Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas is scheduled to meet President Bush in Washington May 26. He is getting this meeting because the Bush Administration has concluded that Abbas has done more than his predecessor, Yasser Arafat, to reduce violence against Israeli civilians and reform the Palestinian security services, among other preconditions stated in the road map for Middle East peace.
That's debatable, but one issue that is beyond debate is Abbas' failure to end the incitement to violence that President Bush mentioned nearly three years ago as a precondition for implementing the road map.
In its print and broadcast media, the Palestinian Authority has increased the level of invective against Israel, the Jewish people and the United States.
According to a report commissioned by the Center for Near East Policy Research, the level of invective, incitement, paranoia, spreading of false accusations and rumors and inflammatory sermons from Palestinian mosques has not changed under Abbas.
These include assertions from Palestinian officials and their media that Israel is planning attacks on Islamic holy sites such as the Al-Aqsa Mosque on Jerusalem's Temple Mount; charging Israel with using radiation to poison Palestinian travelers and remarks on Palestinian radio that claim "America is using her troops to uproot Islam and (true) belief from the hearts of those imprisoned in her jails."
On official Palestinian television, viewers saw three hours of non-stop incitement against Jews and Israel. And on a program called "Good Morning Jerusalem," calls were taken from viewers who berated Jews and Americans with the approval of the show's hosts.
From numerous Palestinian mosques comes rhetoric which, if used by an American preacher about anyone, would properly be condemned as bigotry and an incitement to violence.
Sheik Ibrahim Mudeiris, a paid employee of the PA, said in a sermon aired May 13 on PA TV, "Allah has tormented us with 'the people most hostile to believers' - the Jews . and the polytheists." That's code for Christians, who believe in a triune God. The sheik added, "You will find that the Jews were behind all civil strife in this world. The Jews are behind the suffering of the nations."
If that isn't enough incitement for the president, how about this from the same sermon: "We have ruled the world before, and by Allah, the day will come when we will rule the entire world again. The day will come when we will rule America. The day will come when we will rule Britain."
What about those "troublesome" Jews? The sheik said, "The stones and trees will want the Muslims to finish off every Jew." In case people think this is merely the ranting of a single cleric, they should visit the Palestinian Media Watch Web site where there is a full report outlining the PA's systematic justification for genocide (www.pmw.org.il/KAJ_eng.htm).
This isn't only a sermon; it is the official policy of the Palestinian government which the Bush Administration believes is capable of making peace and living side-by-side with Israel. If it weren't official policy, one would expect Abbas to denounce and silence it.
If words have meaning, the definition of "incite" should inform administration policy: "stresses a stirring up and urging on; move to action." (Webster's Ninth New Collegiate Dictionary)
Sermons from Palestinian mosques, along with words and images in Palestinian media, are not the American equivalent of an editorial or opinion column, or a sermon or homily from an American church or synagogue. They are designed to stir up and move to violent action. A preponderance of sermons I have read call for the eradication of Jews, Christians and anyone else who doesn't believe as they do.
In his meeting with Abbas, will President Bush raise the issue of incitement in Palestinian media and sermons? Will he demand that Abbas order a cessation of this inflammatory rhetoric intended to incite murder and war and not peace? Will he ask Abbas if he believes these things? If he won't, then what is the purpose of the meeting?
Cal Thomas is co-author (with Bob Beckel) of the book, "Common Ground: How to Stop the Partisan War That is Destroying America".
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