Netanyahu Is Ignoring Abbas' Efforts to End Palestinian Incitement

Netanyahu is demanding the cleansing of preaching of hatred for Israel from sermons in the mosques. But he would do well to do some housecleaning first - in the synagogues.

Had the terror attack in Itamar taken place two or three years ago, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu would have blamed the Palestinian Authority for the cruel murder of the Fogel family.

"The fight against terror" was for many years Netanyahu's middle name and it twice helped him win the prime ministership.

Amos Biderman

But it can't be helped - the heads of the Israeli and American defense establishments are praising the PA leadership for their determined fight against terror.

How is it possible to cope with the gap between the Palestinians' serious attitude towards the provision in the road map about thwarting violent attacks on Israelis on the one hand, and Israel's institutionalized ignorance of the provision about freezing the settlements and evacuating the outposts on the other?

The thing to do is to accuse the Palestinians of inciting against Israel, which is engendering terror.

At a meeting at the Muqata in Ramallah in June of last year I asked Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas to speak about the phenomenon of incitement.

He didn't look for excuses and said he has lost sleep over the fanning of hatred - on both sides. He added that despite cutting off negotiations in the wake of settlement construction, he had offered to renew the activity of the Israeli-Palestinian-American committee for preventing incitement. (The committee was established in 1998, subsequent to Netanyahu's demand at the Wye conference. )

According to Abbas, the proposal was transmitted to Netanyahu, who chose to ignore it. At the end of 2010 Abbas, according to his bureau, renewed his offer to Netanyahu, this time via former Canadian Justice Minister Irwin Cotler. Again no reply was received.

The Prime Minister's Bureau denied Netanyahu had ever received a proposal to renew the committee's activity and said he didn't reject it. However, in a telephone conversation with Haaretz on Monday, Cotler said he had met with Netanyahu at the beginning of January of this year and gave him the message from Abbas.

According to Cotler, Netanyahu expressed agreement to renewing the committee's activity but since then he has not heard from him.

Alongside the denial, the Prime Minister's Bureau also expressed reservations about the very idea of convening the committee. They said the call for a committee against incitement is baffling in light of the fact that last week an adviser to Abbas called for naming a plaza after a female terrorist and there was the report of an intention to hold a soccer championship named after a female suicide bomber.

How would you write in Arabic "the corner of Martyred by the Romans and Lehi streets?"

According to a statement released on Saturday by the Prime Minister's Bureau, Netanyahu has suggested to Abbas that he learn from us how to educate children toward peace. One of these days Netanyahu should ask his father how he educated his children to make peace with the British occupation, or what he read in the "Hasamba" books.

It is also recommended that he find out why Education Minister Gideon Sa'ar refused to send his representatives to a ceremony held a year and a half ago at the American Colony Hotel in Jerusalem on the occasion of the launch of a joint Israeli-Palestinian study aimed at promoting peace education through textbooks. At the U.S. State Department, which gave its sponsorship to the study, they are waiting for an Israeli partner.

Shul of hate

Netanyahu is demanding, rightly so, the cleansing of the preaching of hatred for Israel from sermons in the mosques. But he would do well to do some housecleaning first - in the synagogues.

A new study, which will be published in the forthcoming issue of Israel Studies in Language and Society under the title "Talking Peace - Making War," shows that the Torah leaflets distributed by the thousands in synagogues encourage racism, xenophobia and incitement to violence.

The brochures enable Jewish religious fanatics to circumvent the formal channels of newspapers, radio and television and transmit their messages packaged as religious sermons. Daniel Bar-Tal, Hadas Zoran and Hila Cohen of Tel Aviv University and Tamir Gal of Haifa University have analyzed 91 leaflets (most of which receive government funding ) distributed by seven key religious Zionist organizations during the course of three months, beginning the month before Operation Cast Lead and ending after the completion of the operation.

The researchers found that the most outstanding common denominator in the leaflets is the exclusive right of the Jewish people and the denial of the right of the Palestinian people to the Land of Israel.

Beliefs regarding the delegitimization of the Palestinians appear in five of the seven weekly leaflets spread across the entire period of the study. The leaflets attribute to Palestinians and Muslims extreme negative stereotypes ("murderers," "terrorists," "evil," "bloodthirsty" and the like ).

The widely distributed leaflet Yesha Shelanu would not draw a blush from Rabbi Yitzhak Shapira's screed "Torat Hamelekh." It asserts that in order to bring the gentiles to admit to belief in God, "There is a need to smash their wickedness. Not only naivete and error lead the enemies of God to kill men, women and children. There are great evildoers among them."

In contrast to the Arabs, who are depicted as evil and immoral, the Jews are depicted in the leaflets as moral, humane, and people with values. The leaflet Ma'ayanei Hayeshua tells the public of worshippers that "the conflict over the land is a conflict over justice - a war between the sons of light and the sons of darkness."

The leaflet Me'at Min Haor knows that "throughout all the years of settlement and the struggle for the region we, the Jews, have been sowers, reapers, builders and bringers of life to the world whereas the Arabs have been busy the whole time sowing destruction and death. Even this alone can reveal and prove to everyone who the real owner of this land is."

Not a single leaflet in the sample offered contents hinting at an ethos supporting peace with our neighbors.