A short three hours after US President Donald Trump phoned Palestinian Authority (PA) President Mahmoud Abbas to inform him of his intention to move the US embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, a number of Palestinian photojournalists received a phone call from Bethlehem.
The callers were Palestinian "activists," who invited the photographers to come to the city to document an "important event." When the photographers arrived, they discovered that the "important event" was a handful of Palestinian "activists" who wanted to burn posters of Trump in front of the cameras.
The "activists" waited patiently as the photojournalists and cameramen set up their equipment to get the "important event" on film. Shortly thereafter, the media was abuzz with reports about "angry Palestinian protesters taking to the streets to protest" Trump's intention to move the embassy to Jerusalem and his recognition of the city as the capital of Israel. The handful of Palestinians who were filmed burning the Trump pictures were made to look as if they were part of a mass protest sweeping Palestinian communities.
The incident represents yet another example of the collusion between the Palestinians and the media, whose representatives are always more than happy to serve as mouthpieces for the Palestinian propaganda machine and provide an open platform for broadcasting Palestinian threats against Israel and the US.
Had the photographers and cameramen not shown up to the erstwhile "spontaneous" poster-burning event, the Palestinian activists would have been forced to quietly slink back to one of Bethlehem's fine coffee shops.
Yet, there was no worry on that score: the Palestinian activists are well aware that local and foreign reporters are starving for sensationalism -- and what better fits the bill than posters of Trump going up in flames in the middle of the birthplace of Jesus, on the eve of Christmas and as thousands of Christian pilgrims and tourists are converging on the city?
By misrepresenting the poster burning "ceremony" as a reflection of widespread Palestinian rage concerning Trump's policy on Jerusalem, the international media is once again complicit in promoting the propaganda of Palestinian spin doctors. Palestinian leaders and spokesmen strive to create the impression that Trump's policy regarding Jerusalem will bring the region down in flames. They also seek to send a message to the American people that their president's policies endanger their lives. In effect, the media has volunteered to serve the Palestinian campaign of intimidation. And the media convergence on the poster-burning farce in Bethlehem is just the beginning.
Now that the Palestinians have managed, with the help of the media, to burn these images into the minds of millions of Americans, they are planning more staged protests. The goal: to terrify the American public and force Trump to rescind his decision regarding the status of Jerusalem. This tactic of intimidation through the media is not new. In fact, it is something that has been happening for decades, largely thanks to the buy-in of the mainstream media in the West.
Now, Palestinian and Western journalists have been invited to cover a series of protests planned by the Palestinians in the coming days and weeks in response to Trump's policies. The journalists, including photographers and camera crews, have been handed detailed schedules of events that will take place in different parts of the West Bank and Gaza Strip. The journalists have been promised more scenes of burning photos of Trump and US flags. Some of the journalists have even received tips as to the locations where "clashes" are supposed to take place between Palestinian rioters and Israel Defense Forces soldiers. In other words, the journalists have been told precisely where they need to be in order to document Palestinians throwing stones at the soldiers -- and the predicted the IDF response.
Here is the funny part. If, for whatever reason, the cameras are a no-show, the "activists" are likely to be as well. In the Palestinian world, it is all about manipulating the media and recruiting it in favor of the cause. And the cause is always bashing Israel -- with bashing Trump not far behind.
Yes, the Palestinians will protest in the coming days against Trump. Yes, they will take to the streets and throw stones at IDF soldiers. Yes, they will burn pictures of Trump and US flags. And yes, they will try to carry out terror attacks against Israelis.
But when we sit in our living rooms and watch the news coming out of the West Bank and Gaza Strip, let us ask ourselves: How many of these "events" are, in fact, media burlesques? Why are journalists allowing themselves to be duped by the Palestinian propaganda machine, which spews hatred and violence from morning until night? And, why are the journalists exaggerating and compounding the Palestinian threats for violence and anarchy?
First, many of the journalists want to appease their readers and editors by offering them stories that reflect negatively on Israel. Second, some of the journalists believe that writing anti-Israel stories paves the way for them to win awards from assorted professed "virtue-signaling" organizations. Third, many journalists believe that writing anti-Israel reports give them access to so-called "liberals" and a supposedly "enlightened" coterie who romanticize being "on the right side of history." They do not want to see that 21 Muslim states have been trying for many decades to destroy one Jewish state; instead, they appear to think that if journalists are "liberal" and "open-minded," they need to support the "underdog," who they believe are "the Palestinians." Fourth, many of the journalists see the conflict as being between bad guys (supposedly the Israelis) and good guys (supposedly the Palestinians) and that it is their duty to stand with the "good guys," even if the "good guys" are engaged in violence and terrorism.
Recently, more than 300 Muslim worshipers were massacred by Muslim terrorists while praying in a mosque in Sinai, Egypt. That tragedy was probably covered by fewer journalists than the orchestrated Trump-poster episode in Bethlehem. Where was the outcry in the Arab and Islamic world? Now, Arabs and Muslims are talking about "days of rage" in protest against Trump. Why were there no "days of rage" in the Arab and Islamic countries when more than 300 worshipers, many of them children, were massacred during Friday prayers?
It is high time for some self-reflection on the part of the media: Do they really wish to continue serving as a mouthpiece for those Arabs and Muslims who intimidate and terrorize the West?
Journalists are actively colluding with the Palestinian Authority and Hamas to create the false impression that World War III will erupt if the US embassy is moved to Jerusalem. Hundreds of thousands of Muslims and Christians have been massacred since the beginning of the "Arab Spring" more than six years ago. They were killed by Muslim terrorists and other Arabs. The bloodshed continues to this day in Yemen, Libya, Syria, Iraq and Egypt.
So, make no mistake about it: the "rivers of blood" we are being promised are flowing as we speak. Yet, it is the knife that Arabs and Muslims take to one another's throats that is the source of this crimson current, not some statement made by a US president. Perhaps that could finally be an event worth covering by the roving reporters of the region?
Bassam Tawil is a Muslim based in the Middle East.