Let's stop pretending
by Itamar Marcus and Nan Jacques Zilberdik
In the following op-ed PMW argues that Palestinian cessation from incitement
to hatred and glorification of terror is not just another issue
- it is a prerequisite to a peace process
The Palestinian Authority and its leaders share the blame for the murders of the five Israelis from Itamar on Friday - including two children and an infant - along with the terrorists who committed them. It is the PA and its leaders who have prepared the ground for these murders with the incessant incitement to hatred and the glorification of violence and terror.
In spite of its conciliatory statements in English, the PA continues to use all the structures it controls to demonize Israelis and to promote violence. Terrorists are presented as heroes and role models for Palestinians, teaching that killing Israelis is a way to earn eternal fame.
Just two months ago, PA President Mahmoud Abbas sent a clear message of support for terror when he awarded $2000 to the family of a terrorist who attacked IDF soldiers. Last week, the official PA daily Al-Hayat Al-Jadida announced a football tournament named after Wafa Idris, the first female Palestinian suicide bomber, and three weeks ago PA TV, which is under the direct control of Abbas's office, broadcast videos glorifying the terrorist Habash Hanani, who in May 2002 entered Itamar and murdered three Israeli students. Twice the PA named summer camps after the terrorist Dalal Mughrabi, who in 1978 led the most deadly attack in Israel's history in which 37 civilians were killed in a bus hijacking, both in 2008 and again this past summer.
But the long arm of the PA's promotion of violence and terror goes even farther, penetrating the realm of culture and music, which has been used so often in recent years in other places in the world to promote peace and tolerance. Last year, PA TV broadcast a number of performances of a band called Alashekeen, including a song anticipating the conquering of Israel through holy war. The song presents all of Israel as "Palestine," mentioning the Carmel region near Haifa, and the cities of Lod, Ramle, and Jerusalem as regions to be liberated: "In Ramle we are grenades... the Palestinian revolution awaits [them]... We replaced bracelets with weapons. We attacked the despicable [Zionists]. This invading enemy is on the battlefield. This is the day of consolation of jihad. Pull the trigger. We shall redeem Jerusalem, Nablus and the country."
More significant than the repeated exposure on PA TV and at cultural events was the fact that Abbas chose to honor the musical group. He issued a presidential decree turning it into an official Palestinian national band.
COMPOUNDING THE PA's nationalistic hate promotion are its Islamic-based messages. The PA seems to have adopted what was once thought to be only Hamas ideology, that the conflict with Israel is a Ribat - a religious war for Allah to defend Islamic land in which conflict with Israel is uncompromising. Abbas's appointed minister of religion, Mahmoud Habbash, has taught repeatedly that the conflict with Israel is not territorial but is in accordance with Islamic law: "Allah has preordained for us the Ribat on this blessed land. We are committed to it by Allah's command. Let no one be mistaken or under the illusion that Ribat is a choice and nothing more. It is a commandment."
He has also preached that the conflict against Israel - over all of Israel - is cited in the Quran: "The catastrophe, in truth, did not begin in 1948, but began perhaps in 1917 with the cursed [Balfour] Declaration, which gave a promise to those who did not deserve it... Since that date, resolute people, fighters and Ribat fighters have not ceased upon our blessed land... This conflict is explicit in the Quran and our obligation with regard to it is clarified by the Quran."
In short, the PA, like the Hamas, is telling its people that Islam does not allow for reconciliation with Israel.
WITH CONTINUOUS messages like this coming from the so-called moderate leadership of the PA, is it any wonder that people can go on terror rampages like the one in Itamar this weekend? Palestinians may assume that their leaders and society will honor them if they murder Israelis, that their families will receive payment if they are killed, and that their religion encourages Israel's disappearance.
Was the terrorist who committed those brutal killings dreaming about a future Palestinian summer camp in his name? Was he imagining Allah granting him everlasting rewards in paradise for fulfilling his command? Did he feel that he was fulfilling his national duty and would receive a financial reward?
And what about the international community which has accepted and naively believed PA leaders' assurances that incitement had stopped? It was the international community, represented by US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, which stipulated preconditions for the PA to enter into a renewed peace process: "We will only work with a Palestinian Authority government that unambiguously and explicitly accepts the Quartet's principles: A commitment to non-violence, recognition of Israel, and acceptance of previous agreements and obligations, including the Road Map" (House Appropriations Subcommittee on State, April 23, 2009). The Road Map states that "all official Palestinian institutions end incitement against Israel."
The international community has completely failed because it never followed up to see if these preconditions had actually been met, but gladly satisfied itself with Abbas's promises, and continues to fund the PA.
Everyone involved in the peace process is making a tragic mistake by assuming the incitement is just another issue that has to be dealt with, like the issues of water, borders, and refugees. All of those are issues that must be negotiated as part of a peace process. But as long as the Palestinian Authority continues to teach these messages, clearly there is no peace process.
It is incumbent on the international community to inform the Palestinian Authority that a condition for "working" with it, as Clinton stated, is that it erases the messages of hate and replaces them with peace promotion.
And until that time the international community must ostracize and isolate the Palestinian Authority, just as they do Hamas, and stop pretending there is a peace process.