It was only recently that Abbas Zaki, a member of the Central Committee of Fatah and a senior Palestinian leader, addressed first-year students at Al Quds Open University in Nablus.
In his address, which was monitored by Palestinian Media Watch (PMW), Zaki told the first-year students that real men court death if it means advancing the Palestinian cause, that they are cursed if they do not sacrifice for Jerusalem and that those who die a normal death are cowards.
“Allahu Akbar! Allahu Akbar! Cursed is anyone who doesn’t sacrifice for Jerusalem,” he told the students.
A little while before that, WAFA, the official Palestinian Authority (PA) news agency, ran a piece on matriculation day for Grade 12 students, noting that 16 of their contemporaries in the same grade had been killed during attacks on Israelis that year. The news agency said that their path to martyrdom made their families proud and that those who died in that way showed the path to excellence and greatness.
That news report was also monitored by PMW, which follows Palestinian television and radio broadcasts. PMW’s 20 Arab-speaking employees also scan social media, analyze school textbooks and read Palestinian newspapers.
These media outlets offer “a window into Palestinians society,” and lately they show a society that’s hell-bent on preparing their children to attack and kill Jews, to expect death and to glory in martyrdom in the name of Allah, said Itamar Marcus, founder and director of PMW.
This is nothing less than the abuse of these children’s human rights on a massive scale, Marcus said.
Marcus was in Ottawa on Nov. 20 to address the Canada-Israel Interparliamentary Group and to brief officials from Global Affairs Canada about the organization’s findings. His briefings coincided with Universal Children’s Day, which was proclaimed by the United Nations as a day to promote children’s welfare.
PMW relies on public material when it investigates Palestinian media, he told The CJN.
In fact, if he were to launch the organization today, he’d call it “Palestinian Society Watch,” because it digs deep into what makes the Palestinian community tick.
Right now, it’s the glorification of terrorism and martyrdom that is prevalent in Palestinian society. It reaches down into the daily lives of Palestinian youths, even leeching into the world of sport, he said.
Recently, a youth soccer tournament was held and each of the 11 participating teams was named after a terrorist or a prominent leader of a terrorist organization.
The role-modelling and messaging is just unbelievable for children.
– Itamar Marcus
Another soccer tournament, along with the championship cup, was named for Ahmad Manasrah, a 13-year-old Palestinian boy who stabbed a 13-year-old Israeli in the neck in 2015.
“The role-modelling and messaging is just unbelievable for children,” Marcus said.
There are also events named for Dalal Mugrahbi, such as a basketball tournament, he continued. Mugrahbi was a terrorist who took part in the 1978 Coastal Road massacre, in which 38 Israelis, including 13 children, were killed.
Palestinian youths are being indoctrinated into believing that killing Jews is “the right thing to do, the heroic thing to do,” he said.
PMW, Marcus continued, “wants Palestinian youth to have a future.” But under the barrage of media and the influence of the education system, “These kids have no future and Israel will suffer, as well, having a generation of Palestinians grow up who believe it’s their obligation to kill Jews.”
We would like to see the PA given an ultimatum.
– Itamar Marcus
Informing parliamentarians about the reality of Palestinian culture is a first step to driving action, according to Marcus.
Liberal MP Michael Levitt chairs the all-party interparliamentary group. He said the information presented by Marcus was troubling, but that Canada has stopped directly funding the PA. Instead, it directs its financial support to specific groups and events. “We want to foster hope and create chances for peace and bridge building,” he said.
That’s the kind of approach that could be emulated by other governments hoping to improve the chances for peace, Levitt said.
Marcus said PMW’s goal is to convince parliamentarians to take joint measures to make funding of the PA conditional on ending the incitement to violence.
Canadian parliamentarians are in a good position to influence their counterparts in other democracies, he continued.
Not long ago, Marcus informed Belgian lawmakers that a school their government had funded was named after Mugrahbi. The Belgian government pressured the PA into changing the name and after one year, that’s exactly what happened. But at the same time, the PA named two other schools in Hebron after the same terrorist.
As a result, the Belgians, who had committed to funding additional schools, cut off school funding to the PA, which affected 10 additional schools.
“We would like to see the PA given an ultimatum that if they have a sporting event named after a terrorist and if school books present terrorist killers of women and children as heroic, we will no longer fund you,” Marcus said.