Israel-Palestinian peace negotiations could be on the verge of being re-started again under renewed US leadership.
Last week US President Donald Trump met with Palestinian Authority (PA) President Mahmoud Abbas in Washington, and called on Abbas to be a leader for peace and speak out against incitement. President Trump said:
“But there cannot be lasting peace unless the Palestinian leaders speak in a unified voice against incitement to … violence and hate. There’s such hatred. But hopefully there won’t be such hatred for very long. All children of God must be taught to value and respect human life, and condemn all of those who target the innocent.”
To which Abbas responded in his speech:
“Mr. President, I affirm to you that we are raising our youth, our children, our grandchildren on a culture of peace.”
If only that was true, peace might appear a lot closer.
Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called Abbas out on this claim, and said:
“I heard President Abbas yesterday say that they teach, Palestinians teach their children peace. That’s unfortunately not true,” adding “They name their schools after mass murderers of Israelis and they pay terrorists.”
Netanyahu shared a video on his Facebook page that showed several examples of Palestinian incitement to violence – including some incidents involving Abbas personally – and the indoctrination of children to hate and attack Jews. It shows that Palestinian children are taught that “Palestine is an Arab land from the river to the sea”, ultimately rejecting Israel’s existence.
MEMRI, the Middle East Media Research Institute, has documented numerous cases of the Palestinian Authority actively promoting incitement against Jews and Israel by praising terrorists, as well as “jihad” and “martyrdom”, especially in messages directed at children.
Such incitement is found in school education, television programs and events, and also in glorifying terrorists by naming streets and sporting fields after them. For example, PA events marking “Fatah Day” featured children armed with mock RPG rockets and suicide belts, while schools hold ceremonies to honour terrorists. MEMRI has also documented that Palestinian textbooks encourage the idea of “return” through “jihad”.
In another example, a fifth grade Arabic textbook included the poem “We Are Returning”, by Haroun Hashem Rashid, includes the following lines:
“Returning to the homes, to the plains and the mountains,
Under the banners of glory, jihad and struggle.
With our blood and self-sacrifice, brotherhood and loyalty,
We are returning.
Returning, o hills, returning, o plains,
Returning to our childhood and youth.
To wage jihad with a drawn sword and to reap in our land.
We are returning.”
Meanwhile, Palestinian Media Watch has compiled clips broadcast on official Palestinian Authority TV into a short video, where children are encouraged to praise terrorists, martyrdom and hate Jews and Israel. The Palestinian children can be seen saying, among other things, “Fight the Jews, kill them, and defeat them”, “O Sons of Zion, O most evil among creations O barbaric monkeys, wretched pigs”, “To war that will smash the oppression and destroy the Zionist’s soul”, “We say that Palestine exists, and Palestine will return to us, and there is no such thing as Israel.” And this is not just what they think – these views are being broadcast on official TV, under Abbas’ control, precisely because they are seen as positive and inspirational.
You can watch the video here:
Meanwhile, it is unsurprising that children are indoctrinated by the PA to praise terrorists, when the PA itself provides salaries to terrorists. White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer said that President Trump “raised concerns about the payments to Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails who have committed acts of terror.”
However, Abbas and other PA officials have rejected the demands to stop the payments of salaries to imprisoned terrorists, claiming the payments to imprisoned terrorists are like salaries paid to IDF soldiers, despite the fact that Palestinian terrorists seek to murder innocent civilians including children and are duly convicted in courts of law. Director of the PLO Commission of Prisoners’ Affairs Issa Karake announced Abbas’ “absolute refusal”. He said:
“The President [Abbas] emphasized his absolute refusal of the Israeli demands to stop the allowances of the families of the prisoners and Martyrs (Shahids), and emphasized his absolute support for them (i.e., for the payments).'” [Amad, independent Palestinian news website, April 29, 2017]
Moreover, senior Fatah leader Rawhi Fattouh even argued that donor countries should welcome PA payments to terrorists because this practice supposedly promotes peace by keeping the Palestinian terrorists from joining “ISIS or any other extremist party.”
The sad reality is that Abbas, already in shaky situation and increasingly unpopular on the Palestinian street, is only making his job more difficult for himself. Abbas claims that he seeks a two state solution, but he will be unable to sell this vision to the Palestinian people if they are indoctrinated to believe that they can have all the land “from the river to sea”, and that terrorism and war are the methods to achieve it. Such a mentality will only encourage Palestinians to support more extreme groups, such the PA’s rival Hamas, or even worse.