WASHINGTON--Sept. 11 awakened Americans to the anti-American vitriol in the state-controlled media of such apparently friendly states as Egypt and Saudi Arabia. We are just beginning to understand how a daily diet of hatred fed through schools and the media--a hatred quietly incubating for years--found its most perfect expression in the slaughter of Sept. 11.
We have failed, however, to see how a similar campaign of hate has laid the groundwork for the orgy of murder-suicide the Palestinians are now engaged in. A mother appears on videotape proudly sending her 18-year-old to his death just so he can kill as many Jews as possible. This is unprecedented. Before the Oslo peace accords of 1993, suicide bombing was a practice almost unheard of among Palestinians.
And it is not as if they had no grievances before 1993. On the contrary. The advent of suicide bombing coincides precisely with the era of Israeli conciliation and peacemaking: recognition of the PLO, repeated concessions of territory, establishment of the Palestinian Authority, acceptance of an armed Palestinian police--all culminating in the unprecedented offer of an independent Palestinian state with its capital in a shared Jerusalem. It is precisely in the context of the most accommodating, most conciliatory, most dovish Israeli policy in history that the suicide bombings took hold.
Where then did they come from? During the last eight years--the years of the Oslo ``peace process''--Yasser Arafat had complete control of all the organs of Palestinian education and propaganda. It takes an unspeakable hatred for people to send their children to commit Columbine-like murder-suicide. Arafat taught it. His television, his newspapers, his clerics have inculcated an anti-Semitism unmatched in virulence since Nazi Germany.
When U.S. peace negotiator Dennis Ross stepped down last year, he acknowledged, to his credit, that a major error of diplomacy in the Clinton years was turning a diplomatic blind eye to the poisonous incitement in Palestinian media. Just as Osama bin Laden spent the '90s indoctrinating and infiltrating in preparation for murder, Arafat raised an entire generation schooled in hatred of the ``Judeo-Nazis.''
This indoctrination goes far beyond expunging Israel, literally, from Palestinian maps. It goes far beyond denying, indeed ridiculing, the Holocaust as a Jewish fantasy. It consists of the rawest incitement to murder, as in this sermon by Arafat-appointed and Arafat-funded Ahmad Abu Halabiya broadcast live on official Palestinian Authority television early in the Intifada. The subject is "the Jews." (Note: not the Israelis, but the Jews.) "They must be butchered and killed, as Allah the Almighty said: `Fight them: Allah will torture them at your hands.' ... Have no mercy on the Jews, no matter where they are, in any country. Fight them, wherever you are. Wherever you meet them, kill them."
The rationale offered for such murderousness is Jewish villainy as taught not just in Palestine, but throughout the Arab world. On March 10, for example, an article in the official Saudi newspaper al-Riyadh described in rich detail how the Jews ritually slaughter Christian and Muslim children to use their blood in their holiday foods. With almost comic pseudo-scholarship, it explained that for one holiday (Purim) the Jew must kill an adolescent, but for Passover the victim must be 10 years or younger.
When the article achieved wide notoriety in translation, the editor apologized under pressure. He said he had been out of town when the article appeared. An odd excuse, given the fact that this elaborate blood libel ran as a two-part series.
A precondition for peace is to prepare your people for peace. Egypt's Anwar Sadat did that after signing his peace treaty with Israel. The Israelis did that after signing Oslo. They changed their textbooks and altered their civic culture to recognize and accept the Palestinians. On the 50th anniversary of Israel's independence, for example, Israel Television aired an epic multipart historical documentary that offered a view of the Palestinians that was deeply sympathetic and understanding.
While Israeli leaders, both political and intellectual, were preparing their people for peace, Arafat was preparing his people for war--the war he unleashed two months after rejecting Israel's Camp David peace offer of July 2000--with an unrelenting campaign of anti-Semitic vilification carried out by every organ of his media. And how he has succeeded. When Arafat's state-controlled media glorify a "martyrdom operation," it is not just a commendation of the murderer, it is a vindication of their own pedagogy. We now see its fruits in the streets of Jerusalem, where the blood from the latest suicide bombing graces the third floor of surrounding buildings.
(c) 2002, The Washington Post Writers Group