Palestinian Media Watch: It’s About Hate, Not Territory
Palestinian Media Watch documents what the PA teaches adults and children. Messages for Palestinians differ from those for foreign consumption.
By Ann Green, August 1, 2017
Itamar Marcus (Photo by Dubi Gordon)
An essay written by a 15-year-old Palestinian girl, in which she discusses Hitler as her role model, is chosen for publication in an educational magazine published by the Palestinian Authority (PA). On a children’s show on PA television a child intones, “We will smash and destroy the Zionist soul. Shoot, shoot in the name of God, those who don’t believe in Allah.”
“When someone says that the problem in the Israel/Palestinian situation is the occupation, I say I wish it was the occupation,” asserted Itamar Marcus, founder and director of Palestinian Media Watch (PMW). On July 26, Marcus gave a talk on “Understanding the Impediments to Peace between Israel and the PA” to a packed house at the Newton office of the Israel American Council (IAC) in Boston, in a program co-sponsored by IAC and Advocates for Israel.
Marcus founded PMW in 1996 after the signing of the Oslo Accords, which was supposed to end the Israeli/Palestinian conflict. “It was important to know what was happening among Palestinians internally, as opposed to the face which the PA wanted to show the world,” explained Marcus. “We needed to know what they say in their schools, in mosques, in the media, especially what they say to kids, including pre-schoolers. This is what will determine if the peace process is real.” PMW follows all aspects of life under the PA, the leadership, culture, sports, religion and education, providing translations, videos and a website documenting their work. “We found two sets of messages,” said Marcus, “one for Palestinians and one for foreign consumption.”
Fatah is the political/military organization that runs the PA. The Fatah Facebook page brags of killing 11,000 Israelis, through the efforts of 170,000 “martyrs.” “These figures,” said Marcus, “are gross exaggerations. The point is, what they are telling their people is that they are all about terror, war and killing Jews. None of it is about peace.” The New York Times and Newsweek reported that the PA cites such false statistics to appeal to their people to get votes. “Aside from what this says about what appeals to the Palestinian people,” said Marcus, “the media doesn’t question this.”
Such propaganda is effective. “Over the last year and a half of terror, including stabbings and car rammings,” said Marcus, “50 percent were perpetrated by people under the age of 19, 10 percent by kids under 15. These are not rock-throwers; these are killers.” A recent poll of Palestinians revealed that 95.6 percent say religion is an important part of their life. Marcus showed a video of a weekly PA sermon which included the message, “Kill them to the last one, punish the wicked Jews.”
Sports under the PA are directed by the Ministry of Education, whose leaders regularly name events and tournaments after terrorists. “There are hundreds of examples,” said Marcus, “including a children’s football tournament named after a 13-year-old who stabbed an Israeli boy. The Dalal Mughrabi Cup is a basketball tournament named for a terrorist who hijacked a bus and killed 12 children and 25 adults in 1978. The message: This is what I have to do to have a tournament named after me.” At least 22 schools have been named for terrorists and three for Nazi collaborators.
While Israel had hoped that sports could become a bridge for peace, the PA has rejected the idea. Efforts by the Perez Center for Peace were met with the PA’s “no normalization with Israel” policy. The French press reported on a Palestinian/Israeli football match at which an 11-year-old Palestinian boy was quoted as saying, “I hope there’ll be peace.” “See how powerful these events can be?” said Marcus. “Yet the PA denounced the event as immoral and prosecuted the Palestinian organizers.”
The assumption throughout the world has always been that the Israel/PA conflict is about territory, but, explained Marcus, “The PA has adopted the ideology of [the terrorist organization] Hamas. The message is that this is a religious war, that Jews are monkeys and pigs in league with Satan. Religious wars never end.”
Marcus showed videos from PA TV programs for children teaching that Jews are the most evil entity in creation. The religious advisor to PA President Mahmoud Abbas preaches that the Palestinian/Israeli conflict, said Marcus, “is about good vs. evil, that the conflict predates the founding of the State of Israel, that Jews represent Satan. It’s not about territory. The enemy is Zion, Satan with a tail.” Abbas is often described in the press as a moderate.
Marcus also showed cartoons for pre-schoolers which teach that Satan is trying to destroy Islam through the Jews. “This theme is repeated on TV shows, in classes and on the internet,” said Marcus. “Jews cause everything that’s wrong in the world. The violence between Shia and Sunni Muslims, between Muslims and Christians, are caused by Jews.” Another video showed a PA cleric explaining that when fish fight other fish it’s because of the Jews. In other videos, the PA blames the terror attacks in Paris on Jews, and claims that Jews were behind the robbery of Kim Kardashian, who was held up at gunpoint in Paris in 2016.
Children and adults are also taught that all of Israel is occupied Palestinian territory, not just Gaza and the West Bank. A PMW video shows puppets telling children that Jerusalem, Jaffa and Tel Aviv, that is, all of Israel, belongs to them.
Do Palestinians recognize Israel’s right to exist? For those over 50, the number is 50 percent, while for those age 18-25 the number is 8 percent. “This propaganda is a fundamental problem that makes peace impossible,” said Marcus. “If Jews are seen as Satan’s progeny, how do we change that perception?”
Referring to the recent terror wave in Israel, Marcus asked, “How can a child know better with what he hears all day long? There is no other message from the PA. They have been poisoned by their own leadership.” Marcus calls these children the lost generation of Palestinian kids.
The good news, said Marcus, is that “PMW is changing the way the world sees the Palestinians.” He showed a video of a press conference he gave with Hillary Clinton, during which she called on the PA to stop the indoctrination that poisons children’s minds. Said Marcus, “You can help to do this by talking with friends, politicians, journalists.”
The Israeli government is now utilizing PMW material. Recently the PA named a square for the leader of the infamous Maalot massacre of 1974, during which terrorists murdered 26 Israelis, mostly high-school students. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu learned about this from a PMW video. “He told the PA immediately to take down the monument,” said Marcus. “Israel removed it. The PA replaced it. Israel removed it again, so the PA named a street after him.” Netanyahu told Abbas to “Google yourself and see the PMW evidence.”
Such nations as Norway, Denmark and Great Britain and even the U.N. have reacted to PMW videos by asking the PA to remove their logos from events and buildings named for terrorists and demanded that the PA repay donated funds. Marcus told the story of a Canadian minister who believed for years that Israel was the bully in the Middle East. After listening to a PMW presentation, he is now a big supporter. A presentation to the Australian parliament was also very successful.
Marcus encourages Israel supporters to download PMW materials and to get on their email list. Among the useful information on the website are charts detailing how the PA pays salaries to terrorists and their families. “If you are arrested for ‘resisting the occupation,’ which can include holding a sign or committing a terror attack,” explained Marcus, “you get a salary which is four times the average that a Palestinian makes. Terrorists come out of jail wealthy. Families of dead terrorists are paid for life. There is a bonus if the terrorist is a citizen of Israel.”
“Go on the offensive; be specific,” urged Marcus. “Document your sources. People will listen. The fight for Israel can be won.”