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A word is worth a thousand pictures

This post is part of The Exchange. The opinions expressed by contributors shared on The Exchange do not necessarily reflect the policies or positions of CIJA, its staff, or Board of Directors.


Three compelling and urgent issues facing Israel today—the March 17 elections, Prime Minister Netanyahu’s speech to the US Congress concerning a nuclear Iran, and the rise of antisemitism in Europe and elsewhere around the world—are generating a torrent of commentary and images. The saying, “a picture is worth a thousand words” comes to mind, but I propose it may be more appropriate to say: “a word is worth a thousand pictures.”

The opinion-shapers (once known as news outlets) are working overtime to manufacture a storyline, with or without truth, to fit their agenda or the narrative of their preferred actor in the story. CNN, BBC, CBC, NBC, and countless others press the limit of journalistic integrity, if that still exists, to its breaking point with the result that much of their “reporting” is, in fact, opinion-shaping on a grand, often misleading, scale. And, they seem to do so shamelessly and by way of policy. Hence, when assessing the Middle East situation with its vast complexities, histories, and perspectives, it seems wise to consider: “a word is worth a thousand pictures.”

By this I mean that, amid the thousands of selectively chosen images, sound-bites, and “expert” commentaries, we must constantly remind ourselves to value and search for truth, disregard the majority of media and political commentary, and listen carefully and honestly to the actual words spoken by those opposing Israel and the Jewish people. Why? Because, it’s true—a word can be worth a thousand pictures.

To illustrate, I list several recent quotes from Palestinian Authority sources (the PA supposedly being a moderate voice):

Mahmoud Abbas, President of the Palestinian Authority:

“Israel’s claim to the Temple ‎Mount is ‘empty and false’… a ‎falsification of the history we all know.”‎

—speaking on PA televison

“Jewish prayer on the Temple Mount is ‎‘a red line’ that ‘we cannot possibly ‎accept.’”

—Al-Hayat Al-Jadida, official PA daily

“I congratulate our people for their steadfastness in defending Jerusalem and Al-Aqsa. We are all ready to sacrifice ourselves for Al-Aqsa and for Jerusalem.”

—speaking to the Fatah Advisory Council

Palestinian Authority Religious Leaders:

“The [terror] campaign being waged in Jerusalem today—I think it is the final chapter. The final chapter after which our banners will be raised, with the aid of the one, exalted and omnipotent Allah, over the towers of the muezzin of Jerusalem, the churches of Jerusalem, the domes of Jerusalem, and its hills, mountains, alleys and houses.”

—Sheik Yusuf Ida’is, PA Minister of Religious Affairs, speaking on official PA television

“Israel thinks that it will have the last word in the fairy tale of Jewish Jerusalem.”

—Mahmoud Al-Habbash, the Supreme Shari’ah Judge and Mahmoud Abbas’ Advisor on Religious and Islamic Affairs, WAFA news agency

“No Muslim will ever accept non-Muslim sovereignty over even a millimeter of… Jerusalem”

—Mahmoud Al-Habbash, the Supreme Shari’ah Judge and Mahmoud Abbas’ Advisor on Religious and Islamic Affairs, speaking on official PA television

The Palestinian Authority’s own words discredit the thousands of images and commentaries designed to advance the Palestinian cause and delegitimize and demonize Israel. Ironically, they serve to delegitimize the PA themselves – their claims, their actions, their integrity, and their supporters. Only the willfully blind will perpetuate the current PA narrative – a politicized narrative that simultaneously fabricates a Palestinian “reality” while denying the genuine history and existence of the Jewish people—their city, Jerusalem, and their nation, Israel. The Palestinian Arab people need leaders who respect them and the Jewish people and their nation as they wish to be respected themselves. Beware of the thousand pictures; they are cancelled by the deceptive words spewed by PA leaders and those who parrot them.

The major issues mentioned at the beginning deserve honest treatment by all concerned. Incitement by PA leadership must be replaced by genuine words leading to genuine peace. Whatever the results of the elections, Israel’s leadership needs a credible peace partner at the negotiating table—a partner whose words can be trusted.

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