(Article by Amos Nevo, « Yediot Ahronot », March 10, 2000)
Extremism in the Palestinian media: Holocaust denial, anti-Semitic cartoons, calls for a jihad
A wave of seditious anti-Israel publications is flooding the Palestinian Authority. Newspapers and television broadcasts have been recruited for a propaganda campaign, historians on talk shows explain that the Western Wall was built by Arabs. « Nazi, fascist and racist » Israel is accused of injecting children with the AIDS virus, of pushing drugs and marketing poisoned food. Journalists who strayed from the official line were arrested by the Palestinian security services
Everybody in Gaza is talking about Israeli onions, of all things. A few weeks ago, as the Arab fantasy goes, Israel smuggled large quantities of spoiled onions to the Gaza Strip, onions that had been watered with unpurified sewage, with the goal of poisoning the residents. There was a minor panic, the goods were removed from the shelves, but nobody died and the onions went back to the salad.
Rumors have come from various places in the « Autonomy » about settlers who poison beehives belonging to Palestinians and, abetted by the security services, sell them spoiled food that causes disease and death to people and animals. From time to time Israel is accused of pushing drugs and of injecting children with the AIDS virus. A few months ago, while Hilary Clinton was visiting Israel, Suha Arafat, wife of the « Ra’is, » complained to her that Israel is deliberately polluting the Palestinians’ water sources and is using carcinogenic tear gas.
Now even Israeli Radio is dangerous: « It allocates the most dangerous part of its programs with the goals of capturing a significant portion of our young people, » writes the Al-Hayat Al-Jedida newspaper, which is published in Ramallah. « It’s time to appoint people to monitor the danger of these programs. »
A murky wave of anti-Semitic publications is flooding the lands of the Palestinian Authority. The official media has recruited the top newspaper reporters and television directors for this mission The sermonizers in the mosques call on the faithful to fight the Jews in every way. Textbooks in the Palestinian schools call on children to join the suicide bombers and annihilate Israel. The wording is harsh, sharp and extremist.
The official TV station broadcasts movies in which children kill Israeli soldiers. Reports from summer camps show children training with weapons and singing bellicose songs and songs of praise for the « shahids » [suicide bombers]. The map of Greater Palestine, which covers the area of the entire State of Israel, is often shown, and the name « Israel » is not mentioned. All of Israel’s cities are presented as the cities of Palestine. The spokesmen nurture among viewers a longing and a love for these cities and a promise to return to them soon: Israel is a « racist country that uses the same method of ethnic cleansing that Nazi Germany used against the Jews. » Israel is a temporary existence, and its end is decreed by the heavens.
The Jews are presented as the enemies of Islam, « wild animals, » « locusts, » « swindlers, » « traitors, » « aggressive, » « war-mongers, » « robbers, » « sly, » « avaricious, » « disloyal, » « thieves, » and their end, too, will come. A cartoon in one of the newspapers showed a dwarf with a Star of David, his face like the face of the Jew from the Nazi Stuermer, with the caption « The disease of the century. » In another cartoon an Israeli soldier is barbecuing Arabs. One by one he takes them off the grill and eats them with relish. Zionism, according to these harsh and seditious cartoons, is equivalent to Fascism and Nazism.
« I remember this from somewhere, » sighs Esti Vebman, an expert on anti-Semitism, from the Institute for the Study of Anti-Semitism and Racism at Tel Aviv University. Vebman leafs through a pile of Arab newspapers that are published within the boundaries of the Palestinian Authority, and is shocked time and again. She has been following anti-Semitism in the Arab world for the past eight years, and has seen no change with regard to Israel. « Back in the Middle Ages, » says Vebman, « the Christians used this motif of poisoning wells. The Arabs are now adopting the Christian anti-Semitism of the Middle Ages and Nazi anti-Semitism; they are adding Islamic motifs and integrating it into their anti-Israel propaganda. »
« Everything is directed from above »
Television stations and newspapers that voiced criticism of the Palestinian Authority have been shut down. Journalists who strayed from the official line have been fired or arrested, beaten and tortured by the Palestinian security services and, as a condition for their release, were required to sign a commitment to submit their articles to the police prior to their publication. « This is not journalism. Everything is propaganda for the Palestinian Authority, and woe to anyone who criticizes it. There is no independence and no freedom of expression, » claims Palestinian journalist Mohammed Najib.
« I have no doubt that it is Arafat’s office that is encouraging articles denouncing Israel, or is at least turning a blind eye to them, » says Bassam Id, general director of the Palestinian Human Rights Organization, who spent approximately one year studying what has been happening in the Palestinian media. « The journalists know it, » says Id. « Others confessed to me that that on more than one occasion they have been forced to publish, faute de mieux, articles replete with hatred and lies against Israel, in order to hold on to their jobs. »
« Everything is directed from above, » says Orientalist Professor Rafi Yisraeli of Hebrew University. « Some of the Palestinian media are controlled directly by the Palestinian Authority and serve as its mouthpiece. People from the Palestinian Authority and those who are closely connected with the Palestinian Authority work there. It is the leaders who pay the salaries and it is they who call the shots and dictate the style. »
There is tension in the Palestinian Authority. The negotiations are bogged down, the Palestinian people are desperate and Arafat is depressed. « This is a time when hatred breeds, » explains Orientalist Dan Shiften of Haifa University. « Hatred is constantly in the air. It appears in waves in accordance with the progress of the negotiations with Israel and events in the region. Even when the Palestinians receive something in the negotiations, the frustration due to what they did not get is so great that even then, they cannot restrain themselves, and they broadcast hatred in all directions. »
The Holocaust used as a backlash
Hitler is one of the heroes of Palestinian youth, reveal researchers from the University of Hamburg, who are conducting an international study on the perceptions of democracy among young people around the world. Booksellers in the territories report that Hitler’s book Mein Kampf is one of the most popular there, a best-seller from their point of view.
Palestinian journalists are in the habit of comparing Israel’s actions in the territories with those of the Nazis. Alongside the anti-Semitic publications, Israeli leaders are portrayed as oppressors: Binyamin Netanyahu, while serving as prime minister, was portrayed as a Nazi and described as « a Zionist terrorist who is worse than Hitler. » Now Ehud Barak, in Arafat’s eyes, is worse than Netanyahu.
Moreover, the Holocaust has become a tool for undermining in the hands of Palestinian Holocaust deniers: « It was a good day for the Jews, when the Nazi Hitler began his campaign of persecution against them, » writes Sif Ali Algeruan of Al-Hayat Al-Jedida. « They began to disseminate, in a terrifying manner, pictures of mass shootings in directed at them, and to invent the shocking story about the gas ovens in which, according to them, Hitler used to burn them. The newspapers are filled with pictures of Jews who were mowed down by Hitler’s machine guns, and of Jews being led to the gas ovens. In these pictures they concentrated on women, babies and old people, and they took advantage of it, in order to elicit sympathy towards them, when they demand financial reparations, contributions and grants from all over the world. The truth is that the persecution of the Jews is a myth, that the Jews dubbed « the tragedy of the Holocaust » and took advantage of, in order to elicit sympathy towards them. »
Even the crossword puzzles that appear in the newspapers contain definitions such as « a Jewish center for commemorating the Holocaust and the lie, » as a definition for Yad Vashem. « Some of them go hand in glove with the Holocaust deniers, » says Esti Vebman, researcher of anti-Semitism. « It is true that there have been of late intellectual circles that are willing to agree that such a historical incident, like the Holocaust, did indeed happen, but from the deniers’ point of view there were no gas chambers and no six million who died. »
« History will not be distorted »
The Palestinians are currently engaged in rewriting their history. « While constructing their national myths, they are erasing Jewish history, dispossessing the Jews from their status as a people, determining that the Jews are tribes and not a people and, therefore, do not deserve the land and that those who do are the Arabs who, in their opinion, are the descendants of the Canaanites, » says Professor Yisraeli.
The Palestinian media is full of fabrications of this type. The TV studios host Moslem historians who exchange views and answer viewers’ phone-in questions. « We are the most ancient people, and the most ancient culture is the culture of Palestine, » historian Professor Atzam Sisalam explains to the viewers. « The Hebrews are an Arab tribe. The land belongs to us and to our Christian brethren. As a historian I challenge any of their historians who claims that the ruins belong to them. »
The host: « Palestine went through many periods, and there are witnesses: our heritage, the history, the mosques, the archeological sites. The other side (the Israelis) has nothing to turn to and nothing that can prove its claims. »
Sisalam: « That’s right. Everywhere you go you will find our ruins. History will not be distorted and will not be denied In the months ahead the final destiny of this land will be determined. Those who came from Arab countries, like the members of Gesher, David Levy and others, go back to Morocco that protected you and provided you with security. Go back to Algeria and to Tunis; you are part of the Arab fabricWe will die for our right to this land.
With their verbal nonsense the Palestinian experts wipe out the days of the First and Second Temples, and determine that the Western Wall was built by Arabs. « All the excavations did not prove the location of the holy place that they invented, » said Arafat in an interview on Palestinian Television in 1998. « For over thirty years they occupied the land, and they did not succeed in bringing one shred of proof with regard to the site of the temple. »
They invent and they fantasize, says Professor Yisraeli, and sometimes they cite sources that do not exist and present them as the absolute truth, and they conceal archeological findings. They reiterate their claim over and over again until it becomes a « fact. »
« In a situation like this, » says Shiften, « it looks to me as if there will never be a change. The closer we get to a permanent settlement, if ever, the more obvious it will be to them that Israel cannot provide a solution to many of their hopes, like the Right of Return, and then their frustration will grow, and the hostility will not subside.
« We can learn a lot from what happened with Egypt. We made peace with Egypt and gave in to their demands, but nevertheless the hatred there did not diminish. On the contrary. The explanation for this is rooted, inter alia, in the fact that the Egyptians feel that we imposed the agreement on them under conditions of weakness, and this humiliation is like a thorn in their side, » says Shiften. « This helplessness, which stems from the fact that they were destined, according to the Koran, to emerge strong and now they are forced to stand – weak and miserable, as it were – before the strong Jews who were destined for a life of misery. This envy of successful and thriving Israel in contrast to their own weakness in the progressive world can offer a good explanation for the hatred whose end is not in sight. »
A Jewish character as depicted in Al-Hayat Al-Jedida
A Israeli soldier barbecuing Arabs. The newspaper Al-Hayat Al-Jedida, after the riots in Um El-Fahem
« Every student should yearn to die in a war against israel »
The instruction books for teachers in the Palestinian Authority propose lesson plans on the subject of hatred of Israel. A discussion in the first grade: How to educate a person to become a « shahid. »
The seditious activity in the schools, and education geared towards hatred of Israel, take place with the explicit guidance of the Palestinian leadership. This was revealed in a new study conducted by the New York based « Center for Monitoring the Impact of Peace » and by the Jerusalem based « A View of the Palestinian Media Institute, » headed by Itamar Marcus. Both are organizations with no political ties. The study examined 28 instruction books for teachers, published by the Ministry of Education of the Palestinian Authority.
As early as the first grade lessons are devoted to the « shahids. » The Palestinian Ministry of Education instructs teachers that « it is necessary to instill in the student’s heart the desire to die the death of a martyr for the sake of Allah. » Teachers must clarify « the significance of dying for the sake of Allah » in the classroom and must discuss, together with the class, « how to educate a person to become a « shahid » » The students learn that « death for the sake of Allah is the highest honor among the faithful. »
Third-grade teachers are asked to explain the word robber to the children: « a person who takes something from another against his will. In this case, a robber is the enemy who took away our homeland. » The authors of the book suggest that the teacher asks the students during the lesson: « What will we do if the enemy tries to conquer part of our homeland? How will we seek vengeance on our enemies and defeat them? « Jihad, » the students are supposed to answer out loud.
In a sixth-grade grammar lesson the teacher is requested to « instill in the student’s heart the values and the aims that appear in the text: The sensation of revenge vis-a-vis the foreign robber, who tore away parts of our homeland and scattered its inhabitants to the four winds. »
Seventh-grade teachers are requested to read and analyze the following poem together with the class: « Mother, the trip draws near, so prepare my shroud. / Mother, I am advancing towards death, I will not falter. / Mother, do not cry if I fall, limbless / because death does not frighten me, and it is my destiny to die like a « shahid. » »
Instructions for eleventh-grade teachers, in the book « The Modern History of the Arabs and the World »: « The student will learn the following definitions: 1. Zionism is a racist and aggressive movement. 2. The sense of racial superiority is at the heart of Zionism and Fascism-Nazism. The student will acquire the following skills: (1) He will associate Zionism with racial discrimination; (2) He will trace the link between Zionism and modern terrorism; (3) he will compare the principles of Fascism and of Nazism with the principles of Zionism. The teacher will present the text entitled « The danger of the Jews in Palestine » in the form of a problem. After reading the text the teacher will ask for solutions on coping with this problem and group discussions will be held. »
« There is no incitement here »
Ziad Abu-Ziad, the Minister for Jerusalem in the Palestinian Authority, said in response: « I do not believe this is incitement. There is no incitement and no anti-Semitism towards Israel here in the Palestinian Authority, not in the media nor in the textbooks. It’s all a figment of the imagination of your people, who are trying to hurt us and harm the peace process. On the contrary, bring me examples and prove what you are saying, and if it’s true, I, as a member of Parliament, promise to deal with the matter. »