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The roadmap to peace requires more than good intentions

With Palestinian elections coming up, pundits and politicians the world over are optimistic about the prospects for peace in the Middle East. Just last month, President Bush went so far as to declare that he intends to bring peace to the Middle East during his second term.
The President would do well to remember the words of the late Golda Meir, former Israeli prime minister, who said that peace would only be possible “when [the Arabs] love their children more than they hate [the Israelis].”
Palestinian Authority interim leader Mahmoud Abbas’s recent statements to an Arab newspaper calling the intifada a “mistake” and maintaining that use of weapons against Israelis “should stop” are positive. But in order for such statements to be meaningful, any new Palestinian leadership must work to change the culture of hatred and violence into which Palestinians are indoctrinated at the most impressionable ages. In particular, Palestinian leadership must heed Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon’s call for a complete end to anti-Israeli incitement in PA schools and media — something Abbas has yet to do. A glance at the web site of Palestinian Media Watch, a watchdog organization that monitors the contents of Palestinian media, (, reveals that the official PA television station and newspaper are saturated with anti-Israeli propaganda.
As recently as December 27, as part of a “lecture” on PA TV focusing on what he described as “the War of the Jews against Palestinian trees,” Dr. Hassan Khater repeated a Hadith (Quran portion attributed to Mohammed) calling for the murder of Jews: “The Hour of Resurrection will not arrive until you fight the Jews, [until a Jew will hide behind a rock or a tree] and the rock and the tree will say: Oh, Muslim, servant of Allah, there is a Jew behind me, come and kill him!”
While since Arafat’s death, there have been fewer such broadcasts overtly calling for killing and glorifying suicide bombing, the incitement has followed a familiar and insidious pattern, according to Itamar Marcus, director of Palestinian Media Watch.
Creative means of brainwashing include programs aimed at de-legitimizing Israel. For instance, over the past several weeks PA TV has repeatedly aired a program that refers to Israeli cities as Palestinian cities, and features a child saying he wants to give his blood to return to Jerusalem.
“When the world is watching, the PA is less overt in using the media to promote hatred, but the message is still the same,” said Marcus.
What is the essential message? Simply put: Israel has no right to exist, and Jews deserve to die.
Nor are Israelis the only objects of this hate-filled propaganda: the U.S. and Britain have frequently been subject to venomous treatment in the PA-controlled media. While recent weeks have seen a reduction in direct calls for violence, the climate remains poisoned: a political cartoon appeared in the official PA newspaper during the weeks since Arafat's death depicting an Arab girl being raped by an American soldier while the rest of the Arab world looks on. Keep in mind that this is an expression of tightly controlled media in which Palestinian “leadership” manipulates opinion.
As of December 29, the U.S. had earmarked $23.5 million for the Palestinian Authority’s use. If we Americans invest in peace negotiations by sending money to the PA without demanding a complete end to this official incitement in all its forms, we are paying for our own efforts to be undermined. To any reasonable person, this is unacceptable.
In the aftermath of Palestinian elections, the contents of PA media will provide a useful litmus test of Palestinian Authority’s true intentions.
The PA should receive no additional money until the incitement stops — in the official media and in the schools — and the PA takes serious steps to prepare the Palestinians for peace. If peace is to have any chance, it will require a massive re-education of this brainwashed people, and should begin immediately.
During Oslo, the Clinton administration and much of the world were blind to the reality that while Israel and the U.S. struggled to achieve peace, Palestinian leadership duplicitously prepared its people for war. Let us learn from the mistakes of the past.
A society cannot teach hate and expect peace. And as peacemakers, we cannot allow such incitement to continue. If anyone has the conviction and the will to insist that it end, it is President Bush.
Anything less will amount to placing band-aids on an infected wound without cleaning out the infection — then despairing when the patient expires.

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