For the first time, the U.S. State Department has explicitly accused the Palestinian Authority (PA) of promoting anti-Semitism, a signal Jewish groups are hoping will lead to change in U.S. policy.
According to a newly released State Department annual report on international religious freedom, official PA media “carried religiously intolerant material,” citing Palestinian television programs that called Jews “evil” or “denied a historical Jewish presence in Jerusalem.”
Previously, U.S. officials labeled the PA denial of Jewish ties to Jerusalem as “material criticizing the Israeli occupation,” but stopped short of calling it anti-Semitism. Arab media channels that carried the anti-Semitic content were “nonofficial PA and nonmainstream,” according to last year’s report.
The Obama Administration no longer claims that the PA is working “to control and eliminate” expressions of anti-Semitism in its media outlets. Officials dropped an assertion made in previous years that the PA acted to “prevent preaching” of “sermons with intolerant or anti-Semitic messages.”
It’s unclear what caused this change, or what it portends. Having been so obtuse for so long, it is a bit difficult to have any faith in the State Department.