Millions of words, acres of newsprint and gigabytes of bandwidth have been spent trying to explain the phenomenon of anti-Israel and anti-Jewish incitement in Muslim societies. The Israeli government, particularly Binyamin Netanyahu himself, go on and on about incitement to an uninterested world whose obtuse media pay only lip service, if they pay any attention at all, to this blight on civilization.
Monitoring outlets like Palestinian Media Watch (PMW) adn MEMRI amongst others do sterling work in monitoring the Arabic media and translating their words for foreign media and governments with varying degrees of success.
It seems that lately PMW has made something of a splash davka in Sweden (!), land of the bigoted Margot Wallstrom.
Itamar Marcus and Nan Jacques Zilberdik
Following Palestinian Media Watch director Itamar Marcus’ presentation of PMW findings on Palestinian Authority and Fatah hate incitement and terror promotion to opposition MPs, Swedish MP Mikael Oscarsson (Christian Democrats) called to reconsider Sweden’s aid to the PA:”The [Swedish] government has decided to double its aid to Palestine after the recognition [as a state], but we cannot just continue to give money without taking this hate propaganda into account.”[Världen Idag (Swedish daily),Jan. 20, 2016]
MP Oscarsson had invited Itamar Marcus to Swedish Parliament to inform Swedish MPs about the content of Palestinian messaging and its impact on terror and peace. MP Oscarsson suggested that because of Sweden’s role as a major donor to the PA, it is also Sweden’s obligation to question PA policies and conduct in light of PMW’s “important information”:“The purpose of the meeting [with PMW’s Itamar Marcus] was for the MPs to receive important information. Sweden is a large contributor to Palestine and therefore we must also present counterclaims [to the PA].”[Dagen (Swedish daily), Jan. 22, 2016]MP Oscarsson repeated PMW director Marcus’ assessment that the Palestinian leadership sees Swedish Foreign Minister Wallström’s recent remarks calling for an investigation of Israel’s “extrajudicial killings of Palestinians” as Swedish support for continued Palestinian violence against Israelis, disguised as self-defense:“Now the [Palestinian] acts of violence have intensified and [they] also use [Swedish Foreign Minister] Wallström’s statements as a kind of support. It is very important that the [Swedish] government breaks with this image and shows that it is possible to consider this kind of information (i.e., the findings by Palestinian Media Watch), which is not an expression of opinion but only translation from the official Palestinian [TV] programs.”[Världen Idag, Jan. 20, 2016]
In light of PMW findings that demonstrate the clear impediments to peace posed by the PA, MP Oscarsson stated that the opposition intends to force Foreign Minister Wallström to answer questions about Palestinian incitement:“We must check where the funding that we send to the PA is going. We cannot support incitement to terror. We will call Foreign Minister Wallström to the plenum and force her to answer to the evidence of [Palestinian] incitement that we just saw.”[The Jerusalem Post, Jan. 22, 2016]
MP Oscarsson repeated PMW director Marcus’ assessment that the Palestinian leadership sees Swedish Foreign Minister Wallström’s recent remarks calling for an investigation of Israel’s “extrajudicial killings of Palestinians” as Swedish support for continued Palestinian violence against Israelis, disguised as self-defense:“Now the [Palestinian] acts of violence have intensified and [they] also use [Swedish Foreign Minister] Wallström’s statements as a kind of support. It is very important that the [Swedish] government breaks with this image and shows that it is possible to consider this kind of information (i.e., the findings by Palestinian Media Watch), which is not an expression of opinion but only translation from the official Palestinian [TV] programs.”[Världen Idag, Jan. 20, 2016]
You can read and watch the full interview at the link.
The following chilling story brings the whole incitement issue into sharp focus with the chilling story of a PMW worker who grew up in Egypt not knowing she was Jewish, and who was so totally immersed in anti-Jewish incitement that she had a very hard time adjusting to life in Israel. Here is her story:
Seventeen Israelis at the research institute Palestinian Media Watch in Jerusalem monitor the Palestinian incitement that fuels the terror attacks, and report to intelligence bodies. They watch a 13-year-old girl reciting: “O Sons of Zion… barbaric monkeys,” read about a tree-planting ceremony in Ramallah commemorating terrorists, and discover the good lives that terrorists have. Meira Ovadia, one of the institute’s staff, isn’t surprised: During her childhood in Egypt, no one told her she was Jewish and she was taught that the neighbors across the border were “people with big noses and a tail.”
Meira Ovadia has been monitoring the official Palestinian Authority television channel for 8 years already. For hours upon hours, she watches news broadcasts, guest shows and children’s programs and translates statements relating to the State of Israel and the Jewish people.
On May 29, 2015, for example, she saw on one of the children’s shows a girl of about 13 years, her hair flowing over her shoulders, reciting the following poem: “O Sons of Zion, O most evil among creations\ O barbaric monkeys\ Jerusalem vomits from within it your impurity.” Ovadia also saw that the girl received applause and a “Bravo!” from the host of the program, a lovely Palestinian woman who was carefully made-up and wore a blue head scarf.
Ovadia, whose mother tongue is Arabic, has no problem exposing her identity, but she does have a deep identity crisis.Why doesn’t Mom wear a veil
Ovadia, now 25, was born and raised in Al-Ma’moura, a high-scale neighborhood in Alexandria, Egypt, under the name Maysa Abdallah. She lived there until the age of 15. Her wealthy family had a successful fashion factory, and for many years she lived comfortably. She didn’t even know she was Jewish until 2005.
“Our parents didn’t allow us to pray in a mosque or a church or visit friends’ houses, and we never understood why,” Ovadia says, with traces of a foreign accent slipping into her speech, dimples visible on her smiling face, and her eyes alight. “There were strange things at home that I didn’t understand, like a meal on the Sabbath that my grandparents and parents insisted we eat together.…
“Our parents preferred not to tell us that we were Jews so that we wouldn’t talk about it outside our house, so that we wouldn’t be hurt. There were kids who suspected us and laughed at us. I was told that I looked Jewish, and when I answered them that I wasn’t, they asked why my mother didn’t wear a veil. I didn’t know how to answer, so I told them that we were secular.”
Until 6th grade, she studied in a Muslim Brotherhood school and after that she transferred to a Coptic Christian school. “I didn’t like the Muslim school. I suffered there. I didn’t want to wear a veil, and they forced me to. Every day we had to memorize entire chapters of the Quran by heart. Whoever didn’t study or didn’t speak nicely got beaten – serious beatings, not friendly pats. One time, I dared to stick my tongue out at one of the other students during a lesson, and the teacher hit my hand with a rod until my hand broke. I was taught to hate Jews, that they were creatures with horns, a long nose and a tail, and to hate Israel, the cruelest country in the world.”
After the second Intifada broke out in 2000, solidarity with the Palestinian people and hatred of Israel were on the rise at the Muslim school that Ovadia attended. “On the wall in the classroom, there were two pictures. One was Muhammad Al-Dura, the child that, they explained to us, the Israelis had murdered. There was one picture taken just before he had died, and a second picture taken when he was already dead, on a stretcher. That’s what was in front of the children’s eyes – a child’s corpse. My parents realized that there was no point in keeping us in that school, so we transferred to the Coptic school. That was much easier to handle. They also beat you there, but only for really serious things.”
In 2005, the family was forced to leave Egypt after masked men broke into their home, proclaimed that Jews were unwelcome in Egypt and that it would be best that the children not go to school anymore. “Five bearded men, with weapons and clubs, broke into the house,” Ovadia recalls. “At first, they broke the glass of the electronic gate at the entrance, and then they came inside yelling ‘Ald Al-Yahud,’ ‘the Jewish family,’ and just started to destroy the entire house. They demanded to know where the men were, but none of the men – my father, uncle, and grandfather – were home.…
Three days after the incident, the grandfather gathered his seven grandchildren and told them that they were Jews and that soon they would go to Israel and live in Jerusalem. “I couldn’t understand where this had come from. To Israel? Why would I want to go to a country with people who had big noses and a tail? It was a total shock. The children reacted badly and were angry, but we left in the end.”
“At the beginning, I pretended it was a trip. Ulpan was pretty good for me, but afterwards my cousin Dina and I transferred to the Amaliya High School [in Jerusalem], and it wasn’t easy. We fought with the other girls all the time. Mostly I did. They called me Pharaoh. We had heavy Arabic accents, so they made fun of us. I was very insulted and I would hit the other girls. It took the teachers a long time to teach me not to hit. I couldn’t stand the way the other girls talked and mostly disrespected the teachers. Maybe everything they taught me from a young age about the Jews affected me. The girls seemed ugly and cruel to me.”
[Interviewer:] “But you didn’t see horns and tails.”
“You’ll laugh, but the first time I went to Mea Shearim, there was some Haredi guy [religious Jew] – you know, with the whole outfit – that pressed himself against a wall in order to not come near me. I turned around to check that he didn’t have a tail. Today, when I see what Palestinian children are taught, when I see seven year olds saying on air that Jews are apes and pigs, and the hostess of the program applauds them, I understand them. Once, I also thought like they did.”
Even working at PMW did not erase the memory or influence of the anti-Jewish incitement she was brainwashed with as a child:
Her acclimatization at the [PMW] institute wasn’t easy. “I would argue a lot with the other employees. Because I didn’t have Israeli friends, and because I didn’t watch Israeli television, I was convinced that Israel was hurting the Palestinians for no reason. I hid the fact that I would cry about Palestinian suffering from the director of the institute, Itamar Marcus, but I would say to the other employees: ‘The Palestinians lived here, and you came with weapons, kicked them out with force and took their homes.’ One of the employees would argue with me all the time, and I would answer him half-seriously, ‘Well, be quiet, you occupier.’ The employees would laugh and say that you can take Meira out of Egypt, you can’t take Egypt out of Meira.
Her exposure to the Palestinian television broadcasts during her work at PMW didn’t contribute to forming her identity as an Israeli. “Every time I watched In a Hero’s House, a program on official PA TV in which a different prisoner’s house is visited and the terrorist’s mother is interviewed – I would cry. I cried together with the Palestinian mothers about their suffering, and I didn’t understand that they put these people into prison because they committed terror attacks. I thought that the Israelis were persecuting them for no reason. They don’t explain on the program what happened before the arrest. It’s like now, when PA TV portrays the 13-year-old boy who carried out the Pisgat Ze’ev stabbing attack, as a victim. They don’t show that he stabbed someone, only that he was shot. That’s how they present most cases, as if some Arab who didn’t do anything was attacked in the street and shot for no reason.
“At some point, the other employees started to convince me to watch Israeli news. One of the employees would call me at 8 o’clock and remind me to watch the news in Hebrew. Today, I don’t need a reminder anymore. In time, I also made Israeli friends, and four years ago I started to see things differently and support Israel.”
Just reading this story, of a young woman who had the benefit of a “counter-incitement” atmosphere at PMW, and yet still had doubts about the rightness of Israel’s cause because of the influence of the anti-Israel brainwashing she received as a youngster, is enough to make one despair.
However, there are some partially positive results from PMW’s work too, as mentioned at the beginning of the post in Sweden, and elsewhere in Europe:
“We also publicize positive developments. In the report [PA Education – A Recipe for Hate and Terror] we put out about the Palestinian education system, there’s an entire chapter dedicated to positive statements. When there’s a positive message on television, we publish it. And of course, there is value in exposing the negative material. We present it in European parliaments and in different forums in the United States and Canada, and we have great success there. The Europeans are horrified by what they see; afterwards they try to say that it has nothing to do with them, so we explain to them how much money their country gives to the PA. We show them that the hate education is funded by their money.
“We’ve succeeded in initiating important legislation in the United States that makes it more difficult to fund terror. Dutch, British and German parliaments had important debates and made important decisions after they were presented with our materials: The Europeans demanded that Abbas shut down the PA Ministry for Prisoners’ Affairs, which transferred 15 million dollars every month to prisoners’ families. That’s a huge sum. But Abbas, typically, knows how to lie: He founded the Commission of Prisoners’ Affairs, subordinate to the PLO, that transfers the money from the PA to the prisoners. We have proof of this.
Read the rest of the article to learn more about PMW’s founder Itamar Marcus’s take on today’s incitement in the Palestinian Authority, and what it means for us Israelis and for the future of the Middle East. His depressing conclusion:
[Interviewer:] “Is there a Palestinian leader today who can lead to a different path?”
“I’m afraid not. Salam Fayyad was the only one who didn’t take part in hate incitement, but he doesn’t have public support. But there’s no alternative: The only solution is new leadership that will start educating toward peace.”[Translated from Ynet Hebrew]