PA Children Learn That Death is Preferable to Life

PMW analysts point out that the love of death is not limited to Hamas and has been inculcated by PA Chairman Abbas's ruling Fatah organizati

Nissan Ratzlav-Katz ,

In a bulletin released on Tuesday, Itamar Marcus and Barbara Crook of the Palestinian Media Watch organization, report on a Palestinian Authority journalist who wrote about the "death culture" in Gaza. Contrary to the implication of the PA journalist's article, however, the PMW analysts point out that the yearning for death is not limited to Hamas and has been inculcated primarily by PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas's ruling Fatah organization.

The PA journalist, Ghassan Zaqtan, wrote in the June 18 edition of the PA's Al-Ayyam newspaper:

"We knew that they would do it, especially in Gaza, where a mother brushes her young son's hair at 7:00, so that he will be killed at 7:30, and where the children learn that death is preferable to life! We knew that they would do this, it was clear to us: with language overflowing with the rhetoric of death and the norms of killing, in the religious rulings [fatwas] and in Friday and holiday sermons."

"The journalist's critical mistake," Marcus and Crook write, "is that he seems to attribute the death culture only to Hamas, whereas it has been the Fatah leadership and its educational initiatives that still actively teach that death is preferable to life."

The PMW directors go on to quote a 2002 PA schoolbook written under Fatah auspices:

"O heroes, Allah has promised you victory.... Do not talk yourselves into flight.... Your enemies seek life while you seek death. They seek spoils to fill their empty stomachs while you seek a Garden [Paradise] as wide as are the heavens and the earth. Do not be anxious to meet them [enemies], for death is not bitter in the mouth of the believers. These drops of blood that gush from your bodies will be transformed tomorrow into blazing red meteors that will fall down upon the heads of your enemies." (Reading and Texts Part II, Grade 8 (2002), p. 16)

PMW also notes a statement made by the Director of the Palestinian Children's Aid Association, Firial Hillis, on PA television in May 2003, in which she admits that PA schools indoctrinate to love self-immolation in order "to meet... God." Hillis said:

"The concept of shahada for him [the child] means belonging to the homeland, from a religious point of view. Sacrifice for his homeland. Achieving shahada in order to reach Paradise and to meet his God. This is the best. We also teach our children to protect the homeland, belonging and to reach shahada."


Another tool used by the Fatah-controlled PA media over the years to influence children to see death as an ideal has been music videos. Marcus and Crook note some examples:

"In a video broadcast on Fatah-controlled Palestinian Authority TV hundreds of times from 2001 to 2004, a young boy leaves a farewell letter to his parents and goes off to seek shahada, describing the death he achieves as 'sweet.' This PA clip is designed to offset a child's natural fear of death by depicting shahada as heroic and tranquil," the PMW directors explain.

"From 2000 to 2003," Marcus and Crook continue, "PA TV broadcast a music video depicting the delightful shahid paradise of Muhammad Al-Dura, who died in a crossfire. The child actor is shown flying a kite, frolicking on the beach and even at an amusement park. The clip opens with an invitation to other children from Al-Dura to aspire to death: 'I am waving to you not in parting, but to say "follow me."' This video directing children to follow Al-Dura to paradise as martyrs was suddenly broadcast again in June 2006, after Israeli troops had gathered at the border of the Gaza Strip after the kidnapping of Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit."

"The result of such virulent PA indoctrination is apparent," Marcus and Crook conclude, "when listening to the interview on PA TV with two 11-year-old Palestinian girls talking about shahada and describing it as a primary ideal and personal goal. They explain that 'all Palestinian children' view shahada as more worthwhile than living, because of its promised grand Afterlife."