Nurturing the mindset of war

When one nation is supposedly at peace with another like Israel and Egypt, or when negotiations intended to achieve peace are taking place, then hateful expressions intended to demonize are, shall we say, inappropriate. But the prevalence of it in ‘friendly’ Arab media actually sends a message, to which we should pay attention.

For example, here’s a cartoon from Al-Hayat Al-Jadida, the official newspaper of the Fatah-dominated Palestinian Authority (PA — our ‘peace partner’) published in October 2007 (Palestinian Media Watch):

Al-Hayat cartoon, Oct. 2007

The text on the missiles reads, “Allah, scatter them!”

“And turn their wives into widows!”

“And turn their children into orphans!”

“And give us victory over them!”

This was published during the period immediately preceding the Annapolis “peace” conference. One would think it came from Hamas. Is there any wonder that several recent murders of Israelis in the West Bank have been carried out by members of the PA “security” forces?

But nobody comes close to Egypt, with whom Israel has supposedly been at peace since 1976, for anti-Israel and even anti-Semitic incitement. Here’s a sample from the official Al-Ahram newspaper from April 2001:

Al-Ahram cartoon, April 2001

Nice, isn’t it? I can’t read Arabic, so maybe one of my readers will translate the captions — not that it’s necessary in order to understand it.

Of course, Jordan is different. Right?

Ad-Dustur (Jordan) cartoon, October 2003

This one is from the Jordanian government-owned Ad-Dustur newspaper. The sign says “Gaza Strip or the Israeli Annihilation Camp.”

Words and pictures can have great power. Sometimes people minimize the importance of hateful messages and incitement, as if to say “as long as nobody was hurt or killed, it’s no big deal”. Or they say “it doesn’t really mean anything, it’s just internal politics”.

The fact is that every information tool at hand to the ‘friendly’ Arab regimes, not just newspapers but radio, television, schools and universities, mosque pulpits, children’s books and schoolbooks, etc. is turned to the tasks of creating hate, destroying credibility, preventing reconciliation, and above all preparing their citizens for war.

The first thing Yasser Arafat did when he returned from exile in 1994 to lead the PA after the signing of the Oslo accord was to establish a Palestinian educational system designed from the ground up to teach children that Israel is illegitimate, that ‘Palestine’ would be redeemed through armed struggle, and that they would be the ones to do it. Peace, which became part of Israeli schools’ curricula, was not mentioned. David Meir-Levi wrote,

After Hitler, Arafat is the first national leader in history to set up a school system whose purpose was to teach the nation’s children to hate another ethnic group and to instill in them the ambition to murder as many as they could.

So what’s the message that all this sends? That there is no real peace available, only various forms of hudna (temporary truce). Because the right to make war is reserved, and the necessary mindset nurtured.

Egypt, despite the peace treaty, continues to buy expensive, sophisticated weapons that it has absolutely no use for — unless there is another war with Israel. All of the plans for “normalized” cultural and economic ties between Israel and Egypt that were intended to break down the barriers between peoples have not come to fruition, because the Egyptians want it that way.

The PA and Arab nations have made it clear that they will not withdraw their hatred. Indeed, at this point — as a result of their own highly effective ‘educational’ activities — perhaps they cannot.

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