Let's play 'what if'
How difficult is it, if it is even possible, for parents who live in the Palestinian Authority today to educate toward nonviolence, tolerance, recognition of the State of Israel and peace?
Assume for a moment that you are a Palestinian parent. Assume (really, let your imagination run free) that you are a Palestinian parent who wants peace. You would presumably want to educate your children in the same spirit. So how difficult is it, if it is even possible, for parents who live in the Palestinian Authority today to educate toward nonviolence, tolerance, recognition of the State of Israel and peace?
Sports are generally considered a good thing - a challenging, healthy activity. And that is certainly true of sports tournaments for children. A PA soccer tournament could be both fun and educational - if it were not named for the terrorist Dalal Mughrabi. She is the one who perpetrated the bloody attack on Israel's coastal highway in 1978, which killed 37 Jews.
According to Palestinian Media Watch, a celebration was held on Palestinian television to mark this terrorist's 50th birthday, sponsored by PA President Mahmoud Abbas himself. The event included a party at which a youth orchestra played in Mughrabi's honor. For the last two years, the PA has also run a summer camp named after this "martyr" (no, not Hamas, the PA - the good guys). Abbas funded a computer center named after her, and recently, a square in Ramallah was named for her as well, with Abbas' full backing. How heartwarming.
The PA and its leader, Abbas, are for some reason considered partners in the dream of peace between us and them. But peace, if it is to be true and lasting, must be based on the desire and trust of both sides.
For some time now, the PA, and even this newspaper, have been claiming that the Palestinian Authority does not incite against Israel. That is partly true. What you find on television, in textbooks, on posters and in public statements is not incitement; incitement is something superficial, something easily pushed aside by the next bit of incitement to come along. What is happening in the PA is systematic education, brainwashing that poisons the minds of its children - or rather "your children," as the U.S. secretary of state once said in commenting on the issue.
If two PA schools are named after the arch-murderer Mughrabi, what will be implanted down the road in the subconscious of the children who attend them? That murdering Jews is a good thing, which brings you honor. If Palestinian television describes Palestine as extending "from Gaza and Ashkelon in the south to Haifa and, further north, Acre," if children are told that Tiberias is an important Palestinian city and Lake Kinneret a Palestinian water source, if Jaffa is called "Palestine's gateway to the world," what will your children understand from this? That there is no Israel. It doesn't exist.
In quiz shows on PA television and crossword puzzles in PA newspapers, children know the right answers to questions such as "Which is Palestine's most important port - Acre, Jaffa or Haifa?" Other questions include: "Name three states that border Palestine" (the correct answer is Egypt, Lebanon and Jordan) and "What is the area of the state of Palestine?" The correct answer to that one is 27,000 square kilometers - a territory that encompasses the entire area between the Mediterranean Sea and the Jordan River, including the entire State of Israel. It is clear from the questions, of course, that the state of Palestine already exists. And so on and so forth.
Your efforts to educate your children toward tolerance and acceptance of the neighboring Jewish entity are doomed to failure from the start.
It is your word against the brainwashing inculcated by the schools, the television programs, the crosswords, the teachers, the textbooks, the songs. So what can you do? And how?