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Palestinian Terrorism: Behind the Headlines: Palestinian Incitement - An Obstacle to Peace

(February 23, 2014)

Incitement to hatred and terrorism must end. Terrorists should not be glorified, Jews should not be demonized and Israel's existence should not be called into question.

- The harm to peace caused by incitement to hatred and violence
- The rise in Palestinian violence
- The incitement-terrorism link
- Types of Palestinian incitement to violence and hatred
- Examples of Incitement since 30 July 2013
- Main Terrorist Attacks since 30 July 2013

The harm to peace caused by incitement to hatred and violence

Incitement is the term used to refer to statements and actions which encourage the hatred and delegitimization that in turn inspire violence, as well as declarations and deeds that support or promote terrorist activity.

The culture of hatred cultivated by the Palestinian Authority (PA) against Israel undermines the chances for peace between Israel and the Palestinians. Incitement has continued unabated for many years and despite the current negotiations between Israel and the PA that began on 30 July 2013.

More than ever, during this decisive period of ongoing talks, which Israel hopes will lead to peace, incitement to hatred and violence cannot be allowed to continue. The terrorism which results from the Palestinian hate campaign not only takes a human toll but challenges the basic tenets of peaceful negotiations.

Incitement and peace do not go together. When the next generation of Palestinians is educated for peace and coexistence - as Israeli children already are - the chances for true peace will increase.

The rise in Palestinian violence

There has been a noticeable rise in the number of terrorist attacks and violent acts against Israeli citizens in the West Bank and Jerusalem since the start of the negotiations with the PA.

Terrorist attacks - including by explosive devices, small arms fire and firebombs (Molotov Cocktails) - saw a steady increase: from 76 attacks in July to 160 attacks in November 2013. There also was an intensification of the lethal nature of these attacks, which have caused the deaths of four Israelis since 30 July 2013. Additionally, a bomb exploded on a bus near Tel Aviv in December 2013, an attack which could have caused a great number of casualties had the bomb not been spotted in time.

The incitement-terrorism link

Despite the apparent absence of a direct link between the various terrorist incidents, these attacks are connected to the constant stream of incitement to violence and hatred against Israel, emanating from the West Bank, primarily through official channels related to the Palestinian Authority.

Incitement is even more harmful than "regular" hate speech. It not only delegitimizes its target, it serves to inspire violence against the victim and promote terrorist attacks.

Much of this incitement is propagated in official PA media and in many instances, by PA officials. These officials, including senior Palestinian figures, not only endorse but actually carry out acts of incitement.

Incitement and hatred toward Israel, and often Jews as well, is spread by Palestinian Authority controlled television, radio stations and newspapers as well as internet outlets. Incitement also occurs during official ceremonies, official speeches, at summer camps and in public schools. It is often aimed at children and young people.

This culture of hatred is a decisive factor in increasing both the number of terrorist attacks and their severity. Children are educated to hate Jews and Israelis from an early age, teenagers are urged to participate in violent demonstrations and stone-throwing while adults are encouraged to carry out terrorist attacks.

The connection between nurturing hatred and the increase in violence and terrorism is far from theoretical. In a recent Pew poll (10 September 2013) of global attitudes surveying the Muslim populations in 11 countries/territories, the only majority to support suicide bombings was found in the West Bank and Gaza. Over 60% of Palestinian Muslims believe that suicide bombings were often or sometimes justified (37% often, 25% sometimes). The next closest country - where support was nearly half of that of the Palestinians - was Lebanon with 33% (9% often, 24% sometimes).

Types of Palestinian incitement to violence and hatred

Several types of incitement contribute to this problem and severely undermine prospects for peace. These include:

A. The glorification of terrorists who have murdered Israeli civilians. The constant veneration of terrorists, including by the highest ranking officials of the PA, serves to justify past and current attacks, while encouraging future attacks. Palestinian children and youngsters are deliberately exposed to this propaganda, leading to hero-worship of these dangerous figures.

B. Advocating struggle against Israel, in particular through the promotion of "resistance," a commonly-used Palestinian codeword for terrorism. The Palestinian position that the struggle must continue until Israel is replaced by a Palestinian state is a recurring theme in incitement and even calls for jihad have been recorded. This despite the renewal of negotiations with Israel.

C. The publication of false claims that Israel or the Jews are endangering Muslim holy sites, such as the al-Aqsa mosque on the Temple Mount in Jerusalem. These fabrications have sparked Palestinian violence in the past.

D. The demonization of Jews and Israelis, including by the use of antisemitic motifs. The hatred generated by this incitement is a precursor to violence and terrorism, which relies in part on the dehumanization of the target.

E. The denial of Israel's existence and its delegitimization in any borders, in part by denying the existence of a Jewish people and its historic, religious and cultural ties to the land of Israel. This denial encourages violence and harms prospects for peace, as a true resolution of the conflict is not possible until the Palestinians are willing to recognize Israel as the national homeland of the Jewish people.

This incitement to hatred and terrorism must end. Terrorists should not be glorified, Jews should not be demonized and Israel's existence should not be called into question.

Examples of Incitement since 30 July 2013

  1. Glorification of terrorists
  2. Ramadan campaign honoring terrorists:

    During last year's Ramadan period (July-August 2013), the Palestinian Authority (PA) focused on the glorification of terrorists and their attacks. Twenty-two murderers of 238 Israelis were honored. Officials, in particular PA Minister of Prisoners' Affairs Issa Karake, made almost daily visits to the family homes of terrorists. These visits were highly publicized, while PA TV broadcasts many programs glorifying the terrorists, who also had their pictures posted on the Facebook page of Fatah (the ruling party of the PA) The Ramadan holiday period traditionally sees very high TV viewership rates.

    Abbas holds ceremonies honoring terrorists released from Israeli prison: After each release of convicted terrorists in the framework of Israeli measures to advance the negotiations, PA President Mahmoud Abbas has held televised public ceremonies honoring the terrorists, the vast majority of whom were convicted of murder. For example, on 30 October 2013, Abbas congratulated 21 terrorists from the West Bank after their release from prison. In a ceremony broadcast on official PA TV, he called them "our heroic brothers" and is seen embracing them. In the final shot, he is shown raising the hand of Issa Abd Rabbo, who in 1984 murdered two Israeli students who had been hiking near Jerusalem.

    Abbas honors terrorist leader with PA's highest award:

    President Abbas posthumously awarded the terrorist leader Abu Jihad (Khalil Al-Wazir) the Palestinian Authority's highest award, the Star of Honor. Abu Jihad was the head of the PLO's military wing and planned attacks that murdered 125 Israelis, including the 1978 bus hijacking that killed 37 civilians, including more than a dozen children. The ceremony was broadcast on official PA TV news on 27 November 2013, during which the Secretary-General of the Presidential Office read a decree signed by Abbas that called Abu Jihad "the model of a true fighter and devoted leader." The terrorist's wife, Um Jihad, was then handed the award by Abbas.

    Jibril Rajoub praises a terrorist at a memorial ceremony:

    While PA President Mahmoud Abbas was in New York in September 2013 to speak at the UN General Assembly, the Palestinian Olympic Committee Chairman Jibril Rajoub (a highly-popular official who is also a member of Fatah's Central Committee) delivered a speech on behalf of Abbas at an official memorial for Ahmad Jabara Abu Sukka. Abu Sukka was the terrorist who planned the 1975 bombing in Jerusalem that killed 15 Israelis and wounded more than 60. Abbas' speech praised Abu Sukka as a "hero," "legend" and "giant." Rajoub is the same official who threatened Israel with nuclear destruction, when in April 2013 - this time using his own words - he said in an interview to PA television that "we as yet don’t have a nuke, but I swear that if we had a nuke, we’d have used it this very morning.”

  3. Promoting violence and terrorism
  4. Rajoub on armed "resistance" and conflict:

    In an interview to Al-Alam TV (3 February 2014) during a recent visit to Iran, Fatah Central Committee member Jibril Rajoub, stated: "We have never given up our arms. We have never left the battlefield, and we have never raised a white flag. No one can lecture Fatah or its leadership in this regard. The resistance is still a strategic option, and armed resistance is on the table…. As I've told you, we want to maintain the state of conflict between Palestine and the occupation. This applies to all components of the Palestinian people, because we want all the Palestinians to participate in the resistance."

    Fatah Facebook page posts terrorist group's video threatening Israel:

    On 17 November 2013, Fatah published a video on its main Facebook page made by its internationally-recognized terrorist wing, Al-Aqsa Martyrs' Brigades. In the video, a masked terrorist sits on a large stockpile of over a hundred rockets and threatens Israel, stating "Praise Allah, our jihad fighters have managed to develop these rockets so they will reach the Zionist depth [Israel]." The song that accompanies the video includes the following lyrics: "Detonate your revolution of rage in their [the Israeli's] midst. Bombard them with your fire and shoot them.... Death is in your cup - make them drink!"

    PA minister calls for jihad in Jerusalem:

    In a speech given on 13 January 2014 and broadcast on official PA TV, the PA Minister of Religious Affairs, Mahmoud Al-Habbash, criticized the jihadists fighting in Syria and called instead for a jihad on Jerusalem. He stated, among other remarks: "Whoever wants resistance, whoever wants jihad, the direction for jihad is well-known and clear…. Those who send young people to Syria or elsewhere to die for a misdirected cause must stop and understand that Jerusalem is still waiting. Jerusalem is the direction, Jerusalem is the address."

    Children "kill Israelis" in an officially sponsored play:

    Official PA TV broadcast an ad on 9 December 2013 announcing an event by Ramallah's Youth Club, under the auspices of Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas. The young Palestinians put on a play which praises martyrdom ("In life, it's either victory or martyrdom death for Allah") and glorifies violence. During the play, Fatah and Hamas supporters unite to shoot and kill the "Israelis." They then find a Palestinian "spy," who is forced to kneel down and is then shot in his head, to the cheers of the audience. After the play, PA Minister of Culture Anwar Abu Aisha invited real-life terrorists released by Israel onto the stage and awarded them PA plaques of honor.

  5. Falsehoods about threats to Muslim holy sites
  6. PA falsely accuses Israel of planning to destroy Al-Aqsa Mosque:

    Palestinian accusations falsely claiming that Israel is trying to destroy the Al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem are highly dangerous. On 28 September 2013, a Palestinian Authority daily newspaper published a cartoon showing Orthodox Jews destroying the Temple Mount foundations.

  7. Demonization and antisemitism
  8. Antisemitic cartoon series:

    An official PA television station broadcast an antisemitic cartoon series daily during Ramadan 2013 (July-August). The series, directed at children, portrays ugly hook-nosed Jews as evil, warmongering followers of the devil.

    Israel and the US depicted as devils:

    A cartoon published in late August 2013 on Fatah's main Facebook page depicts Israel and the US as green-faced devils in a cemetery digging a grave for the "Arab conscience."

    PA TV dehumanizes Jews and Israelis:

    "Sights of Jerusalem," an official PA TV program broadcast on 18 October 2013, included statements and visuals that dehumanized Jews and Israelis. On the background of Orthodox Jews climbing a staircase, the narrator said "the crows pass by and caw," while he states "the rats are armed" while pictures of Israeli soldiers were broadcast. In addition the broadcast denied the thousands of years of Jewish presence in Jerusalem, calling Israelis "foreigners."

    Palestinian use of Nazi symbols:

    Palestinians frequently use Nazi symbols and gestures. Fatah activists were photographed giving the Nazi salute in Abu Dis, near Jerusalem in November 2013, while in the same month students at Al Quds University were pictured making the identical salute.
  9. Denying Israel's existence
  10. Official PA TV teaches children that Israel is Palestine:

    On 20 December 2013, "The Best Home," an official PA TV show for children broadcast children singing "Oh flying bird," a song which falsely defines cities in Israel as part of Palestine. Among the lyrics, "By Allah, oh traveling [bird], I burn with envy. My country Palestine is beautiful. Turn to Safed, and then to Tiberias, and send regards to the sea of Acre and Haifa. Don't forget Nazareth - the Arab fortress - and tell Beit Shean about its people's return." All these cities and towns are in Israel. There are at least seven versions of this song and they have been broadcast to children on official PA TV dozens of times since 2011.

    Israel presented as Palestine during Barcelona football team visit:

    During a news broadcast on the visit by the FC Barcelona football team, a PA TV commentator described Palestine as reaching "from Eilat [in Israel's south] to Rosh Hanikra [in Israel's north]." At the Barcelona event in Hebron (3 August 2013), a song was performed by the popular "Arab Idol" winner that portrayed the Israeli cities of Haifa, Safed and Acre as Palestinian cities.

Main Terrorist Attacks since 30 July 2013

An off-duty IDF soldier was lured to the West Bank by a Palestinian co-worker and murdered (September 20).

A young soldier was shot dead (September 22) in Hebron, near the Cave of the Patriarchs.

On October 10, a 61-year-old Israeli civilian was murdered, and his spouse injured, when they were attacked by two Palestinians wielding an ax and iron bars in what is suspected to be a terrorist attack.

A Palestinian man rammed a tractor through the gate of an army base north of Jerusalem on October 17 before he was stopped. (In 2008, Palestinians carried out a series of terror attacks in Jerusalem involving tractors.

Three Israelis were killed and nearly 60 people injured.) On October 20, a Palestinian man brandished a knife attempted to stab Jewish passengers on a bus travelling northwest of Bethlehem.

A soldier sleeping on a bus in Afula in northern Israel was stabbed to death on November 13.

A two-year-old girl sustained moderate injuries caused by stone-throwers, while traveling in a car on November 28 near the Armon Hanatziv neighborhood of Jerusalem.

A disaster was averted on December 22 when a bomb was discovered moments before exploding on a bus in Bat Yam, near Tel Aviv. One of the terrorists subsequently arrested admitted that his cell was prepared to execute another major terror attack in the Tel Aviv-Jaffa area in the following days.

Two other attacks occurred within a 24 hour period of the bus bombing. Also on December 22, the Border Police thwarted a knife-wielding terrorist attack near Ma’aleh Adumim in the West Bank.

The next day, in a separate attack in the West Bank outside of Jerusalem, a police officer was stabbed in the back with a 15-centimeter knife by a Palestinian man.

A Jewish man was stabbed in the neck in Jerusalem on January 11, 2014 by an Arab youth.

Sources: Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs