February 22, 2006

Marcus Highlights Palestinian Media

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“[Martyrdom] is a good thing. We don’t want this world, we want the Afterlife. We benefit not from this life but from the Afterlife.”

This is the opinion of 11-year-old Yussra, presented in an interview on Palestinian television. According to Itamar Marcus, director of Palestinian Media Watch, the Palestinian Authority teaches its people, and especially its children, to desire “shahada” – death for Allah.

Marcus spoke to Cornell students yesterday evening in McGraw 165 about current Palestinian propaganda targeted against Israel and Jews. He first addressed Palestinian newspapers, using the sports pages to reveal glorification of suicide bombers and the clues in a crossword puzzle to show hate propaganda against Jews. One such example in a crossword puzzle included the name of the Holocaust museum Yad Vashem as the solution to “Jewish center for commemorating the Holocaust and the lies.”

He presented numerous other examples of such propaganda in children’s school textbooks, songs and dances, television shows and educational television programs.

Marcus also addressed the recent landslide Hamas victory in Palestinian elections. The Hamas charter, he noted, contains messages of violence and the illegitimacy of Israel and its Jewish population.

Marcus founded PMW in 1996 to understand Palestinian society through the eyes of Palestinian Arabs. PMW monitors the Palestinian media through such mediums as newspapers, television, poetry, book reviews and sermons. Marcus mentioned a specific interest in the messages delivered to children, as their beliefs and actions will impact the future of Israeli-Palestinian relations. He said, “The ultimate goal is to promote peace education.”

Marcus adopted a calm and reserved tone of voice while using words such as “horrific,” “ridiculous,” and “libel” to explain Palestinian television clips, quotes and textbook excerpts directed against Jews. One video clip presented featured Ahmad Nasser, secretary of Palestinian Legislative Council, stating, “The State of Israel is Satan’s offspring – a satanic offspring.”

Jordan Fabian ’09, who was in attendance, believes that “the entire idea of the presentation wasn’t surprising, but the material he used was interesting,” pointing to the video of Yussra as particularly “unsettling.” In terms of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, Fabian said, “[The propaganda] the Palestinians have been perpetuating has made the conflict worse. What [Marcus] said about suicide bombers not being desperate is important. It’s not that they’re desperate, but that they actually believe [killing the enemy] is God’s will.”

At the end of his lecture, Marcus admitted being pessimistic towards possible improvements in Palestinian propaganda. He claimed, “Re-education won’t happen without leverage from the West,” and encouraged students to contact the media and government for awareness and help.

Andrew Garib ’06, president of Turn Left, said he felt the lecture was informative, “but that it was more for a general audience than for those already aware of the Israel-Palestine conflict.”

The event was organized by Cornell Israel Palestine Public Affairs Committee and StandWithUs. Jamie Weinstein ’06, president of CIPAC, introduced Marcus and emphasized that CIPAC had invited all student media groups and many political groups.

Sarah Boxer ’07, vice president of CIPAC, said, “I thought it was really cool that there was a wide array of students there. There were students from a lot of demographics on campus. I was really pleased that so many different members from around campus were able to make it.”

However, the presentation’s overall fairness was challenged during the question time after the lecture. One student said that the event would have been better if the pro-Palestinian student group, Student Activists for Palestine, had been present. Weinstein admitted that CIPAC had not extended a formal invitation to the student group, but noted that the president of Student Activists for Palestine had attended the lecture.

Archived article by Christie DiNapoli
Sun Staff Writer