Palestinian Incitement: Hate-Speech That Kills

Palestinian Stabbing Israel Incitement Settlement
Family and friends surround the body of Dafna Meir, 38, during her funeral at a cemetery in Jerusalem January 18. Reuters/Ronen Zvulun

Palestinian incitement and hate-speech, especially the condoning of the cold-blooded murder of Jews, has at the time of writing been linked to the murder of 30 Israelis over the last four months.

On January 17, one of these 30 victims, 39-year-old mother of six Daphna Meir, was stabbed to death in her home, in front of her children, by a Palestinian youth from a nearby village. While in custody, the youth admitted to having committed the murder after being influenced by official Palestinian television programming that vilified Israel and glorified acts of violence.

Not limited only to suggestive themes and implicit condoning of terrorism, officially affiliated Palestinian media have repeatedly issued explicit calls to murder Jews. As a case in point, on January 4, two weeks before the murder of Daphna Meir, a Fatah-run television channel broadcast a music video calling on Palestinians to "drown them [the Jews] in a sea of blood" and to "kill them as you wish." The chairman of Fatah's Central Committee is none other than Palestinian president, Mahmoud Abbas.

Understandably embarrassed by the increasingly obvious connection between Palestinian hate-speech and acts of Palestinian terror, some Palestinians and Palestinian sympathizers have come up with a tactic for deflecting criticism: flip the coin on its head by denying the acts of terror and by accusing the victim, Israel, of incitement.

Thus, not satisfied with denying the terror attacks by Palestinians, even when real-time video footage and admission by the attackers proves otherwise, we are increasingly hearing a new canard about alleged incitement by Israel.

The lie is very straightforward: it simply reverses the role of attacker and victim. The terrorists and their supporters become the victims of "incitement," and the actual victims of violence become the purported "inciters."

The weakness of this stroke of propaganda genius is that it strikes at the heart of the very foundations of law and order upon which democracies such as Israel are based. As a great American president once put it, you can't fool all of the people all of the time.

Law-enforcement is based on the ability to distinguish between crimes and measures taken to prevent them or diminish their consequences. When Palestinian attackers stabbed a young woman to death—as Ibrahim Alan and his accomplice did to 24-year-old Shlomit Krigman last week—and a security guard was then forced to shoot them to prevent further carnage, the stabbers were committing terrorism and the security guard was discharging his duty in conformity with the law. To argue otherwise—as too many Palestinian sympathizers do—is to turn morality, truth and common sense on their head.

The attempt to lend credibility to such claims by presenting them in the refined prose of distinguished media affords them no more truth than when they are spread through ghastly social media posts, as has become common in Palestinian public discourse. A lie remains a lie irrespective of how lavish the facade of the liar.

Imagine a U.S. congressman saying of the perpetrators of 9/11 that: "In the history of nations and their struggles, the Shahid [Martyr] holds the height of glory. There is no higher value than Shahada [Death for Allah]." Then imagine this same congressman, now serving as deputy speaker of the House of Representatives, removing an acting cabinet secretary from the podium of the House for decrying the former's condoning of murder. And to add insult to injury, imagine him doing so on the absurd pretext of 'incitement.'

Ludicrous? Fantastical? Anywhere but in Israel's vibrant and ultra-tolerant democracy, it probably would be.

But in fact that is precisely what the deputy speaker of Israel's Knesset, Arab lawmaker Ahmed Tibi, did on October 21, to Israel's minister of absorption, for having the temerity to criticize Tibi's penchant for issuing appalling statements in support of terrorism, such as the quote above, which was delivered by him at a Palestinian Authority rally in January 2011, in reference to the countless Palestinian Shahids (terrorists) who have lost their lives murdering Jews.

If ever there were a testament to the fortitude of a country's democracy and its vigorous defense of free speech, Israel's Arab MKs—and the enormous latitude they are afforded to use the instruments of Israel's democracy to criticize Israel itself—are it.

Israel fiercely safeguards the political and civic freedoms of all its citizens, including the 1.7 million Arab citizens, who make up a fifth of Israel's population, many of whom are represented by the 13 Arab members of Israel's 120 member parliament.

Arab citizens of Israel are deeply integrated into Israeli society, serving in senior positions in all walks of life, including high political office, the diplomatic corps and as Supreme Court justices. Tellingly, in a region where women's rights are regularly trampled, the chairwoman of the Knesset Committee for the Advancement of the Status of Women is Aide Touma-Suleiman, an Arab member of Knesset. Moreover, in a major stride to narrow socioeconomic gaps, the Israeli government recently approved an investment of some $3.7 billion earmarked exclusively for the Arab sector.

However, as in all other democracies, citizenship confers duties as well as rights. Paramount among these is the duty to abide by the law. In Israel, as in any country similarly governed by rule of law, anyone violating the laws—Jews, Arabs, or otherwise—is held accountable. This applies specifically to those laws pertaining to incitement.

This is not of course unique to Israel. The matter of incitement has been addressed by the international community as a whole. In its Resolution 1624 of 2005, the U.N. Security Council condemned in "the strongest terms the incitement of terrorist acts" and repudiated "attempts at the justification or glorification of terrorist acts that may incite further terrorist acts." The U.S. Supreme Court similarly prohibits advocacy that is "directed to inciting or producing imminent lawless action."

Yet, following the twisted logic of Israel's detractors, the Security Council and U.S. Supreme Court would themselves be found guilty of "incitement" against terrorists and their apologists. Such doublethink needs to be called out for what it is.

It is high time the international community shun such transparent ploys to deflect criticism of the depravity witnessed and documented daily in Palestinian public discourse and get serious about curbing Palestinian hate-speech. Because it—quite unlike Israel's legitimate denunciation of Palestinian violence and incitement—kills.

Ms. Hotovely is Israel's Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs