As renewed negotiations get underway between Israelis and Palestinians, it’s vital for the success of the endeavor to identify what went wrong in earlier discussions.
Secretary of State John Kerry wisely stressed in his July 30 briefing with Israeli and Palestinian leaders the central aim of “ending the conflict” and he emphasized as well the “end of claims” against Israel. These are basic tenets of any rational definition of peace and would mean, finally, the end of the drive to remove the Jewish state. They would mean genuine acceptance by Palestinian Arabs of the sovereign rights of a Jewish nation in what is an overwhelmingly Muslim-dominated region.
Notwithstanding the many previous signed agreements, hand shakes and photo ops, such acceptance has been largely cosmetic. While Palestinian leaders have endorsed coexistence in speeches for Western audiences, including at Washington think tanks and international gatherings, too often for the audience that counts most — Palestinian Arabs who live next door to Israel and who need to hear their leaders’ clear affirmation of the legitimacy of the Jewish state — the message has been the opposite.
Indeed, the Palestinian leadership over the two decades since the signing of the landmark Oslo Accords in 1993 has failed disastrously to prepare the Palestinian people for peace with their Jewish neighbors.
Ironically, before Oslo, there was no Palestinian-controlled TV to demonize Jews, but after Israel’s ceding of territory and authority, official media outlets came into existence that regularly glorify terrorist violence, deny Jewish ties to the land of Israel, denigrate Jews in crude stereotypes, vow expulsion of the Jews and claim all the territory between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea as Palestine.
Regrettably, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas continues to play a double game. Thus on May 26, 2013, at the World Economic Forum, Abbas offered up the familiar public rhetoric, declaring: “We don’t teach and we don’t educate our children to hate or even discriminate against any religion, be it Judaism or any other.” He said: “We strive to spread the culture of peace among our people.”
Yet, for example, on July 3 another of hundreds of broadcasts on Palestinian television directly controlled by Abbas’s Palestinian Authority featured young girls reciting crude anti-Jewish bigotry:
Oh, you who were brought up on spilling blood
You have been condemned to humiliation and hardship.
Oh Sons of Zion, oh most evil among creations
Oh barbaric monkeys, wretched pigs. (Palestinian Media Watch)
The murderers of Jews are constantly extolled in what is cast as a fight to the death with Israel. On May 9, 2013, for instance, a TV segment was devoted to praising and thanking Abdallah Barghouti, currently serving 67 life sentences for his participation in such terror attacks as the Sbarro Pizzeria bombing in Jerusalem. In that attack families were singled out for particular slaughter and included Malki Roth, a 15 year old who was lunching with her best friend. They’re buried next to one another.
Extreme fabrications regarding Jewish history may seem to the uninitiated too ludicrous to take seriously – the Temple Mount, Judaism’s holiest site, is said to have no Jewish connection despite vast archeological, biblical and other evidence. Jesus is said to be a Canaanite Palestinian teaching Islam, a claim that repudiates Jewish and Christian history together. Moses is said to be Muslim. Newspaper columns and broadcasts in official Palestinian media deny any ancient Jewish ties to any of the land of Israel, relentlessly altering place names and substituting Muslim ones. The ferocity of the campaigns in every aspect of society, saturating Palestinians in false beliefs – and hatred – make the prospects of normalization almost impossible to imagine.Indeed, the content of the invective against Jews and Israel is so violent – one Gazan speaker urged the harvesting of Jewish skulls – that many in the West seem prone to averting their gaze from what is clearly genocidal rhetoric with vague claims that progress in the peace talks will help do away with the unpleasantness.
But the cycle of indoctrination and violence cannot be broken without facing up to its existence, to the need for Western media attention and, above all, to the necessity for the Palestinians’ own leadership to halt the hatred and declare clearly in Arabic to Arab audiences that Israel and its people have a rightful place in the Middle East.