Remember when you were a kid, sitting in class learning about science and world history? We read the stories of historical figures who fought for freedom and civil rights. We were taught to respect those who are different and to better understand the world around us. Maybe your school was named after a pioneering philanthropist or perhaps in honor of a Native American tribe. As children, we were taught we could be whatever we set our minds to and with good reason. Our education is designed to help us reach our fullest potential, guiding us to a fruitful life in peaceful coexistence with our fellow humans. How we are socialized shapes who we become and is the building block we use to create the world we want to see. It is for that reason that education is so important to us.
In the Palestinian Territories, both Fatah in Judea and Samaria (Yesha) and Hamas in Gaza have also placed a high value on education, except for a different objective. In 1993, the Oslo Accords created the Palestinian Authority and granted legitimacy to Yasser Arafat’s Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO). By establishing the PLO as the official governing body over the Palestinian Territories, it was given control over the provision of public services to the Palestinians. Namely, education and the structure of the curriculums in schools.
Pre-Oslo,United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) used textbooks from surrounding Arab countries. Post-Oslo Accords, the UNRWA became a partner with the newfound Palestinian Authority who promptly shaped the education system to serve as an initiation into their culture of “martyrdom” and murder.
In the Palestinian-controlled areas of Judea, Samaria, and Gaza, the systematic indoctrination of Palestinian Arab children begins as young as three years old. On October 27, 2015, Tawfiq Tirawi, a Fatah Central Committee Member, appeared on state-run PA television beaming with pride over how his son, who is not even three years of age, sings, “Daddy, buy me a machine gun and a rifle so that I will defeat Israel and the Zionists.” What is perhaps even more alarming is that this is not a song that he made up, but a popular children’s song which continues, “When I am a big boy, I will join the Liberation Army. The army of [Izz A-Din] Al-Qassam (Hamas), which has taught us how to defend our homeland… We [are] victorious, victorious over America and Israel.”
Coming into kindergarten, Palestinian children have already inherited the hatred of Jews and Israel from their parents and are encouraged to engage in the conflict. Another video was released on May 30, 2016 showing the grand finale of a Kindergarten graduation ceremony in which the children donned army fatigues while brandishing toy assault rifles and running military drills and even “raiding” an Israeli home at gunpoint. Amidst the mock “sniping” and mortar fire, a narrator urges the crowd to ‘Stab! Kill the occupier with stones and knives. Use any available weapon…”
Think about the last time you spoke with a five-year-old. Think about what you wanted to do at that age. Did that conversation include explaining how to properly hold and fire an assault rifle? Was “martyrdom” at the top of that list? If we are to understand peace and a “solution” to the conflict as being the nonviolent and mutually beneficial coexistence of both Israelis and Palestinians, then it is clear that the issue of incitement stands as one of the biggest obstacles to such an end.
As long as Palestinian children and youth go to schools named after terrorists such as the three all-girl high schools and kindergarten named after Fatah terrorist Dalal Mugrabhi, who led the most lethal terror attack against Israel, during which she detonated a grenade on a bus which killed thirty-eight Israelis, thirteen of them children, and wounding an additional seventy-two, we can’t expect them to seek peace or to change how they educate their children. Many schools, public buildings, even sports tournaments, and summer camps are named after terrorists. The glorification of terrorists and positioning them as role models and heroes is ubiquitous in the Palestinian-controlled territories. As long as Palestinian youth are taught to pick up their guns, Israeli youth will be kept from putting theirs down, which creates an endless loop of conflict. The leaders of Hamas and Fatah know this very well and have made billions as a result. This PA-sponsored incitement creates conflict and continues the cycle of Palestinian victimization, which leads to billions in foreign aid, donations, and continued funding to UNRWA, from which corrupt Palestinian politicians embezzle.
Before we can begin real negotiations, we must first have a viable partner with whom to negotiate. As long as the Palestinian leadership uses their power over the people to continue war, we can be sure that the dream of coexistence is pushed away even further.