By Itamar Marcus and Barbara Crook, January 4, 2004.
If you want to know what’s really at the heart of the Palestinian conflict with
Israel, don’t ask politicians or diplomats. Go to Palestinian children.
Unlike the rest of the world, they’ve been paying close attention to what their
leaders and educators have been teaching. And they are ready to practice what
they’ve been taught.
For instance, children interviewed on Palestinian Authority (PA) TV last week state without
reservation that Israel has no right to exist, and that the goal for which they’re willing to
sacrifice their lives is Israel’s destruction.
“They came to take Palestine, that is, Tel Aviv, Jaffa, Haifa,
Acre, Ramle. All these cities belong to Palestine,” one youth explains in a
December 25 broadcast, echoing years of standard Palestinian Authority
And because he is convinced that Israel has no right to exist: “We hope, hope,
hope and I emphasize these things, that the Arab countries and the foreign
countries – all the countries of the world – will support the Palestinians and will
expel the Israelis.
“We must expel all Israelis from Palestine. Because Israel – there is
nothing called ‘Israel’ in the world. The Israelis from Holland, America,
The children are seen promising they will keep fighting, generation after
generation, until they liberate Palestine.
Furthermore, they say they don’t fear death in the struggle because it is
shahada – death for Allah. “Even if all the Palestinian children, Palestinian youth,
Palestinian women, and Palestinian men die, we will not surrender!”
None of this is surprising to anyone who has been paying attention to
what does on in the PA educational system. Israel is erased from PA maps,
schoolbooks and historians deny Israel’s right to exist, and educators at all
levels teach that Israel is a foreign colonial implant.
Despite PA claims to the contrary, its textbooks continue to delegitimize Israel
and dismiss it as a foreign occupier: “Palestine faced the British occupation
after the First World War in 1917, and the Israeli occupation in 1948.”
Children are taught that all of Israel is part of Palestine. For example, “Among
the famous rocks of southern Palestine are the rocks of Beersheba and the
About Palestine’s water sources, children are taught: “The most
important is the Sea of Galilee.”
SUCH MESSAGES of delegitimization have been affirmed by Prime Minister
Ahmed Qurei. He is on record as rejecting the idea of Israel as a Jewish state.
“President Bush said that Israel is a Jewish state, which is a cause for our
concern. This should not have been said,” he told Al-Nahar and Al-Hayat
Al-Jadida on June 15, 2003.
PA-affiliated historians appear on educational TV to reinforce this message. On
December 28 Dr. Isam Sisalem reiterated what he has said on numerous
broadcasts. Jews “have no history or connection to this land” and are nothing
but a “cancer” planted by Britain to control the Middle East.
In the same educational broadcast last week, another historian resurrected The
Protocols of the Elders of Zion, the infamous anti-Semitic forgery, citing it as
one of the foundations of the First Zionist Congress in 1897.
“The Zionist movement began at the Basel Congress to plan the exploitation of
the powers’ struggle, and the struggle of Europe over the Middle East,” said Dr.
Riad Al-Astal, a history lecturer at Al-Azhar University in Gaza.
Consequently, when we view children on PA TV who say they want to destroy
Israel, to liberate Tel Aviv, Jaffa, Haifa, Acre, and Ramle, and to expel the
Jews, we are seeing children who are accurately regurgitating the sentiments
inculcated and reinforced throughout PA society.
Indeed, years of anti-Israel indoctrination have been alarmingly effective in
teaching Palestinian youth that the Jews have no link to Israel, that Israel has
no right to exist and that the overriding goal of the next generation – even at
the cost of their lives – should be to eliminate Israel.
The essence of the conflict is Israel’s very right to exist – not the question of
borders or refugees. Peace negotiations that do not address the PA’s system of
indoctrination will be short-term paper agreements doomed to failure.
Palestinian children have already figured this out. Perhaps the rest of us need to
stay after school.
See the Dutch translation of this article.