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A Palestinian Authority Arab girl recites a poem about Jews on official Palestinian Authority TV, May 29, 2015: "Oh Sons of Zion, oh most evil among creations. Oh barbaric monkeys..."

For the first time, the State Department has explicitly accused the Palestinian Authority (PA) of promoting anti-Semitism, a signal Jewish groups are hoping will lead to a change in U.S. policy.

According to a newly released State Department annual report on international religious freedom, official PA media “carried religiously intolerant material.” The report cited Palestinian television programs that called Jews “evil” or “denied a historical Jewish presence in Jerusalem.”

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Previously, U.S. officials had labeled the PA denial of Jewish ties to Jerusalem as “material criticizing the Israeli occupation,” but stopped short of calling it anti-Semitism. Arab media channels that carried the anti-Semitic content were “nonofficial PA and nonmainstream,” according to last year’s report.

The Obama administration no longer says the PA is working “to control and eliminate” expressions of anti-Semitism in its media outlets. Officials dropped an assertion made in previous years that the PA acted to “prevent preaching” of “sermons with intolerant or anti-Semitic messages.”

For years, Israeli leaders have accused the PA and its leader, Mahmoud Abbas, of inciting violence and anti-Semitism. Last year amid increasing terror attacks on Israelis, Abbas called for Jerusalem’s holy sites to be cleansed of Jews.

“Every drop of blood spilled in Jerusalem is pure, every shahid [martyr] will reach paradise, and every injured person will be rewarded by God…. The Al-Aqsa mosque is ours. The Church of the Holy Sepulchre is ours as well. They [Jews] have no right to desecrate the mosque with their dirty feet, we won’t allow them to do that,” Abbas said in a Sept. 2015 address on Palestinian TV.

With the U.S. on the record calling the PA activity anti-Semitism, it could be a step closer to a change in U.S. policy toward the PA, which is overdue, Nathan Diament, executive director of the Orthodox Union’s Advocacy Center in Washington, D.C., told JNS.

In 2015, the House of Representatives unanimously adopted a resolution condemning the Palestinian Authority for “promoting anti-Semitic and anti-Israel rhetoric in its official statements, media, and textbooks.” The measure was authored by U.S. Reps. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-Fla.) and Ted Deutch (D-Fla.).

Deutch told JNS he believes that many of the Palestinian terrorist attacks against Israelis during the past year “stemmed directly” from the kinds of anti-Semitic statements cited in the State Department report.

Several Jewish organizations are hoping the report will spur action on Capitol Hill.

“The question is whether Congress will finally move beyond condemnations and seek to make U.S. aid to the PA conditional on ending anti-Semitism in the PA media,” said Sarah Stern, president of the Endowment for Middle East Truth (EMET), a pro-Israel group based in Washington.

“It will be harder for the Obama administration to oppose such a step now that the State Department is on record acknowledging the PA’s anti-Semitism.”

Some Jewish groups, however, argue that Israel’s policies are to blame for Palestinian anti-Semitism. Paul Scham, co-president of Partners for Progressive Israel, told JNS that “while there have certainly been expressions of anti-Semitism on the part of Palestinians, and perhaps on the part of PA officials…such anti-Semitism is overwhelmingly based on the daily experiences of Palestinians with Israeli Jews in conditions of occupation by Israel and powerlessness for Palestinians.”

Though Scham said “we neither excuse nor justify any expressions of anti-Semitism and condemn them,” he believes Palestinian anti-Semitism “will die down” only with a two-state solution.

Meanwhile, others would like to see the U.S. hold the Palestinian Authority accountable, not reward it. Future U.S. and international aid to the PA “should be linked to zero tolerance for anti-Semitism,” said Rabbi Abraham Cooper, associate dean of the Simon Wiesenthal Center. “If not, the PA will continue [its anti-Semitism] with impunity. If there are no consequences for such actions, they will only continue and mushroom.”

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Dr. Rafael Medoff is founding director of The David S. Wyman Institute for Holocaust Studies, and author or editor of 18 books about Jewish history and the Holocaust.

9 COMMENTS

  1. very surprised…. with a mslm president in office never thought this would actually happen… now lets see if this will lead to the immediate halt of hundreds of millions of dollars in annual grants being poured down their drains that have turned their leaders BILLIONAIRES with nothing allocated to the people…

  2. Jonathan Weber both his father and step fathers were muslims… under islam, the child takes on he religion of the FATHER no matter what the mother is and no matter what he SAYS he converted to. There are documents showing that his REAL middle name was ‘Mohamad’ (it was later changed to Hussein) . By his own admission he acknowledged his islmaic roots, his attending islmic schools in childhood and waking up to the sound of the ‘moazine’ (islamic call to prayer which he said was the ‘sweetest sound he’s ever heard’) if it walks like a duck and squeaks like a duck, its a mslm duck

  3. Helen Kennedy where did u get that??? its absolutely NOT true… today’s palestenians are left over decedents of various tribes from surrounding Arab countries and the Ottoman empire who came to Judea in search of food and land… at no time were they ever jewish…

  4. he has to be…. israel collects taxes for him, israel supplies his people with jobs, water, electricity, medical care and education, israel is doing everything he is supposed to do for this own people had he not pocketed 95% of the money he receives for them.. the only ‘resolution’ he is looking for is how to maintain this bogus ‘refugee nonsense so more palestenians qualify for ‘refugee funds’…

  5. so i’m telling you what ‘he is’… he is maintaining the hatred, the instigation and the rewards for terrorism so this can keep going for the next 100 generations…. this way the money flow keeps coming in from stupid liberal western governments and him and his family and all those who will come after him will become BILLIONAIRES at the expense of the people…. HE’s got nothing to lose… only to gain

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