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Sunday, January 04, 2004

Palestinian children know the drill

Palestinian children march carrying toy weapons during a parade
celebrating the 39th anniversary of Arafat's Fatah movement at
the Khan Yunes refugee camp in the southern Gaza strip
(AFP/Said Khatib)

Pedagogy of hate by Itamar Marcus and Barbara Crook
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 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 [the Jews] 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 indoctrination.

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 [came] from Holland, America, Iran."

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!"

. . . 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.
Marcus is founder and director of Palestinian Media Watch. Crook is PMW's North American representative.