Apr 15th 2011

Palestinian Incitement against Israel

by Alon Ben-Meir

A noted journalist and author, Dr. Alon Ben-Meir is professor of international relations and Middle East studies at the Center for Global Affairs at New York University. Ben-Meir holds a masters degree in philosophy and a doctorate in international relations from Oxford University. His exceptional knowledge and insight, the result of more than 20 years of direct involvement in foreign affairs, with a focus on the Middle East, has allowed Dr. Ben-Meir to offer a uniquely invaluable perspective on the nature of world terrorism, conflict resolution and international negotiations. Fluent in Arabic and Hebrew, Ben-Meir's frequent travels to the Middle East and meetings with highly placed officials and academics in many Middle Eastern countries including Egypt, Israel, Jordan, the Palestinian territories, Syria and Turkey provide him with an exceptionally nuanced level of awareness and insight into the developments surrounding breaking news. Ben-Meir often articulates

The adoption of nonviolent methods by the Palestinian Authority to advance the Palestinian cause is admirable and represents the most promising strategy to affect change. But for a nonviolent movement to serve the intended purpose of advancing the peace process, it must be accompanied by public narrative supportive of both the strategy and the reality of Israel. The continued incitement against Israel emanating from Palestinian private institutions, media, schools and refugee camps defeats the non-violent strategy and instead serves to strengthen the voices of radicals on both sides of the Green Line. Rather than advance Palestinian independence, this vitriol contributes to the solidification of the Israeli occupation in the name of security. It is time for the Palestinians to realize this, because continuing verbal and written onslaughts that support the use of violence and perpetuate radical political narratives are detrimental to their cause and must be stopped.

A renewed focus has been placed on the issue of Palestinian incitement, as the indiscriminate violence that it helps to create has returned. After the horrific murder of five members of the Fogel family, Prime Minister Netanyahu pointed to Palestinian incitement as a root cause. Subsequently, 27 United States Senators sent a letter to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton stating that "the Palestinian Authority must take unequivocal steps to condemn the incident and stop allowing the incitement that leads to such crimes ... Educating people toward peace is critical to establishing the conditions to a secure and lasting peace." A House version of the letter will soon be sent to President Obama. The legislators are right.

Palestinian Prime Minister Salaam Fayyad and President Mahmoud Abbas condemned the murder of the Fogel family and the subsequent terror attack at a bus station in Jerusalem. They have also worked to dismantle much of the Hamas infrastructure in the West Bank, which served to widely disseminate violent anti-Israel rhetoric and imagery. Even more, in recent years, the Palestinian Authority has built a security apparatus that has dramatically reduced the number of terror attacks, led to greater freedom of movement for Palestinians, and consequently, economic growth. Meanwhile, the Fayyad plan to build the foundation for a Palestinian state has garnered historic levels of international sympathy and support for Palestinian independence.

Naming public infrastructure and roads after suicide bombers and their organizers, providing financial assistance to families of "martyrs" who have been killed while plotting or carrying out terror activities-as well as honoring them in public ceremonies-and depicting Israelis as ruthless murderers in television programs, all threaten to derail Palestinian independence. Yet, President Abbas and Prime Minister Fayyad have presided over all of the above in just the past several weeks. It is one thing to witness this type of incitement in Gaza where Hamas openly professes its desire to destroy Israel. However, it is an entirely different matter to witness it in the West Bank, where the Palestinian Authority espouses a two-state solution alongside Israel. Furthermore, Israel is not completely convinced that the PA has fully disavowed violence, as evidenced by recent WikiLeaks documents indicating that the US-backed PA security forces have been reluctant to collect arms from, and apprehend, those linked with the Fatah affiliated Al-Aksa Martyrs Brigades, which has carried out numerous terror attacks against Israelis.

Many top PA officials privately recognize the severity of the problem. However, rather than address it, they are too often pointing at Israeli actions that undermine the voice of moderates in favor of radicals, arguing that they make it too difficult politically to oppose venomous statements against the occupier and be accused of collaboration. Particularly with the Palestinian Authority now in unity discussions with Hamas, officials are hesitant to clamp down on incitement and appear to be "soft" on Israel. To be sure, Israel's settlement construction in disputed areas and the ongoing nighttime raids in the West Bank by the Israel Defense Forces add fuel to the fire of incitement. Still, an environment conducive to peace must be established if a lasting two-state solution is to be achieved. Even more, what appears politically disadvantageous will ultimately prove to be quite the opposite. Creating an atmosphere that encourages peacemaking rather than incitement will lead to greater support from the international community and equally greater pressure on Israel to make concessions. After all, peace must start at home. Today, on both sides, the message entering the homes of too many Palestinians-and Israelis-is that of perpetual conflict, marketed by the ideology of extremists in the refugee camps on the one hand, and radical settlers on the other. Addressing these problems requires leadership that today is sorely lacking.

Meanwhile, the psychological damage caused by the radicalization of the two national narratives is enormous. Palestinians are soon to produce the fourth generation of children who will know nothing except the hated occupation and the continuing violent conflict. The previous generation is already poisoned by the pervasive glorification of terror and violent "resistance." It now falls to the responsibility of the Palestinian Authority, and Palestinian teachers, parents and community leaders to ensure that the next generation focuses on the potential of its future as a nation, rather than on demonizing an enemy that it cannot, and will not, defeat.

Moreover, although trust between two entities alone cannot offer the basis for any lasting peace agreement, incitement undermines the building of trust. Without a measure of trust, there is no room for even calculated risks, especially on matters of national security and peacemaking. A review of the reasons behind the collapses of the bi-lateral negotiations in 2000 and in 2008 show that a lack of trust was a major factor that led the Israeli side to rethink its position, as the gap between the Palestinian public's narrative and the required Israeli concessions was simply unbridgeable. Whereas the PA has legitimate grievances against Israel, including territorial claims, it must nevertheless acknowledge at least in words to the Palestinian public the existence of the State of Israel. That is, the reality and acceptance of co-existence alongside Israel will not be established, among the youth in particular, as long as the central reality on the ground is ignored. This is precisely why the PA has had major difficulties in making required concessions-in the minds of too many Palestinians, concessions are unnecessary to an entity that they have been taught does not have the legitimacy to exist or, even worse, can be defeated through violence.

Finally, with the Palestinian Authority now in discussions with Hamas regarding Palestinian unity, this becomes even more acute. For a unity government to succeed in its stated purpose-to advance the cause of Palestinian independence-Hamas too must end its self-destructive violent provocations against Israel, permanently renounce violence and end incitement instead of seeking another ceasefire. Such a first political step would offer a significant leap toward a sovereign Palestinian state, as well as the establishment of the beginning of trust and confidence between Israelis and Palestinians. Otherwise, even an international recognition of an independent Palestinian state based on the 1967 lines-as might be passed by United Nations General Assembly this September-will change very little on the ground because Israel has every right to protect its legitimate national security concerns.

Much is made of the weakness of the Palestinian leadership and the divisions within Palestinian society. But as the Fayyad Plan has shown, the Palestinian Authority is capable of capturing the attention and imagination of the international community in support of the Palestinian cause through proactive institution building and non-violence. Palestinians cannot allow incitement to jeopardize their national aspirations by providing such a clear and legitimate excuse for Israel to be reticent about negotiations toward an eventual two-state framework.

The PA can and must demonstrate that it is prepared to build a responsible government by ending incitement in all its forms. Doing so would make a lasting and meaningful impact on Palestinian and Israeli societies alike, by serving to simultaneously advance Palestinian independence and Israeli recognition.

Browse articles by author

More Current Affairs

Aug 15th 2018
Across the global economy, the potential for automation seems huge. Adidas’ “Speedfactory” in Bavaria will employ 160 workers to produce 500,000 pairs of shoes each year, a productivity rate over five times higher than in typical factories today. The British Retail Consortium estimates that retail jobs could fall from three million to 2.1 million within ten years, with only a small fraction replaced by new jobs in online retailing. Many financial-services companies see the potential to cut information-processing jobs to a small fraction of current levels. And yet, despite all this, measured productivity growth across the developed economies has slowed. One possible explanation.....
Aug 11th 2018
US President Donald Trump’s erratic unilateralism represents nothing less than abdication of global economic and political leadership. Trump’s withdrawal from the Paris climate agreement, his rejection of the Iran nuclear deal, his tariff war, and his frequent attacks on allies and embrace of adversaries have rapidly turned the United States into an unreliable partner in upholding the international order. But the administration’s “America First” policies have done more than disqualify the US from global leadership. They have also created space for other countries to re-shape the international system to their liking. The influence of China, in particular, is likely to be enhanced.
Aug 9th 2018
Wall Street is full of turnaround talk following Tesla’s second-quarter earnings results, sending shares in the futuristic electric car pioneer up almost 10%. Investors welcomed news that the company was burning through cash at a lower rate and revenues were considerably higher, yet the results also showed that Tesla’s financial and operational weaknesses have not gone away. From my reading of the figures, this is a company in real trouble.
Aug 1st 2018
By seeking to disrupt virtually all that has defined the West since the end of World War II, Trump has brought the world to a historical turning point. At stake is not the US-EU relationship, which remains strong, but rather the West’s dominant position on the world stage. Trump is accelerating a shift in the global balance of power that will leave both America and Europe weaker in relative terms. As income and wealth shift from the West to the East, China will increasingly be able to challenge the US as the world’s leading geopolitical, economic, and technological power.
Jul 28th 2018
Alarming stories about the diabetes epidemic that threatens millions of lives have become commonplace, and with good reason.......The link between cheap, sugary and fatty food and obesity and type 2 diabetes is indisputable. The healthy/unhealthy food cost ratio has to change because the evidence is that education – while valuable – is not enough by itself. The evidence from many countries shows that in most chronic, lifestyle-related diseases, legislation is faster and often more effective.
Jul 28th 2018

Last week, the Israeli Knesset passed a new basic law which in the main enshrines “Israel [as] the historical homeland of the Jewish people in which the State of Is

Jul 24th 2018
This past week by a vote of 62 to 55, Israel's Knesset passed legislation called "Israel as a Nation-State of the Jewish People." Heralding the passage of the bill, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu described it as "a defining moment in the annals of Zionism and the annals of the state of Israel...We have determined in law the founding principle of our existence. Israel is the nation-state of the Jewish people, and respects the rights of all its citizens." In reaction, Israeli hardliners and their supporters in the US celebrated the legislation as "clarifying", while more liberal voices lamented "the damage the bill does to the 'Zionist vision.'" This is one debate where I cannot take the side of the liberals because in reality, the "Jewish Nation-State" bill is in fact "clarifying" as it merely establishes in "Basic Law" practices and policies that Israel has been implementing since its founding.
Jul 23rd 2018
How does the current global economic outlook compare to that of a year ago? In 2017, the world economy was undergoing a synchronized expansion, with growth accelerating in both advanced economies and emerging markets. Moreover, despite stronger growth, inflation was tame – if not falling – even in economies like the United States, where goods and labor markets were tightening.
Jul 22nd 2018
While the US is busy slipping off of its precipice, many of its best known political figures are beating a rather tired old drum – the new Cold War, Russia, China, North Korea. It is boring, predictable, and dated. In the meantime, Russia and China are proceeding apace to reshape world order – without America.
Jul 21st 2018
Israel has for decades been running the occupied territories of Palestine–Gaza and the West Bank– with Apartheid tactics. As with black South Africans under Apartheid, most Palestinians have been deprived of citizenship in a real, recognized state. Their villages have been isolated by a network of what often amount to Jewish-only highways. They have trouble getting to hospital through checkpoints. Their territory in the West Bank is patrolled by the Israeli army, and the Israeli state is actively depriving them of their property and giving it to white squatters.
Jul 12th 2018
The cabinet members who resigned this week apparently feared that politics is taking May toward a “soft Brexit,” their worst of all possible worlds........“soft Brexit,” maintains the status quo, more or less, letting Europeans freely circulate into British labor markets and allowing European firms to operate easily in the UK. The problem with “soft Brexit” is that it raises questions about why the UK is leaving at all, since it will still have the same obligations to Europe as before, it just won’t have a voice when the remaining 27 members of the European Union meet to make decisions.
Jul 12th 2018
One study on the 2010 World Cup found that there was a 37.5% rise in admission rates across 15 accident and emergency departments on England match days........Examining reports of domestic abuse in Lancashire (a county of approximately 1.5m people in Northern England), across the 2002, 2006 and 2010 World Cup tournaments, we discovered a 26% increase in reports of domestic abuse when England won or drew, and a 38% increase when England lost. Reports were also more frequent on weekends, and reached their peak when England exited the tournament.
Jul 10th 2018
If, back in the 1980s and 1990s, the US government, rather than arguing for Chinese economic opening, had prohibited any US company from investing there, China’s rise would have been significantly delayed, though not permanently prevented. Because that did not happen, China’s rise is now self-sustaining. A huge and increasingly affluent domestic market will make exports less vital to growth.
Jul 10th 2018
Comparing today’s demagogues with Adolf Hitler is almost always unwise. Such alarmism tends to trivialize the actual horrors of the Nazi regime, and distracts attention from our own political problems. But if alarmism is counterproductive, the question remains: At what point are democracies truly in danger? What was unimaginable only a few years ago – a US president insulting democratic allies and praising dictators, or calling the free press “enemies of the people,” or locking up refugees and taking away their children – has become almost normal now. When will it be too late to sound the alarm?
Jul 9th 2018
In view of such actions, expectations for Trump’s behavior at the upcoming summit have gone from prickly to dangerous. The sense of foreboding has been heightened by the announcement that, just four days after the summit ends, Trump will meet with Russian President Vladimir Putin, in Helsinki. The nightmare scenario is easy to imagine: Trump lays bare NATO’s fractures, including by questioning mutual defense, before selling his allies down the river by publicly embracing Putin. But this does not need to be the outcome.
Jul 9th 2018
After 2027 (or maybe even 2025, only 7 years from now), the number of EVs will rapidly accelerate, as virtually all new vehicles bought will be electric (an effect of rapidly falling battery and other component costs and of the fuel for electric cars being essentially free; you can power one off your rooftop solar array).
Jul 3rd 2018
Most pundits interpret Trump’s outbursts as playing to his political base, or preening for the cameras, or blustering for the sake of striking future deals. We take a different view. In line with many of America’s renowned mental-health experts, we believe that Trump suffers from several psychological pathologies that render him a clear and present danger to the world.
Jul 3rd 2018
In the United Kingdom, Brexit looms large, with everyone from government ministers to tabloid newspapers frothing daily about the deal that will be struck with the European Union and the effects that it will have. But the EU faces too many pressing challenges to be obsessing about Britain. The UK’s concern is understandable: evidence is mounting of the likely damage a departure from the single market and customs union will do to the UK economy. According to new research from the Centre for European Reform, the UK economy is already 2.1% smaller than it would have been had voters chosen to remain. The hit to public finances totals £440 million ($579 million) per week.
Jun 26th 2018
Nowadays, Britain’s words and actions on the world stage are so at odds with its values that one must wonder what has happened to the country. Since the June 2016 Brexit referendum, British foreign policy seems to have all but collapsed – and even to have disowned its past and its governing ideas. Worse, this has coincided with the emergence of US President Donald Trump’s erratic administration, which is pursuing goals that are completely detached from those of Britain – and of Europe generally. 
Jun 26th 2018
With each passing day, it becomes increasingly evident that US President Donald Trump’s administration cares less about economics and more about the aggressive exercise of political power. This is obviously a source of enormous frustration for those of us who practice the art and science of economics. But by now, the verdict is self-evident: Trump and his team continue to flaunt virtually every principle of conventional economics.