PMW op-ed: The PA's anti-US message
Here is a “religious” homily recently disseminated on Palestinian Authority TV: “History is repeating itself. Muhammad was besieged by two powers, Persia in the east and Rome in the west. Persia represents Russia, and America stands for Rome. Persia fell first, just as Russia fell first in the east. And America will fall, may it be Allah’s will, just as Rome fell.”
Thus, notwithstanding hundreds of millions of dollars in annual US aid for the PA, and President George W. Bush’s support for a Palestinian state, the PA’s message remains staunchly anti-US.
And the message has had an impact. A poll released this week by Palestinian Media Watch (www.palwatch.org), which I direct, indicates that Palestinian hatred of the US is deep and ingrained.
Our poll found that 42 percent of Palestinians support attacks on American forces in Iraq; 74% said they supported Saddam Hussein in the war; and only 37% feel the World Trade Center bombers were “terrorists.”
While the Palestinian Authority promotes the myth that hatred of the United States is due to American support of Israel, it is clear that Palestinians have a unique disdain for the US independent of its relationship to Israel.
THE PA promotes an ideological worldview that goes beyond the confines of its conflict with Israel. Civilizations are at war, the PA teaches, and the US is the leader of the enemy coalition. Thus, as leader of the democratic non-Muslim West, the US is ancient Rome waiting to fall.
Our monitoring of PA broadcasts shows they give pan-Islamic meaning to the war with Israel. The PA depicts Israel as an arm of the US and preaches that fighting Israel is essentially fighting America in its war against Islam and Arabs.
Ahmed Yousuf Abu Halabiah’s message – broadcast several years backs – remains operative: “Kill the Jews and those Americans who are like them and those who stand with them; they are all in one trench against the Arabs and Muslims. Because they created Israel here inside the beating heart of the Arab world, in Palestine, they created it to be the vanguard of their civilization, the vanguard of their armies, to be the sword of the West and the Crusaders, over the necks of the Muslims (Palestinian Television, October 13, 2000).
Indeed, a more recent televised Friday sermon by Sheikh Ibrahim Mudayris carried much the same message:
“We hear statements by the little American president, oppressive statements. He says Israel has the right to defend itself. These statements carry destruction for America itself. This president sees himself like one who has ascended to the mountaintop and like one expecting someone to push him so that he falls into the abyss, he and his people with him. We warn the American people that this president is dragging them to the abyss [Allah] take vengeance on Your enemies, our enemies, enemies of religion.”
(PA TV, October 10, 2003)
Plainly, according to this worldview, the PA fights Israel because it represents the US; it does not hate the US because it supports Israel.
In that vein Ibrahim Madiras recently called the US “the foremost enemy of the Muslim nation,” comparable to the evil Pharaoh of the Bible (PA TV February 21, 2003)
This theme that America, not Israel, is the foremost enemy has been actively promoted by the PA for years. America is also accused of being imperialist, colonialist, a usurper of land and human rights, an enemy of the Arab world, and a killer of Iraqi children.
In the months before the Iraq war, the official PA newspaper cosponsored a rally in support of Iraq. PA media reported how demonstrators “praised the role of Iraq and commander Saddam Hussein and stressed that Iraq’s land will be a graveyard for the American soldiers…” (Al-Hayat al-Jadida, Dec. 19, 2002).
During the war, the PA actively endorsed killing Americans and even produced a music video celebrating the deaths of US soldiers, which was broadcast repeatedly on its TV.
When, in the early days of the war, a suicide bomber killed four American soldiers, the PA renamed a square in the Jenin refugee camp after the bomber – Ali Jafar al-Na'amani.
How does all this square with what happened last week when three Americans were targeted and murdered by Palestinian terrorists in the Gaza Strip? The PA leadership rushed to condemn the attack and pledged cooperation in hunting down the killers.
But this condemnation was hardly sincere. It should be understood as part of the kind of verbal gymnastics required to keep USAID money flowing and American support for Palestinian statehood on track.
Want to know the PA’s true attitude toward the US? Watch for the eventual naming of a street after last week’s killers.
The writer is director of Palestinian Media Watch.