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Turning Children into Terrorists

September 21, 2023

by: Nathan Williams, Director of Marketing and Communications

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Over 50 years ago, Israel’s first and only female Prime Minster Golda Meir famously stated, “Peace will come when the Arabs will love their children more than they hate us.” More than half a century later, things have not changed. Meir’s words still ring true today as Israel faces a persistent and ever-increasing threat of young jihadis, determined to eradicate “the Zionist enemy” by any means.

The Definition of a Child

A recent BBC interview with former Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett went viral online. Speaking to the ongoing tensions and conflict in the terrorist hotspot Jenin, presenter Anjana Gadgil attempted to frame armed gunmen in their teens eliminated by Israel as “children.” Gadgil doggedly pressed Bennett to confess that the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) “are happy to kill children.”

While the reporter tried to reframe the narrative against Israel by highlighting the detail that the terrorists were in their teens, Bennett was quick to underscore the fact that a 17-year-old brandishing an automatic assault rifle and using it against military forces is not a child but a combatant. Bennett stressed that these terrorists—whose purpose is to murder Jewish civilians—would be treated the same way in any other country of the world despite their age.

This interview highlighted a very troubling aspect of the ongoing Palestinian conflict: the intentional and tireless radicalization of Palestinian youth by the Palestinian Authority (PA). The PA then galvanizes Western media to publish skewed sensational headlines demonizing Israel as an effective means of narrative warfare.

According to Itamar Marcus, the founding director of media watchdog Palestinian Media Watch (PMW), the PA sends its children to be killed so that it can blame Israel before the international community. PMW compiled a special video report released in 2022 on UN World Children’s Day that highlighted the ongoing brainwashing of Palestinian children and youth to commit terror attacks and confrontations with Israel in an attempt to seek martyrdom for their Islamic god and for Palestine. Equally vile is the conditioning of parents to applaud and praise their children who die in these martyrdom-seeking suicide missions.

Yet the Palestinian leaders and over-zealous parents are not the only ones to blame. “The UN and others who partner with the PA in blaming Israel for these PA-driven child-martyrdom deaths, are reinforcing the PA’s use of the child “martyrdom” strategy, and are causing the deaths of additional Palestinian children,” Marcus writes.Ali A Suliman/shutterstock.com

Taught to Hate

Psychologists have vigorously analyzed the subject of hate and prejudice, debating whether it is an inherent or learned behavior. Their conclusion is always the same: hate is taught and passed down through psychological conditioning. It is not the natural inclination of a child to hate a specific people or group, but when they are born into a culture that harbors attitudes and ideologies of hate, those learned behaviors seep into everything. If children are harboring hatred and prejudice, these behaviors are learned from their family, school, media and culture.

This begs the question: where do Palestinian children learn to hate? PMW has the proof. The fault unequivocally lies directly with the PA and the Palestinian terror groups who ruthlessly idolize martyrdom and terrorist actions against Israel, even to the youngest children, through media, sermons, posters and education.

In an online webinar for the Middle East Forum, Marcus reiterated that the root of this hatred lies in what he terms “rejectionism” in Palestinian education. He summarized this ideology in five key propaganda messages wielded to indoctrinate Palestinian children:

(1) Israel has no right to exist and will be destroyed.

(2) All Jews will be expelled from “Palestine.”

(3) Palestinians have the right to commit violent acts of terror against Israel.

(4) Martyrdom is an ideal to be sought out.

(5) Martyrs are rewarded for their sacrifice in the coming paradise.

Summer Time

Perhaps you can recall the summer camps you attended as a child. Perhaps you played tag and baseball or swam in a lake. Palestinian summer camps look vastly different.

This past summer, PMW exposed various summer camps in Palestinian-controlled areas of Judea, Samaria and the Gaza Strip. Sixteen PA-run summer camps are named after terrorists who murdered Israelis, thus so-called martyrs. This tactic encourages children to envision themselves as martyrs and to emulate the actions of self-extermination. Arts and crafts activities often include producing images of “Palestine” covering the entire area currently recognized as the land of Israel, thus emphasizing that Israel has no right to exist. Forget the two-state solution! The message being implanted in the minds of these children is that there is only one state: Palestine—without any Jews and without a neighboring Israel.

This indoctrination is not limited to Palestinian-governed areas of Judea and Samaria. In the Gaza Strip, we find even more radical programming. Palestinian Islamic Jihad-run camps are military style affairs where children wield and parade with automatic rifle replicas for an even harsher form of indoctrination to hate and kill.

A Times of Israel article put it this way: “Children were taught to stab and stone Israeli police…’to liberate Al-Aqsa,’ while instructors lionized those who fall as ‘martyrs’ against the enemy.”

Anas Mohammed/shutterstock.comWho Is Accountable?

Considering that the PA’s indoctrination permeates television, education, recreation and religious institutions, it comes as no surprise that Israel is faced with teenagers who desire with all their heart to die for the misguided belief that their “sacrifice” will change the plight of the Palestinian people. What choice remains for these children when all sectors of Palestinian society glorify the sacrificial death of a young “martyr,” and go so far as to encourage others to sacrifice themselves to achieve a sick kind of fame and glory in paradise?

The verdict is clear: the Palestinian leadership stands guilty of sacrificing their children for political gain. If the precondition for peace Meir offered was difficult to achieve some 50 years ago, the odds now are impossible. Israel is left with no choice but to face the brainwashed children who emerge from the culture of hate that the Palestinian culture advocates and promotes. It is nothing short of a travesty of justice that children are subjected to such abuse.

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