Images from Israeli towns overrun by Hamas terrorists are horrifying. Entire families executed in their homes, many bearing the marks of excruciating tortures. Forty babies at a kibbutz massacred, many beheaded. The mutilated body of a dead rape victim paraded on display for throngs of cheering Gazans.
This is not war, but just sheer barbarism. Yet ending this savagery requires that a war be fought, and as always, Israel is bravely answering the call. But when the last shots have been fired and the time comes to rebuild, one central question will be, How can this be made never to happen again? Sadly, even if every last Hamas member were killed and the Gaza border returned to quiet, the peace is virtually certain not to last. Why?
The core problem is, eliminating today’s terrorists does nothing to eliminate tomorrow’s terrorists. And in both Hamas-ruled Gaza and the PA-ruled West Bank, there exists the world’s most powerful ideological ecosystem for the mass production of terrorists. Though often underreported, the schools and media across those territories indoctrinate their children and citizens 24/7 in hatred and demonization of Jews and Israel, and glorify suicide bombers as noble “martyrs.”
Across Gaza, the UN Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) runs 278 schools serving over 291,000 students. UNRWA schools have been shown time and again to be conduits of Nazi-like Jew hatred. A 2023 audit found that UNRWA schools in Gaza “regularly call for the murder of Jews, and create teaching materials that glorify terrorism, encourage martyrdom, [and] demonize Israelis . . . .” Their textbooks lionize terrorists like “Dalal Mughrabi, murderer of 38 Israelis,” for whom an entire chapter is “dedicated to her role as a model of female empowerment.” More than 100 UNRWA educators were found to be “praising Hitler and inciting Jew-hatred” on social media.
Schools across the West Bank similarly demonize Jews and glorify mass murders of Israelis. High school textbooks “teach their children to hate Israel and vilify Israel’s existence while they glorify terror.” And when the school year ends, Palestinian children attend summer camps named after suicide bombers, which indoctrinate their campers in hatred and terror-worship.
For Palestinian adults, the incitement continues unabated in all variety of state-run media. The PA’s daily newspaper publishes a steady diet of defamations, such as: “[m]assacre is the basis of the State of Israel”; the Jew is “the disease of the century”; Israelis “are the new Nazis upon the earth” whose crimes are “worse than . . . [the] gas chambers”; “Israel . . . is . . . a cunning Satan”; and Jews are “‘Shylocks of the land, busily emptying Palestinian pockets.”
This hate propaganda is effective. Countless video recordings demonstrate that after each successful terror-murder of one or more Israelis, Palestinian communities across the West Bank and Gaza erupt in public celebrations, with dancing in the streets, fireworks, shooting of weapons, and handing out candy to children.
Funerals of Palestinian suicide bombers regularly become occasions for mass celebration. “Martyr cards” portraying the killer are printed and distributed throughout the community, and “martyr posters” of the killer are plastered across Palestinian public spaces. Palestinian political analyst Addie Awad confirms that “the veneration of martyrs is part and parcel of the Palestinian national identity.”
Statistics validate the lethal toxicity of this hate indoctrination. In the years just before and during the “second intifada” (1997-2003), which followed Yasir Arafat’s rejection of a generous Palestinian statehood offer, calls for jihad and Jew-murder proliferated across Palestinian media. And as shown by economist Alan Kreuger, per capita terror attacks across the Palestinian territories in those years were the highest in the world. They exceeded the second highest, Sierra Leone, by more than 350 per cent.
The pernicious influence of this tsunami of hate indoctrination is revealed not just in the volume of terror attacks, but also in their inhuman savagery – as last week’s horrors yet again demonstrate.
It is no coincidence that Palestinian media and schools replicate the propaganda environment of Nazi Germany. The Palestinian national movement began in the 1930s under the leadership of Haj Amin al-Husseini, who successfully led the effort to conclude an Arab-Nazi alliance during World War II. In 1941 Husseini and Hitler jointly pledged to conquer the Middle East, annex it to the Nazi empire, and build death camps across Palestine. That this second Holocaust did not happen is owed entirely to the British-American defeat of Hitler’s North African armies in 1943.
Husseini also spent those years poisoning the Middle East’s political discourse, as a principal organizer of a massive Nazi propaganda campaign across the region. And unlike postwar Europe, this annihilationist ideology never was expunged from Palestinian culture. On the contrary, in subsequent decades al-Husseini and his two successors, Yasir Arafat and Mahmoud Abbas, continued and expanded this genocidal indoctrination of their people.
The inconvenient truth is, no matter how many terrorists Israel eliminates, the Palestinian education-media complex keeps mass producing new generations of terrorists. This is why after the guns fall silent, there must be a top-to-bottom de-Nazification of the Palestinian territories’ education sector and state-run media – and why Western governments and donors must finally deploy their leverage toward such essential reform.
No doubt, this war will be won in the air and on the ground. But the peace can be won, and the savagery finally ended, only in the schools and media.