A high ranking official of Hamas has given a few interviews to the media in the last few weeks in which he decries the violence that seems to be endemic to areas under control of the Palestinian Authority.
Ghazi Hamad, a senior figure in Hamas and spokesman for the Hamas-led government, has published a series of articles condemning violence and decrying this "Palestinian disease". "Has violence become a culture implanted in our bodies and our flesh?" he has written in the popular Arabic newspaper al-Ayyam.
We have surrendered to it until it has become the master and is obeyed everywhere – in the house, the neighborhood, the family, the clan, t he faction, and the university.
Hamad is finally realizing that the massive indoctrination that is infused throughout the Palestinian education system and culture is now turning inward. Children who have grown up with the message that violence and martyrdom are praiseworthy are now forming the backbone of Palestinian culture. The twelve year olds who were first exposed to the relentless barrage of encouragement to seek death and violence are now the eighteen year old gunmen who hang out on every street corner in Gaza and openly flout all authority.
Yet Hamas and the Palestinian Authority are the ones who have been behind a systematic indoctrination over the last few years. The monitoring group Palestinian Media Watch has documented this terrible phenomenon.
"Ask for death" is the message that the Palestinian Authority [PA] has been conveying to its children since the start of violence in October 2000. During the more than six years of armed conflict, the Palestinian Authority [PA] has been making a paramount effort to convince their own children that there is no greater achievement than to die for Allah in battle, known as Shahada. This has been done via the many mediums at its disposal, including children’s TV broadcasting, the educational system, cultural programs, directives from political and religious leaders and even encouragement from within the family.
So now Hamad and the government he represents wonder why there is a "disease of violence" affecting all facets of life in Palestinian culture. Perhaps his government could start by removing Palestinian textbooks praising martyrdom from the Palestinian schools and banishing those who encourage children to die from the official Palestinian Authority airwaves.
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TeachKidsPeace, a project of HonestReporting, works to bring attention to the abuse of children through indoctrination and exploitation.