PMW op-ed: Seven Minutes of Peace Promotion
During a Palestinian high school graduation ceremony last week the students preformed a ten minute Dabka dance to the following repeating words:
“With words and with a rifle we will sing ... from Jerusalem to Gaza and Palestinian Shechem... Al-Bireh, Haifa, Jaffa and Ramle… The sound of a submachine gun … we will live and die, only that our homeland should return to us …I am a Palestinian … My weapon is the stone and the knife ... Palestine will soon be restored … The stone and the knife will take the victory...” [July 7, 2003]
This joyous anticipation of Israel’s destruction through armed conflict at the graduation ceremony was played to hundreds of parents and students, and was broadcast on Palestinian TV. It should have brought outraged protest from Israel’s leaders and media, as continued education of Palestinian children to anticipate Israel’s destruction is all that is necessary to assure that war continues into the next generation. However, it was not even an issue in the Israeli media.
This is but one example of the great disparity between what is being reported in the Israeli press about today’s Palestinian world and what is really happening, as seen via the window of the Palestinian media. What is most striking is that the common denominator in all the Israeli media distortions is the attempt to create a perception that the PA now is sincerely promoting peace with Israel.
Last Friday’s Maariv ran a story entitled “Pizmon Chadash - a new refrain” describing great changes it claimed had transpired in the Palestinian media. It wrote as “proof” of the significant changes in PA TV: “The songs praising the Shahids have been silenced, and in there place is a new hit: ‘the song of peace and freedom’ that is played on PA TV nearly around the clock.” Maariv gives the impression that the PA has truly reformed and that an atmosphere of peace pervades PA TV. Unfortunately, this is nearly a total fabrication. The PA did produce a single video clip “song of peace and freedom” but it was broadcast exactly once. 7 minutes of peace promotion - not quite “around the clock.” And those few minutes are completely overwhelmed by the continued broadcast of hate material, albeit on a smaller scale. There is certainly no peace atmosphere on PA TV.
The satisfaction expressed at the removal of Shahid glorification clips is likewise premature, and shows a lack of understanding of the Palestinian world. The PA is now running summer camps attended by thousands of children and a dominant theme, as reported in their media, is shahid and suicide bomber adoration. This is as direct continuation of the PA educational policy for many years, teaching children to admire terrorist who killed large numbers of Israelis, by naming schools, sporting events, educational programs and institutions after those terrorists. In the past for example, Dalal Mughrabi - the terrorist who in 1978 participated in the murder of 36 Israelis and American nature photographer Gail Ruben, has a school near Hebron named for her [Al-Hayat Al-Jadida, July 30, 2002], a summer camp in 2001 [PATV Aug. 9, 2001], a Kindergarten [Al Ayyam, May 30, 2001], a women’s youth course [Al-Hayat Al-Jadida, Jan. 25, 2002], and much more. Ayyat al-Akhras, the second woman suicide bomber of the Kiryat Hayovel supermarket in Jerusalem, had a summer camp named for her last year [Al-Hayat Al-Jadida, Aug. 4, 2002]. In January, a soccer tournament under the auspices of the PA Ministry of Education was named for the suicide bomber who murdered 30 during the Passover Seder Massacre.
This policy is continuing this summer. The PA daily reported this week on a summer camp named for Jihad Al-Amarin, the founder of the suicide terror division of the Fatah, the Al-Aqsa Martyrs’ Brigade. And to guarantee the children understand the message, the camp activities included a visit to the terrorist’s home: “Yesterday the camp’s participants went to the home of the shahid Jihad Al-Amarin, where (they were greeted by) the shahid’s wife, children and family. During the visit there were speeches praising the virtues of the shahid Jihad Al-Amarin... The shahid’s wife expressed her joy at our people’s loyalty to her husband, stating that the shahid Jihad followed a national mission. During the visit the shahid’s wife was presented with the camp’s shield.” [Al-Hayat Al-Jadida, July 13, 2003] This was but one among tens of summer camps named for shahids.
Even a dose of incitement to murder was included just this week on PA TV. Dr. Hassan Khader, founder of the Al-Quds Encyclopedia, during a hate lecture focusing on what he describes as Israel’s war against Palestinian trees, made a point of also quoting what has been a repeating theme of PA religious teaching:
"Mohammed said in his Hadith: “The Hour [Day of Resurrection] will not arrive until you fight the Jews, [until a Jew will hide behind a rock or tree] and the rock and the tree will say: ‘Oh Muslim, servant of Allah, there is a Jew behind me, come and kill him!’” [PA TV, July 13, 2003] This Hadith, which elevates the murder of Jews to mandatory religious obligation, has been cited numerous times by PA leaders as mandatory in the current conflict. This week PA TV chose to replay this old interview. Not quite “peace clips around the clock.”
So what, then, has changed in the PA media? Over the last few weeks there has been a drop in the quantity of incitement to hatred and violence on Palestinian television, but not in the quality. The message has not changed, as indicated by the Dabka dance, but it is being dispensed in smaller doses. The holes in broadcasting time, which used to be filled with hours of hate clips, are being replaced by an occasional nature program, many hours of talk shows that often include significant hate incitement, and by hours of cartoons. And a daily dose of hate clips is still included. Minutes a day, instead of hours.
If the goal is to look for technical improvements on the part of the PA in order to give them a good grade, then one might focus on the fewer hours of hate TV. However, if the goal is peace then the celebrations of a change in PA TV are quite premature. The ideology must change. Peace must be taught. Israel must be recognized, not just in Washington, but in the PA high schools and graduation ceremonies, as well. Israel must appear on PA maps. Murder and hate education must be totally eliminated. If the goal is peace, then a few more hours of Mickey Mouse on TV just isn't going to be enough.