How has the Voice of Palestine radio station been used?
The Palestinian Authority (PA), rather than using its position to prevent violence and urge restraint, has allowed its official television and radio (the Voice of Palestine — VOP) to be used for the purposes of incitement, calling on its people to carry out violent attacks on Israeli citizens and soldiers. Although specifically prohibited by the Oslo accords and later agreements of the peace process, anti-Israel incitement, including the vilest anti-Semitic invective, has been chronic in the Palestinian Arab media. Bad as it was, it actually increased in intensity during the al-Aqsa intifada that started in September 2000, the VOP has been a constant source of anti-Israel invective and calls to action.
The prohibition was very specific. For example, the Oslo II Interim Agreement of September 1995 (Article XXII) states that Israel and the PA:
- … shall seek to foster mutual understanding and tolerance and shall accordingly abstain from incitement, including hostile propaganda, against each other and, without derogating from the principle of freedom of expression, shall take legal measures to prevent such incitement by any organizations, groups or individuals within their jurisdiction.
The examples of violations are uncountable; many can be seen in the references cited at the bottom of the page. A few samples of broadcasts carried by Voice of Palestine:
- I now see the walls of Jerusalem, the mosques of Jerusalem, the churches of Jerusalem. My brothers! With blood and with spirit we will redeem you, Palestine! Yes, with blood and with spirit we will redeem you, Palestine! [PA Chairman Yasser Arafat, April 28, 1997]
- We did not pay with the dear blood of thousands of martyrs so that the Israeli government could establish settlements on our land in the name of peace. We have sacrificed in the past and we will be ready to sacrifice again in the future for the sake of liberating our land and returning it to the bosom of the Palestinian nation and for the sake of establishing an independent Palestinian state whose capital is Jerusalem. [From statement by the PA cabinet, May 17, 1997]
- The Jews always set a trap for the community of Muslims? The Koran repeatedly warns against the traps and plots of the “people of the book”. They relentlessly scheme in all times and places and this is what they do today and tomorrow against the Muslim camp. [From the weekly Friday prayer sermon at Al-Aqsa mosque, October 24, 1997]
- Oh, Allah, destroy America for it is controlled by Zionist Jews…Allah will avenge, in the name of his Prophet, the colonialist settlers who are the descendants of monkeys and pigs…forgive us, oh Muhammad, for the acts of these monkeys and pigs who wished to profane your holiness. [From the weekly Friday prayer sermon by PA Mufti Ikrima Sabri, July 11, 1997]
- The occupation is shooting at children, women and infants? The latest reports reaching us from Hebron prove that the occupation forces have opened fire on children, women and infants. … our enemies have no mercy and no heart … this shows that they have no conscience. Their hearts are like stone. They are not human beings. One can not compare them to people. They are like animals, they are like animals. [From the daily news program, June 24, 1997]
- We are fighting and struggling with an enemy who is Shylock. We must know that he is Shylock. Statement by Othman Abu Gharbiya, PA Chairman Yasser Arafat?s Adviser on National Political Guidance. [From an interview, March 15, 1997]
- Whomever has occupied part of Palestine or Jerusalem faces jihad [holy war] until Judgment Day. Our destiny is jihad… [Sheikh Muhammad Hussein, in the weekly Friday prayer sermon at Al-Aksa Mosque, May 15, 1998]
An especially troubling aspect of the incitement is the appeal to children. The standard fare on the Voice of Palestine radio station is for programs to open with details of martyrs’ deaths and burials sandwiched between patriotic and Islamic songs with martial melodies. A particularly popular song on Voice of Palestine, also broadcast on PA television, features a father singing about his son as a martyr — the son being Mohammed Al-Dura. On March 3,1999 Senator Connie Mack of Florida gave a speech on the Senate floor during which he stood in front of a poster-size photograph of a scene from the Palestinian Authority television program, “The Children’s Club,” in which a child is shown saying:
- When I wander into the entrance of Jerusalem, I will turn into a suicide warrior in battle dress. In battle dress! In battle dress!
On April 30, 1999 the Voice of Palestine broadcast a religious sermon tellingMuslims that recognition of Israel’s right to exist is “forbidden byreligious law”, in violation of the most fundamental requirement of the Oslo peace process.