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Palestinian TV glorification of ‘martyrdom’ on upswing

Donderdag, December 19, 2002 / Last Modified: Zondag, Januari 14, 2018

By Kenneth R. Timmerman, Insight magazine, December 19, 2002

Note:These and other PA TV video clips for children can be viewed at
www.pmw.org.il.

The five-minute video clip could have been produced by Jennifer Lopez to the
music of Pink Floyd. It is professional, dreamy and haunting. It begins with a
handsome young schoolboy writing a farewell letter to his parents. In this pop
saga, the boy goes off on a “mission” in which he dies, and his farewell letter is
handed to his father, who tears his hair at the news.

Scenes of the boy’s last day scroll across the screen as an enchanting male
voice puts the words of his letter to a haunting melody. “Do not be sad, my
dear, and do not cry over my parting. Oh, my dear father; how sweet is
Shahada (martyrdom). How sweet is Shahada when I embrace you, oh my land.”

In the video, the boy embraces the ground with his arms stretched out as upon
a cross. His death is gentle, innocent, heroic – not at all the brutal
dismemberment that awaits suicide bombers. “Mother, my most dear, be joyous
over my blood,” he sings. “And do not cry for me.”

That same line, “Mother, do not cry for me,” has appeared in at least three
farewell letters from 14- to 17-year-old Palestinians who have carried out
suicide bombings since the film clip first aired on Palestinian television in May
2001, says Itamar Marcus, an Israeli researcher who unearthed the music
videos.

Yasser Arafat’s official TV station broadcast the dreamy clip virtually every day
for more than a year in a clear effort to incite children to murder/suicide. It aired
between cartoons, after school and in the early evening between regularly
scheduled programs. Marcus plans to play these clips to a congressional
committee later this month and is urging the United States to pressure the
Palestinian leader to stop the deadly propaganda.

“For the six years we’d been following PA (Palestinian Authority) TV, we’d
seen on average 15 minutes of violent, anti-Israeli and anti-Semitic video clips
interspersed between regular programming throughout the day,” Marcus tells
Insight in Jerusalem.

“Suddenly, in the summer of 2000, it went up to two hours per day, just
as (former Israeli Prime Minister Ehud) Barak was getting ready to give away 98
percent of the territory the PA wanted at Camp David.”

In the beginning, the violent trailers mostly were composed of old news footage
edited to glamorize suicide bombings and to call people to the streets. But soon,
professional filmmakers were called in to take advantage of their special skills.

Twelve-year-old Mohammad al-Dura is the most famous Palestinian “martyr.”
Images captured live by a Palestinian film crew and broadcast by French
state-owned television on Oct. 2, 2000, show the boy shot to death in his
father’s arms, presumably by Israeli soldiers.

Now he has become the posthumous star of a five-minute film clip produced
and edited by Arafat’s official state-owned TV. The opening screen is a
handwritten message “signed” by the young Mohammad: “I am waving to you
not to say goodbye, but to say, follow me.”

A child actor depicts the death of the young Mohammad, said to have
been “massacred” by Israeli soldiers, then portrays him in paradise, riding on a
Ferris wheel, flying a kite and playing on the beach. A haunting lyric
accompanies these pictures, with lines including the following: “How sweet is
the fragrance of the Shahids. How sweet is the scent of the earth, its thirst
quenched by the gush of blood flowing from the youthful body.” Then the
vocalist does repeats with a choir:

Vocalist: “Oh father; till we meet. Oh father; till we meet. I shall go with
no fear, no tears. How sweet is the fragrance of the Shahids.” Choir: “How
sweet is the fragrance of the Shahids.”

The controversy over whose bullets actually killed Mohammad al-Dura remains.
The Western media, led by the French News Agency and French A2 television,
still insist that he was killed by Israelis. But an investigation by the Israeli army
raised serious doubts, since Israeli soldiers would have had to shoot around a
corner to hit him.

“These are the most evil films we ever saw,” Marcus tells Insight as he plays a
selection of these video clips, with English subtitles provided by his Palestinian
Media Watch.

One of the many myths spread by apologists for terrorism is that suicide
bombers come from poor families where “hopelessness” drives them to despair
and suicide.

But, ever since Israel and the Clinton administration brought Arafat to
Gaza in July 1994, he has been fostering hatred of Jews and promoting the
cult of martyrdom through the schools, the mosques and the state-owned
media. In eight years, the virus has infected all sectors of Palestinian society.

“The new role model for young Palestinian women is Wafa Idriss, the first
female suicide bomber,” Marcus says. Idriss blew herself up in Jerusalem on
Jan. 27, 2002, killing an 81-year-old Israeli man and wounding 150 others, four
seriously.

“We’re beginning to see her name pop up everywhere,” Marcus says.
“There’s the Wafa Idriss course in human rights and democracy at Al-Quds
University in Jerusalem. There are Wafa Idriss schools run by the United
Nations. It’s incredible.”

On June 9, 2002, two well-dressed 11-year-old girls named Wala and Yussra
were interviewed on a talk show broadcast by PA TV about their personal
yearning to achieve death through Shahada, which they said is the desire of
“every Palestinian child.” These were not children of the camps, but from the
middle classes. They explained that their goal was not to become doctors or
teachers, but to achieve a proper death through martyrdom for Allah.

Host: “You described Shahada as something beautiful. Do you think it is
beautiful?”

Wala: “Shahada is very, very beautiful. Everyone yearns for Shahada.
What could be better than going to paradise?”

Host: “What is better, peace and full rights for the Palestinian
people, or Shahada?”

Wala: “Shahada. I will achieve my rights after becoming a Shahida.”

Yussra: “Of course Shahada is a good thing. We don’t want this world; we
want the afterlife. We benefit not from this life, but from the afterlife. The
children of Palestine have accepted the concept that this is Shahada, and that
death by Shahada is very good. Every Palestinian child aged, say 12, says: ‘Oh
Lord, I would like to become a Shahid.'”

Yet another film clip aimed at children intersperses scenes of “martyred”
children about to be buried with normal street scenes of children playing. It
ends with a black screen stamped with the official crest of the PA and a slogan
in Arabic with its English translation: “Ask for death, the life will be given to you.”

There is no precedent for this type of indoctrination. “Not even Hitler did this,”
Marcus says. “The Hitler Youth were taught to kill, not to be killed. This is the
ultimate in child abuse. Here you have a whole generation of kids who think the
most they can accomplish in life is to die for Allah. This is a tragedy with
implications that no one in the West has begun to contemplate.”

Some Palestinian parents have tried to raise their voices against the barbarity of
the PA indoctrination, but to little effect. Bassam Zakhout is the father of a
14-year-old boy who set off in April with two schoolmates to attack an Israeli
military outpost near the Netzarim settlement in Gaza. Prompted by the calls to
martyrdom, the three teen-agers armed themselves with knives and packed
their schoolbags with explosives, apparently given to them by Hamas, and ran
across open ground toward the army post, where they were gunned down.

Bassam Zakhout blamed PA TV for inciting the attack.

“I am against all this, especially at his age,” he said. “We should not
destroy this generation. They are the leaders of the future.”

After plastering Gaza with posters of the three “martyrs,” Hamas was too
embarrassed to claim responsibility once it heard the father’s remark. “The
blood of our cubs should be preserved for a coming day when they become
strong men,” said a Hamas statement issued soon afterward. “Their role in jihad
is for later.”

Even Arafat’s deputy education minister, Naim Abu-Hummos, decried their
deaths. “What’s happening is crazy,” he said, vowing to instruct Palestinian
teachers to stop glorifying martyrs.

But those thoughts, if sincere, were short-lived. Addressing a chanting
auditorium full of children in August, Arafat put an end to any doubts:

“Oh, children of Palestine! The colleagues, friends, brothers and sisters
of Faris Ouda (a 14-year-old who died in the conflict). The colleagues of this
hero represent this immense and fundamental power that is within, and it shall
be victorious, with Allah’s will! One of you, a boy or a girl, shall raise the
(Palestinian) flag over the walls of Jerusalem, its mosques and its churches. …
Onward together to Jerusalem!”

As the children responded with wild cheering and chanting, Arafat
shouted: “Millions of Shahada marching to Jerusalem!”

In signing the Oslo Declaration of Principals in September 1993, Arafat pledged
to put an end to incitement and hate education. Nine years later, his refusal to
live up to that commitment has paid off in hundreds of innocent deaths on both
sides of the Israeli-Palestinian divide.

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