Israel Radio interviews PMW director
Itamar Marcus on incitement
Marcus: It is critical to know
what Palestinians are teaching their children
Itamar Marcus interviewed by Elihu Ben-Onn,
Israel Radio Reshet A, March 10, 2010
Elihu Ben-Onn: Itamar Marcus, you are the director of Palestinian Media Watch, and who could be better suited to our program - we're talking about the influence of the Palestinian media on the Arab leadership, in the territories, and on the residents of the PA areas. My first question: the government has decided to publish an "incitement index." Is this "incitement index" effective in explaining things to us?
Marcus: We are working closely with the government to prepare the index. We haven't yet seen the final version, so I don't want to talk about its content. But what I can say is that the Palestinian media, because it is under the full control of the Palestinian Authority, is an indicator of the messages that the PA is conveying to its people. And we examine not only the media. PMW also studies schoolbooks, crossword puzzles and video clips, and we see a uniform message being conveyed through all structures that are under Palestinian Authority control. It's critical that we follow these PA structures, because through them we understand the content of the education that Palestinians are giving their children.
E.B.O: How is this assessment, this index, actually carried out?
Marcus: The index that the government will publish focuses on different subjects and assigns weight to these subjects. Again, I don't wish to say in advance what they are about to publicize. But as we at Palestinian Media Watch understand the problem, there are prominent issues that should be focused on; for example, the subject of non-recognition of Israel. In truth the entire basis of the Oslo Agreement was that the Palestinian Authority, that Yasser Arafat, that the PLO, recognized Israel's existence and Israel's right to exist. But the message that we see conveyed to Palestinian children and to Palestinian adults is a message of complete non-recognition.
To illustrate this I want to cite one example from a recent television program for children - on official Palestinian Authority TV, which is under the control of the PA and even under the control of Mahmoud Abbas's office. The PA TV host says that there are many children from what she calls "the '48 territories," "the occupied territories," meaning Israel, who also watch their program. She mentions children from Lod and Be'er Sheva. Then she addresses the Israeli Arab children: "Of course we will always remain in contact with you; of course this program belongs to you since you, like every Palestinian child, are part of occupied Palestine." Now, this message to Palestinian children and even to Arab Israelis - that the entire territory of Israel is "occupied Palestine" - is an ideological message; it's a message that is repeated in schoolbooks, it's a message that is repeated even in daily crossword puzzles. And this influences Palestinian society.
E.B.O: In other words, in the Palestinian view, Israelis - despite all the [peace] processes - still seem like people who came, like the colonialists in the past - they took territory that wasn't theirs, with no connection with history and with the connection between the Jewish people and the Land of Israel.
Marcus: Yes, that's very true. That is also how they educate, and that's how their schoolbooks describe all the Aliya (immigration) to Israel -- as a foreign, colonialist immigration, with no historical connection to the Land of Israel. We have documented hundreds of statements by the Palestinian religious and political leadership in the past year, denying any connection of the Jews to the land of Israel. They have expressions - "the alleged Temple," "the false, imaginary Temple"; they deny there was ever a Jerusalem Temple. They ignore all the archaeological evidence. The PA message to their people is: Everything belongs to them, every meter is theirs. Israel has no past. The implication is that we will have no future.
E.B.O: Itamar Marcus, do you believe that if a courageous [Palestinian] leader would come - perhaps someone like Anwar Sadat, and he would change the terminology, and would say the opposite: "This is the state of the Jewish people, they are our neighbors, we must respect them, they have archaeological remains here," etc., etc. The very fact that they live under a non-democratic regime would help the leader to change the motif, the narrative, and the public would, accordingly, go along with him.
Marcus: I believe that a different narrative, over years, would change their positions, and I want to point out a very important survey that shows to what extent the positions have changed over years negatively due to hate promotion. Palestinians were asked: "Do you recognize Israel's right to exist?" Among the oldest group, those over the age of 50, more than 50% recognized Israel's right to exist. But among the youngest group, between 18 and 25, 92% did not recognize Israel's right to exist. The older people, who had lived in contact with Israel, who had lived before all the hate education and systematic terror attacks - they recognize Israel's right to exist, but the younger ones, who receive only the education of the PA, don't. That's why I say, just as they poisoned them with hatred, one could also carry out a reverse process of -
E.B.O: To bring in a "purification plant", perhaps, to clean this issue up.
E.B.O: And now in conclusion, concerning the word "Zionism." The Iranians take pains to talk of "the Zionist regime"; I believe the Syrians do, too. Wherever I hear the word "Israel," I have the feeling that they grant us more recognition.
Marcus: Unfortunately among the PA, too, they often are not prepared to mention Israel. Even the recent children's program that I mentioned, the host didn't want to mention Israel. She called it "the '48 territories," "occupied territories," "occupied Palestine" - three different expressions because she didn't want to use the name "Israel".
E.B.O: Is this unusual, or is this the usual line?
Marcus: In this children's program, unfortunately, it's happened several times. In the news they use the word "Israel." So there are two messages. I'll give you [an example of] how the word "Israel" is used in a schoolbook. In many schoolbooks all of Israel is referred to as "Palestine." They talk about Jaffa and other cities as part of Palestine. And when they mention Israel, it's like this in a schoolbook that was published only two years ago, for 12th grade. It teaches: "Palestine's war concluded when the Zionist gangs stole Palestine and established the State of Israel." That's how they use the expression "the State of Israel." It's the result of what the "Zionist gangs" stole. Thus, the message is: Israel exists, on one hand, but it has no right to exist because it's all stolen.
E.B.O: So, the incitement index that will from now on be published every three months in order to assess the level of incitement in the Palestinian media, in the mosques and in the educational system, is important in order to tell us Israelis how the State of Israel is reported, and how it is seen, in the Palestinian media and public.
Marcus: Correct. And based on those statements, and based on that education, we will have either peace or war in the next generation.
E.B.O: Itamar Marcus, director of the Palestinian Media Watch institute, thank you very much for being part of our program.