| Itamar Marcus
|Director Palestinian Media Watch, Senate Appropriations Committee, Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services and Education, Chaired by Senator Arlen Specter|
Mr. Chairman, Senators, there is significant evidence documenting Palestinian Authority [PA] incitement of its children to hatred, violence and Death for Allah - the Shahada. This incitement is advanced by the PA through the entire social-educational structure, including sporting events and summer camps, the media including music videos for children and schoolbooks. Jews and Judaism are presented as inherently evil, Israel existence as a state is de-legitimized and denied, and fighting Jews and Judaism is presented as justified and heroic.
The PA Ministries of Education and Sport have turned the most abhorrent murderers of Jews into role models and heroes for Palestinian youth. A soccer tournament for 11-year-old boys was named for Abd Al-Baset Odeh - the terrorist who murdered 30 in the Passover Seder suicide bombing. [Sports section,Al Hayat Al Jadida Jan 21, 2003]. This past summer, during the period of the US sponsored Road Map, numerous summer camps were named for suicide bombers, including a camp for teenagers named after a teenage suicide bomber, a 17 year old girl, Ayyat Al Akhras. Another camp for girls was named after Wafa Idris, the first woman suicide bomber. Many schools, cultural events, educational programs, and trophies, are named after terrorist murderers and suicide bombers. There can be no greater incitement to hatred and violence than the recurring portrayal of Palestinian terrorists as role models for children. As recently as September this year PA Chairman Arafat and 13 PA Leaders jointly sponsored a soccer tournament honoring arch terrorists. The PA leaders included Saeb Erikat; Jibril Rajoub; the Minister of Sport - Abdul Fatach Hamal; the Mufti of the PA Ikrama Sabri; and 10 other senior PA officials. Each of the 24 soccer teams was named for a terrorist or other Shahids ["Martyrs"] including some of the most infamous murderers like Yechya Ayash, the first Hamas bomb engineer, who initiated the suicide bombings, and Dalal Mughrabi, a terrorist woman who hijacked a bus killing 36 including American Gail Ruben in 1978; [Al Ayyam, Sept. 21, 2003] At the completion of this tournament Saeb Erikat distributed the trophies.
While Music videos around the world are used to entertain children, in the PA they are used to indoctrinate children to hatred, violence, and Shahada. Regularly broadcast PA music videos have actors depicting Israelis carrying out execution-style murders of old men, woman and children, or blowing up mothers with their babies. In one music video broadcast continuously in 2003, actors portray a woman being murdered in cold blood in front of her daughter. In another, broadcast tens of times in 2003, the image of young girl on a swing turns into a flaming inferno, and a football blows up after being kicked by a child. Children are taught through these videos not only to hate and to be violent, but are openly encouraged to aspire to death through Shahada [Martyrdom]. Clips designed to offset a child's natural fear of death portraying child Shahada as both heroic and tranquil, have appeared on PA TV thousands of times over three years. [2000-2003] One clip for children ends with the words: "Ask for Death - the Life will be Given to you". In another, a child writes a farewell letter and goes off to die. Children who have achieved death through suicide missions have been turned into PA heroes and role models by the PA leaders.
The hatred, anti Semitism and Shahada encouragement appear in the PA schoolbooks as well. The poem The Shahid [The Martyr] in a new PA schoolbook includes the phrase: "I see my death, but I hasten my steps toward it" [Our Beautiful Language, grade 7, p. 97] The PA argument that some of the books are copies of Jordanian books is not relevant, as a child being taught that Jews are evil is not going to be less influenced because of the identity of the publisher. Furthermore, even the new PA-produced schoolbooks teach hatred, de-legitimize Israel, and include anti-Semitic themes. This education will perpetuate the conflict into the next generation.
It is important to note that the PA is making use of foreign funding to promote this hatred among its children. Summer camps named for suicide bombers this summer were funded by UNICEF. [Al-Hayat Al-Jadida, July 22, 2003, Al-Ayyam July 18, 2003, Al-Quds, July 23, 2003]. Renovation of a school named for Dalal Maghrabi, a terrorist who participated in the murder of 36 including an American, was funded by USAID [Al-Hayat Al-Jadida July 30 2002]. And whereas the PA announced two days later that they had changed the name, in order to receive the USAID funding, PA press reports indicated that the name was still being used. [Al-Hayat Al-Jadida, August 16, 2002]
Clearly, children are being incited to hatred, violence and Shahada, not merely by fringe elements in the PA, but by the entire mainstream of PA leadership and society. This incitement to hatred and violence penetrates the minds of the PA children and, after terrorism itself, is the single greatest long-term obstacle to peace.
Under the Oslo accords and subsequently under the Wye accords, the PA obligated itself to cease this incitement, but has ignored its own laws. In the interest of achieving a lasting peace, pressure must be brought on the PA, through all available means, including temporary political isolation and the temporary freezing of financial support, in order to impress upon the Palestinians the importance of peace education.
The following concrete steps should be taken by the PA immediately:
1. Music videos promoting hatred, violence, and Shahada must never again be broadcast on PA TV.
2. The practice of naming schools, cultural events, educational programs, sport events and trophies after terrorists and suicide bombers must cease. Educational institutions and cultural frameworks currently named for terrorists must be changed.
3. PA children must be taught that Israel is a legitimate country with a right to exist.
4. There is no greater incitement against Israels legitimacy as a state, than to mark the word Palestineor occupied Palestinein place of Israel on all maps in the PA. These maps must be removed from Palestinian schools, schoolbooks and TV broadcasting and be replaced by maps that show Israel by name in Arabic. This will be the most important act of recognition of Israel by the PA, more important than the signing of the Oslo Accords. To continue the current practice, makes the statements of recognition of Israel at Oslo irrelevant and sends a clear message to the population that is was not said with integrity.
5. The hatred and anti Semitism in the PA schoolbooks must be removed. The PA argument that many of the books are copies of Jordanian books is not relevant to the issues at hand, which is, the educational damage being done to the children. A child being taught that Jews are evil is not going to be less influenced because of the identity of the publisher. In addition, even the new PA produced schoolbooks educate to hatred, de-legitimize Israel, and include anti Semitic themes. The PA schoolbooks must be reprinted without the hatred before the start of the next school year.
If these steps are not taken all efforts towards peace in the political realm will ultimately be futile.