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How the PA exploits sociology’s principle of “normalization”

Nan Jacques Zilberdik  |

PA TV sets a “norm” for Palestinian society by glorifying “Martyrdom-death”: “The Martyrs – souls that ascend to Heaven”

  • In the PA it is “normal” to be a terrorist.
  • In the PA it is “normal” to die as a “Martyr” for Allah and “Palestine.”
  • In the PA it is “normal” to celebrate terror attacks and the death of teens.

Sociology and psychology speak of the concept of “normalization” – a process through which behaviors and beliefs become “normal” or “natural” in society. Certain actions and ideas are thus standardized through repetition, ideology, and propaganda. The French philosopher Michel Foucault explained the notion as the construction of an idealized norm of conduct.           

One need look no further than the Palestinian Authority’s encouragement, endorsement, and celebration of terrorists who die as “Martyrs” during their attacks against Israel, in order to find a morbid demonstration of this principle’s effectiveness.

The PA has successfully constructed the following social norms:

In the PA it is “normal” to be a terrorist.

In the PA it is “normal” to die as a “Martyr” for Allah and “Palestine.”

In the PA it is “normal” to celebrate terror attacks and the death of teens.

Official PA TV recently broadcast two fillers between programs that clearly illustrate this “normalization” and idealization of “Martyrdom-death.” While several videos from “Martyr” funerals with thousands of attendants are shown, a narrator reads text that appears on the screen and romanticizes their deaths:

Official PA TV Narrator: “The Martyrs – souls that ascend to Heaven, and a memory that exists as long as life continues.” 

“In my land the Martyrs don’t die, rather they fall asleep to the anthem of eternity”

[Official PA TV, Jan. 28, 2023]

During the last few months of terror attacks, there has been a rise in the number of Palestinian teens dying as “Martyrs” while carrying out attacks, as Palestinian Media Watch has shown. The idea of actively seeking death as a “Martyr” has clearly become “normal.”

To reinforce the norm it has constructed, and to indoctrinate more Palestinians to become terrorists and seek death as “Martyrs,” the PA often uses “successful” terrorist murderers as role models to be emulated.

A recent example is 22-year-old terrorist murderer Uday Al-Tamimi. He shot and murdered an 18-year-old female Israeli soldier and wounded an Israeli security guard in northern Jerusalem on Oct. 8, 2022. Al-Tamimi managed to escape and later shot and wounded another Israeli security guard east of Jerusalem on Oct. 19, 2022, before other guards at the scene shot and killed him in self-defense.

The PA has since presented him as a hero to be copied and followed by thousands of others. On its official TV, the PA announced that terrorist murderer Uday Al-Tamimi “died as a Martyr and we will give birth to another 1,000 Udays": 

Official PA TV host: “The solidarity is continuing Uday [Al-Tamimi], even after your death as a Martyr. Uday, whom the occupation pursued more than 10 days, frightened the entire [Zionist] entity, and in the end Uday triumphed through his death as a Martyr, when he charged forward and did not flee... Uday died as a Martyr and we will give birth to another 1,000 Udays, and the story continues.”

[Official PA TV, A Tour of Social Media, Oct. 22, 2022]

The same “normalization” was seen in the official PA paper, which printed a column stating that “tens of thousands of children in Palestine will be named” after the terrorist. [Official PA daily Al-Hayat Al-Jadida, Oct. 25, 2022]

While on the run, the murderer himself wrote in a will that he would “die as a Martyr sooner or later” and that his “goal” was that “hundreds of young [Palestinians] will carry the rifle after me”:

Headline: “Martyr Uday Al-Tamimi’s will”

“I am the wanted man Uday Al-Tamimi (i.e., terrorist, murdered 1) from the Shuafat Martyrs’ camp. My operation (i.e., terror attack, 1 murdered) at the Shuafat checkpoint was a drop in the ocean of the raging struggle. I know I will die as a Martyr sooner or later, and I know that I didn’t liberate Palestine with the operation, but I carried it out while setting a central goal:Following [my] operation hundreds of young [Palestinians] will carry the rifle after me.

The wanted man Uday, Oct. 11 [2022]”

[Ma'an, independent Palestinian news agency, Oct. 20, 2022]

And there is proof that such normalization works. Before 14-year-old Palestinian terrorist and member of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) terror organization Amr Khaled Al-Khamour was killed participating in violentriots where rioters threw rocks, firebombs, and explosives at Israeli soldiers in the Deheisheh refugee camp in Bethlehem, he left behind a handwritten last will, in which he wrote:

"I am on the path of heroic Martyr Uday Al-Tamimi."

[Shehab, independent Palestinian news agency, Jan. 16, 2023]

He also left instructions for his parents, stressing he "wished for Martyrdom":

"When I come to you as a Martyr, Allah willing, O my mother, make sounds of joy and do not cry... Do not be sad, O father, I wished for Martyrdom and achieved it."

This letter left by a 14-year-old boy proves that the PA has successfully constructed a norm and conveyed it to even the youngest in Palestinian society, according to which it is desirable – and normal - to attack, kill, seek death, and die for “Palestine.”