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Palestinian Anti-Semitism: History & Overview

Anti-Semitism has long existed among the Palestinian people. Institutional instances of anti-Semitism in the Palestinian Authority (PA) today remain rampant: they are frequent in the print/broadcast/online media, in children's school textbooks and leaders' public statements, to name just a few. Hamas in Gaza is notoriously anti-Jewish and anti-Israel, but one might expect the PA to be more accepting of their Israeli and Jewish neighbors. To the contrary, examples of Palestinian anti-Semitism continue in daily media and the like in the West Bank.

Official Statements
Celebrating Martyrdom

Official Statements

In 1999, Yasser Arafat's wife, Suha, espoused a vicious accusation against Israelis in an appearance with Hillary Clinton in the Gaza Strip. Her words were tantamount to the medieval anti-Semitic blood libel. She said: "Our people have been subjected to the daily and extensive use of poisonous gas by the Israeli forces, which has led to an increase in cancer cases among women and children."

Other examples include:

PA Health Minister, Riyadh Al-Za'anoon, stated Israeli doctors "use Palestinian patients… for experimental medicines and training new doctors." (Al-Ayam, July 25, 1998)

PA Deputy Minister of Supplies, Abd Al-Hamid Al-Qudsi, claimed, "Israel carries out a clear policy of annihilating our people and destroying our national economy by smuggling spoiled foodstuff… not fit for human consumption, into PA territories…. Israel did not change its strategy, which aims to kill and destroy our people, rather it began counting on means other than bombs, missiles and planes. These measures are distributing and smuggling spoiled foodstuffs… into the PA territories." (Al-Hayat Al-Jadida, August 22, 1998)

PA Minister of Ecology, Yousef Abu-Safiyyeh, claimed that Israel damages the Palestinian environment by dumping liquid waste, which is a dangerous threat to the groundwater, in Palestinian areas in the West Bank and Gaza. (Al-Hayat Al-Jadida, April 3, 1999)

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas claims regularly that all of the land, including Israel, is occupied land.  (Al-Kass Sports Channel, June 2, 2013)


Palestinian schools are a notorious place where anti-Semitic sentiments prevail through the use of heavily prejudiced textbooks. The European Union threatened to cut all EU funding of PA educational institutions in the past because of the widespread anti-Semitism in its school books. One textbook about Islam calls on high school students to beware of the Jews because they are "deceitful and disloyal." Another blamed European anti-Semitism on Jewish greed and fanaticism.

Much of the anti-Semitism is masked in anti-Israel and anti-Zionist attitudes. According to a 2003 study by Dr. Arnon Groiss, terrorism against Israel is presented as a positive attitude of militant Palestinian organizations. Terrorists jailed by Israel are referred to as POWs.

Similar to references in the media, young children's school textbooks present Israeli cities as belonging exclusively to the Palestinians. Jerusalem is presented as an exclusively Arab city and the capital of the State of Palestine. The textbooks personify the Israeli capital city as a suffering Arab entity wrongly in the hands of the Jews. The establishment of the State of Israel caused a catastrophe, the Nakba (catastrophe in Arabic), and Israel's War of Independence is very innacurately portrayed.

Another pressing political topic, the Palestinian refugee problem, is placed exclusively on Israel's shoulders. While textbooks do not mention any of the near-million Jewish refugees of Arab lands during the 20th century, they emphasize the Palestinian refugee dilemma. The only solution they present is all refugees being allowed to return to their homes in Israel.

The British government announced in early July 2018 that they would be leading a review of anti-Semitic incitement in Palestinian childrens textbooks. Examples from textbooks calling for Israel's annihilation and ignoring Jewish presence in land of Israel were cited as the issue was debated in Britain's House of Commons.  


Newspaper crossword puzzles are another tool in the Palestinian propaganda war against Israel. Puzzles often offer clues indicating that Israel does not exist and that indirectly suggest attacking Jews and Israel. In a 2014 puzzle, the solution to the clue "A port in occupied Palestine" is Haifa. In a 2013 puzzle, Tel Aviv/Jaffa is the solution to the clue "a Palestinian city." Another one from that year defined Safed as a "city in Northern Palestine." Again and again, cities in Israel proper are defined as part of "Palestine" and their Jewish and or Israeli identity as cities are manipulated and negated by The Palestinian Press. Among the cities included are Ashkelon, Akko, Caesarea, and geographical features like Lake Kinneret, Mount Hermon and the entire Negev desert.

These crossword puzzles also include blatant Holocaust denial. For example, Yad Vashem is identified as "commemorating the Holocaust and the lies," the Jewish trait as "treachery" and Jerusalem as "the Palestinian capital from the dawn of history until eternity."


On June 3, 2001, one day after Yasser Arafat called for an end to violence, the following songs were broacast on Palestinian television:

"I arise to your call, my mother...
Who caused tears to be shed from your eyes?
You shall not be humiliated, my mother..
Slow, slow O Zion - how is my mother's tear humiliated!
Even if all the world joins against me, you have an open account with me.
Even if you are the tyrant, and the whole world remains silent, and you have decided that I must die, my answer is the rock.
I swear I shall not forget, how with your feet you trampled Al-Aqsa!
I shall show you yet what Al-Aqsa means! The injustice has gone beyond all limits!
The atonement for this shall be the cannon!
If there shall be "a talk" between the boy and the man, I will always oppose this disgrace!
O my people, this is my pledge, this atonement shall my response."

Also broadcast on Palestinian television on June 3, 2001, was the song "Do Not Be Saddened, My Dear." The song was first broadcast as the words for a video clip in which a boy entrusts his friends with a letter to be given to his family, the lyrics are the letter's content.

Do not be saddened, my dear, and do not cry over my leaving,
O my dear father, for my country, the shahada (martyrdom)
Do not be saddened, my dear, and do not cry over my leaving,
O my dear father, for my country, I shall sacrifice myself!
To the Lord we have promised in Eden that we have embarked on Jihad (holy war)
And that we shall notify my friends!
With determination and desire I long to approach,
How sweet is the shahada (martyrdom) when I embrace you, O my country!
In the Intifada we achieved the sovereignty through the blood of the people.
Victory is my challenge!
My beloved, O my mother, dearest to me most, be glad over my blood and do not cry for me.
Tell my brother, O mother, that for beloved Jerusalem are our souls are sacrificed!
We are not warmongers, but we excel at war.
We want peace and rights, and for Jerusalem there is self-sacrifice.
Our stolen right, There is no other way but that it be, someday, restored.

Celebrating Martyrdom

On September 23, 2001, students at Al-Najah University in Nablus opened an exhibition commemorating the intifada against Israel that included a gruesome reenactment of the August 9, 2001, suicide bombing of the Sbarro pizzeria in Jerusalem. In that attack, a suicide bomber killed himself and 15 innocent people. In another part of the exhibit, visitors looked through dark windows to see mannequins dressed as suicide bombers. Each had Islam's holy book, the Quran, in one hand, and an automatic rifle in the other.  The exhibit also included a large rock in front of a mannequin wearing the traditional garb of ultra-Orthodox Jews. A recording from inside the rock calls out: "O believer, there is a Jewish man behind me. Come and kill him."

Sources: Palestinian Media Watch;

Britain to lead review of incitement in Palestinian textbooks, JTA, (July 6, 2018).