February 5, 2014 3:23 pm
The scene has become a depressingly familiar one: while the United States works to advance peace negotiations in the Middle East, the Palestinian Authority’s state-controlled media and educational systems teach their citizens and, most troubling, children to hate Israel and its Jewish people.
It often seems more like the Palestinian Authority is preparing its people for war instead of preparing them for peace.
The PA’s state-sanctioned media and educational systems systematically deny the existence of a Jewish state, arguing that Israel’s existence is a direct threat to Palestinians; even asserting that the destruction of Israel is justified.
People are not born to hate; it is taught. For decades the Palestinian Authority has provoked and encouraged hatred against Israel. This deeply entrenched system of incubating prejudice and worse is an obstacle that will be infinitely harder to halt as peace negotiations continue – more so than other contentious issues like refugees or the status of Jerusalem. The Washington Institute for Near East Policy recently released a report on Palestinian incitement and hate language. The study’s author told the New York Times that “official Palestinian media continue to incite against Israel” and “there’s almost no positive discussion of peace… or even just moderate messages about Israel.”
Unfortunately, this culture of hatred, directed against Israel, has gained wider regional appeal over the years, with Palestinian Authority television and radio broadcasts reinforcing anti-Israel incitement. The PA’s incitement to violence also restricts its ability to act decisively when the time comes to make peace with Israel.
The U.S. must make clear that it will not fund, directly or indirectly, hateful words that target the Jewish people and our ally, Israel. Congress has, in the past, pressed the Obama Administration to address the issue of Palestinian incitement. I am pleased that this year’s foreign aid funding bill, for the first time, ties funding to incitement reduction, requiring the Obama Administration to certify that the Palestinian Authority is “acting to counter incitement of violence against Israelis and is supporting activities aimed at promoting peace, coexistence, and security cooperation with Israel.” This is very similar to legislation I recently introduced, The Palestinian Peace Promotion and Anti-Incitement Act, which requires certification that the PA is no longer encouraging incitement against the United States or Israel and is engaged in peace preparation activities before the PA can receive economic assistance.
If, as I fear, the Obama Administration ignores this critical issue of Palestinian Authority incitement against Israel, this Administration will follow in the footsteps of those who have failed at peace efforts.
Curtailing incitement will be a long, hard effort, but a necessary one in working toward peace. After all, the prospect of a real, lasting peace can only be built on the foundation of a culture of tolerance — one that renders such rhetoric politically unacceptable.
Congressman Ed Royce (R-CA) is the Chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee. The Committee is @HouseForeign on Twitte