When the 13-year-old boy got on his bike after school on October 12 in Jerusalem’s Pizgat Zeev neighborhood, he planned to go buy candy and be home in five minutes. Instead, he was brutally stabbed and almost lost his life. He never expected his assailant to be a 13-year-old Palestinian peer.
I am a mother of a 13-year-old boy and a 17-year-old girl. While serving my diplomatic post, our daughter, Chen, lived with us in Miami for a few years. This summer she returned to our home in Israel, located in Pizgat Zeev, to finish high school. It is frightening to think that my daughter could have easily been at that stabbing location.
In the recent wave of terrorism in Jerusalem, Tel Aviv, Beer Shevah and other Israeli cities, most of the attackers were young Palestinians between the ages of 16 and 25. Today, the toll stands at nine Israeli dead and over 100 wounded. Yes, it is shocking that a young Palestinian boy could carry out a terrorist attack, but sadly, it is not surprising considering the degree of incitement to violence that these children are exposed to.
From the earliest age, Palestinian children are subjected to propaganda that promotes hatred and incites violence. These young children watch TV shows with Disney-style characters and friendly-looking hosts that encourage them to kill Jews and become martyrs. Kindergarteners “graduate” in military uniforms, carrying toy guns as they chant their support for violence. I shudder at the thought of my 13-year-old being influenced by evil that would drive him to commit such horror.
Schoolchildren in the West Bank follow an official Palestinian Authority (PA) curriculum that legitimizes discrimination and violence against Israelis. They play on sports teams and walk through town squares named after terrorists. Children in Gaza attend summer camps and after-school programs that teach them how to use weapons, attack Israeli soldiers and kill Jews.
In a recent interview on September 16th, on the official Palestinian TV, Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas encouraged his people to violence, stating “we welcome every drop of blood spilled in Jerusalem. This is pure blood, clean blood, blood on its way to Allah. With the help of Allah, every shaheed [martyr] will be in heaven, and every wounded will get his reward.”
Yet, while stabbing and terror attacks against innocent Israeli civilians took place last week, two major international summits were held in Israel, both counting with high level delegations from Florida. Commissioner of Agriculture Adam Putnam participated in the WATEC Conference, which showcased cutting edge Israeli technologies designed to find solutions to global water problems.
The second conference was the International Astronautical Congress, in which a delegation from Space Florida participated. During the conference a cooperation agreement was signed between NASA and the Israeli Space Agency, just as an Israeli company announced a project of building a spacecraft to the moon.
This week, Israelis traveling on a private yacht in the Greek islands saved 11 Muslim refugees from Iraq and Syria.
Palestinian children are being raised in a pervasive culture of hate and fed a steady diet of lies.
These three examples highlight Israel’s drive to share knowledge, and strides toward making the world a better place. They are a result of strong values based on the respect for the sanctity of life and “Tikkun Olam” tradition, meaning “repairing the world.” Both are intrinsically embedded in our children’s education.
Palestinian children deserve to be taught to strive for a better future. Their fate should not be held hostage by the culture of hate.
Palestinian children, however, are being raised in a pervasive culture of hate and fed a steady diet of lies. They are trained to believe that compromise is surrender, violence is the preferred path, and martyrdom is the highest honor.
Terrorism needs a strong ideological framework to flourish. Palestinian children deserve to be taught to strive for a better future. Their fate should not be held hostage by the culture of hate. For the violence to end and peace to be realized, and for a Palestinian state to come into being, its leadership must educate and practice peace instead of promoting bloodshed.
Meanwhile, as a mother, my heart and thoughts are with my daughter, and all children whether Christian, Jewish or Muslim.
Revital Malca is deputy consul general of Israel to Florida and Puerto Rico.