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Impossible to promote peace when Palestinians are teaching hate

Until the Palestinian Authority ends youth incitement in textbooks, summer camps and in its general culture—and until European and other governments whose aid money funds such provocation do something about it—the cycle of anti-Israel, anti-Jewish violence will continue unabated, even while watchdog organizations monitor such actions.

A Palestinian teacher lectures at the Salem School for Girls on the life of the late Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat on the 12th anniversary of his death, in the West Bank city of Nablus, on Nov. 10, 2016. Photo by Nasser Ishtayeh/Flash90.
A Palestinian teacher lectures at the Salem School for Girls on the life of the late Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat on the 12th anniversary of his death, in the West Bank city of Nablus, on Nov. 10, 2016. Photo by Nasser Ishtayeh/Flash90.

Palestinian incitement against Israel runs rampant in the West Bank and Gaza, with Palestinian school textbooks full of hatred and including maps of the Middle East often minus Israel. The Palestinian Authority constantly incites against Israel in its television and radio programs, so it comes as no surprise that Palestinian society regards Israelis as the enemy.

That said, it’s also no shock that many Palestinians have carried out terrorist attacks on Israelis. One attack, in particular, stands out for Micah Avni.

Shortly after 10 a.m. on a beautiful Tuesday morning on Oct. 13, 2015, the No. 78 Egged bus turned the corner in Jerusalem’s Armon Hanatziv neighborhood. When it stopped at the bus stop, two Palestinian men—Baha Alyan and Bilal Abu Ghanem, both residents from the adjacent neighborhood Jabel Mukaber—boarded the bus, one armed with a gun and the other with a knife. Shortly afterwards, they started indiscriminately shooting and stabbing passengers. A security guard at the scene was able to overpower and kill Alyan. Ghanem locked the bus doors in an attempt to stop security forces from boarding—and to stop passengers from fleeing. Police officers who had arrived at the scene opened fire at him from outside the bus. Shortly after, he was arrested and eventually jailed.

Avni’s father, Richard Lakin, 76, was a passenger on that bus. He was shot in the head and stabbed multiple times. He was evacuated by an emergency medical team and hospitalized in the intensive-care unit at Hadassah Ein Kerem Hospital in Jerusalem, where he underwent multiple surgeries. He died two weeks later on Oct. 27.

son of terror victim Richard Lakin, Micah Avni Lakin attends a Housing Committee meeting in the Knesset, Israel’s parliament in Jerusalem, on February 8, 2016. Credit: Yonatan Sindel/Flash90

Lakin was a former principal at Hopewell Elementary School in Glastonbury, Conn. He wrote a book in 2007 titled Teaching as an Act of Love: Thoughts and Reflections of a Former Teacher, Principal and Kid. Upon moving to Israel, 32 years earlier, he and his wife opened a business focused on teaching English to people of all ages and backgrounds, including many Palestinian children from the area. He was still teaching up until the day of the attack.

‘Turning murderers into heroes’

Palestinian Media Watch, an Israeli research institute that studies Palestinian society from a broad range of perspectives, discovered that a Palestinian public library in El-Bireh, a city 15 kilometers north of Jerusalem, recently held what it called a “cultural evening” titled “In the Presence of the Martyrs,” at which it honored four terrorists.

Among them was Alyan.

Nan Jacques Zilberdik, a senior analyst at Palestinian Media Watch, told JNS “I’m not surprised to see that a Palestinian library honors murderer Baha Alyan. The Palestinian Authority has turned Alyan into a role model for Palestinian society since he murdered three Israelis. Turning murderers into heroes is common practice by P.A. leaders. The fact that Alyan once organized a reading event gave him added value for the P.A. They have been able to use a terrorist murderer to promote the importance of reading at universities and at public events. …

“The P.A. is teaching its kids that murdering Israelis and Jews is as basic a value as reading. I’m appalled, but unfortunately not surprised, that the P.A. contaminates the value of reading with their twisted value of killing Israelis.”

Avni is incensed that the P.A. glorifies terrorists, especially the one who killed his father. Palestinian Authority leader Mahmoud Abbas met with Alyan’s father and commended his actions on P.A. TV. The P.A. also pays Alyan a monthly stipend and even established a summer camp in his name.

Avni told JNS that there have been “numerous lectures at different universities in the P.A. and tons of memorial pages have been created online glorifying Alyan and teaching Palestinian students and children to hate and murder, educating them to kill Jews and Israelis.”

Palestinians schoolchildren participate in a rally marking the 70th anniversary of “nakba,” Arabic for “catastrophe,” the term used to mark the events leading to Israel’s founding in 1948, at a school in the West Bank city of Nablus, on May 13, 2018. Photo by Nasser Ishtayeh/Flash90.

The fact that a Palestinian library was used for incitement especially bothers Avni since his father utilized libraries to teach peace.

“Taking this [incitement] into a library blew my mind,” he said. “My father loved teaching children to read and to love books. The Hopewell school set up a library where it teaches children kindness. If you juxtapose this with the library in the P.A., it drives home the moral challenge of us as a people who are educating for peace, and tragically, the P.A. is educating its children to hate and kill. With this vicious cycle of hatred and killing, you have to go to the root of it. The library is the core of that education.”

‘Child abuse on a grand scale’

While PMW works to expose Palestinian incitement, another organization, IMPACT-SE, focuses specifically on this issue. According to its website, IMPACT is “a research, policy and advocacy organization that monitors and analyzes education. It employs international standards on peace and tolerance as derived from UNESCO declarations and resolutions to determine compliance and to advocate for change when necessary.”

Its aim, it says, “is to prevent radicalization of children and youth as the most vulnerable members of society.”

IMPACT-SE CEO Marcus Sheff tells JNS “the new curriculum is more radical than the curriculum that came before it. It is more radical across subjects. Peacemaking as a way to resolve conflict does not exist in this curriculum.”

He continued, saying “Palestinian students are educated for jihad, martyrdom and constant war. There is now a systematic attempt by the P.A.—after looking at all 173 books across the curriculum—to radicalize generation after generation of young Palestinians to keep them ready for violence, to explain to them what that violence should look like and the fruits of what that violence should be. What they are doing is saying ‘sacrifice yourselves.’ It is child abuse on a grand scale.”

Palestinian students easily believe what they are being taught because, as Sheff asserts, “textbooks are authoritative.”

The new curriculum, drawn up in 2016, was supposed to be reformed and improved. Instead, according to Sheff, “there is real radicalization in these textbooks. We have looked into every single line of the old and new Palestinian curriculum. And the most bizarre element of this is that it is being paid for, to a large extent, by the European Union and European nations.”

He says he brings the textbooks to European leaders, and they appear shocked when they see the material. “There is a paradigm which they are very much a part of. They need to support the Palestinians and inconvenient truths are not part of that paradigm.”

Sheff notes that some countries, like Britain, acknowledge the problem, “but what they will do with this is a question. Do they have what it takes to take on the Palestinian leadership? You would think they do. They are paying for it, after all. And yet, somehow, they often seem like rabbits on the highway.”

He points out that a recent bill, H.R. 6034-Palestinian Authority Educational Curriculum Transparency Act, according to the U.S. Congress’ site, aims to “require the Secretary of State to submit annual reports reviewing the educational material used by the Palestinian Authority or the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East in the West Bank and Gaza, and for other purposes.”

Sheff says he “hopes it is going to pass.”

He adds that while focusing on Europe is more important since they pay for the radicalized curriculum, “the U.S. absolutely needs to have the legislation in place for if and when they are re-involved in any peace process. We are making sure that is going to happen. And we are covering our bases.”

Avni lambasts the Palestinian Authority for encouraging incitement in its educational system. “That is the screaming outrage of this: It’s evil and wrong. Morally, it is corrupting an entire society and bringing us farther away from ever reaching a peaceful arrangement.

He says that he offered “numerous times” to speak at schools in eastern Jerusalem, where students could be exposed not only to the terrorist’s side, but also to the victim’s side. He has consistently been rejected.

“Parents aren’t willing for their children to hear,” he says. “Even when a school approved it, parents overruled it.”

“Tragically, being turned down again and again clarifies the point over how they are educating hate and terrorism,” he laments. “It’s important that we in Israel, as well as leaders around the world, understand that as long as the Palestinians are teaching hatred within the core of the education system and in schools and libraries, you can’t achieve peace.”

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