing four soldiers of
the Occupation,” declared Voice of Palestine Radio (VOP) in its 4-PM newscast,
about an hour after the attack in the Gaza Strip.
The style of the news item, which opened the afternoon news round-up, was
more like a birthday greeting than a regular news report, stressing the
woman’s identity and “heroic martyrdom” (Arabic: istish-haad) repeatedly.
There was no mention that she was a member of the Islamic terror group known
as HAMAS (Haraka al-Muqawwima al-Islamiyya: Islamic Resistance Front).
Arafat’s VOP radio said Israel was to blame for the attack, and it offered
no condemnation for the assault at the Gaza crossing point which also serves
as a place of employment and access into Israel for Palestinian laborers.