Peace will come when Palestinians want it / First, ´moderate´ leaders must stop advocating terrorism (WASHINGTON TIMES COMMENTARY) By Joel Mowbray 12/09/10)
WASHINGTON TIMES Articles-Index-Top
Finally shining light on one of the most important and most
overlooked elements of the Middle East "peace process," the Israeli
government has compiled a new quarterly report that analyzes what its
Palestinian counterparts are doing to promote peace - or not.
Ensuring that Palestinians are not teaching their children to become
terrorists would seem to be a pretty obvious starting point in peace
talks, but it hasn´t been much of a priority to date for the Jewish
Now, however, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is insisting that the
Palestinians stop promoting violence and instead push messages of
peace in order to show that they´re serious.
Although Palestinian incitement has been well-chronicled over the
years by the likes of Palestinian Media Watch (PMW), gaining the
attention of Western governments requires that the Israeli government
first take the issue seriously.
The new Incitement and Culture of Peace Index will help Mr. Netanyahu
pressure his peers in the United States and Europe to start judging
Palestinian Authority (PA) President Mahmoud Abbas not by what he
says at intergovernmental meetings at the White House or at
bureaucratic junkets, but rather by what the PA is doing at home. Its
purpose, according to Israeli officials, is not just to catalog
examples of demagoguery and demonization, but also to gauge what
steps the PA is taking to prepare its people for peace with Israel.
This report does not deal with Hamas, yet it is filled with examples
of the supposedly moderate PA government actively undermining
prospects for peace, literally at the same time PA figures tell the
West how deeply they desire peace.
One of the most powerful examples of this dichotomy highlighted in
the report happened recently. Speaking at the White House on Sept. 1,
Mr. Abbas stated emphatically that he did "not want at all that any
blood be shed" because he wanted Israelis and Palestinians "to live
as neighbors and partners forever."
Speaking in Arabic to a Palestinian newspaper two monthsearlier,
though, Mr. Abbasgave a different reason for not wanting
war: "Palestinians will not fight alone because they don´t have the
ability to do it." He added that he had told the Arab League, "If you
want war, and if all of you will fight Israel, we are in favor." Of
course, this should not come as a surprise because Fatah´s
constitution maintains to this day that "the struggle will not end
until the elimination of the Zionist entity and the liberation of
Fatah routinely names streets, buildings and schools after
terrorists, and sometimes it hands out awards to terrorists or their
After Fatah gave an award to the grandmother of imprisoned terrorist
Khaled Abd Al-Rahman, Fatah´s PA-TV provided her a platform, and she
spoke to her grandson and apparently other Palestinians when she
said, "Shoot your rifle and cause the Jews to go away."
The PA´s glorification of terrorists is systemic. Fatah held a Web
forum this fall commemorating the 10th anniversary of the so-called
intifada. As documented in the Israeli report, nothing is more
telling than the visuals of fires, machine guns and even masked
children. One of the images is of the famous golden-domed al-Aqsa
Mosque with two machine guns over it in an upside-down "v" formation.
Among the other examples in the report, prepared by a committee
headed by Ya´acov Amidror and including PMW´s founder, Itamar Marcus,
are the PA´s religious affairs official praising Palestinians who
carry out "ribat," or religious war, and the coordinator of the
National Committee on Summer Camps telling local media that
Palestinian summer camps instill in kids the Palestinian
culture, "which unites the culture of resistance, the culture of
stones and guns ... and the culture of Shahada (martyrdom)."
All of this happened around the same time that Mr. Abbas said in June
at the White House, "We have nothing to do with incitement against
Israel, and we´re not doing that."
While President Obama has focused most of his attention on Israeli
housing policies, this new report indicates that the PA has gotten
worse in its incitement since the start of the latest round of talks.
It could be that Palestinian leaders think Mr. Obama´s unusually
strong attention on Israel has given them a free pass.
Perhaps the White House will heed the report and pressure
Palestinians to stop incitement against the Jewish state. Perhaps Mr.
Obama will tell Mr. Abbas that he must also actively work to build a
culture of peace at home.
If that doesn´t happen, however, it is a safe bet that the incoming
Republican-controlled House will take the lead - and it controls the
federal purse strings. Fiscal conservatives looking to target waste
could condition aid to the Palestinians on changing the status quo.
The PA, in other words, shouldn´t be expecting a blank check from
Washington next year.
Changing Palestinian culture cannot be done overnight, but it is
crucial. Peace is impossible as long as Palestinian children grow up
hating Israel and loving violence.
At least now it is part of the discussion. (©2010 The Washington
Times, LLC. 12/09/10)
Return to Top
MATERIAL REPRODUCED FOR EDUCATIONAL PURPOSES ONLY