Official Palestinian Authority Television Calls For Destruction of Israel, US, UK

CNS News June 14, 2001 

By Julie Stahl

A week after a Palestinian suicide bomber killed himself and 20 Israelis at a Tel Aviv disco and days after Palestinian Authority Chairman Yasser Arafat called for a ceasefire, the official PA television broadcast a sermon calling for suicide bombings and the destruction of Israel, the United States, and Britain.

But U.S. and Israeli officials expressed no surprise on Thursday, saying these kinds of incitements were common.

"These things happen frequently," said U.S. Embassy spokesman Larry Schwartz. "There are enemies of peace in the region. It's not surprising that they are also enemies of the United States."

However, such threats are "immaterial," he added, because the relationship between Israel and the U.S. is strong and they "stand together" in the region. He did not comment on the fact that the sermon was broadcast on the PA's official TV.

"This is the usual phenomenon of incitement that we're talking about," said Israeli Foreign Ministry deputy spokeswoman Amira Oron.

Such incitement is not unique to Islamic religious leaders in the PA but is also spread through the media and children's schoolbooks, Oron said. It is also common throughout the Middle East, she added.

There was no immediate comment from the British Embassy in Tel Aviv.

'Army of Allah'

Sheik Ibrahim Madhi's sermon was carried live from the Sheik Ijlin Mosque in Gaza last Friday. A translation was made available this week by the Middle East Media Research Institute, an independent media analysis organization.

Madhi told Palestinians Allah could have delivered them instantaneously but was testing them through the things they were suffering. In the meantime, they needed to make preparations for the destruction of Israel, the U.S. and Great Britain.

"We must prepare the ground for the army of Allah that is coming according to the [divine] predetermination. We must prepare a foothold for them," Madhi said.

"Allah willing, this unjust state ... Israel, will be erased; this unjust state the United States will be erased; this unjust state Britain will be erased - they who caused this people's nakba ," he said.

The nakba ("catastrophe") to which Madhi referred was what the Palestinians call the 1948 creation of the State of Israel. One viewpoint held in the region is that the West - particularly the U.S. and Britain - planted a Jewish "colony" in the midst of the Arab Middle East with the aim to conquer it.

Madhi hurled "shame and remorse" on anyone who refrained from raids against the enemy, who didn't raise his children on jihad (holy war), or who hated his Muslim brother "while loving one of the infidels."

He bestowed blessings on those who fought against the enemy and he praised acts of "martyrdom."

"Blessings to whoever waged jihad for the sake of Allah; blessings to whoever raided for the sake of Allah; blessings to whoever put a belt of explosives on his body or on his sons' and plunged into the midst of the Jews, crying ' Allahu Akbar' [Allah is greater]."

Madhi also prayed that the roof of the Israeli parliament would collapse on Jewish lawmakers just as the floor of the Jerusalem banquet hall collapsed under Jewish wedding guests nearly three weeks ago.

Israel suffered its worst civil disaster ever when the third floor of the hall collapsed in May, leaving 23 dead and more than 300 injured.

Oron said that this kind of incitement has been going on for years and was not merely a response to the election of Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, who is vilified in the Arab world.

It was rampant during the terms of the late Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin - who initiated the peace process with the PLO - and that of Ehud Barak - who offered more than any of his predecessors to the PA in exchange for peace.

Nobody could argue that it had anything to do with whether Israel has a right or left-wing government, she added.

Israel has complained that the PA has fueled street violence and the desire of Palestinians to fight by using its official media and newspapers to incite the public to perpetrate attacks against Israel.

The U.S.-sponsored Mitchell commission - accepted by both Israel and the PA unconditionally - recommended that all incitement in the media be stopped as part of the first stage of halting violence.