The Roots of Palestinian Hatred
By Nadav Shragai
The media last week spared the public the close-up photographs of the battered bodies of the two children from the settlement of Tekoa, and that was the right decision. Whoever perpetrated the crime did not stop with killing; the bodies were abused in a way that is beyond the human imagination. Once more it is apparent that a fierce hatred underlies this atrocity and others like it, such as the lynching of the two soldiers in Ramallah last October, or the more recent murder of the infant girl Shalhevet Pas, from the Jewish community in Hebron, by a Palestinian sharpshooter who locked his gunsight on the baby girl's head and fired.
The Palestinians were not born as Jew-haters. Hatred is an acquired trait, and the Palestinian establishment has been cultivating it for years. True, it accompanied the Jewish-Palestinian conflict from its inception, but even after the signing of the Oslo accords no one uprooted it. The Israeli media "discovered" this fact of life at a relatively late stage. The official textbooks of the Palestinian Authority are filled to overflowing with incitement and hatred for Jews, as are the Palestinian media, both the official stations and the ostensibly private ones.
Last month a survey by the Palestinian Research Institute (the Jerusalem Center for Media and Communications) found that 73.7 percent of the residents of the areas controlled by the Palestinian Authority support suicide terrorist attacks against Israel. That mass of support did not arise out of nowhere.
For years already, Itamar Marcus and his staff from a private Israeli body that monitors the Palestinian media, have been collecting clips that deal with violence against Israel and against the IDF (Israel Defense Forces). Last summer the number of such broadcasts increased by the hundreds, and during the period of peak violence there were instances when they accounted for about 90 percent of the volume of all broadcasts. It was not long ago that Al-Hayat al-Jadida, a daily paper published in the Gaza Strip, reported that a clip entitled "My mother shall not be humiliated" had been chosen as the best of these clips.
In that clip, the camera moved slowly toward a house of which only a pile of rubble remains, on which a woman is sitting and crying. Her son wipes away the tears with his hand and then jumps up and runs with his friends to initiate clashes with Israeli soldiers. The clip shows a ship carrying Jewish immigrants to Israel, a tent camp of Palestinian refugees, and David Ben-Gurion delivering a speech. An Israeli flag is seen waving, with the word "Israel" inside the Star of David. The boy throws a stone and breaks some glass. For a moment the seven-branched menorah appears and then immediately vanishes. The message is clear: Israel will be made to disappear by means of violence.
Afterward Israeli troops murder an Arab who is working in his vineyard. More shots of refugees, then Ariel Sharon on the Temple Mount, processions of Palestinian children, songs of the militant Hezbollah organization, Israeli tanks and a photograph of Mohammed al-Dura, the Palestinian boy who died in his father's arms in an exchange of gunfire between Israeli soldiers and Palestinians. This whole sequence is accompanied by shots of the weeping mother scouring the streets in search of her son, as children sing out forcefully: "I have responded to your call, O mother... Who caused the tears that flow from your eyes. My mother shall not be humiliated."
The clip that came in second, the paper reported, was called "Future," by the Iraqi singer Khazem al-Sahar. It tells of two Palestinian lovers who are trying to meet. They are separated by a barbed-wire fence. They reach the border and gaze at one another across the fence. The young woman, consumed by love, decides to cross, but Israeli soldiers aim their rifles at the center of her back and shoot her. In the final scene the soldiers notice the young man by his beloved's grave. He runs, and they shoot him in the back too. Thus he is finally united with his beloved. The message: Israeli soldiers shoot young lovers in the back.
In the past seven months, Palestinian television has carried a steady stream of such clips (after a period of relative calm). In the last two months alone, a hadith (the oral law, sometimes attributed to Mohammed himself) calling for the killing of Jews has been issued three times: "The Day of Judgment will not come until you do battle against the Jews, until the last Jew hides behind a stone and a tree, and the stone and tree shall say: Muslim, servant of God, leave a Jew behind me, kill him."
When the Al-Aqsa Intifada broke out, some preachers called for the slaughter of the Jews. Since then there have also been prayers for the annihilation of the Jews, and the Palestinians also learned that anyone who concedes Haifa, Lod and Ashkelon is "a revolting criminal who is doomed to go to hell."
The messages are consistent and they are voiced both by clerics and by members of the political leadership. Their gist is the demonization of the Jews, non-recognition of their legitimacy as a nation, and blood libels of the worst kind. On Palestinian television the official clerics of the Palestinian Authority declare that the confrontation with Israel is the eternal religious war of Islam against the Jews.
The hatred the Palestinians bear for us, some Jews will be sorry to learn, does not stem solely from territorial reasons. The preachers portray the hatred for the Jews as the will of Allah, the Jews as the enemies of Allah and the religious obligation to kill Jews as the decree of Allah.
All the agreements that have been signed with Israel, the preachers emphasize (just as Arafat did when he talked about the agreement Mohammed signed with the Jews) are temporary and are signed in the wake of a current favorable balance of forces. In Israel, public opinion does battle against the agents of hatred among us and spews out most of them. In the areas of the Palestinian Authority, hatred has become commonplace, its religious and national motivations rooted far more deeply than the relatively young roots of the settlements in both Gush Etzion and Kfar Sava.
© 2000 Ha'aretz. All Rights Reserved Sunday, May 13, 2001
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