|Children perform at the Palestinian Authority's celebration of Fatah's|
47th anniversary. The song's title: "I shall saturate you
with my blood, redeem you with my life"
[Source: Palestinian Media Watch]
- 64 years ago, the United Nations ratified the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide. The convention was written with the horrors of the Holocaust still fresh in the mind of the international community. One of the Convention’s key provisions made it a crime to “directly and publicly incite” to commit genocide.
- Last August, Iran’s President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad went on public television and insisted that (and I quote), “the very existence of the Zionist regime is…an affront to all world nations.” He called on “all human communities to wipe out the Zionist regime from the forehead of humanity...” Yet, in the face of this explicit cry to destroy a UN member state, the UN barely said anything. And most of the world did not even utter a single word. Their silence is deafening.
- Terrorism does not begin with an attack on a bus or a raid on a village. That is how terrorism ends. Terrorism begins when its perpetrators are indoctrinated with words and thoughts of hate. It begins when prominent sheikhs claim that that it is a “sacred duty” to slaughter Christians – and that it is “not a taboo” to rape Christian women. It begins when Ayatollah Abdollah Javadi-Amoli, a cleric based in Iran, tells his students that homosexuals are subhuman, inferior to even dogs and pigs. It begins when people like Maulana Fazlur Rehman, a prominent Pakistani imam, tells his thousands of viewers on public television, (and I quote), “When the Jews are wiped out, the world will be purified, and the sun of peace will begin to rise.”
- This is the kind of incitement that is poisoning the hearts and minds of the next generation, day in and day out. In classrooms, textbooks, and houses of worship across the globe, children are being taught hate instead of peace; violence instead of tolerance; and martyrdom instead of mutual understanding.
- In the new millennium, we face a new frontier of terrorism. Extremist groups have exploited the internet and viral videos to spread the virus of incitement. Yet, while our enemies have embraced the technology of the future, our thinking about terrorism remains mired in the past... Contrary to conventional wisdom, counter-terrorism does not just mean combating terrorists wherever they seek to strike. It does not just mean dismantling terrorist infrastructure – and going after those who finance and support it. True counter-terrorism means disrupting the ecosystem of extremism in which terror thrives. It means advancing education that teaches coexistence and peace. It means speaking out against clerics who preach bigotry and intolerance, even when it is politically inconvenient. And most importantly, it means recognizing the danger inherent in simple statements of prejudice. In the right hands, these words can be as dangerous as a sword or a suicide belt.
- We have already lost an entire generation to incitement. Today, those of us here proclaim, loudly and clearly, that we cannot afford to lose another... Just south of Israel’s border, in Gaza, the Hamas government has created an atmosphere of extremism that vilifies Israelis and Jews to the next generation. Gaza Kindergarten graduations feature “terrorist dress-up,” where five-year olds stage plays that glorify jihadists and suicide bombers. Families in Gaza watch public television sermons featuring Hamas ministers like ‘Atallah Abu Al-Subh, who recently claimed that (and I quote) “the Jews are the most despicable and contemptible nation to crawl upon the face of the Earth.”
- Incitement is no less prevalent under Abbas in the West Bank as it is under Hamas in Gaza. Under the PA, students learn history from textbooks that glorify terrorists – and learn geography from atlases that erase Israel from the map. Sports facilities, streets, and public buildings are named after terrorists, such as Dalal Mughrabi, a woman who led an attack on a bus that killed 38 Israeli civilians – including 13 children. Imagine if the Norwegian government named a playground after Anders Breivik – or if the US named a park after Charles Manson. What kind of message would it send to the children who play there?
- Ignoring words and thoughts of hate does no favors to the Palestinian people. It does no favors to families who seek to build better lives for themselves and their children. And, perhaps most importantly, it does no favors to Palestinian leaders who advance the language of peace instead of the dogmas of hate.
- Lies, myths, and half-truths assume a life of their own if they go unchallenged. Their repetition is like Chinese water torture. Drop after drop after drop, ideas that were once considered unthinkable become mainstream. All of us have a responsibility to publicly and vocally challenge these statements.