Incitement to Hatred & Terror Underscores Palestinian’s Unwillingness for Peace
When Barack Obama entered the White House, he promised to make Israeli/Palestinian peace-making his priority from “day one.” And, indeed, in his own way he did. He pressured Israel into freezing Jewish construction in the West Bank for 10 months in a bid to entice Palestinians to negotiate. Yet, Mahmoud Abbas’ Palestinian Authority (PA) refused negotiations except for a few days near the end of the 10-month period, nor has it negotiated substantively since.
On its face, this is puzzling. If Mahmoud Abbas and the PA were eager for statehood alongside Israel – as they claim in their official speeches in international forums – nothing would be easier than to agree to negotiations that would lead in that direction, under an American president who has been strongly pushing for this. But, they don’t.
The reason? Lacking a state is less intolerable for the Palestinian movement than accepting the right of Jews to have a state of their own. And, indeed, Palestinians turned down statehood on the four occasions detailed plans were proposed to create one – 1937, 1947, 2000 and 2008.
The common denominator to these rejections was that these plans all encompassed a Jewish state living alongside it. The leitmotif of Palestinian politics has been the rejection of precisely this proposition.
There are mountains of evidence to establish this proposition, but let’s confine ourselves to merely a recent, six week period.
Demonization of Jews:
The PA TV children’s program, ‘The Best Home,’ aired on April 22 and again on May 8, featured a child reciting a poem which included the following words – “Our enemy, Zion, is Satan with a tail.”
On April 16, the PA publicly mourned the anniversary of the death of PLO arch-terrorist Khalil Al-Wazir (Abu Jihad). The PA held six sporting events in his honor and broadcast TV programs celebrating him and his career of terror attacks. WAFA, the official PA news agency, glorified his killing of Israelis and enumerated in detail and with approbation his attacks on Israeli civilian targets in an article that also appeared in the official PA daily, Al-Hayat Al-Jadida.
An old Wazir speech was exhumed from the archives and rebroadcast, a section of which included the following, “On one street, for example, we will hold 500 people [hostage]… at any moment, he can blow up everyone; blow up their building, or the whole thing, no matter how many people are there… We want to turn the Tel Aviv day black. We want to turn the Tel Aviv day into destruction, Allah willing.”
On May 31, 91 Palestinian terrorists, including many suicide bombers whose corpses were recently handed over by Israel to the PA as a goodwill gesture, were given a military funeral for heroes by the PA. PA President Mahmoud Abbas, Prime Minister Salam Fayyad and other PA dignitaries were in attendance. All the returned terrorists were categorized as Shahids (Martyrs), thus conferring on them the status of national and religious heroes.
The Secretary General of Mahmoud Abbas’ office, Tayeb Abd Al-Rahim, declared, “We ask Allah to gather you in the uppermost heaven, along with the prophets, the righteous,” while the the Mufti of the PA, Muhammad Hussein, said, “By Allah’s will, we still have elite groups of Martyrs like these among us … The souls of the noble Martyrs envelop us, and their souls tell us to follow in their path.”
The day before Israeli Independence Day last month, PA TV broadcast a political statement that included the following, ” Let all religions know that I do not make truces, Let every person know that I do not compromise … Let Jaffa [an Israeli city] know that I will return to it.” Clearly, such is the political program and message that the PA wishes to transmit to its people.
On May 11, PA TV featured a children’s program in which a young Palestinian girl was asked to recite a poem which includes insults to Christians and Jews (“They are remnants of the [Christian] crusaders and Khaibar [Jews]”; are “inferior and smaller, more cowardly and despised” and the “enemies of destiny”).
These salient themes in the Palestinian public square inform us that Palestinian incitement is a symptom of rejection of Jewish sovereignty, not the absence of peace. In these circumstances, peace-making is not so much premature than foredoomed.
Palestinian attitudes and values must change before the possibility of genuine peace emerges on the horizon. Successive U.S. presidents have ignored this and thereby help prolong rather than foreshorten the conflict. A U.S. policy that devises carrots and sticks to induce Palestinians to relinquish their war on Israel’s continued existence provides the best basis for future, fruitful negotiations. Until then, we ignore Palestinian incitement at our peril.
Dr. Michael Goldblatt is National Chairman of the Board of the Zionist Organization of America (ZOA) & Dr. Daniel Mandel is Director of the ZOA’s Center for Middle East Policy.