We are losing the battle in the war of ideas for the simple reason that we are continuously on the defensive while those seeking our destruction actively and relentlessly demonize us.
Ever since the Oslo Accords, successive Israeli governments have felt obliged to understate and even dismiss Palestinian terror and hatred in order to maintain domestic public support for policies that, alas with the benefit of hindsight, were doomed to fail. At the very early stages, Palestinian Authority President Yasser Arafat told his people that the ultimate goal was the end of Jewish sovereignty – and we dismissed such outbursts as empty words merely designed to placate his radical domestic opponents.
But as the government falsely praised our peace partner, many Israelis deluded themselves into believing that the terrorism we faced was an extremist aberration and that the Palestinians were committed to ending the conflict on the basis of a two-state solution. Likewise, most of the world accepted at face value our repeated praise of Arafat and his successor, Mahmoud Abbas, as moderates and genuine peace partners.
This suited the long-term Palestinian policy of destroying us in stages. They readily accepted concessions and withdrawals but without compromising one iota, and they continue to demonize us and challenge our legitimacy.
But the worst aspect was our failure to highlight the poisonous brainwashing the Palestinian Authority had inflicted on its population. While Arab hostility to Jews prevailed even during the Mandatory period, it was not comparable to the culture of death and evil that today saturates every aspect of Palestinian life.
The Palestinians have stated explicitly that their state would be Judenrein and that Jews would never be permitted to live in their ancestral home even if they were willing to accept Palestinian jurisdiction. Indeed, Palestinians were brutally executed when they were deemed to have sold land to a Jew.
The Palestinian Authority has become a criminal society and can be compared to prewar Germany when the Nazis transformed their population into genocidal barbarians by depicting Jews as subhuman. The Palestinians depict Jews as “the offspring of apes and pigs” and call for their extermination. This is not even done subtly but with blatant statements to this effect emanating daily from religious and political leaders and accessible from vast documentary sources compiled by Palestinian Media Watch, MEMRI and others.
A society in which children from kindergarten are brainwashed into believing that the highest goal in Islam is to achieve martyrdom in the course of killing Jews can only be described as criminal.
The demonization of Israel and manifestations of the culture of death are promoted without inhibition by the leadership, the mullahs in the mosques and the state-controlled media. They amount to direct incitement for individuals to strike out and kill Jews in concert or randomly. The “heroic” scenes of youngsters stabbing Jews, the praise by Abbas himself of martyrs “with holy blood” and the totally contrived religious frenzy accusing Israelis of planning to destroy Al-Aqsa mosque, coalesce into a witch’s brew of primeval rage and hatred.
The PA provides generous state salaries to terrorists apprehended by Israelis, and if they are killed, their families are remunerated — from funds provided by Western countries. Religious and political leadership at all levels sanctifies terrorists as heroes and national martyrs. City squares, schools and even football clubs are named in their honor.
The barbarism imbibed by the Palestinians is reflected in the street celebrations that erupt spontaneously with every murder of an Israeli. Even more nauseating are the repeated displays on TV of mothers expressing pride that one of their children had become a martyr and usually expressing hope that her other children would follow the example.
Under these circumstances, it is no wonder that Palestinian opinion polls reflect public support for terror attacks against Israel and opposition to a two-state solution. The Arafat/Abbas indoctrination process has radicalized successive generations into believing that the only solution to the conflict is the permanent termination of Jewish sovereignty in the area.
There is irrefutable evidence of the barbaric and genocidal nature of Palestinian society. Indeed, the reality is that, despite maintaining a “moderate” stance to the outside world, internally the Palestinians and ISIS are birds of a feather — although the Palestinians are probably more corrupt.
Alongside the turbulence in the region and the threat from Iran and ISIS, could one envisage any country agreeing to accept statehood for what will inevitably be a neighboring criminal state pledged to its destruction or a candidate for an ISIS or Iranian takeover? This would be utterly inconceivable.
Yet most of the international community, including the United States, regards this as an issue of two nations arguing over real estate. Were that the case, the Palestinians would not have dismissed the offers by Prime Ministers Ehud Barak and Ehud Olmert, who were willing to concede up to 97% of the territories formerly controlled by the Jordanians.
Israel has been the target of repeated defamation and delegitimization yet has basically only been on the defensive, seeking to refute the lies being disseminated. But as Joseph Goebbels said, if one repeats a lie continuously, people begin believing it. This dictum has now been realized; many in the Western world have absorbed the distorted Palestinian narrative of Israel being an apartheid state, an occupier and a nation born in sin.
Ironically, the weakness of our position lies in the fact that, until recently, in order to appease our allies and “protect” Israelis from being confronted with the stark reality, we deliberately held back from telling the truth and failed to highlight the barbaric and criminal nature of our purported peace partner.
Had we mounted campaigns at the outset, exposing the horrors perpetrated by our neighbors, it may not have influenced anti-Semites and the delusional Left but it would have made a significant impact on the open-minded.
But even now, belatedly exposing the barbarity of our neighbors should be made the top priority in our foreign relations efforts rather than the endless disputes over whether the miniscule 2% of territory comprising settlements (which are not being expanded) is justified.
The recent initiative by Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman to establish relations with independent Palestinians, aside from not having cabinet approval, is bound to fail because any Palestinian engaged in such negotiations would immediately be assassinated. Pressure must be exerted to encourage rank-and-file Palestinians that their best interests will be served when they appoint leaders who genuinely support the peace process. Alas, for the time being, that is not even on the horizon.
Today, we must move forward and promote a focused effort with detailed documented exposure of the evil nature of Palestinian society, which will make it far more difficult and embarrassing for the Americans and Europeans to continue pressuring Israel to accept the creation of what will invariably be a criminal state — particularly in the context of the mayhem prevailing in the region and the terrorist threats now impacting the heartland of Europe.
This column was originally published in the Jerusalem Post and Israel Hayom