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PMW op-ed: Palestinian kids have learned hate and death aspiration

Itamar Marcus and Barbara Crook  |

Palestinian children have learned from their elders

If you want to know what's really at the heart of the Palestinian conflict with Israel, don't ask the politicians or the diplomats. Go to the new experts: Palestinian children. Unlike the rest of the world, they've been paying close attention to what their leaders and educators have been teaching them -- and they're ready to sign their lessons in blood.

Children interviewed on PA TV in recent weeks have stated clearly and without reservation that Israel has no right to exist, and that their goals -- for which they're willing to sacrifice their lives -- are Israel's destruction and the expulsion of all Israelis.

"They [Jews] came to take Palestine, that is Tel-Aviv, Jaffa, Haifa, Acco, Ramle. All these cities belong to Palestine," one youth explains in a Dec. 25 broadcast, identifying as part of "Palestine" cities the rest of the world acknowledges as part of Israel -- cities that are not part of any territorial dispute. This echoes years of standard Palestinian Authority (PA) education. And because he is convinced that Israel has no right to exist: "We hope, hope, hope and I emphasize these things, that the Arab countries and the foreign countries, all the countries of the world, will support the Palestinians and will expel the Israelis."

He also explains the reasoning: "We must expel all Israelis from Palestine. Because Israel, there is nothing called 'Israel' in the world. The Israelis [came] from Holland, America, Iran." The children promise they will keep fighting, generation after generation, "until they liberate Palestine."

Furthermore, they don't fear death because they see it as Shahada, Death for Allah. "Even if all the Palestinian children, Palestinian youth, Palestinian women, and Palestinian men die, we will not surrender!"

Surprising? Not if you've been paying attention to the PA educational system and its educational broadcasts of the past several years. PA maps erase Israel's existence, their schoolbooks and historians deny Israel's history and right to exist, and educators at all levels teach that Israel is a foreign colonial implant.

Despite PA claims to the contrary, its textbooks continue to delegitimize Israel and dismiss it as a foreign occupier, comparable to colonial Britain: " ... Palestine faced the British occupation after the First World War in 1917, and the Israeli occupation in 1948" [National Education, Sixth Grade, p. 16]. Since all of Israel is said to be an "occupation," children are taught that Israel's cities, regions and natural resources are part of "Palestine." For example, " ... Among the famous rocks of southern Palestine are the rocks of Be'er Sheva and the Negev ... and Palestine's Water Sources ... The most important is the Sea of Galilee ..." [Our Beautiful Language, Grade 6, Part A, p. 64; National Education, Sixth Grade, pp. 9-10].

PA Prime Minister Ahmed Qurei is on record as rejecting the idea of a Jewish state. As he stated in June, "President Bush said that Israel is a Jewish state, which is a cause for our concern. This should not have been said. ..." [Al-Nahar-Lebanese and Al-Hayat Al-Jadida, June 15, 2003].

Senior PA historians frequently appear on PA TV educational programs to reinforce this message -- most recently on Dec. 28, when historian and educational TV host Dr. Isam Sisalem reiterated what he has said in numerous broadcasts, that Jews " ... have no history or connection to this land" [PA TV, Dec. 28, 2003] and that the Jews are nothing but a "cancer" planted by Britain to control the Middle East.

In the same educational broadcast, another historian resurrected The Protocols of the Elders of Zion, the infamous Russian forgery that was presented as the Jews' secret plan to rule the world. This historian claimed it was one of the foundations of the Basel Congress (the first Zionist Congress) in Switzerland in 1897.

" ... The Zionist movement began at the Basel Congress to plan the exploitation of the powers, struggle and the struggle of Europe over the Middle East ... " said Dr. Riad Al-Astal, a history lecturer at Al-Azhar University in Gaza.

The children who want to destroy Israel and to take "Tel-Aviv, Jaffa, Haifa, Acco, Ramle" and "expel all Israelis," are accurately repeating the sentiments they are being taught to this very day -- and which are reinforced at all levels of PA society, starting with the PA leadership.

The years of anti-Israel indoctrination in the PA media and the PA educational system have been alarmingly effective in teaching PA children and youth that the Jews have no link to Israel, that Israel has no right to exist and that the overriding goal of the next generation -- even at the cost of their lives -- should be to eliminate Israel.

Peace negotiations that do not address the PA educational system and its shocking indoctrination of its youth will be short-term paper agreements that are doomed to failure. More important, it must be acknowledged that the essence of the conflict is Israel's very right to exist -- and not a question of borders, territories or refugees .

Palestinian children have already figured this out. Perhaps the rest of us need to stay after school.