The New York Times (thanks to JJP Mackie) takes notice of taqiyya, and of violent Palestinian rhetoric that we have noted here many times:
RAMALLAH, West Bank, Dec. 10 – It was another inflammatory broadcast on Palestinian public television.
“We are waging this cruel war with the brothers of monkeys and pigs, the Jews and the sons of Zion,” Sheik Ibrahim Mahdi, a cleric, said in September on his weekly program. “The Jews will fight you and you will subjugate them until the Jew will stand behind the tree and rock, and the tree and rock will say: ‘O Muslim, observant of God, there is a Jew behind me; come and kill him.’ “
This is not just Mahdi’s fevered imagination. It is a well-attested and oft-repeated hadith: cf. Sahih Bukhari IV:52:176; IV:52:177; IV:56:791; Sahih Muslim 6981-6985; etc.
For most of the past four years, since the second Palestinian uprising began in September 2000, Palestinian airwaves have welcomed such talk. Video clips of young men maimed in fighting with Israelis were repeatedly shown, accompanied by wailing mothers and patriotic music. News broadcasters routinely called Israeli troops “the savage occupation forces.”
But something significant has shifted in recent weeks, since the death of Yasir Arafat, according to those who monitor the broadcasts. Suddenly there is talk of reconciliation. Israeli troops are called by more neutral terms. Scenes of destruction have fallen away. And the regular Friday sermons have become considerably more moderate.
“We must respect the human mind, recognize the ‘other,’ respect his humanity and show tolerance to him,” a cleric, Muhammad Abu Hunud, said in his sermon on Dec. 3 from a mosque in the Gaza Strip, broadcast across the area. Several senior Palestinian politicians attended, including Mahmoud Abbas, the favorite in the election for president to be held next month.
“One must not coerce,” the preacher added. “Through this Islamic way of preaching, the ideas of ‘the golden mean’ and moderation and the avoidance of any kind of extremism or inclination to violence or fanaticism becomes ingrained in people’s minds.”
Although Palestinian officials have been hesitant to discuss the change, the more moderate voice in the Palestinian news media seems to be part of the overall improvement in the atmosphere between Israelis and Palestinians as both sides reassess their positions after Mr. Arafat’s death.
Mr. Abbas, who has taken over as chairman of the Palestine Liberation Organization, has delivered “a clear declaration of intent against incitement,” said Yigal Carmon, an Israeli who is president of the Middle East Media Research Institute, or Memri, a group based in Washington that has a Jerusalem office.
On Palestinian television, the archival scenes of violence were already appearing less frequently in the past year and had not been seen recently at all. Even some Palestinians had begun to complain about them, saying they could no longer stomach the stream of gory images.
“At the beginning of the intifada the media was totally different, showing fighting and playing national songs,” said Nashat Aqtash, a Palestinian professor of mass communications at Bir Zeit University in Ramallah. “Now there is much more talk about social and political issues. After four years of violence, both sides are interested in changing the tone.”