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Lecturer addresses touchy subject

by Archives January 23, 2002

Speaking against the incitement of Palestinian children was the topic addressed in The Palestinian Authority: Inciting Children to Kill, a lecture by Alan Baker, the legal advisor to the Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs and a negotiator in Palestinian peace talks on Jan. 21 in the Hall Building.
Sponsored by the Concordia Hillel Students’ Association in conjunction with the Canada and Israel committee, Quebec Region, the lecture was preceded by a 15-minute Palestinian Watch Media Presentation video. It revealed child incitement by the Palestinian Authority, showing how children are represented as the dominant war heroes.
According to the video, children are encouraged to pick up rocks for the sake of the “Terror Intifada” and throw them at Israeli soldiers. Television advertisements tell children to ‘drop your toys and take up arms.’ Hate for Israelis and Jews is taught in schools and mosques and children are told that fighting Israeli soldiers is for mothers’ honor. Summer camps are military camps for children to be taught to seek death as exulted martyrs for Allah. “The Palestinian authorities must be held accountable for inciting hatred [in] children,” said Baker. “We must teach peace to get peace.”
When he spoke about the exchange of letters between former Israeli Prime Minister Yitzak Rabin and Chairman Yasser Arafat, he mentioned how Arafat had written how the Palestinian Liberation Organization renounced use of violence. No incitement, violence or terrorism are three of the four tenets that consist of the agreement between Israel and the Palestinians. At Camp David in July 2000, the negotiations broke down. Arafat preferred to be seen as a relentless revolutionary than to be labeled as weak by Palestinian extremists. “We saw an outbreak of violence and a violation of these very tenets,” said Baker.
Having Palestinian children throw rocks at Israeli soldiers was well-planned since the Israeli government tells its soldiers that it cannot fire at children throwing rocks only at those shooting firebombs or grenades. In the September 2001 issue of the official Palestinian Authority paper, Al Hayat Al Jedida wrote:
“Suicide bombers are the salt of the earth, the engines of history- the most honorable among us.” Since the Declaration of Principles in 1993, there have been over 40 suicide terrorist attacks on Israel resulting in 224 being killed.
According to International Protection Law, children under 15 are considered a vulnerable group.
“There’s no justification for using and targeting children. Whether you’re using or targeting children, this is still the use of terrorism and incitement,” said Baker. Despite the standstill in the peace negotiations, Baker will not give up. “The question is how to end this cycle and go back to the negotiation table. This is the paramount question.”
The question period got heated when an outraged Palestinian woman started yelling about how the allegations of incitement were racist and asking if the video was made by objective sources. “There’s no racist implication behind this. It’s a fact,” Baker stated. “I live next to a mosque and if you’re calling me racist, you’re calling the person in the mosque who is advocating child suicide [bombing] as racist.”
He pointed out how “it is not Israel’s policy to publicize pictures of children. The Palestinians do publicize these photos to glorify this.”
Baker ended the question period because those who were enraged would not listen to his answers. The disruption caused by a select few was not appreciated by the audience.
“I think the problem is that some people come here and explosify the situation. I don’t think it represents the Palestinians at Concordia. If they don’t know how to argue, we have a problem,” said Oren Tapiero, an Economics student and a former Hillel executive. “I feel very disgusted by this behaviour. They don’t know how to respect and they’re ruining this university.”

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