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Antisemitism Today

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Presenter: Hello. This is The Spirit of Things on ABC Radio National. I’m Rachael Kohn.
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Rachael Kohn, Presenter: A sermon by Ibrahim Mudayris, televised on the Palestinian Authority TV, calling for Muslims to kill the Jews, according to the Prophet Muhammad’s teaching that only then will Resurrection come. And why kill the Jews? Because, as the imam says, “there are none who love the Jews, not a man, a rock or a tree – everything hates them and wants vengeance on these pigs on the face of the Earth. And the day of our victory will come, Allah willing.” This is classic Antisemitism; the belief that Jews have to be eliminated because they are the embodiment of evil.
It’s a view that’s not confined to Palestinian TV, but found in Palestinian schoolbooks and those of Saudi Arabia, Syria, Jordan and elsewhere in the Muslim world. It’s been called the ‘New Antisemitism,’ and it’s got a lot of people worried. A conference on Antisemitism was just held at Monash University with international and Australian experts. Today we will hear from several of them, including Daniel Pipes and, from Palestinian Media Watch, Itamar Marcus…
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Kohn: In that youth programme on Palestinian television, a young girl phones in and says that – quote – “the Jewish presence in the land was nothing but the liberation of all the countries from their source of evil - that evil which is found in the Jews who are amongst us as a cancer.” Etc.
Itamar Marcus is the Director of a group of ten researchers who make up Palestinian Media Watch in Israel. What is the scope of Palestinian Media Watch? What do you actually monitor?
Itamar Marcus, Director, Palestinian Media Watch: We have a name ‘Palestinian Media Watch,’ but we’re really a society watch. We try to understand Palestinian society through the window of the media. To do that, we’ll read the daily newspapers, we videotape about 14 hours a day of Palestinian television, and when we study the media, we’re not looking specifically for things from leaders or military people. We want to know what’s happening on the people level. We read things like sport sections, crossword puzzles, entertainment, poetry, to find out what messages are being given to people, are given to children, even via things like sports pages.
Kohn: What sort of things have you found in the sports pages?
Marcus: Well, we found some very, very disturbing articles in the sports pages where sports is used as a way to glorify mass murderers, terrorists, to create role models for young children. I’ll give you one example, there was a football tournament for 14-year-old boys in the Palestinian school system, and the tournament was named after a suicide terrorist who killed 30 Israelis at the Passover Seder a few years ago. And the article talked about each of the teams in this tournament were named after different terrorists and the brother of the suicide terrorist actually distributed the trophies. The entire tournament was revolving around – and this was an official tournament of the Palestinian Authority and in a PA school for 14-year-old boys.
Kohn: Well, I suppose it wouldn’t surprise anyone that these young men who have died for the cause would be glorified in this way. How wide spread, though, is that kind of attitude to these young men and women who are considered martyrs for the cause, the Palestinian cause?
Marcus: I think, first of all, that the people around the world would be willing to accept teaching society to honour people who died fighting for their people. But people who died in battle as soldiers fighting soldiers - honouring them is one thing. Honouring a person who walked into a crowded restaurant or crowded dining room and blew himself up, killing 30 civilians – that’s a cowardly act. It’s an act of cold-blooded murder and it’s not something that should be glorified for young children through naming a sporting event after him. So in any case, it’s got to be really, really clear that there’s a very, very important line between legitimate – conflict is really never legitimate. There’s never a legitimate military conflict. But if you have to have a military conflict, there’s still a line that can’t be crossed and bringing civilians, attacking civilians intentionally, with this type of horrific murder as something that should not be accepted in any society and the Palestinian society’s willingness – eagerness – to promote these mass murderers as heroes is detrimental - not just to Israelis who are becoming victims of these murders, but to the whole society, because it’s giving these children wrong values.
Kohn: You’ve actually pointed out that music videos are particularly insidious here or certainly very effective. What sort of things does one see on a music video, and how widespread are they?
Marcus: Music around the world is for entertainment but Palestinians use it for indoctrination. And you get music videos that teach hatred, you get music videos that glorify violence for children, and you get music videos that encourage young children to want to be martyrs - to want to die for Allah. You have one music video that ran on Palestinian television for about four years. And in this video, a boy writes a farewell letter and goes off hoping to die for Allah as a martyr. And we follow him on his last day and then as he’s dying in this music video – which is, of course, staged – the words of his music video are “how sweet is martyrdom” and “I embrace you my land.” And you see this boy falling to the ground – dead – to the words “how sweet is martyrdom.” Martyrdom is portrayed to these children as sweet. Now this music video has been on hundreds and hundreds of times a year. Now we saw this sometimes three times in one day. And as a result of this, we saw in the worse cases, Palestinian children going out and copycatting this boy. They’ve written farewell letters to their parents – 13-year-old boys, 14-year-old boys, telling their parents - literally - the same words that were in his letter. In the television letter, the boy turns to his mother and says “Don’t cry for me. Be joyous over my blood.” And we’ve had Palestinian boys who have literally gone out and have told their parents in their letters not to cry for them. And they’ve gone on suicide missions. Young, young boys. So, we see the music videos, we see the results and we see a tragic result on the Palestinian children who have had their youth essentially stolen from them by their leadership who have told them that as 14-year-olds, as 10-year-olds, they have to be – not only combatants – but they should be willing – eager – to die this way because dying this way is sweet.
Kohn: In mentioning martyrdom, of course, the question of religion comes up. How much is religious doctrine used to encourage this kind of violence, or this kind of attitude toward conflict that some people would see as solvable by diplomatic means?
Marcus: The Palestinians have defined the conflict to their people through their completely controlled television station and controlled media, as a religious war against Jews for Allah. And this, of course, is tragic because if it was a border conflict, if it was a territorial conflict, we could reach a solution. But once they’ve been telling their people for at least five years now that this is a war against Jews – we’ve heard tens of times on Palestinian television that God wants them to kill Jews. In one speech, a religious leader said ‘it’s forbidden to have mercy in your hearts for Jews and that in any place you find them, kill them.’ In another one they talked about ‘kill them, kill them, this is what God wants of you, kill the Jews.’ And when we’re dealing with Palestinian society, we dealing with a very religious society. In a recent poll in a Palestinian newspaper, 93% of Palestinians define themselves as either ‘very religious,’ ‘religious’ or ‘traditional,’ which means, traditional still means believing in Allah, believing in the Quran. Now, the religious leaders, they respect. The religious leaders have been telling them that God wants them to kill the Jews, because the Jews are so evil. In fact, they keep citing a hadith. A hadith is an Islamic tradition – attributed to Muhammad. They keep citing a particular hadith which goes as follows: “The Hour (the Hour of Resurrection) will not come until the Muslim fights the Jews and kills them and the Jew will be hiding behind a rock and a tree, and the rock and the tree will say ‘Muslim, Servant of Allah, there’s a Jew behind me, come and kill him!’” And this is an ancient source that the Palestinians have been teaching now for five years. Again, tens of times, teaching that this is applicable today. That today, God wants you to kill the Jews. In fact, just a few weeks ago, on Palestinian television, a senior academic, a person who found the Al Quds Encyclopaedia was on television, and he said that the way he understands the world situation today is that Muhammad wrote that hadith specifically referring to the Palestinian people. Meaning, you must go out and kill Jews wherever you find them if you want to get on with history. If you want to bring redemption to the world, you have to kill Jews. Now, this is a terrible, terrible message. To say that redemption, because it’s not something that’s solvable by borders; it’s not something that’s solvable by any political decision.
Kohn: You actually called it an existential conflict, which puts an almost absolutist dimension onto it – and eternal conflict between Muslims and Jews.
Marcus: The Palestinians do define it as such, unfortunately. And they define it as existential because they teach their people, they teach their children the end result of the conflict is the elimination of the State of Israel, through stages. This is something that has been said for many, many years. Children repeat this. Their political leaders have said it, their religious leaders have said it, the Mufti said it on television, a senior religious figure a while ago said, ‘the reason we discuss certain cities today is because we discuss what we can politically. But, ultimately,’ he said ‘everything, Yaffo and all the cities of Israel will be Palestine.’ So they are taught that there is a political process in order to weaken Israel by what they call the Salami Method – a little bit off here, a little bit off here. A little bit more land. Israel will be completely vulnerable. This is the message they give their people and it’s a tragic message because it means we will be fighting many, many years into the future.
Kohn: So, after Arafat, do you have any hope that this kind of perception of the problem is going to diminish in any way?
Marcus: Until today we have not had any change in this worldview. The Palestinians need a leader who is going to revolutionise their society, who’s going to stand up and say loud and clear ‘Jews have a right to exist. Israel has a right to exist. Jews are regular people.’ That will be a new message to them. That is not what they have been learning in schools. Until we hear a leader who is going to come and change the direction of that society, Israel – unfortunately - I believe, will be involved in wars for many, many years from the Palestinians - even if they were to receive every political demand that they claim they want today, we will still be fighting them because you have a core heart of Palestinian society who believe that the end of the conflict is the end of Israel.
Kohn: What about elements of Israeli society who would also feel that this is an existential conflict. The extreme right wing, Orthodox, Ultra-Orthodox Jews who want to rid Israel of the Arabs. Do you find this kind of thing in their publications and in their education system?
Marcus: There is a small fringe in Israel who believes this way. And because it’s a fringe, they are literally not given any press time, they are not given any legitimacy or acceptability. This type of extremism isn’t accepted in Israel. It’s impossible – against the law – to incite against Arabs, to incite against another religion. In fact, an Israeli woman sat in jail, sat in jail – literally – for insulting Islam. Sat in jail for almost nine months. Now, what did she do? She printed out - after a suicide attack, she was very frustrated and very upset. She printed a piece of paper with her drawing on it which had a picture of Muhammad, the Quran and a pig and she started distributing this in the street. And this was not done on television, not done in a newspaper. It was just – almost a deranged woman and she was arrested for insulting another religion and sat in jail. So, there are some people who are extremists in Israel but they are not given any legitimacy. And the tragedy with the Palestinians is that not only are these hate messages given legitimacy, they are the official message of the Palestinian leadership, that comes on their totally controlled television station. It could not be an accident that for five years they’ve been taught to kill the Jews – it couldn’t happen. This is a totally controlled station where if you don’t go according to the PA line, you end up being fired or – worse – you could be in jail.
Kohn: Itamar Marcus, Director of Palestinian Media Watch. And you can see the videos and the material for yourself, by going to It seems Dr. Marcus’ briefings in governments in Europe and the US are having some effect. With this week’s report in The Age, that Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas has just directed PA TV to show more romantic material and less violent programmes.
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