The Palestinian Authority is set to launch this week a new series of reports highlighting statements made by Israelis that purportedly promote hatred of Palestinians.
On Monday morning, the Palestinian Government Media Center sent out the first such report to international journalists and representatives of foreign governments. “It is the first of a regular series that will highlight Israeli incitement, giving examples of statements or actions that encourage hatred, support violence or increase tensions, undermining the Palestinian right to a state,” the center explained in an accompanying email.
According to its Twitter feed, the media center is “responsible for managing the outflow of governmental media relations and information data collected through Arab, Israeli, and foreign media outlets.”
Much of the report, written in English, is made up of statements and Facebook posts by far-right politicians and personalities.
A spokesman for Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Mark Regev, told The Times of Israel: “This is simply not serious. Israel does not demonize Palestinians; Israel does not teach its young people to hate Palestinians. And it would appear that instead of heeding international calls to take the issue of incitement seriously, some in the Palestinian leadership are playing games rather than confront those elements within Palestinian society.”
The 11-page report lists about a dozen statements by Israeli leaders and schoolbook passages that allegedly prove that Israel is not interested in a peaceful solution with the Palestinians.
The first example cites an Israeli textbook for grades 11 and 12 called “The Geography of the Land of Israel,” which uses the biblical terms “Judea and Samaria” rather than calling the area West Bank or “Palestinian territory.” According to the report, this “denies Palestinian rights to their land but contributes to unmaking Palestine in the minds of Israeli children by teaching in schools that the West Bank is theirs, and part of Israel.”
The same textbook declared the need to “Jewify” the Galilee, “where most Palestinian citizens of Israel live,” as a national goal, according to the report. A cartoon image of an Arab next to a camel stereotyped Palestinians as “primitive people and inferior, prevent students at schools to see Palestinians as equal human beings and increase the demonizing process of Palestinians by Israelis, and therefore legitimizing their comfort in the maltreatment, oppression, and disregard to human and political rights of Palestinians through the Israeli military occupation or having Arabs as second-class citizens in Israel,” the report states.
The report also quotes various statements made by right-wing politicians, such as Michael Ben Ari (National Union), Moshe Feiglin (Likud) and Danny Ayalon (Yisrael Beytenu). National Union MK Aryeh Eldad, for instance, is quoted as saying that it is “necessary to remove the mosques on the [Temple] Mount” and that the “mosque [of the Dome of the Rock] shouldn’t be there.”
Netanyahu is criticized for speaking, after the massacre of Jewish children outside a school in Toulouse earlier this year, of a “substantial difference between such deliberate attacks against civilians and children and unintentional strikes against civilians that are part of legitimate actions to fight terrorism.”
Netanyahu’s words came in response to a reported statement by EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton making an equivalence between Jewish children killed in Toulouse and children killed in Gaza.
“He legitimizes the killing of children by how those children are killed,” the report charges. “No matter how these children were killed, killing children is equally dreadful and outrageous in any context. By differentiating, Netanyahu is actually legitimizing the killing of Palestinian children.”
The report further quotes the government’s allocation of funds to commemorate a former minister, the late Rehavam Ze’evi, who is described as a terrorist and is quoted as having said that he wanted to transfer Arabs living in the West Bank and Gaza to “their forefathers’ land.”
Other examples of alleged incitement include a quote from the wife of Deputy Prime Minister Silvan Shalom, Judy Nir Mozes-Shalom, who during the recent flare-up with Hamas said Israel should “bomb Gaza” and wished suffering even upon the “passive residents” of the Strip; and the 9-year-old ruling of an Israel Defense Forces official who allegedly implied Jewish religious law sanctioned the rape of women during wartime.
The launching of this “regular series” of reports can be seen as an attempt to beat Israel with its own weapons, as Israeli leaders often quote Palestinian incitement as a major obstacle to achieving peace.
In February, for example, Netanyahu slammed PA President Mahmoud Abbas for having claimed publicly that Israel seeks to erase all Muslim traces from East Jerusalem and to destroy the Al-Aqsa mosque.
“This is a harshly inflammatory speech from someone who claims that he is bent on peace,” the prime minister said. “The State of Israel expects that one who supposedly champions peace would prepare his people for peace and coexistence and not disseminate lies and incitement.”
In January, Netanyahu criticized the PA’s main religious leader, the Mufti Muhammad Hussein, for having said that Islamic tradition teaches that “the Hour [of Resurrection] will not come until you fight” and kill the 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. Haj Amin al-Husseini was one of the architects of the Final Solution. He traveled to Berlin. He lobbied and implored Hitler, as was stated by Adolf Eichmann’s deputy at the Nuremberg trials, and this is documented in other sources, and persuaded him more than anyone else to carry out the Final Solution,” Netanyahu said. “And here is his successor, today, instead of calling for peace and reconciliation, calling for the annihilation of Jews simply because they are Jews.”