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What do Palestinians teach their children?

The official Palestinian television channel has repeatedly broadcast a new commercial, aimed at Palestinian children. In the commercial, twelve-year-old Mohammed al-Durra, who was killed in crossfire at Netzarim Junction in October and subsequently became a symbol for Palestinian martyrdom, is seen waving. “I am not waving goodbye,” Mohammed’s image says. “I am waving to tell you to follow in my footsteps.”
In the background a nationalist song is playing. The lyrics state, “How pleasant is the smell of martyrs and the land, a land enriched by the blood pouring out of a fresh body.” Young children in the commercial put down their toys and pick up stones. The message is clear.
A report by the Palestinian Media Watch (PMW) at the beginning of May brought this commercial to the attention of the international media. PMW presented NBC News with the dates and times of all the broadcasts and other information that verified the integrity of the research conducted.
Martin Fletcher reported on the commercial for NBC on May 8. “Palestinians are calling on the youngest to join the battle. And they are using a stunning tactic - commercials on Palestinian TV asking children to drop their toys, pick up rocks, and do battle with Israel.”
According to Fletcher’s report, the greatest glory for Palestinian children “is to be a martyr.” In fact, as noted by a number of reports and analyses, Palestinian schools and media continue to incite against Israel, encouraging violence and glorifying martyrdom.
Palestinians claim NBC resorts to forgery and manipulation
The Palestine Media Center (PMC), an independent official institution under the direct supervision of Palestinian Minister of Culture and Information Yasser Abed Rabbo, “expressed its extreme concern over Martin Fletcher’s story.” According to the PMC, “The NBC News report in question indicates at least irresponsible journalism if not forgery and manipulation that is deeply disturbing.”
Yet nowhere in the PMC press release was there a denial of the existence of the television commercial. Instead, the PMC questioned why Fletcher “chose to broadcast his news report only one day after an international outcry and condemnation of Israel’s brutal killing of 4-month old Iman Hijo?”
The PMC argued against Fletcher’s claim that “most [Palestinian children are] killed in the crossfire.” In its release the PMC pointed out, “During the last several weeks most of the children killed or injured were in their homes or on their way to and from schools.”
The issue of why so many Palestinian children are being wounded in the conflict is feverishly debated by Israelis and Palestinians as well, with no conclusive results.
In its press release the PMC also did not relate to how Palestinians regard their martyrs. While the Palestinian media and education system instill the virtue of martyrdom in the minds of young children, some parents encourage this as well.
“I am honored my son got shot”
In a column entitled ‘The children’s war” posted on in October 2000, Flore de Preneuf wrote that Palestinian mothers talk about the pride and anguish they feel as their sons fight and die.
“I am honored that my son got shot in a demonstration,” said Najah il-Khatib, standing by the hospital bed of her son. “Three days before the demonstration, Zahran [age 15] was asking to die for [Palestinian] liberation,” his mother proudly pointed out.
Yet Jumana Odeh, Director of The Palestinian Happy Child Center, asked, “Why do some people claim that we throw our children into the streets to be killed? Do we love our children less because we want them to live a happy life in a free country?”
In an article entitled “Tears of All Mothers Are Equally Salty…” posted on the Palestine Information Clearinghouse site, Odeh wrote, “We don’t want to see our children suffering; we would prefer to channel all the anger, fear and hatred into something constructive rather than damaging. But we insist on the right of our children to live in dignity, in a free country. Who can deny us this right?”
The article was accompanied by a photo with the caption: Two children with fake explosives strapped to their waists at the Ein el-Hilweh Palestinian refugee camp outside Sidon. (AP)