Home / News / LocalRSS Feed
To understand the Mideast, read the translations, says media watch director
November 25th, 2009
“The Jews poisoned [Palestinian Authority President Yasser Arafat] and I hate them very much. Allah will repay them what they deserve.”
So said a Palestinian girl during a children’s segment of a televised memorial for Arafat on PA official television this past Nov. 10. Other children made similar remarks that were included in the broadcast.
And this is just one sample of the ways that Palestinian print and broadcast, educational and entertainment media inculcate hatred of Jews and Israel — ways that Palestinian Media Watch uncovers and presents to the rest of the world.
As PMW director Itamar Marcus, 56, said in an interview during his visit to Milwaukee on Nov. 17, the Palestinian Arabs and their organizations – especially the mainstream PA, but to some extent also the more radical groups like Hamas — “live in two different worlds.”
“There is the Arabic language world, and there is the world in English for foreign consumption,” he said. “On all basic issues, the Palestinian society internally is completely different from the image it presents outside.”
For example, the PA “is supposed to be fighting terrorism” against Israelis, yet “what you have is anyone who has killed a large number of Israelis is presented to Palestinian children as a hero and role model,” he said.
So, said Marcus, the PA ministry of education sponsored a soccer tournament in 2003 and named it after Abed Al Basset Odeh, the suicide bomber who attacked the Netanya Passover seder in 2002, killing 29.
The PA also named a summer camp, a soccer tournament, two girls’ schools and a computer center for Dalal Mughrabi, the leader of the 1978 “Coastal Road Massacre” in which 37 Israelis were murdered, Marcus said.
“People have no idea what’s really going on in the Palestinian internal world,” Marcus said. However, “when people and policy-makers see this material, it almost inevitably reframes the whole conflict for them,” he said.
And he and his organization strive to make people and policy-makers aware of these kinds of materials. Marcus said he has spoken to legislatures in the U.S., the Netherlands, Canada, Sweden, and Norway.
“In every case, the parliamentarians are horrified that this is the Palestinian world, and in all cases they were totally or mostly unaware that this was the Palestinian ideology,” he said.
And what are the policy implications of this information? “There must be an intensive message to, and political and financial pressure on, the PA to start an educational peace process, not just a political peace process,” said Marcus.
“We need to see a population that accepts Israel as a neighbor, Palestinian youth who recognize that the state of Israel exists and will exist,” he said. “Then we can sit down to a peace process and start redrawing borders.”
This does not necessarily mean that Israel will withdraw completely to the 1948 armistice lines it had before the 1967 Six Day War.
Marcus, a New York City native who moved to Israel shortly after his college graduation, now lives in Efrat, a city in the Gush Etzion bloc in what some Jews call Judea and Samaria, but most of the world calls the West Bank.
Since Jews lived in this area more than 100 years ago, when it was ruled by the Ottoman Turks, “It is moral, just and legal by international law for Jews to live in Gush Etzion,” said Marcus.
“The rebuilding of Jewish life, especially in areas where Jews lived, like Gush Etzion, is the epitome of justice; and any agreement with the Palestinians, if it will be based on justice, must recognize and accept that there are hundreds of thousands of Jews living in the West Bank legally and morally,” he continued.
“That doesn’t mean every town and city of Jews must remain, but it certainly means that a new reality has to be created.”
Marcus founded PMW about 13 years ago. He had been working as an advisor to the Minister of Religion in the then Labor government.
“I had become aware of some of the statements Arafat had made in the previous year or two in Arabic,” he said. “They didn’t fit with the image of a peace partner.”
He said his organization, which is based in Jerusalem, employs seven translators and monitors all forms of Palestinian media, including schoolbooks and radio.
He came to Milwaukee to speak on Nov. 17 at the first event of the new Wisconsin chapter of the national pro-Israel organization Stand With Us (formerly AIM-Advocates for Israel of Milwaukee), held at the Harry & Rose Samson Family Jewish Community Center.
Milwaukee was one stop on a four-city speaking tour that included Los Angeles, Denver and New York City, he said.
For more information, visit the PMW’s two Web sites, pmw.org and palwatch.org.