PMW op-ed: Palestinian words since Aqaba - more telling than deeds
'Planting fear among the enemy is the exalted and holy meaning of terror." This glorification of Palestinian terrorism by former minister Imad Faluji appeared in Al-Hayat Al-Jadida, the official Palestinian Authority daily on June 9, just days after the Aqaba summit. Faluji went on to explain that suicide bombings are justified. "We are not terrorists, if the meaning is unjustified killing..." therefore, every murder of Israelis is legitimate: "We do not regret what we have done "
The pattern developing in the Palestinian media since the road map is strikingly similar to the pattern that evolved under the Oslo process. During the years 1993-2000, when the PA was not actively involved in terror and, in English, was expressing the desire for peace, its leaders indoctrinated their people with horrific hatred of Jews and Israel.
The Oslo process demonstrated that both the PA's refraining from violence and its English- language peace promotion are valueless as indicators of PA ideology and intentions. What the Palestinians have been saying to their people in Arabic, however, has proven a most accurate indicator of PA ideology and behavior, with impeccable predictive value. As early as 1996, Nabil Shaath openly laid out the terms of this violent conflict when he said in Arabic that the PA would return to more effective violence "using the 30,000 rifles" they received as part of the Oslo Accords.
Today it is essential that Israel judge the Palestinians' compliance based on the only proven reliable indicator: their Arabic language media and education.
Significantly, the PA incitement to hatred has finally been officially recognized as an integral part of the problem. At Aqaba all three leaders expressed the necessity of ending incitement, with U.S. President George Bush saying, "Progress toward peace also requires an end to violence and the elimination of all forms of hatred and prejudice and official incitement." Sharon worded it thus: "There can be no peace, however, without the abandonment and elimination of terrorism, violence, and incitement." Even Abbas said, "We will also act vigorously against incitement to violence and hatred.”
However, in practice, as Faluji's glorification of terror indicates, the incitement pattern is continuing under the road map. In his article Faluji went so far as to say that the Palestinians' success in "planting fear among the enemy" via their "holy terror" was not merely important politically but was a fulfillment of Allah's directive in the Quran "to frighten the enemies of Allah, and your enemies."
Defining Israel as the enemy of Allah is not just a nasty slur. It is a continuation of the dangerous PA Antisemitism that has consistently stigmatized the Jews as the inherently evil enemies of God and therefore worthy of destruction. This definition, which caused Jews appalling suffering for thousands of years, transforms the killing of Jews from an immoral act into a religious obligation; it has been a consistent component of Palestinian incitement to murder.
ONE OF the most dangerous aspects of PA education has been the brainwashing of Palestinian children, which continues daily through a most insidious means: music videos. While music videos around the world are used to entertain children, the PA has been using them to indoctrinate children to hatred, violence, and even the desire to die fighting Israel. Their literal message is that even for kids "Shahada (death for Allah) is sweet."
A new Palestinian video clip that has been broadcast regularly since January, and especially since Aqaba, includes a variety of abhorrent scenes acted out by Palestinian actors. It opens with a girl laughing on a swing, which turns into a flaming inferno, which then engulfs a child's rocking horse as well. The message: Israelis firebomb children at play, leaving behind flaming swings and rocking horses. Children are then shown playing football, until a bomb hidden by Israel inside the ball explodes when a child kicks it. Then a father reads his young son a section from the Quran that calls for fighting enemies, and actually hands him a stone to throw. Actors then depict Israeli soldiers murdering an elderly man by shooting him in the head; this is followed by a mother and her infant being blown up by Israeli soldiers.
All this and much more is depicted on one video, set to music for Palestinian children.
Even when an opinion appears in the media calling for an immediate halt to terrorism it never rejects terrorism as a legitimate tool. Ahmed Qurei (Abu Ala), a man seen by Israel as a legitimate, even moderate, PA leader, explained his call to stop suicide terrorism as a way of reaping the fruits of what he sees as a successful campaign: "I personally am in favor of stopping these actions (suicide bombings) and in favor of letting the peace process return to its natural course because I believe the present intifada has brought great achievements and we now have to take the benefits" (Al-Hayat Al-Jadida, June 1, 2003).
THE FRIDAY sermon, for years a source of horrific incitement to hatred of Jews, continued with the same hate messages this past week: "Allah, take revenge against our enemies Take [destroy] the Jews and their helpers..." One sermon glorified the shahada (used by the PA to define suicide terrorism) and included a lengthy call specifically to mothers to send their sons to die for Allah.
The continued glorification of the shahada gives ongoing reassurance to hesitant suicide bombers that their planned murder-suicide is worthy and heroic.
One of the primary reasons for the tragic results of the Oslo process was Israel's refusal to believe the Palestinian Authority's beliefs and goals even when they were stated openly. It was difficult for Israeli leaders and media to fathom that while we were educating our children to peace the PA was teaching children in their summer camps to shoot rifles, slit throats, and throw Jews into the sea. Every outrageous PA statement that didn't fit into Israel's neat world view of the PA was justified, explained, rationalized, and ultimately dismissed. More than once Israel's lame political response was turned into ideology by Shimon Peres: "I don't care what the PA says. I care what it does."
Now we know that Peres had it backwards. What the PA "does" is often tactical like the hudna (cease-fire) being debated today. But what it says in Arabic it truly means. Today, in Arabic, it does not yet recognize Israel as a Jewish state and continues to incite hatred, violence, and shahada even as it tries to arrange a cease-fire to "take the benefits" of the successful war that has planted "fear" in the hearts of Israelis.
We made the painful mistake of ignoring what the PA says once. Let us not make the same mistake again.
The writer, director of Palestinian Media Watch, was Israel's representative to the Tri-Lateral [Israeli-Palestinian- American] Anti-Incitement Committee.