An indictment of Palestinian incitement

The “end” for Israel is peace and security with its neighbors, and if the means involves the establishment of a Palestinian state then it is fitting and logical to pursue its realization.

anti semitic gaza poster 311 (photo credit: Courtesy)
anti semitic gaza poster 311
(photo credit: Courtesy)
Incitement against the Jewish people is not new. The Book of Exodus clearly describes Pharaoh’s contempt for the Hebrews and his successful attempts to oppress them.
Through Greco-Roman times and on to the medieval period, Jews were vilified, persecuted and often put to death not for anything they had or hadn’t done, but for whom they were.
Some years ago, a Commentary article by Gabriel Schoenfeld explained how universalist anti-Semitism has been evident, “From the Enlightenment’s Voltaire…through socialism’s Karl Marx… through seven decades of Soviet communism with its pro- Arab foreign policy and its harshly oppressive attitude toward Soviet Jewish citizens, through the New Left, through the German and Italian terrorism of recent decades and the post-60s alignment of the Left with the cause of Palestinian ‘liberation.’” And in another Commentary essay “The Anti-Semitic Disease,” Paul Johnson writes, “To the anti-Semitism of antiquity was added the Christian layer and then, from the time of the Enlightenment on, the secularist layer, which culminated in Soviet anti-Semitism and the Nazi atrocities of the first half of the 20th century. Now we have the Arab- Muslim layer, dating roughly from the 1920s but becoming more intense with each decade since.”
Setting aside, for now, numerous examples of widely prevalent anti-Semitism in the West, today Palestinian incitement against the Jewish people is on the rise.
Recent events concerning Palestinian incitement against Jews demonstrate a deliberate and thought-out tactic to delegitimize the Jewish people and their connection to the Land of Israel.
The NGO Palestinian Media Watch (PMW) highlighted on its website that this week, official PA TV reported from a Fatah celebration in a refugee camp in Lebanon. One part of Fatah’s message was that children are created so that their blood will be “fertilizer” to saturate the land.
Apparently, dying for the sake of “Palestine” as an ideal, even for Palestinian children and youth, remains part of Palestinian discourse.
So much for the Palestinian Authority being “moderate.”
And PA Mufti Muhammad Hussein gave a speech at a Fatah celebration that was broadcast on PA TV in January.
He said, “The Hour [of Resurrection] will not come until you fight the Jews. The Jew will hide behind stones or trees. Then the stones or trees will call: ‘Oh Muslim, servant of Allah, there is a Jew behind me, come and kill him.’” But when confronted about this during an interview on Israel Radio’s Reshet Bet on January 22, the mufti explained, “We are not calling to kill Jews and we did not call to kill Jews, we never said ‘kill Jews.’ The Hadith says [it]. I am not responsible for the Hadith. The Hadith is in the book.
The Hadith is a noble Hadith, it is not my Hadith.”
This paper reported that Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu responded to a Palestinian Media Watch report on the mufti at the January 22 Sunday cabinet meeting which was largely devoted to discussing anti- Semitism. Netanyahu said this was “grave” rhetoric that the international community needed to condemn.
And on January 24, Netanyahu, in a speech at the Knesset, said, “Today, most governments around the world are silent in the face of calls by the Palestinian mufti to kill Jews simply because they are Jews. What is most chilling is the fact that there is here a legacy of hatred and annihilation because this mufti is following in the footsteps of that previous mufti. [Mufti] Haj Amin al- Husseini was one of the architects of the Final Solution.”
In an essay in Antisemitism Through the Ages, Yehoshua Porath writes how the day after Hitler came to power, the mufti approached the German consul in Jerusalem and proposed that they “join in a treaty against the Jews.”
Interestingly, in July 2011, the Israel Lands Authority removed fake tombstones from the Mamilla cemetery in Jerusalem, prompting furious condemnation from Muslim groups.
How ironic then, as Tom Segev describes in his book One Palestine Complete, that it was Husseini himself who, in efforts to build a luxury hotel across from the cemetery (where the Waldorf-Astoria is now under construction), ran into trouble when the builders discovered graves under the hotel lot. The mufti ordered that the discovery remain secret and had the skeletons carted away.
When the mayor of Jerusalem refused to link the building to the city’s sewage system, the mufti agreed on a plan that called for directing sewage into the cemetery, but again, on condition of total secrecy.
Muslim groups accused Israel of desecrating the graves of Muslims, but it was the mufti himself who had no compunction in doing so.
MUSLIM ANTI-SEMITISM has existed for centuries.
In an essay titled “Anti-Judaism and Antisemitism in the Arab and Islamic World Prior to 1948,” Norman A. Stillman writes, “There has been… no lack of negative attitudes to Jews among Muslims, going back to the earliest period of Islam… Modern anti-Semitic ideas of European origin made their first appearance in the Middle East among the Arabic speaking Christians of Syria.”
And ever since the blood libel of 1840 in Damascus, when local Jews were accused of murdering two gentiles, similar preposterous allegations and canards of European anti- Semitism have continued to surface in the Middle East.
In Antisemitism: A History, Meir Litvak and Esther Webman explain how anti-Semitism “has not been the root cause of the Arab- Israeli conflict but has certainly been exacerbated by it, aggravating its representations and serving as an additional tool for the delegitimization and dehumanization of the Other – Zionism and Israel.”
And Palestinian incitement against Jews is chillingly prevalent.
The Hamas Charter paints a picture of the Jews and Judaism that is clearly based on the Protocols of the Elders of Zion, an infamous early 20th-century anti-Semitic text which draws upon popular anti-Semitic notions.
The text continues to be disseminated and referenced throughout the Middle East and if it is passed on to the next generation of Muslims, it can pose a great obstacle to preventing the spread of anti-Semitism and incitement.
Recently, on the weekly TV program For You, dedicated to Palestinian prisoners in Israeli prisons, Shama Awad, the mother of Hakim Awad, the young terrorist who led the attack on the Fogel family, killing parents Ehud and Ruth and three of their children, aged 11, four, and three months, praised the terrorists as “heroes.”
(Shame on Raya Yaron, the spokeswoman of Machsom Watch, who was famously photographed hugging and consoling Shama Awad.) Last week, the PMW released a video in which MK Ahmed Tibi (United Arab List- Ta’al) is seen saying at a PA event that “the martyr is the ultimate source of pride... the symbol of the homeland.”
Politicians slammed Tibi for saying that there is “nothing more praiseworthy than martyrdom,” raising questions about the limits of freedom of speech and parliamentary immunity.
The official PA newspaper, Al-Hayat Al-Jadida, and official PA TV, have long reprinted and aired, respectively, Hadiths calling for Jewish annihilation and referring to Jews as pigs and wild animals.
In 2010, former PA prime minister Ahmed Qurei declared during an interview with leading Arabic newspaper Asharq al-Awsat, that resistance is “still an option.”
The PA has consistently backed efforts to delegitimize Israel, which included support for the misguided UN Goldstone mission as well as several initiatives in the UN General Assembly essentially denying Israel’s right to security.
The PA has repeatedly glorified terrorists.
Numerous kindergartens, schools and summer camps are named after various “martyrs.”
At least two dozen events and locations under Palestinian Authority control have been named after Dalal Mughrabi, the terrorist who hijacked a bus in 1978 and murdered 37 people including children in what became known as the Coastal Road Massacre.
In March 2010, when US Vice President Joe Biden visited Israel, the world was up in arms over Israel’s approval of the tentative building of housing units in Jerusalem’s Gilo neighborhood which caused tension with the US.
While Nabil Abu Rudeineh, a spokesman for the Palestinian government complained about Israel’s “provocation” and “peacedestroying behavior” the PA was busy making plans to name a Ramallah square after Mughrabi.
Textbooks published by the PA show maps that completely erase the State of Israel, replacing the area instead with “Palestine.”
PA-sponsored TV broadcasts programs about “occupied” cities such as Haifa, Lod and Ramle. This type of incitement completely erases the Jewish historical connection to the Land of Israel and revises the true history and context of the Arab-Israeli conflict.
IN THE past, Israeli officials have been reluctant to make a big deal over the incitement issue, instead preferring to discuss it behind closed doors.
Today, however, the issue has received much public attention and Israeli officials have finally decided to confront it head-on.
On Sunday, Netanyahu told visiting Irish Foreign Minister Eamon Gilmore that PA incitement is poisoning the atmosphere.
During the meeting with Gilmore, Netanyahu said that while many ask Israel to take confidence building measures toward the Palestinians, the type of incitement being aired in the PA was destroying Israel’s confidence.
A similar message was relayed in a meeting later with visiting Canadian Foreign Minister John Baird.
In last week’s meeting with PA representatives in Amman, Israel’s negotiator Yitzhak Molcho presented PA negotiator Saeb Erekat with a booklet dealing with Palestinian incitement against Jews.
Erekat appeared livid and stormed out of the room as if insulted.
But it was Erekat who, in August 2010, furiously objected to Shas spiritual leader Rabbi Ovadia Yosef’s wish for “a plague on Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas and the Palestinian people.”
Without doubt, Yosef’s callous remarks are inexcusable.
Erekat’s claim however, that it was “an absolute insult to our efforts to progress the peace process,” and even described it as a call for “Palestinian genocide,” is hypocritical in light of what we see on PA television.
Interesting then, that Erekat chooses to ignore Palestinian incitement against Jews, especially since he is guilty of incitement himself.
After the IDF entered Jenin in an incursion dubbed “Operation Defensive Shield” to root out terrorists between March 29 and April 21, 2002, false rumors were spread of a massacre committed by Israeli soldiers. It was Erekat who was quoted as saying to CNN’s Jim Clancy, “You know, the Jenin refugee camp is no longer in existence…”.”
And Erekat repeated this false allegation in another interview, this time with CNN’s Wolf Blitzer, when he said: “There is no longer a refugee camp there. And maybe the [Israeli] defense minister and the prime minister of Israel want to deny what CNN is showing, that the camp was totally destroyed.”
Israel need not budge an inch until it sees significant progress on the Palestinian side, especially concerning incitement.
There needs to be a zero-tolerance policy that would demand zero incitement.
In Antisemitism Through the Ages, Shmuel Ettinger explains that “in order to understand antisemitism in all its aspects one must take three factors into account: (1) its historical roots and character as it developed over the course of time; (2) the rationalization and justification of the existing negative image; (3) its deliberate exploitation for political and social purposes.”
In his essay “On Arab antisemitism once more” Yehoshafat Harkabi explains that Arab anti-Semitism is “primarily ideological and political, a political weapon in the struggle against Israel; it comes from above, from the ruling circles and from the literary and political elite in a number of the Arab countries; it is not social, emerging from below.”
According to Harkabi, since the mid-19th century, anti-Semitic books in Arabic had been published in the Middle East by Christian Arabs who had drawn their teachings from Western, mostly French, works.
Back then, Arab anti-Semitism had Christian sources, but in recent years there is a clear effort to Islamize Arab antisemitism by giving it a Muslim overtone.
ISRAEL HAS done a good job in lobbying foreign governments to fight anti-Semitism with resolve, and should continue doing so relentlessly.
It should be self-evident that there can be no room for compromise on this issue.
Incitement against Jews in Israel cannot be excused as anti-Zionism. Rather, it is a weak attempt to veil anti-Semitism.
In an essay “The Return of Anti-Semitism,” Hillel Halkin writes, “One cannot be against Israel or Zionism… without being anti- Semitic. Israel is the state of the Jews. Zionism is the belief that the Jews should have a state. To defame Israel is to defame the Jews.
To wish it never existed, or would cease to exist, is to wish to destroy the Jews… The new anti-Israelism is nothing but the old anti-Semitism in disguise.”
Much more needs to be done to prevent the escalation of incitement, especially in the Arab world.
If President Barack Obama made the mistake of insisting on the 1967 lines as a starting point for negotiations, the least he can do to rectify the situation is to demand a complete cease-and-desist with regard to incitement.
This is one way he can prove that he holds the Palestinians accountable for their actions.
Harkabi writes “The complexity of the situation is that peace is likely to bring about a change of images, but if this change is made a requisite for peace, then peace will be long delayed. Once the Arab-Israeli conflict is settled, there is room to hope that many of the antisemitic manifestations aroused by the conflict would disappear... It is not the change of images, then, which will lead to peace but peace which will lead to the change of images.”
But this is the wrong approach.
Peace and security are the most important elements. While the establishment of a Palestinian state appears to be the end goal of many in the EU or US, this is not the case for Israel.
The “end” for Israel is peace and security with its neighbors, and if the means involves the establishment of a Palestinian state then it is fitting and logical to pursue its realization.
However, the end should never be confused with the means.