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Ynet article on PMW findings: Hamas and the PA teach the same message - Israel has no right to exist

Shiri Hadar  |
'A field trip to the Jaffa Port in Palestine'

by Shiri Hadar

Experts warn Gaza preschoolers' fascination with terror against Israel indicates a very real threat

Gaza – the next generation: "This is a totally barbaric act. This is a deep problem with the entire Palestinian society," Dr. Dan Shiftan, head of the National Security Studies Center at the University of Haifa, said Wednesday in response to the disturbing pictures from a Gaza kindergarten party published on Ynet.

The photos showed children at an Islamic Jihad-run kindergarten celebrating their graduation by dressing up in army attire, waving toy rifles and chanting anti-Israel slogans. The children were dressed up in uniforms of Jihad's armed-wing, the al-Quds Brigades, and each of them received a toy rifle. Some of them held up photos of Islamic Jihad founder Fathi Shaqaqi.

The tots also stood next to mock coffins draped with flags of the various armed factions. The flags bore the images of "shahids” (martyrs).

"We must educate our children to love the resistance, Palestine, and Jerusalem, so they know what Palestine is and who its enemies are, and what (their) job is in the future," one kindergarten director said…

Itamar Marcus, founder and director of the Palestinian Media Watch research center, does not draw a distinction between Hamas educators and the Palestinian Authority.

"Unfortunately, these things are routine," Marcus said. "There are nuances of differences between the Hamas and Fatah programs, but the messages are the same – Israel has no right to exist or simply doesn't exist."

Therefore, he noted, Palestinian children are taught by the PA – Fatah to see Israel as "the occupations of 1948 and 1967." Every Israeli city is said to be actually Palestinian.

According to Marcus, geography lessons shown on PA TV ignore Israel's existence. “In one program a child points to the map and say that he visited Jaffa and Haifa, and the TV host -teacher responds, 'How nice that you traveled in our state of Palestine.' When the PA TV host asked children “what is the most important port in Palestine– Jaffa, Akko, or Haifa” the child who answered 'Jaffa' was applauded."

Recently, US, Swiss, British, and Norwegian legislators have discussed the issue [with PMW representatives] and are trying to influence the Palestinian education. Marcus says that this is the right way to solve the problem, "since the Palestinians won't change anything on their own without international pressure."

One method of restraining the education in question could come from a proposed US law that would tie funding to elimination of these hate messages. "It's possible to see the beginning of change. If in the past governments trusted (PA President Abbas) Abu Mazen and his promises, they are starting to believe he is lying to them," Marcus observed…

The result, according to Marcus, has a profound influence on the political dialogue.

"There is a consistent education here in the PA that will not lead to next generation that will grow up willing to accept Israel as a neighbor. The informal education and education in schools of the PA – not only Hamas – are the ones that teach hate-filled songs and stories."

Elior Levy contributed to this report.