A window to a society’s values

While many cling to the view that the Palestinian issue is merely a human-rights struggle, think for a moment of the families of all of those who have had loved ones murdered by terrorists.

The scene of a car crashing into Jerusalem's Ammunition Hill light-rail station in a Palestinian terrorist attack on Oct. 22, 2014. Photo by Flash90.
The scene of a car crashing into Jerusalem's Ammunition Hill light-rail station in a Palestinian terrorist attack on Oct. 22, 2014. Photo by Flash90.
Sarah N. Stern
Sarah N. Stern
Sarah N. Stern is the founder and president of the Endowment for Middle East Truth (EMET), a think tank that specializes in the Middle East. She is the author of Saudi Arabia and the Global Terrorist Network (2011).  

Imagine, if you will, going to Charleston, S.C., and seeing posters throughout the city praising the brave actions of Dylann Roof, the heinous white supremacist who walked into Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church on June 17, 2015, and shot and murdered in cold blood nine African-Americans who were engaged in a Bible-study class.

Imagine that the teachers in the school system throughout the south were to, God forbid, hold him up in constant lessons as a heroic role model for your children to emulate. Imagine sports pageants and school buildings named in his honor.

This gives you a glimpse of the sort of toxic environment that has permeated the areas controlled by the Palestinian Authority and Hamas since the signing of the Oslo Accords.

In a recent EMET webinar, Itamar Marcus of Palestinian Media Watch (PMW) reveals some of the findings about Palestinian society, which he has assiduously studied for the last 25 years. He has documented how the P.A. uses every means of communication possible, including textbooks, the official P.A. television station, newspapers and official Facebook pages for incitement against Israeli and Jews.

It is in the very oxygen that the Palestinians are breathing and is the worst sort of child abuse imaginable. Because they are condemning their children, as well as ours, to a lifetime of suffering.

He shows, for example, a football tournament for young girls on March 13, 2019 in the Dalal Mughrabi Sports Festival. Every single girl wore a red sweatshirt with the picture of Dalal Mughrabi, one of the worst terrorists in Israeli history, who had killed 31 Israelis on a bus traveling between Jerusalem and Tel Aviv, including 18 children. They are giving the message: “This is who we exhort you to emulate.”

This is not ancient history. Just last month, on Oct. 18 at a Palestinian Polytechnic Institute, a new arch was named in memory of Saleh Khalaf, the terrorist who planned the 1978 massacre of Israeli Olympic athletes in Munich, Germany, with the words: “We are proud of the distinguished leaders whose bodies are no more, but whose spirit remains among us.”

This is a cautionary tale. According to Vice President-elect Kamala Harris, a Biden administration is “committed to a two-state solution, and we will oppose any unilateral steps that undermine that goal. We will also oppose annexation and settlement expansion.”

She further stated that a Biden administration will take immediate steps to restore economic and humanitarian assistance to the Palestinian people, address the ongoing humanitarian crisis in Gaza, reopen the U.S. consulate in East Jerusalem and work to reopen the PLO mission in Washington.”

Last week, the P.A. made several surprise announcements. This was done in order to whitewash their tarnished image before the incoming Biden administration assumes office.

Suddenly, they announced that they now will be willing to accept the tax payments that Israel collects on its behalf, and that they are now willing to resume security coordination with the Israel Defenses Forces.

These two are of obvious benefit to the P.A., which is going broke and could use the Israeli tax dividends. It also needs the IDF to keep them alive against the Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad terror organizations.

But the most major announcement of all came on Saturday in a New York Times interview when chairman of the P.A. Prisoner Affairs Commission Qadr Abu Bakr said they will change the basis for paying out salaries to terrorists. He said that from now on, they will be based on economic need, rather than on how long the prisoners are behind bars.

This would be extremely problematic for Palestinian society to accept because they have created and nurtured a culture where the most valued members of this society are terrorists and murders.

According to P.A. leader Mahmoud Abbas, “Even if we had only a penny left, it would only be spent on the families of the martyrs and the prisoners, and only afterwards will be spent on the rest of the people.” He added, “We view the martyrs and prisoners as the stars in the sky of the Palestinian people, and of the Palestinian people’s struggle and they have priority in everything.”

The “pay for slay” system is something that Itamar Marcus and PMW first unearthed in July of 2011. The Palestinian Authority pays monthly stipends to terrorists who are in prison and lifetime allowances to the families of the “martyrs.” The more lethal the terrorist attack, the more money the P.A. doles out.

There are more than 30,000 people in this martyrs’ group (composed of families of mass murderers and suicide bombers) and 4,000 prisoners. Every terrorist who is arrested gets at least a monthly stipend of $400 a month.

The more horrific the crime, the longer the terrorist is in jail, and the longer he is jail, the more the monthly stipend grows. Many families receive about $3,500 a month—about three times the average Palestinian salary. For each wife and child, more is given. There is more if one is a Jerusalem resident or Israeli Arab.

Under the Obama administration, the P.A. was getting $300 to $400 million a year. This stopped during the Trump administration.

It stopped because the Taylor Force Act was passed in 2017, prohibiting this incentivizing of terrorism. Many countries, including the Netherlands, Australia and Canada, have ended their payments to the P.A. entirely because of this morally abhorrent practice.

In order for the Biden administration to immediately give money to the P.A., as promised, they have to find a way to circumvent the Taylor Force Act.

The deification of terrorists is such a regnant part of Palestinian society that a few hours after the Times published the article, Abu Bakr announced on Fatah’s Facebook page that “the salaries of the prisoners’ families are non-negotiable, and the Palestinian leadership’s position is firm and will not change, regardless of the circumstances and pressures,” reported Palestinian Media Watch.

In retrospect, the excitement about the changing of the payment structure to the “martyrs and prisoners” reminds me of the excitement in the worldwide media about the Palestinians changing their highly anti-Semitic National Covenant, which lays out the plan for the gradual takeover of all of Israel through “armed struggle.”

In 1997, Peter Jennings of “World News Tonight” stunned many throughout the world by saying, “They said it couldn’t be done. The Palestinian Legislative Council has met, and they have decided to amend the Palestinian National Covenant.”

Yes, it couldn’t. The Palestinian National Committee met in Gaza and decided to have a committee to look into it. PLO spokesman Marwan Kanafani was videotaped telling reporters, “This is not an amendment. This is a license to start a committee to look into it.”

In 2009, Fatah officials, among them Azzam al-Ahmad and Nabil Shaath, confirmed that the Charter would remain unchanged

A note of caution to the incoming Biden administration: Be wary of those who use words to obfuscate their true meanings.

In order to understand a culture and a society, look at the people they choose to lionize.

While many cling to the view that the Palestinian issue is merely a human-rights struggle, think for a moment of the families of all of those who have had loved ones murdered by terrorists. And of what America would be like if, God forbid, Dylann Roof was to become a national hero.

Sarah N. Stern is founder and president of the Endowment for Middle East Truth (EMET), a pro-Israel and pro-American think tank and policy institute in Washington, D.C.

The opinions and facts presented in this article are those of the author, and neither JNS nor its partners assume any responsibility for them.
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