Reprinted from The Boston Globe of August 13, 1998
"Israel and the [Palestinian Authority] shall seek to foster mutual understanding and tolerance and shall accordingly abstain from incitement, including hostile propaganda."
--from Article XXII of the Israel-PLO Accord (the "Oslo II" agreement) signed at the White House, Sept. 28, 1995
Summertime. You're a Palestinian kid. Peace is in the air. If not full-fledged peace, at least a full-fledged peace process. In your own short lifetime, you've seen Yasser Arafat shaking hands in Washington with Yitzhak Rabin and Benjamin Netanyahu. You have witnessed repeated Israeli withdrawals-- each one painful to Israelis, all of them victories for Palestinians.
You're just a child, yet you have lived to see the end of the occupation. Gaza, Jericho, Bethlehem -- they're now under Palestinian autonomy. So are Nablus, Ramallah, and Jenin. Indeed, 98 percent of Palestinians are ruled no longer by the State of Israel but by Arafat's Palestinian Authority (PA).
Summertime. A new season of peace. What are you going to do? Go to camp, maybe? The PA operates a network of them -- they've been featured on Palestinian television and in Al-Hayat Al-Jadida, the official PA newspaper. In one TV ad, a camper at Khan Yunis sings:
I came to you with my sword in hand. We will drive them [the Jews] out to the sea. Your day is coming, conqueror, then we will settle accounts. Our accounts are unending in stones and bullets!
In another promo, you watched a trainer lead children in a chant: "My children, my children, o my country/ Are in the suicide squad!"
The camps are for more than just singing, though. Their commander boasts he has nine military trainers and two supervisors holding the rank of lieutenant. And the purpose of this intense military atmosphere? "To build a generation," he told Al-Hayat Al-Jadida, "that can arrive at Jerusalem, fight the settlements, and build the independent Palestinian state." Or, as the TV announcer says: "Jihad" -- holy war -- "is the main belief. It will never end."
If you go to summer camp, your head will be filled with violence and anti-Israel incitement. One trainer, Lawy Abu, drills Palestinian children in battle techniques, using "tires, plaster, and nails." Another teaches them how to use a rifle. In one commercial, according to Palestinian Media Watch, which documented this coverage, "children scream `Commando!' and jump into a burning ring.'' A PA-TV broadcast aired on July 19 showed campers standing at attention before "a huge picture of the Temple Mount" -- Judaism's holiest site -- "covered with blood, arms, and heads, and with Arabian horses going up."
The camps indoctrinate kids in the belief that *all* of Israel is occupied land waiting to be "liberated." Children are organized into brigades named for Israeli cities -- the Safed brigade, the Tiberias brigade, etc. They wear shirts emblazoned with a map of "Palestine" on which Israel has been wiped out. No attention, it seems, is devoted to the Oslo accords or their requirement to "foster mutual understanding and tolerance."
But you're a Palestinian kid who's interested in peace, not war. So you forget about camp. You decide to surf the Internet, check out the brand-new Fatah website. After all, Fatah is the PLO faction led by Arafat himself -- Arafat who signed the accords with Israel, Arafat who renounced terror, Arafat who won the Nobel Prize for peace.
You visit: http:// www.fateh.org. Opening image: A map of Israel pinned behind crossed guns with a grenade underneath. You click on Publications. Click on Constitution. Before you is the charter of the PLO's largest component.
It is raw propaganda.
(*) "The Palestinian struggle is part and parcel of the worldwide struggle against Zionism, colonialism, and international imperialism."
(*) "The Zionist Movement is racial, colonial, and aggressive in ideology, goals, organization, and method."
(*) "Liberating Palestine . . . is an Arab, religious, and human obligation."
Fatah's goal is the "complete liberation of Palestine and eradication of Zionist economic, political, military and cultural existence" -- i.e., Israel's extermination. And the way to achieve that goal? It's spelled out, too.
"Armed struggle is a strategy and not a tactic . . . Armed revolution is a decisive factor in the liberation fight and in uprooting the Zionist existence. This struggle will not cease unless the Zionist state is demolished and Palestine is completely liberated."
*This* is the new web site of Arafat the peacemaker? You search for the word "peace." It isn't there. You look for a mention of Oslo. None. Instead you find that Fatah opposes "any political ... alternative to demolishing the Zionist occupation in Palestine." Arafat has gone on the Internet with a message not of peace, but of total and unrelenting war.
Summer camps full of hate. A web site calling for nonstop terrorism. And more than that: schoolbooks that preach violence against Jews. Kids' TV shows that glorify suicide bombers.
You're a Palestinian child. This summer, peace should be embracing and inspiring you. But everywhere you turn, your leaders teach you to hate. To them, there is no peace process, no coexistence, no living with Jews in neighborly accord. There is only jihad. They have no intention of living up to their treaties. Or of letting you live up to them, either.
Jeff Jacoby is a columnist for the Boston