Media outlets such as The Guardian and BBC have been misrepresenting Palestinian prisoners who are to be released as part of the peace negotiations. There are several problems with their articles, particularly the fact that they minimized the criminal activity of the prisoners, exaggerated their sentences, and failed to state the actual criminal status of the prisoners.
For example, rather than being called convicted criminals, The Guardian, BBC, and the Palestinian Authority have called Palestinians imprisoned before the Oslo Accords political prisoners. Meanwhile, these people do not meet the requirements of a political prisoner, as they were not imprisoned because of their political beliefs or actions.
While some instances of media incorrectly referring to Palestinian prisoners as political prisoners have been corrected, others have not. Originally, The Guardian article stated that the Palestinians requested “the release of 123 political prisoners.” This was corrected to indicate that the Palestinians consider those prisoners to be political, not criminal. The BBC article, however, was never corrected and still refers to the Palestinian prisoners as “political.”
The Israeli government recently released a list of 118 Palestinian convicted criminals currently incarcerated in Israeli jails, whose release is being considered as part of the negotiations between Israel and the Palestinian Authority. The list shows the world that the prisoners are not simply in prison for burning flags or throwing stones (which is a dangerous and violent act, though not acknowledged by all as one), and are not simply political prisoners, but are convicted criminals who perpetrated violent acts.
For example, Ethan Bronner of the New York Times described in a December 2011 article that Izzedine Abu Sneineh was in jail for rock throwing and hanging a Palestinian flag on a flagpole. However, CAMERA prompted a correction saying that he was “accused” of weapons training, attempted murder, and possession of explosives. This new list erases doubt and makes misrepresentation of crimes and punishments harder than it was previously.
The publication of this list demonstrates to the world the great sacrifice Israel is making by releasing these prisoners. Some believe that the prisoners being considered for release are not as great a threat as they once were because they are older, and therefore, are less likely to be radical. Nevertheless, their age does not excuse their actions or stop them from perpetuating their violent practices. These people can teach younger people how to perpetrate such acts, in addition to the fact that they still perpetrated violent acts. In the United States, there are many people who committed less egregious criminal acts and are still sentenced to life without parole and never released. Why are Palestinian terrorist-murderers different than American murderers?
Contributed by CAMERA Intern Eli Cohn