Peace hopeless until culture of honoring terrorists ends

A Palestinian Media Watch study concludes immortalizing 'martyrs' significant to Palestinian society.

The Palestinian Authority’s policy of naming schools, summer camps, sporting events, streets and ceremonies after terrorists fundamentally undermines the chance for peace, states a new report by Palestinian Media Watch.

The NGO released the new study, "From Terrorists to Role Models: The Institutionalization of Incitement," on Monday at the Foreign Ministry Press Center.

The report sought to determine whether the Palestinian Authority’s naming of public locations and events after terrorists responsible for killing Israeli civilians represented capitulation to a fringe group within the society, or was PA policy. It found that honoring terrorists and their actions played a significant role in Palestinian society.

Among the PA officials the organization quoted was Culture Minister Siham Barghouti, who said in the Palestinian newspaper Al-Ayyam in January that "honoring them in this way is the least we can give them, and this is our right."

The PMW report calls on the Palestinian leadership to convince their people that terror is wrong at all times, and concludes that peace will not have a chance until terrorists are ostracized as immoral outcasts, not immortalized as heroes and role models.

Itamar Marcus, PMW’s founder and director, showed a multimedia presentation illustrating the findings of the report he co-authored with Nan Jacques Zilberdik and Barbara Crook. Marcus articulated the process of incitement in four steps: promoting hate, redefining acts of terror as acts of resistance, calling to kill Jews, and glorifying murder and terror.

"When you call to kill someone, it’s all theoretical. Here, it’s a much worse statement. You’re saying that if you’ve killed a Jew, if you’ve killed an Israeli and that’s all you’ve done, then we will name infrastructures after you," Marcus said.

Marcus’s presentation included a copy of a third-grade math textbook asking, "How many years have passed since the Palestinian state was declared in 1988?" He also showed a clip used in the Fatah memorial for the fifth anniversary of Yasser Arafat’s death – a boy saying, "I don’t know what [he] died from, but I know it was the Jews."

The NGO has launched a TV campaign involving a commercial that will be aired 1,000 times in May in the Washington area on CNN, Fox News, MSNBC and Headline News. The campaign aims to heighten awareness of the question, "If terror is glorified, can there be peace?"
Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon, who admitted he had yet to read the PMW report, spoke to reporters on the necessity of a comprehensive solution and questioned Palestinian readiness to compromise.

"What is defined as the main goal of the Palestinian state is too narrowly defined. The main goal should be peace. When we talk about peace, it should be a comprehensive peace, a real historic reconciliation between the Palestinians and the Israelis. This is why the Israelis should not be judged with a stopwatch," Ayalon said.

The deputy foreign minister pointed to the recent PA boycott of Israeli products manufactured in the West Bank as evidence that the Palestinian leadership was causing an unprecedented wave of anti-Israel incitement that would inhibit the peace process.

Ayalon viewed the PA boycott as a breach of trust among alleged partners in the peace process.

"They have been boycotting Israeli chips from Herzliya. There is no distinction in the eyes of the population what is being manufactured where. Once you start boycotting products, there is no distinction," he said.

Ayalon stated that he would study the PMW findings closely over the next couple of days and announce whether the government would endorse the report.

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