BBC Falls for Stale Palestinian Propaganda--Updated
(Welcome fellow Danegerus
, Ankle-Biting Pundits
, Polipundit HispaLibertas
, Tim Blair
This story is now getting a lot of attention: Over 100 newspapers
have published stories on it in the last two days. Technorati shows 200+ posts
in the last 18 hours with the phrase "God would tell me".
Get this bit
:President George W. Bush told Palestinian ministers that God had told him to invade Afghanistan and Iraq - and create a Palestinian State, a new BBC series reveals.
In Elusive Peace: Israel and the Arabs, a major three-part series on BBC TWO (at 9.00pm on Monday 10, Monday 17 and Monday 24 October), Abu Mazen, Palestinian Prime Minister, and Nabil Shaath, his Foreign Minister, describe their first meeting with President Bush in June 2003.
Nabil Shaath says: "President Bush said to all of us: 'I'm driven with a mission from God. God would tell me, "George, go and fight those terrorists in Afghanistan." And I did, and then God would tell me, "George, go and end the tyranny in Iraq …" And I did. And now, again, I feel God's words coming to me, "Go get the Palestinians their state and get the Israelis their security, and get peace in the Middle East." And by God I'm gonna do it.'"
Abu Mazen was at the same meeting and recounts how President Bush told him: "I have a moral and religious obligation. So I will get you a Palestinian state."
The Beeb treats this as news, but it's actually a story from 2003 that has been well-reported. Note that the press release does not say "President George W. Bush told Palestinian ministers that God had told him to invade Afghanistan and Iraq... according to those Palestinian ministers
," which would be more honest.
Here's a 2003 article from a somewhat
more reliable source, the Washington Post. Interestingly, here there is no mention of a Palestinian state:Imagine our surprise Wednesday to read in the Israeli paper Haaretz (online), that Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Abu Mazen, meeting recently with militants to enlist their support for a truce with Israel, said that, when they met in Aqaba, President Bush had told him this: "God told me to strike at al Qaeda and I struck them, and then he instructed me to strike at Saddam [ Hussein], which I did, and now I am determined to solve the problem in the Middle East. If you help me I will act, and if not, the elections will come and I will have to focus on them."
So the "news" aspect of this story is nil, apart from the fact that "al Qaeda" has morphed into "Afghanistan", "Saddam Hussein" has been amended to "Iraq" and "solve the problem in the Middle East" has somehow become "Go get the Palestinians their state". That won't prevent the idiot chorus from howling about it of course.
The BBC is now reporting
that the White House denies the claims, calling them "absurd".
Other folks falling for this story:BlogCriticsHuffington Post
Oh, and note this degree of specificity in the Washington Post article:Two calls to the White House for clarification went unreturned, but colleague Glenn Kessler did some digging. The Haaretz reporter, Arnon Regular, read what the paper said were minutes of the Palestinians' meeting to Kessler and another colleague, who is an Arabic speaker.
The Arabic-speaking colleague's translation, was this: "God inspired me to hit al Qaeda, and so I hit it. And I had the inspiration to hit Saddam, and so I hit him. Now I am determined to solve the Middle East problem if you help. Otherwise the elections will come and I will be wrapped up with them."
Kessler was read the minutes, and it said nothing about a Palestinian state back then. So obviously the Palestinians are today lying about that part; why should we trust them on the rest?
Of course, back then the Bush-bashing aspect was the supposed admission that the "road map" to peace in the Middle East could be delayed by the election when the president had stated otherwise publicly. Note too that in the original version there was only one fairly non-controversional mention of God ("God inspired me to hit al Qaeda" is hardly as controversial as "God would tell me"), while in the current version He appears four times, including the Blues Brothers-like "Mission from God" reference.
Some more Palestinian lying found here
(movie clip). This is really quite terrific if you've got 15 minutes to watch it. Hat tip: Chris at Lucky Dawg
Update: Tim Blair points us to this article
where Mahmoud Abbas (aka Abu Mazen) denies the story of his information minister:"This report is not true," the Abbas statement said today. "I have never heard President Bush talking about religion as a reason behind the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. President Bush has never mentioned that in front of me on any occasion and specifically not during my visit in 2003."
The article also notes that this "special" is to be aired on PBS on Monday. Isn't that wonderful?
Scott Burgess also notices the staleness
of the story, which headlined both the Guardian and the Independent.