Palestinian voters display the "culture of peace"

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Att'y Stephen M. Flatow,

Stephen Flatow
Stephen Flatow
INN:SF

A local Palestinian Arab election last week provided a powerful illustration of what Palestinian Authority (PA) leader Mahmoud Abbas meant when he said at the White House “We are raising our youth, our children, our grandchildren on a culture of peace.”

The election was held at Bir Zeit University, which has 10,000 students making it the third-largest university in the Palestinian Authority-controlled territories. The students were all born in the 1990s, meaning that they have spent their whole lives under the rule of the PA.    

That means their nursery schools, elementary schools and high schools were PA schools using PA approved and provided textbooks. The newspapers they have read, and the television and radio programs to which they have been exposed throughout their lives, were all controlled by the PA. In other words, they are Exhibit #1 of Arab youth raised in Abbas’s “culture of peace.”

The parties that competed in this week’s student elections at Bir Zeit University were all established by the students themselves. Surely, then, these student groups must be advocates of peace and moderation. Surely the parties the students have formed—after being immersed for 20 years in the “culture of peace”—oppose terrorism and promote coexistence with Israel.

Not quite.

Every party that these “culture of peace” children created is aligned with a Palestinian terrorist group.

The Hamas student-terrorists won a majority—25 of the 51 seats on the student council. This is the third year in a row that the Hamas-led “Al Wafaa Islamic Bloc” has won a majority.

The “Martyr Yasir Arafat” party—that’s the name of the student representatives of Abbas’s own Fatah terrorist group—won 22 seats.

The “Al Qutub” party, representing the terrorist Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (which is still on the U.S. list of terrorist groups, incidentally), won the remaining four seats.

Voter participation was impressive. According to Dean of Student Affairs Muhammad al-Ahmad, 74 percent of the students cast ballots. Look at that number.  It’s higher than the 71.8% who took part in Israel’s last national election, and much higher than the 59.7% who voted in last year’s U.S. presidential election.

So the Bir Zeit outcome was not caused by a handful of student radicals taking advantage of public apathy. On the contrary, the election results genuinely represented the sentiments of the overwhelming majority of Bir Zeit students. Meaning that the overwhelming majority of these up-and-coming-Palestinian-leaders identify with, support, and embrace, terrorists.

How can that be? How can young people who have been raised since birth in Abbas’s “culture of peace” vote for terrorists? The answer is simple: for Abbas, for Palestinian university students, and for the Palestinian Arab public in general, “peace” does not mean co-existence, it means the ultimate destruction of Israel.

So I say ‘thank you’ to the students at Bir Zeit—for being honest about their attitudes, for discarding the phony rhetoric and p.r. gimmicks, and for reminding us what the Palestinian “culture of peace” really means.

And I haven't even mentioned the elections in Hebron.

Stephen M. Flatow, a vice president of the Religious Zionists of America, is an attorney in New Jersey. He is the father of Alisa Flatow, who was murdered in an Iranian-sponsored Palestinian terrorist attack in 1995.