By Stephen M. Flatow/JNS.org
Like schoolchildren everywhere, Palestinian Arab children occasionally are assigned by their teachers to write poems. But the poetry they produce is not like that of children in the U.S. or elsewhere in the free world.
Palestinian Media Watch reports that twice in the past month, a children’s program on official Palestinian Authority Television (PA TV) featured children reciting their poems. Among the most common terms they used: “blood,” “slaughter” and “revolution.”
The PA TV program is called “The Best Home,” and the children who were selected to read their poems on air were obviously meant to exemplify what children in “the best Palestinian homes” should believe.
In the Jan. 6 edition, a little Palestinian boy named Muhammad proudly recited these lines about Jews, and what Arabs should do to them: “As we expelled them from Gaza and Sderot; As we slaughtered them in your streets, Beirut; For you, Yasser Arafat, for you we shall die….”
The boy continued with a specific declaration of identification with Fatah, the terrorist movement that is chaired by PA President Mahmoud Abbas: “Tomorrow we will take our vengeance, and their leader will be carried in a coffin; We, Fatah, are a storm, and our blood is food for the revolution….”
Just to make it crystal clear to the viewing audience that the boy’s words have the approval and blessing of the PA regime, the program’s host (a PA employee) exclaimed at the end: “Bravo, Muhammad, thank you, thank you, thank you!”
There was more Palestinian children’s poetry on display in the Jan. 20 edition of “The Best Home.” This time, a girl and a boy together recited these charming lines: “We want to speak openly, with no hesitation and with no fear; World, hear and see, my rock has turned into an AK-47 [assault rifle]; Your words are true, Yasser Arafat; O mountain, the wind will not move you.”
The verses penned by some of civilization’s classic poets can sometimes be difficult to understand. Not the Palestinian child-poets. Their words are both barbaric and honest. This is what they have been taught, so this is what they believe.
Children are not born racists or terrorists. Somebody needs to educate them to be that way. In the case of Palestinian society, there are three main sources of hate.
The first is popular culture. PA-controlled television and radio constantly broadcast youth-oriented cultural programs that inspire their viewers and listeners to hate Jews. Palestinian Media Watch points out, for example, that the poem about “rocks turning into AK-47s” echoes a music video that the PA repeatedly broadcast during the height of mass intifada violence, from 2000-2003. That video starred a boy who sang, “Don't be afraid. Allah is with them...The stone in their hand has turned into an AK-47.”
A second source of influence is the school system. PA teachers and textbooks glorify hatred and death. PA schools’ sports tournaments are named after mass murderers. Sometimes the schools themselves are named in honor of killers. What message does it send to a Palestinian child who spends every day in a school bearing the name of a suicide bomber?
The third and most powerful source of influence, of course, are the parents.
At a May 7, 2002, press conference, President George W. Bush said, “I deeply hurt when there is a lack of hope for moms and dads of anybody—Palestinian moms and dads—it bothers me.” President Barack Obama made similar statements about “Palestinian moms and dads.” It's what I call a bipartisan myth—the notion that “Palestinian moms and dads” are just like moms and dads anywhere, that they have the same hopes as anybody else.
But they’re not, and they don’t—as they remind us again and again.
Last year, I wrote about the father of 16-year-old Murad Adais, who broke into the home of a young Israeli Jewish mother of six and brutally stabbed her to death. “I am proud of my son,” the father announced.
Not long after that, the official Facebook page of Abbas’s Fatah posted a photo of the mother of the late Muhammed Shamasneh, a Palestinian terrorist who stabbed three Jews near the Jerusalem central bus station. His mother was smiling broadly and making a “V” sign with her right hand. The caption under the photo read, “How great you are, O mother of the Martyr.”
Remember when two Palestinian teenagers stabbed to death two elderly Jewish women on the Haas Promenade in Jerusalem's Armon HaNatziv neighborhood last year? It turned out that the mother of one of them herself had been arrested for attempting to stab Jews near Jerusalem.
And who can forget Palestinian mom Suhair Halabi, and her son, Muhannad. Last year, she posted a photo of herself on Facebook, showing her visit to the site in Jerusalem where Muhannad murdered an Israeli rabbi, slashed the rabbi's wife and 2-year-old child, and fatally stabbed a bystander who tried to assist the victims. In the Facebook photo, Mrs. Halabi was gleefully flashing “V” for “Victory” signs with both hands.
In 1996, then-First Lady Hillary Clinton wrote a children's book titled “It Takes a Village.” She explained how a child is shaped in part by the various people who live in his or her village and the cultural influences to which the child is subjected. The “Palestinian village,” sadly, is a place where children are raised to be murderers. There’s no point pretending otherwise.
Stephen M. Flatow, a vice president of the Religious Zionists of America, is an attorney in New Jersey. He is the father of Alisa Flatow, who was murdered in an Iranian-sponsored Palestinian terrorist attack in 1995.