It seems worthwhile to again revisit the issue of incitement in the Palestinian media because some people seem to doubt that this is really a serious problem. Anyone who cares about peace should care about the blatantly antisemitic, pro-terrorist or insanely conspiratorial things ordinary Palestinians are being told by their official media. Here are a few examples from just the last few weeks:
- On May 28, Palestinian Authority (PA) President Mahmoud Abbas publicly presented the “Military Star of Honor” to Fatima Barnawi, who placed a bomb in a movie theatre in Jerusalem in 1967. While the bomb was discovered before detonating, a PA-TV host praised Barnawi’s act, saying it was “certainly not a failure. It is a success for the Palestinian resistance that… created a state of panic.”
- On May 29, the PA-TV children’s program “Best Home” featured a poem read by a young girl referring to Jews as “you who murdered Allah’s pious prophets…Oh, you who were brought up on spilling blood… oh most evil among creations” and “oh, barbaric monkeys.”
- On May 29, the YouTube channel of the Al-Aqsa Mosque, which is controlled by the PA Ministry of Religious Affairs, broadcast a religious lesson by Sheikh Khaled Al-Mughrabi. Speaking before a crowd in the Mosque, the Sheikh insisted not only that Jews kidnap and murder children to get their blood to make Passover matzah, but this was the real reason “they were burned in Germany.” He went on to claim Jews were behind the 9/11 attacks, and also murder their own relatives in Masonic rituals “as a sacrifice to Satan.”
- Responding to reporting of this lesson in Israeli media, in his recorded June 4 lesson, Sheikh Al-Mughrabi, insisted he had only been giving the “Children of Israel… advice” to save them “from the fire of Hell.” But he went on, “There is no doubt… that the Children of Israel cause great damage to all people in the world… We do not talk about the Children of Israel because we hate the Children of Israel. Rather the opposite. It is the Children of Israel who hate all the nations.”
- On June 16, the official PA news agency WAFA repeated the latest version of a bizarre story that has appeared often in Palestinian media over recent years: It claimed that Jewish settlers raise thousands of wild boars, which they secretly truck to Palestinian fields at night and then release to destroy the crops of Palestinian farmers. WAFA claimed that settlers from the town of Ariel had done this to the neighbouring Arab town of Salfit, using boars to destroy their figs, grapes, berries and olives. This claim is so widespread in Palestinian society that PA President Mahmoud Abbas himself made it in 2011. (For another example, see page 17.)
All this is only the tip of the iceberg. I defy anyone to look at the totality of what Palestinians are being taught by their official media outlets and seriously maintain that incitement is not a significant barrier to peace. Because who would want to co-exist peacefully under any arrangement whatsoever with the Jews as they are being portrayed by the PA?
“A rich history and culture”
In the endless decades-long debate about what to do about Iran’s nuclear program, if there is one argument that most makes me want to scream, it is this one: Iran should be trusted, cooperated with, or respected because it is a “nation with a rich history and culture.” (The exact quote is from a piece by Dr. Ameer Ali in the West Australian on June 16 calling for the US to cooperate with Iran in the fight against ISIS, but similar phrases appear in almost every piece calling for better relations with Iran.)
I am certainly not saying it is untrue that Iran is a “nation with a rich history and culture.” It is true – the Persians have many admirable cultural and political achievements in the 26 centuries since the rise of the amazing empire of Cyrus the Great. But all this is absolutely irrelevant to the question of whether the current Iranian regime is at present a stablising or destablising force, a trustworthy partner, or a government whose good intentions can be relied upon or whose interests align with ours.
Here are some other historic nations that could also accurately be described as having a “rich history and culture”: Stalin’s Russia, Mao’s China, Pol Pot’s Cambodia, pre-war Imperial Japan, Mussolini’s Italy, and present-day North Korea. And I know I supposedly “lose the debate”, according to Internet tradition, by raising the example, but that description also applies to Nazi Germany.
Yet despite their “rich culture and history”, these nations were responsible for bloody aggressions, infamous crimes against humanity, or in many cases, both.
In fact, one could mount a pretty good argument that nations with a long and rich history might be more prone at times to revisionist and aggressive foreign policies.
Iran is certainly a revisionist power, that is a power that seeks to overthrow the global or regional status quo. Anyone who denies this is simply not paying attention to what Iranian leaders are saying. It is the world’s foremost supporter of terrorism, and a revolutionary regime openly seeking to export its revolution – as well as a consistent advocate of the physical destruction of a neighbouring state, Israel.
Anyone who seeks to paper over these realities by invoking Persia’s “rich culture and history” – as if this is a reasonable argument – is either fooling themselves or assuming the rest of us are fools.