Media Ignore Theft of Arafat’s Nobel Peace Prize, Downplay Palestinian Flight to Israel
On Saturday, NewsBusters asked two important questions: “Will Media Report Palestinians Fleeing Gaza For Israel,” and will they address the theft of Yasser Arafat’s Nobel Peace Prize by Hamas looters?
At this point, the answer to the latter is a resounding “No.” The answer to the former is “Not much.”
To be more specific, extensive searches of Google News and LexisNexis have identified that no major American media outlet with the exception of the New York Daily News bothered to report the theft of Yasser Arafat’s Noble Peace Prize:
One of the strongest symbols of the Fatah Party, the Gaza Strip home of its founder, Arafat, who died in 2004, was torn apart. Frenzied Hamas members carted away furniture, wall tiles and Arafat's personal belongings - even his cherished Nobel Peace Prize.
"They stole almost everything inside the house," Fatah spokesman Ahmed Abdel Rahman told the Jerusalem Post," including Arafat's Nobel Peace Prize medal.
Yet, despite the fact that the Drudge Report linked to the Jerusalem Post article at 4:47 PM EST Saturday, the Washington Post totally ignored this development. It appears the same can be said for USA Today.
By contrast, three major media outlets – the New York Times, the Associated Press, and the Los Angeles Times – did indeed report the looting at Arafat’s home in Gaza. However, they chose not to share the news about his Nobel Peace Prize.
For instance, this was the last paragraph about the situation in Gaza presented by a Times piece on page 4 Sunday:
A day after looters sacked the official presidential compound and other Fatah buildings in Gaza, the house in Gaza of Yasir Arafat, the Palestinian leader who died in 2004, was also entered forcibly. But guards protected the house of Mr. Abbas, raising the green Hamas flag over it but preventing looting — even leaving in place a photograph of Mr. Abbas with President Clinton at the signing of the Oslo peace accords in 1993.
No mention of Arafat’s Nobel Peace Prize.
Same for the AP, which also decided to report the looting in the final paragraph of its article Sunday with no mention of the Prize:
Symbols of Fatah control, including the Gaza City residence of the late Yasser Arafat were looted. Abbas' office said looters took furniture, including a bed, as well as presents the legendary leader had received in four decades at the helm of Palestinian politics. Hamas security forces later arrived and locked the house. Hamas denied anyone had broken into the building.
Ditto the LA Times which placed the following paragraph toward the end of its Sunday piece on the fighting in Gaza (page 3):
Gaza remained relatively calm for a second day after ferocious fighting that had spanned the length of the impoverished enclave. Looters ransacked the home of the late Yasser Arafat and overran a police outpost once operated by Fatah on the Palestinian side of the Erez crossing with Israel.
Once again, no mention of Arafat’s Nobel Peace Prize. Why?
As for the issue concerning Palestinians fleeing embattled Gaza for Israel, some of these outlets addressed it, but with very little focus. For instance, here were paragraphs five and six of the aforementioned New York Times article:
On Saturday morning, hundreds of Fatah supporters tried to flee Gaza through the Erez crossing into Israel. Many made it through, according to witnesses and Israeli radio, but others scattered after Hamas gunmen, who had set up roadblocks to prevent people from leaving, fired over their heads to scare them away.
“We all ran away after Qassam shot at us,” said Said Badawi, 23, a driver who said he was at the checkpoint at the time. He was referring to the Qassam Brigades, the military wing of Hamas.
And, this was the only mention of Palestinians trying to flee Gaza for Israel in the AP’s piece:
Hundreds of other Gazans rushed to the border crossing with Israel to try to escape Hamas rule, but found gates locked. Israeli troops briefly fired warning shots.
On the airwaves, some kudos need to be expressed for the “CBS Evening News” for its coverage of this event Saturday night. Although there was no mention of the looting, or Arafat’s Nobel Peace Prize, the “News” gave a lot of focus to the events in Gaza, and correspondent Richard Roth stated the following:
For a handful of people who got through the roadblocks, Israel opened its border. Israel says it plans to let in humanitarian aid but not quite yet.
As its second story of the evening following the announcement out of North Carolina involving Mike Nifong, the “News” also brought on former ambassador Dennis Ross to discuss the turmoil in the region.
This is compared to ABC’s “World News Saturday” which didn’t pay a lot of attention to the goings-on in Gaza, and mentioned nothing about Arafat’s Prize or Palestinians trying to flee the region for Israel.
As for the “NBC Nightly News,” the airing of golf’s U.S. Open pre-empted this broadcast on the east coast.
Adding it all up, it seems quite obvious that America’s media were completely disinterested in the Arafat Nobel Peace Prize story, and for the most part gave little focus to Palestinians fleeing Hamas-controlled Gaza for Israel.
The question remains: why?
*****Update II: A Fark member created the following fabulous picture: