THUMBS UP to Martin Fletcher of NBC Nightly News for his May 8, 2001 broadcast about Palestinian television urging children to "Drop your toys. Pick up rocks." The "commercial," translated by Jerusalem-based Palestinian Media Watch, features an actor playing the slain 12-year-old Palestinian Mohammed al-Dura in paradise after death and calling on his peers to "Follow him."
NBC’s Fletcher visits al-Dura’s Gazan school, where his desk is a shrine, and his classmates are told that Mohammed is in "paradise." In English class, reports Fletcher, the children learn to say: "The Israeli army killed our friend! Shame on them!" In the school yard, children shout: "We ask Allah to destroy the Jews."
"Already, young boys are learning to fight. Summer camp teaches how to resist the Israelis. But now they are being taught not to fear death. The greatest glory, they are told, is to be a martyr," the veteran correspondent reports on site at a military training camp for Palestinian children.
Apparently embarrassed by the negative attention Fletcher’s report has generated, the Palestinian Authority accused NBC of "irresponsible journalism if not forgery and manipulation," and charged that Fletcher "based his entire news report on material presented to him by the extreme right-wing Israeli propagandist and inciter Itamar Marcus." Significantly, though, the PA did not challenge any of the specific factual information in the report.
While many American media outlets simply accept Palestinians’ dismissal of accusations about sending children to war as "racist," NBC admirably aired hard evidence proving the widespread phenomenon does indeed exist.