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Chicago Sun-Times on Palestinian incitement, documented by PMW

Steve Huntley  |

Palestinians use project to whip up hate

by Steve Huntley

Given the uproar over this week's announcement of a new housing project in Jerusalem, you'd think that every time an Israeli hammer drives a nail into a two-by-four, a stake is being jabbed into the heart of the Mideast peace process. This has been more a histrionic moment than a historic one in the long search for a resolution to the Israeli- Palestinian conflict.

Without doubt it was a diplomatic blunder to announce plans to construct 1,600 housing units for Jews in East Jerusalem as Vice President Joseph Biden was arriving in Israel for a state visit. And Israel apologized. But the project certainly violates no existing understandings. Israel's 10-month moratorium on new construction in the West Bank -- rightly labeled by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton as "unprecedented" -- exempted Jerusalem.

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas and the Arab states knew about this exemption when they signed on to new indirect peace talks with the Israelis under the guidance of U.S. Mideast envoy George Mitchell.

Then why the uproar, as well as a short-lived threat that Abbas would not join the peace talks? Could it have anything to do with Palestinian elections set for July and Abbas' hopes to recover from the drubbing by Hamas in the last round of voting in 2006?

The late Israeli diplomat Abba Eban often is quoted as saying Arabs never miss an opportunity to miss an opportunity for peace. But one opportunity Palestinians never seem to miss is one to whip up hatred for Israel. The denunciation of the new homes, for which the hammering of the first nail is years away, is a prime example -- but not the only one. Here, taken from reports by the Palestinian Media Watch, are others:

- "The Best Home," a Palestinian Authority TV program for children, describes all of Israel as "occupied Palestine."

- Another PA TV show last month glorified "martyrdom," code for suicide terrorism.

- A January broadcast from a mosque called Jews "the enemies of Allah . . . of humanity in general and of Palestinians in particular" and declared that "the Prophet says 'kill them.' "

- Also in January, the official PA newspaper commemorated the 45th anniversary of the founding of Fatah, Abbas' political party, which has a history of terrorism. The paper praised terrorist attacks and rocket launchings from Lebanon aimed at Israel.

- A Fatah music video glorified the first female Palestinian suicide bomber, who killed one Israeli and wounded 150 in 2002.

- Fatah's Web site in December reported members of the Al Aqsa Martyrs' Brigades, its terrorist arm, were buying weapons rather than food for their children to prepare for war against Israel.

- In November, PA TV observed the fifth anniversary of the death of Arafat by claiming that Israel poisoned him.

Such outrages should warrant the same sharp public condemnation Biden issued over the plan for homes for Jews in Jerusalem. But apparently Palestinian offenses merit only a quiet behind-the-scenes rebuke, if any at all. The Palestinians had planned ceremonies on Thursday naming a square in Ramallah for a terrorist who killed 37 Israelis. But it reportedly was canceled after Israel complained to the United States and proposed a new agency to track Palestinian incitement.

How can we hope for peace if Palestinian leaders and Arab states stir the boiling cauldron of hatred rather than prepare the Palestinian people to accept the Israelis as their neighbors? As Palestinian Media Watch director Itamar Marcus noted, glorification of terrorists "creates heroes and role models for kids."

Whatever complaint you may have about settlement building, it doesn't involve blowing a human being to bits. If Israeli hammers driving nails into planks to build homes is such a threat to Palestinian statehood, you'd think every strike of a hammer would resound with renewed urgency by Abbas to push the peace process forward as quickly as possible.