If peace talks are such a good thing, why is there so much pessimism regarding the chances of success for the Israel-PA talks? This is not a rhetorical question; it has a very concrete, specific, one-word answer:
Harsh, consistent and well-documented Arab incitement against Israel has been ongoing within the Palestinian Authority ever since its inception, and even before. It has one purpose: To inculcate the Arab population in Judea, Samaria and Gaza, especially the children, to fear and hate Israel and its Jews, and especially those they call “settlers.”
The message, drummed in on television, in official ceremonies, and in schools, is typically accompanied by the hope that in the end, the Jews in Israel will be expelled or killed, and that this will happen by human hands – the sooner, the better. Praise for terrorists who have done their share to this end is aboveboard and widespread. The message is not given over merely by fringe elements in the Palestinian Authority, but is rather a part of official government policy.
Can children brought up on this daily diet during their formative years, and for whom it constitutes basic truth when they become adults, possibly be expected to ever want to “make peace” with the object of their ingrained hostility?
Watchdog groups such as Palestinian Media Watch and the Center for Near East Policy Research have long reported on and recorded examples of Arab incitement in the PA. It will have to suffice for now, however, simply to glance at the headlines of recent days to get the basic gist.
At the center of all anti-Israel incitement, it comes as no surprise, is Jerusalem. Just a week ago, Arab instigator Raad Salah starred in a rally held in the Israeli-Arab village of Kafr Kara, near Hadera, and called on his followers: “Come to the Temple Mount [on Rosh Hashanah Eve] and let us block all Jews from entering!”
Salach, who has been imprisoned twice for his incitement and anti-Israel activities, further exhorted the crowds to “liberate all of Palestine” and to collapse the “Israeli conquest.”
In the past, Salach’s words have led to violence, as he hoped they would. In fact, the Second Intifada of 2000-3 has been partially attributed to Raed Salach’s incitement. The Ohr Commission that investigated the outbreak of that PA terrorist war against Israel found that Salach was guilty, inter alia, of fanning the flames of anti-Israel violence among the Israeli-Arab population.
In 2007, Salach instigated Arab rioting at the Western Wall, on the pretext that Israel’s attempt to refurbish the passageway leading up to the Temple Mount was actually a plan to destroy the Mosque of Omar. He was arrested, banned from the Old City of Jerusalem for months, and later imprisoned. In 2009, he called on Moslem believers to bodily protect the Temple Mount from the Jews – just as he did last week – leading to violent riots in Jerusalem and environs; he was arrested on charges of rebellion and incitement.
Note that Salach’s incitement often centers around Jerusalem. This is clearly based on the realization that when jihad fever needs to be aroused among Muslims, Jerusalem always serves as a major rallying card. When the need passes, however, so does the centrality of Jerusalem for Muslims.
Earlier this month, the official Facebook page of Mahmoud Abbas’s Presidential Guard posted a picture of the Western Wall with a Palestinian flag superimposed on it. Taking the most well-known symbol of Israeli history and sovereignty and rendering it “Palestinian” is no fluke. Official PA television has twice broadcast plans to destroy the Kotel plaza and build a neighborhood on its ruins.
Also this month, it was reported that the PA had held an official ceremony honoring 22 Palestinian terrorist murderers who had killed a total of 238 Israelis. The PA’s Minister of Prisoners’ Affairs declared openly, “The purpose of this visit [to a terrorist's home] during this month [of Ramadan] is to emphasize [our] loyalty and love to the prisoners.” During the same months, PA television had numerous programs honoring terrorists, even more frequently than during other months.
Picture a child – actually, hundreds of children – attending a Gaza day camp (run by UNRWA, incidentally) in which the counselor shows her young charges a map of Israel as if it were all “Palestine,” with the word “Israel” not to be found. She then asks each child in turn, “Which village are your forebears from?” She then tells them, “These are our towns from which we were thrown out in 1948 by the occupation, after our forefathers had lived there honorably…. We will return to our villages with power and honor.”
About the Author: Chaim Silberstein is president of Keep Jerusalem-Im Eshkachech and the Jerusalem Capital Development Fund. He was formerly a senior adviser to Israel's minister of tourism. Hillel Fendel, past senior editor at Israel National News/Arutz-7, is a veteran writer on Jerusalem affairs. Both have lived in Jerusalem and now reside in Beit El.
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