The Incitement Yardstick- Incitement or Ideology: Understanding PA Media (PMW-PALESTINIAN MEDIA WATCH) By Itamar Marcus & Barbara Crook 12/21/04)
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Following his demand for a crackdown, Prime Minister Ariel Sharon
remarked that anti-Israel incitement in the Palestinian Authority
indeed lessened. The incitement issue has generated significant
and optimism worldwide. Unfortunately, both Sharon´s satisfaction
resulting optimism demonstrate a fundamental lack of understanding
If media incitement were merely the tactical use of hate language by
leaders to provoke violent behavior against Israel, then even a
reduction would indeed be significant. But if the hate messages of
10 years reflect widespread and deep-seated beliefs within the PA
leadership and society, then temporarily removing them from TV
like taking a painkiller to fight cancer. The pain may be veiled but
cancer still festers.
Palestinian Authority religious and academic leaders have been
four and a half years that Allah demands the killing of Jews; and
years that Israel has no right to exist. Moreover, hate messages
through the media mimic the messages the PA espouses through
summer camps, religious lessons, culture, poetry, and more. Every
and statement by the PA indicates that these are not merely
statements to "incite" people to sporadic violence, but are accurate
indicators of Palestinian society´s beliefs and dreams.
Just look at the PA Ministry of Education´s choice for first-place
recent letter-writing contest for children. The winning letter,
"I will yet return to Lod," is a child yearning for Israel´s eventual
I am Lara from Lod, and I am an 11-year-old girl living in the city
Ramallah. I used to accept that Ramallah is a substitute for Lod,
the large [Mediterranean] sea has been exchanged for a small pool...
[Israel] do not deserve Lod, and after this day I will no longer
small pool. I will dream of the sea at Jaffa and the sunshine in Lod.
It is not insignificant - nor is it mere "incitement" - that PA
chose for first place this powerful hate message to children. Denial
Israel´s right to exist and the anticipation of its destruction are
the fundamental principles of PA ideology and education. This is a
they want for their children.
Sadly, the PA doesn´t even wait for children to reach school to
violence as a value. An October 2004 PA television program for
featured a talking puppet chick who was asked how he would respond
little boy cut down his tree."
"I´ll fight him and make a big riot," he answered. "I´ll bring AK-47s
[assault rifles]... I´ll commit a massacre in front of the house."
A FUNDAMENTAL theological tenet inculcated by the PA media is that
even as individuals - have no right to exist.
"The Prophet said: The Resurrection will not take place until the
fight the Jews, and the Muslims kill them. Rejoice in Allah´s
Everything wants vengeance on the Jews... these pigs on the face of
earth. And the day of our victory, Allah willing, will come." (PA
For more than four years PA religious and academic leaders have
promoted the murder of Jews as the will of God and historical
can delude ourselves that this is merely temporary incitement - or
face the harsh reality that such indoctrination has convinced a
portion of Palestinian society that murdering Jews is an act of
At any rate, Sharon´s talk about reduced incitement was premature.
Just last week, PA TV rebroadcast - for the 11th time - an hour-long
hate-promotion film that indoctrinates viewers, especially youth,
message that Israel has no right to exist.
The program stresses that Jaffa, Haifa, and Acre are
stolen from the "refugees." It even features a child vowing - with
"blood" - to "return" to west Jerusalem.
Yet another recent rebroadcast featured a senior Palestinian
calling for Israel´s destruction:
"Let the intruders be erased," taught Dr. Issam Sissalem. He said
a like the "parasitic worms in the ocean that eat a snail, and then
its shell," and vowed: "We will not let anyone live in our shell."
ALL THIS explains why a tactical reduction in media incitement isn´t
enough. We face a political, religious, educational and popular
which in its entirety promotes hatred of Israelis and Jews and
violence is the preferred means of achieving political goals.
Media incitement per se is not the problem. The problem is
aspiration for Israel´s destruction - and the Palestinian media are
our window to these hopes and dreams.
If the new Palestinian leaders are serious about peace with Israel
will have to do more than just mask their beliefs with politically
acceptable facades. They will have to fundamentally change their
and then detoxify their society with messages that actively promote
Palestinian leaders need to go to their people and systematically -
repeatedly - renounce years of hate promotion.
They need to emphatically acknowledge both Israel´s right to exist
nation and the Jews´ right to live as individuals. They need to
violence against Israel - not because it´s politically ineffective,
is the current rationale, but because it is morally wrong.
The day we start seeing PA leaders promoting these messages on PA TV
day a peace process will have begun.
Marcus is founder and director of Palestinian Media Watch in
Crook is PMW´s associate director, based in Ottawa, Canada. NOTE:
the full version of the article, which the Jerusalem Post edited for
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