(Note: The Op-Ed below appeared in the Washington Jewish Week on June 15, 2016)
On May 19, 2016 The Hill, a Washington D.C.-based newspaper covering Congress, other governmental agencies and related activity, published a one-sided, anti-Israel Op-Ed entitled “Obama must act to protect Palestinian youth” by Brad Parker of Defense for Children International-Palestine (DCI-PS). Parker, claimed a special envoy for Palestinian children would “ensure that Palestinian children’s rights are not abused.” His commentary obscured the greatest threat to Palestinian Arab youths: manipulative Palestinian leaders promoting anti-Jewish incitement.
Parker claimed “recent violence” is due to “hopelessness” Palestinian youth feel over Israel’s “violent military occupation.” He omitted the fact that the overwhelming majority of Palestinian-Israeli violence since September 2015 has consisted of Arabs attacking Israelis, including children, with rocks, vehicles, knives and guns.
Hamas, the U.S.–designated terrorist group ruling the Gaza Strip and whose charter calls for the destruction of Israel and genocide of Jews, disagrees with Parker’s assessment.
Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh said as much in a speech at a rally on Jan. 19, 2016: “This intifada is not the result of despair. This intifada is a jihad, a holy war fought by the Palestinian people against the Zionist occupation [meaning Israel, which unilaterally withdrew from Gaza in 2005].”
Parker failed to tell Hill readers that Israel’s presence in the West Bank is the result of its successful defense in the Arab-initiated 1967 Six-Day War and subsequent 1973 Yom Kippur War. The territory’s final status, per U.N. Security Council Resolutions 242 (1968) and 338 (1973), is to be determined in negotiations with Israel, which Palestinian leaders have refused to conduct in good faith or rejected outright. So Israel remains the obligatory occupying power under international law, though Hamas runs Gaza and the Palestinian Authority administers daily life for more than 90 percent of the West Bank‘s Arab population.
Instead, the PA and Hamas have continued anti-Jewish incitement—frequently encouraging children to perpetrate violent acts. Palestinian Media Watch (PMW), a non-profit organization that translates Arab media in the Gaza Strip, West Bank and eastern Jerusalem, has documented Palestinian children’s TV shows teaching “there is no Israel” and Jews are the “most evil among creations, barbaric monkeys, wretched pigs.”
PMW reported that in an Oct. 27, 2015 broadcast on official PA TV, Palestinian official Tawfiq Tirawi praised his 2-year-old son for singing, “Daddy, buy me a machine gun and a rifle, so that I will defeat Israel and the Zionists.”
In its March 2016 report entitled Educating the Next Generation, the Mideast Freedom Forum, a German-based think tank, found that Palestinian school textbooks “consistently portray Jews in a strongly negative manner,” deny the existence of Israel and are awash with antisemitic stereotypes.
In an article professing to advocate on behalf of Palestinian children, Parker evaded any mention of this systemic indoctrination. Similarly, he failed to acknowledge the use of Palestinian children as human shields by groups like Hamas, which an April 2015 U.N. inquiry, in one example, concluded, stored weaponry used to attack Israel in an elementary school. Instead, Parker focused on Israel detaining children, who perhaps having read their school textbooks, listened to their leaders and watched their TV shows, not surprisingly have sought to attack Jews.
Not content with bias by omission, Parker propped up his Hill commentary with a distorted quote from Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who, he claimed, “Promised a ‘harsh offensive’ in response to protests [emphasis added] against Israel’s occupation and violence.” In fact, as The New York Times noted on Oct. 4, 2015, Netanyahu said he would wage a “harsh offensive against Palestinian Islamic terrorism [emphasis added].” Parker apparently considers terrorist attacks, such as the Oct. 12, 2015 stabbing of a 14-year old Israeli boy riding his bicycle by 13- and 15-year-old Palestinian boys a form of “protest.”
Parker’s Hill Op-Ed was dubiously self-referential, citing his own group as a source. NGO Monitor, a non-profit organization that promotes accountability by such groups, has noted that Defense for Children International-Palestine has published inflated lists of children it claimed were killed in the 2014 Israel-Hamas war in the Gaza Strip—later admitting that for many “no reliable evidence could be gathered.” NGO-Monitor revealed that an Op-Ed by DCI-PS director Rifat Odeh Kassis for the extremist Web site Electronic Intifada (which itself has been caught inventing quotes) promoted “the antisemitic canard of [Jews’] dual loyalties” against a Dutch foreign minister. What is more, DCI-PS, is a supporter of the boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) movement which seeks to delegitimize and eliminate the Jewish state.
If Parker wanted to “ensure
that Palestinian children’s rights are not abused” he should speak to Palestinian leaders. But it’s doubtful he would find a willing reception. It’s unfortunate that The Hill, forgoing fact-checking, chose to give Parker’s unsubstantiated screed a platform.