Incitement is not one-sided

Rabbi Ovadia Yosef’s recent remarks were callous and unhelpful, but for the Palestinians to react the way they did is hypocritical.

Rabbi Ovadia Yosef 311 (photo credit: Courtesy)
Rabbi Ovadia Yosef 311
(photo credit: Courtesy)
On Sunday, Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat furiously objected to Shas spiritual leader Rabbi Ovadia Yosef’s wish for a “plague on Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas and the Palestinian people.” Erekat claimed it was, “an absolute insult to our efforts to progress the peace process,” and even described it as a call for “Palestinian genocide.”
In principle, Erekat is right to object to this poor choice of words and thoughtlessness. Such callous remarks are inexcusable, especially from a rabbi as revered as Yosef and doubly so at a time when Israel seeks to re-launch peace talks with the Palestinians.
But if we step back and focus on the Palestinians and the context in which Erekat objected to Yosef’s remarks, the hypocrisy of the situation begins to surface. Palestinians have long been obligated under all previous agreements to end incitement against Israel.
Leading Palestinian figures have been making “insulting” remarks for years and the Palestinian Authority under President Mahmoud Abbas has continuously supported efforts to delegitimize Israel, promote violence, glorify terrorists and deny Israel recognition as the Jewish state.
The official PA newspaper, Al- Hayat Al-Jadida, and official PA TV, has long reprinted and aired, respectively, Hadiths calling for Jewish annihilation and referring to Jews as wild animals.
Earlier this month, former PA Prime Minister Ahmed Qurei declared in 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.” Over the past year alone, at least two dozen events and locations under Palestinian Authority control were named after Dalal Mughrabi, a terrorist who hijacked a bus in 1978 and murdered 37 people including children in what became known as the famous Coastal Road Massacre.
IN MARCH 2010, when US Vice President Joe Biden visited Israel, the world watched in glee as Israel approved the tentative building of housing units in Gilo causing tension with the US. While Nabil Abu Rudeineh, a spokesman for the Palestinian government complained about Israel’s “provocation” and “peace-destroying behavior” the Palestinian Authority was busy making plans to name a Ramallah square after Mughrabi.
Textbooks published by the Palestinian Authority show maps that completely erase the State of Israel, replacing the area instead with “Palestine.” Palestinian Authoritysponsored 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.
For years, Erekat himself has been at the forefront of efforts to criticize Israel. After the Israeli incursion into Jenin in 2002 to weed out terrorists and in an interview with CNN on April 12, Erekat accused Israel of “war crimes” and committing a “massacre” – all of which was proven to be false. He made the same false claims to CNN in 2004 during another army operation, this time in Gaza.
Last year, after the removal of numerous checkpoints and roadblocks in the West Bank following Netanyahu’s speech at Bar-Ilan, in which he declared his acceptance of a demilitarized Palestinian state alongside Israel, Erekat accused him of sabotaging the peace process.
AND NOW, with proximity talks in Washington looming, Palestinian Authority officials, specifically Abbas and Erekat, are tripping over themselves trying to protect themselves from potential US pressure by attempting to place the yoke of responsibility on Israel.
“If the Israeli government decides to announce new tenders on September 26, then we won’t be able to continue with the talks” Erekat exclaimed. Abbas chimed in quickly, “Israel will be held accountable for the failure of the talks if settlement construction should continue.”
Surely, Erekat could not have forgotten the years of Palestinian incitement and terror indoctrination that have hindered any such talks. It was only last year that Abbas himself said, “The ‘Jewish state.’ What is a ‘Jewish state?’ We call it, the ‘State of Israel.’ You can call yourselves whatever you want. But I will not accept it.”
While Erekat and others complain about Yosef’s “absolute insult,” they should recall the numerous “insults” the Palestinian Authority has hurled at Israel over the years.
Incitement is not one-sided.
The writer is deputy news editor of The Jerusalem Post.