Why Palestinian Incitement Matters
Ever wonder where the report featured that Israeli soldiers kidnap and kill Palestinians in order to harvest their vital organs for transplants originated. Palestinian Media Watch provides the answer. It was lifted in toto from the December 24, 2001 edition of Al Hayat Al Jadida, the official Palestinian Authority newspaper.
Daniel Bostrum the intrepid reporter for Sweden’s largest circulation paper Aftonblandet who plagiarized this fabrication has said of his handiwork, “Whether it’s true or not, I have no idea. I have no clue.” Given his indifference to truth of his journalistic offerings, what further “scoops” can we anticipate from Bostrum? Again, Palestinian Media Watch provides the answer.
Here are just some of the charges one can read in the official Palestinian press or hear from leading Palestinian Authority officials. Israel will pay 4,500 shekels to any Palestinian who can prove he is a drug addict. Israel produced and distributed to Palestinians two hundred tons of drug-laced bubble-gum designed to destroy the genetic systems of Palestinian youth? It also distributes carcinogenic food and fruits for Palestinian consumption and children’s games that beam radioactive x-rays. Beautiful Israeli prostitutes are sent to infect Palestinians with HIV-virus. And don’t forget Suha Arafat’s accusation to Hilary Clinton that Israel poisons Palestinian wells.
So Bostrum and Aftonbladet have an endless stream of headlines ahead of them. But the point is not to predict Bostrum’s journalistic future. It is far more serious.
As the above accusations make clear, demonization of Israel is alive and well in the Palestinian Authority. In every agreement since the onset of Oslo, the Palestinians have solemnly pledged to end the incitement against Jews and Israel in the Palestinian media and to purge it from Palestinian textbooks. And each such undertaking has been promptly ignored.
THE FAILURE TO CURB INCITEMENT has been so constant, so long-standing that it barely elicits a yawn today. But that reflects a profound misunderstanding of the significance of that incitement.
Shimon Peres once remarked, “I don’t care what the Palestinians say, only what’s written in the agreements.” But what the Palestinians say to one another, and particularly what they teach their children is far more important that what’s written in peace agreements.
Incitement and demonization are not just one more treaty violation. They reflect the failure of the Palestinians since the beginning of Oslo to create a constituency for peace with Israel, to educate the Palestinian population to the idea of living side-by-side with a Jewish state. Such an education would have included Palestinian leaders telling their people that they too would have to make painful concessions for peace, that all the so-called refugees and their descendants will not return to Israel, that the clock cannot be turned back entirely to 1947 or even 1966. That has never happened. Even worse, there has been no education to accept the existence of Israel in any borders or to renounce once and for all the dream of throwing all the Jews into the sea.
The Palestinian Authority has gone out of its way to make heroes of the most vicious terrorists – not exactly the way to encourage thoughts of reconciliation and peace. Mahmoud Abbas sent his warmest congratulations to child-murderer Samir Kuntar, upon his release from an Israeli jail, and commissioned festive celebrations in honor of Dalal Mughrabi, the mastermind of the 1973 Coastal Road Massacre in which 37 Israelis were murdered.
At the first Fatah Conference in two decades, the young and old guard competed as to who could be more intransigent with regard to peace negotiations with Israel, as described by the Jerusalem Post’s Khaled Abu Toameh. The resolutions passed included demands that Israel accept the “right of return” for all 1948 refugees and their descendants and hand over to the Palestinians all Jewish neighborhoods built in Jerusalem since 1967.
Other resolutions passed by the conference accused Israel of having murdered Yasir Arafat, urged exploration of a strategic alliance with Iran, and called for the upgrading of the status of the Al-Aksa Martyrs Brigade, the Fatah militia most involved in anti-Israel terror. For good measure, Muhammad al-Ghuneim, an extreme hardliner, who opposed the Oslo Accords, was the top vote-getter for the Fatah Central Committee and is now Abbas’s heir apparent.
The effect of decades of incitement to destroy Israel is fully reflected in Palestinian polls. A June 5-7 poll by the Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research, found that three-quarters of Palestinians reject any possibility of reconciliation with Israel in this generation, even if a final peace agreement were signed and an independent Palestinian state created.
YET LARRY DERFNER (“The Mother of All Missed Opportunities,” Jeriusalem Post, September 10) professes to find in the decreasing rates of terrorism from the West Bank and the round-up of thousands of Hamas activists, indications of a new peaceful intent among West Bank Palestinians. The claim that the round-up of Hamas activists reflects some peaceful intent towards Israel reminds one of the Gemara (Avodah Zara 2b) where the nations at the end of time put forth their various claims to have benefitted Klal Yisrael, only to be told by HaKadosh Baruch Hu that everything they did was only for their own enjoyment.
The round-up Hamas activists owes more to Fatah’s desire to secure its control of the West Bank than to a new attitude towards Israel. And to the extent that reduced terrorist attempts are a function of Palestinian Authority efforts, they likely result from the determination not to provide Prime Minister Netanyahu with ammunition to fend off pressure from U.S. President Obama. The primary reason for the decline in terrorism is the daily and persistent IDF operations and clampdowns on suspected terrorists.
In a recent article for the Hudson Institute, Abu-Toameh argues that no matter how much the Palestinian economy improves, it “won’t change Palestinians’ negative attitude towards Israel, especially not when anti-Israel incitement and fiery rhetoric continue.” The conflict, he writes, is “political, national and religious” in nature, and its resolution depends on “accepting Israel as a homeland for the Jewish people.”
Such acceptance cannot take place without creation of a peace curriculum to replace the current incitement. That is why an end to incitement is not another meaningless and unenforceable promise to be included in a final peace agreement, but rather a necessary pre-condition for peace, without which all negotiations about boundaries and the like, are besides the point.