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The price Israel pays for its existence
Too few in the west grasp why this terrible toll continues to rise
Today is Israel’s Remembrance Day. This is when the nation commemorates all those who have fallen in battle defending it against its attackers, and remembers also all those Israeli civilians who have been murdered by Arab terrorism.
Since the State of Israel was established in 1948, 24,213 men and women have been killed in military service and 4,255 men, women and children have been murdered in terror attacks. To put these losses in proportion, in 1948 Israel had 806,000 people; today, its population is approaching 10 million. In America, the population during that period has risen from around 130 million to 336 million, and in the UK from 50 million to 67 million.
Today is an emotional day for Israel. This morning, when the siren sounded at 1100, traffic in the streets came to a halt and people stood and bowed their heads. Thousands of Israelis have visited the cemeteries to remember slain family members, recite prayers and join in the nation’s collective mourning and respect.
This annual demonstration of solidarity in grief over the dreadful price paid by Israel’s never-ending struggle to survive always generates high emotion. Today, this has been heightened still further by the terrible divisions laid bare during the last four months of uproar over the government’s judicial reform programme — which today also produced a few protests at these most solemn events.
This evening, Israel will pass seamlessly from a day of extreme sadness to the start of Independence Day, when it celebrates the rebirth of the Jewish national home in Israel. For Israelis, rejoicing over that astonishing achievement is necessarily anchored in the awareness that is never far from the surface — that the price they have paid to be citizens of their own country has been agonisingly steep.
That price is still being paid, as Israelis continue to be regularly attacked and murdered and their young conscript soldiers continue to be sent into harm’s way to defend their country against enemies bent upon its extermination.
Far too many in the west, however, get Israel’s unique predicament precisely the wrong way round. Swallowing wholesale the Palestinian Arabs’ propaganda, these westerners fail to acknowledge the Palestinian Arabs’ medieval and Nazi-style Jew-hatred and their true agenda of exterminating Israel. Regarding them ignorantly and wrongly as the displaced rightful inheritors of the land, the west supports and funds them while demonising and delegitimising Israel, whose unique claim to the land is based firmly on historical fact and international law.
The true nature of the Palestinian Arabs’ agenda is regularly laid bare by the invaluable website Palestinian Media Watch. Unfortunately, few in the west even know of its work. Earlier this month PMW’s director, Itamar Marcus, was interviewed for The Hungarian Conservative by Sáron Sugár, a research fellow at the Budapest-based think tank, the Danube Institute. In order to bring Marcus’s crucial insights to greater public attention on this day of mourning for the slain of Israel, I am reproducing here a lightly edited version of that interview. The passages in bold are my own emphasis.
[Question]: Could you tell us about how and why Palestinian Media Watch was founded?
[Marcus]: Palestinian Media Watch was founded soon after the signing of the Oslo Accords to find out what the Palestinian Authority was teaching its people, especially its children, about Jews, Israel, and peace. We very quickly discovered that there were two distinct worlds: the English language world for foreign consumption and the Arabic language world for its own people, and there was no resemblance between the two. Whereas in English and in foreign capitals, the PA presented itself as peace-loving, to its people all the statements in Arabic and the actual activities of the PA pointed to a strategy of hate and terror that aims to continuously weaken Israel, eventually leading to Israel’s destruction.
[Question]: At the end of 2022, you published a report titled ‘Teaching Terror to Tots’. The report is dedicated to the memory of Dalya Lemkus, a 26-year-old Israeli woman who was murdered by a Palestinian terrorist in 2014. The Palestinian Authority-issued children’s magazine, WAED, teaches Palestinian children that her murder was ‘a heroic car ramming’ and that the terrorist who murdered her ‘has the most beautiful smile’. What were some of the most disturbing examples of how WAED indoctrinates children to the hatred of Israeli Jewish people, and what impact do you believe this kind of education has on the attitudes and behaviour of young children exposed to it?
[Marcus]: The fundamental purpose of WAED magazine is to raise a generation of children who hate Israelis and Jews, feel obligated to fight and kill Israelis and Jews, and will be willing to kill themselves in the process. WAED’s fundamental messages are that Israelis are foreign colonialist invaders, and therefore, Israel has no right to exist. Israel is coined as the ‘thieving entity’, and Israelis are demonised as the ‘Jewish invaders.’ Fatah proclaims it will destroy Israel by ‘liberating Palestine from the thieving Zionist entity’. Israel’s destruction is packaged in various euphemisms such as: ‘the period of Zionism will eventually pass’ and ‘The Zionist invaders will go to the garbage can of history,’ after which the Jews will all be expelled. Fatah presents Algeria as the historical precedent: ‘Algeria’s experience assures that the Jewish settlers in Palestine will disappear in the end.’ The Palestinian ‘absolute right’ to destroy Israel creates the ‘right’ to use terror, which they call the ‘…right to wage an armed struggle to take back its stolen homeland’. This PA/Fatah education will be the driving force for Palestinian hate and terror for another generation.
[Question]: At the end of January, a 13-year-old resident of East Jerusalem shot a Jewish father and son in the City of David quarter of Jerusalem. The fact that a teenager carried out a terror attack in Jerusalem and became a ‘martyr’ showed that Palestinian children are taught to hate and kill Israelis in East Jerusalem as well. Is there a chance to reach these Palestinian children to make them learn the reality and the truth before their parents sacrifice them for the Palestinian cause?
[Marcus]: The most effective way to reach Palestinian children and undermine the PA’s hate education is to have joint activities between Palestinian and Israeli children. Israel, for years, has tried to promote these kinds of activities, and when they do happen, they are successful. Unfortunately, the Palestinian Authority prohibits them for the simple reason that they are not interested in having their children stop hating Israelis. Just the opposite is true. The Palestinian Authority does everything in its power through its education and activities to demonise Israelis and Jews and to guarantee that its children will grow up hating Israelis and Jews. The only way to save Palestinian children is to have the international community influence their education, the media, organise summer camps, and youth activities and teach them the meaning of peace. Of course, this will never happen, which is why the future for these kids is very bleak.
[Question]: The European Union has been one of the biggest donors of the Palestinian Authority, giving 1.152 billion euros in financial support between 2021 to 2024. In late 2021, EU Commissioner Olivér Várhelyi vetoed the financial support as he proposed conditioning of the some 9 million euros of the EU aid to the PA reforming its textbooks. He has also been a great advocate for the studying of and reporting on Palestinian textbooks in the EU and was recognised for his efforts with the European Jewish Association’s Jerusalem Award at the end of 2022. Is the EU’s financial assistance being used for its intended purposes, or is it supporting Palestinian terrorism?
[Marcus]: The Palestinian Authority would never be able to promote and support terror without the EU’s support. The PA promotes terror even among its children, rewards terrorist murderers in prison with high salaries of up to 12 thousand shekels a month—which is four times the average Palestinian salary. The PA supports terror before the fact, rewards terror after the fact, and promises its people that it is their destiny to destroy an internationally recognised democratic UN member state, Israel. Any other government in the world with this intense terror support not only would be refused funding but would be designated as a terror organisation. The willingness of the EU, the US, the UN and other Western countries to give financial support to the PA is interpreted by the PA as a pass from the international community for them to murder Israelis. In my view, Hungary should come to the EU not just with examples of the schoolbooks but with the complete picture of all the fundamental problems with the Palestinian Authority as I am describing them here, so the EU would be embarrassed and eventually would stop funding the terror-promoting PA.
[Question]: In 2022, the UN passed 15 resolutions against Israel and only 13 against the rest of the world. Unlike most state members of the UN, Hungary voted ‘no’ to most resolutions that condemned the Jewish state and promised it would stand with Israel these years as well. How do you evaluate the Hungarian government’s efforts to support the State of Israel?
[Marcus]: Hungary is a beacon of goodness and decency in a world of intense hatred towards the state of Israel. Certainly, many European countries have convinced themselves that they support the state of Israel and care about its future survival. It’s very likely that most of the European public cares about the state of Israel. Still, any country that genuinely cares about Israel would not financially support the murderers of Israelis and a Palestinian leadership that openly states that their long-term strategic plan is Israel’s destruction in stages. We would like to increase Palestinian Media Watch’s work with the Hungarian government so that the leaders can have all the evidence they need to work within the EU to expose these truths about the PA that I have just elaborated. I meet with members of European parliaments and governments regularly, and the PMW documentation and evidence have a strong impact. It is most effective when the European leaders I have met continue to use the evidence in broader circles.
[Question]: One of the most common complaints against Israel is that the settlement movements in the West Bank are the ‘obstacles to peace’. These complaints usually don’t mention the Palestinian Authority and Hamas’s main responsibility in the conflict. What is the real obstacle to peace, and what would need to change to end the conflict?
[Marcus]: Israel has no illegal settlements and is not building in Palestinian territories. All relations with the Palestinians must be based on signed agreements. According to the Oslo Accords, Israel has the international legal right to build everywhere under its jurisdiction which is where settlements are created. All construction is being done in Area C of Judea and Samaria/West Bank, which according to all the agreements with the PLO/PA, is 100 per cent Israeli land unless it is otherwise designated in future agreements. Moreover, the Oslo Accords, which are the implementation of UN resolution 242, grant Israel the absolute ‘right to live in peace within secure and recognised boundaries free from threats or acts of force.’
What happened when Israel started giving the Palestinians land? Literally, every metre of land that Israel gave to the PA, both in Gaza and in the West Bank, has been turned into terror bases. The Palestinian Authority’s security services, which were armed by the international community and are supposed to stop Palestinian terrorists, have become a driving force of Palestinian terror, and this is confirmed by the PA themselves. The Palestinian leader, Fatah Nablus Secretary Muhammad Hamdan, said last month on official PA TV that ‘more than 1,500 [recent] military operations (i.e., terror attacks) against the Israeli occupation were led by the Fatah Movement members and the PA Security Forces members.’ The PA security services, together with Mahmoud Abbas’ Fatah and other terror organisations like Hamas, have murdered more than 2,000 Israelis, with attacks that were launched from the lands that Israel gave them following the Oslo Accords. Accordingly, Israel has already given too much land, and now has borders that are already insecure. Israel therefore, has no further obligations to give more territory to the Palestinian Authority terror entity and its terrorist security services. To do so would be signing the death sentences of countless more Israelis.
[Question]: At the Danube Institute, we launched a research project titled ‘Attacks on Christian Communities and Institutions’ in which we’re planning to do fieldwork in six countries from the Middle East to Africa and Europe. One of our fieldwork trips is going to be in Jerusalem, Jordan, and the Palestinian territories. How do Christians live in Israel compared to the West Bank, and why do many Christians who live there blame only Israel and not the Palestinian Authority and terrorist organisations for their suffering?
[Marcus]: The Christians of Bethlehem and the West Bank thrived under Israel. Under Israel, Christians made up approximately 70 per cent of the population of Bethlehem. The PA’s Islamic supremacist ideology, which it passes on to its people even though it denies this internationally, has led to so much anti-Christian hate and terror that Christianity is being decimated in the Palestinian areas. The Christian population of Bethlehem today is close to 10 per cent. All the rest have run away to South America and Europe. Of course, Christians in the West Bank have to blame Israel for the destruction of the Christian population because to openly blame the criminal PA could mean their death sentences. There are Palestinian Muslims who PMW works with who agree completely with PMW’s messages because they sincerely want peace with Israel, and they can tell only their very closest friends that they want true peace with Israel. They are afraid they will be arrested and tortured if the PA police ever finds out about their real opinions.
[Question]: What is the situation of Christians in Israel compared to the West Bank? Is it likely that those extremely radical Jewish representatives in the government who proposed ‘anti-missionary’, anti-Christian legislation could gain more power?
[Marcus]: Israel is the only country in the Middle East where Christians thrive in every aspect of life and enjoy equal rights. If you look at Muslim countries in the Middle East or Africa, it can be seen how Christians are persecuted and massacred on a monthly basis. I’m always shocked that the Christian leadership around the world and the mainstream media are so silent about the sufferings of persecuted Christians, but when it comes to Palestinians blaming Israel for Christian persecution, the whole world is screaming. The anti-Christian law that was proposed recently was immediately withdrawn. Similar legislation has been proposed for many years but it has never reached a stage of even having to vote on it and was immediately withdrawn each time. Israel will always embrace its Christian residents as equal citizens, and the few extremists who may want to damage relations will never succeed.
[Question]: Even though it’s the holy month of Ramadan for Muslim communities, on 1 April, a Palestinian driver hit three Israelis south of Bethlehem in a ramming attack. It’s one of the many terror attacks carried out by Palestinians against Israeli Jews this year. Whenever there is a terror attack, Palestinians celebrate it with fireworks or distributing sweets. Why do you think the mainstream media does not cover the whole truth and mainly supports the Palestinian side of the conflict?
[Marcus]: Most people involved in the media are not merely interested in reporting what’s happening but are activists with an agenda or a cause. Supporting a strong and powerful democracy like Israel is not a cause that the media wants to promote. They need to find the underdog. So, they chose Palestinians and have twisted the murderous hate and terror that the PA promotes into proof that the Palestinians are suffering at the hands of Israel. After all, they say: why would Palestinians kill innocent Israelis if they weren’t suffering at the hands of Israel. But of course, all they really have to do is look at the Palestinian ideology as the PA expresses it to its own people, and they would see that the PA promotes vicious antisemitism, hatred of Jews, and denies Israel’s right to exist. Israel has been the victim of Palestinian terror for decades and still has offered the Palestinians statehood numerous times. But since the truth doesn’t fit the storyline that the activist agenda-driven media have created, the truth is ignored. The media have decided that presenting the Palestinians as victims of Israel is a good storyline that sells. Once they have created that narrative, they’re unwilling to let any facts change the story, and some are even willing to defend Palestinian terror.
[Question]: Many people predict that the conflict might escalate into a Third Intifada. What is your take on that?
[Marcus]: The Palestinian Authority right now is very weak. Mahmoud Abbas is personally very weak; over 80 per cent of the population in all the polls suggests that he, and his government are corrupt and close to 80 per cent have been wanting him to resign for years. He was elected in 2006 for five years; and since then, he’s never allowed elections. The weaker he gets, the more he promotes terror, as many dictators have done throughout history. His goal is to trigger the equivalent of a small Intifada, have regular terror, and force Israel to go into the Palestinian cities to kill terrorists, which he hopes will redirect the anger from him towards Israel. That’s why we’re seeing intense incitement among the Palestinian leaders.
PMW regularly reports on all the statements by Fatah and PA leaders who are calling for violence, and historically, whenever the Palestinian Authority is weak, its leaders start violence. Yasser Arafat started the Second Intifada in October 2000 when he had lost the support of the Palestinian people, and only 22 per cent of the population felt that there was positive democracy and human rights in the Palestinian Authority. Arafat had spent years using donor money to build a terror infrastructure and started the Second Intifada when it was politically helpful.
Tragically, he was successful as a terror leader. Because of Israel’s naïve trust that the Palestinian leadership had changed, the PA, Fatah and Hamas were able to send hundreds of suicide bombers into Israel and murder 1,200 people. Today Israel has learned from its mistakes and won’t let the conflict turn into an Intifada like the first ones. There could be terror for an extended time because Abbas wants it, but it won’t reach the level of the Second Intifada. Interestingly, since the Palestinian Authority is afraid that Hamas will take over the West Bank, it regularly tells Israel as part of a ‘security cooperation’ where Hamas is organising so the Israeli army can neutralise the terrorists in time. However, the PA isn’t doing it to benefit of Israel.
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