What drives a young Palestinian to turn his body into a bomb? Children are not born hating. It is something they learn - and the Palestinian Authority has been a dedicated teacher. It has perfected the art of fomenting hatred, and promoting suicide terror.
The first component in creating a terrorist is to promote hatred within the society by demonizing a target group. This target group is portrayed as so evil and threatening that killing its members is not considered murder, but justified as revenge and admirable self-defense.
Examples of the PA's incessant demonization of Jews and Israelis include a recent article in the official PA daily Al Hayat al Jadida describing Israeli military actions against missile-launching sites in Gaza: "It seems that the rivers of blood in our cities, villages and refugee camps are not yet satisfying the thirst of the blood-thirsty for Palestinian blood among the Israeli politicians and military officers." (March 4)
PA TV has been running daily video clips in recent weeks with actors depicting Palestinian prisoners suffering horrific torture at the hands of Israeli guards. Hate libels are common, including the canard that Israel intentionally poisons and causes the addiction of Palestinian youth by spreading drugs throughout PA society. This was repeated on PA TV just last month by the PA Mufti, Ikrima Sabri.
Another component of this demonization is to depict Israel's very existence as a nation as being illegitimate and temporary. This likewise continues unabated. One example is a documentary broadcast twice in recent months, in which Jaffa is defined as a stolen Palestinian city. The documentary includes the words: "Palestine was attacked by invaders. It is time for you [Israelis] to be gone. Live wherever you like, but don't live among us (pictures of Jaffa). It is time for you to be gone. Die wherever you like, but don't die among us. We have the past here. We have the present, the present and the future. So leave our country, our land, our sea, our wheat, our salt, our wounds. Everything. And leave the memories." (PA TV, December 20, 2005)
The essence of this first PA message is to turn Israelis into the ultimate enemy: Israelis are evil and dangerous. Their very existence is illegal, and so they must be defeated and destroyed. Killing them is transformed into justice and self-defense.
But it's not enough to establish Israel as the enemy. The terrorists who kill Israelis must be seen as heroes and leaders of society - and that's the second component of the PA's creation of suicide terrorists.
There are no greater heroes and role models in PA society than terrorists. Summer camps for children have been named for Wafa Idris and Ayyat Al Achras - female suicide terrorists. Sporting events are routinely named for terrorists, including a soccer match for 14-year-olds named after the terrorist who killed 29 Israelis four years ago at the Park Hotel Passover Seder in Netanya. The PA Ministry of Culture recently produced a poetry collection named for Hanadi Jaradat, the woman terrorist who killed 21 in a Haifa restaurant.
And just last month, the PA announced it was granting honorary citizenship to Lebanese terrorist Samir Quntar, who is serving a life sentence in an Israeli jail.
Smadar Haran, wife and mother of Quntar's murder victims, wrote in The Washington Post: "It was a murder of unimaginable cruelty. The terrorists took [husband] Danny and [daughter] Einat down to the beach. One of them shot Danny in front of Einat. Then he smashed my little girl's skull in against a rock with his rifle butt. That terrorist was Samir Quntar."
The message that the PA is sending to its people and its children by honoring Quntar and other terrorists is that killing Israelis is a ticket to honor and eternal glory.
A special program broadcast just last month on PA TV captures the essence
of this message - and its acceptance within the highest levels of PA leadership.
This is part of the poem a young girl chanted on Palestinian Children's Day: "Even if all the Jews arrived [in Israel] seeking refuge with the monkeys [common euphemism for Jews]... we will never accept compensation for our land. There is no substitute for Jerusalem!... Our death is like life, My homeland is the invaders' grave... I will walk 1,000 miles even if I die in it as a martyr..." (PA TV, April 10)
Her audience included PA chairman Mahmoud Abbas, seated in the front row along with senior PA officials. Their reaction to these words of hate from the mouth of a young girl? A round of applause.
With messages to children fomenting hatred of Israelis and glorifying terrorists, and when the supposedly moderate Abbas appears on TV to applaud a young girl's message of hatred and martyrdom, is it any wonder that a Palestinian youngster becomes a suicide terrorist?
Itamar Marcus is director and Barbara Crook is associate director of Palestinian Media Watch (http://www.pmw.org.il)
(From the May 2006 edition)