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Indoctrinating Palestinian Children to Genocidal Hate By: Manfred Gerstenfeld
FrontPageMagazine.com | Tuesday, December 23, 2008


In both the Palestinian Authority and the Hamas-ruled territory of Gaza there are carefully planned widespread campaigns of incitement of children. These lead to Palestinian children aspiring to be involved in terrorist actions. The following interview with the psychiatrist and pathologist Dr. Daphne Burdman examines the strongly held cultural beliefs that engender this incitement. Burdman was assistant clinical professor of pathology at the State University of New York at Stony Brook and a lieutenant colonel in the U.S. army

MG: Can you tell us briefly how the process of incitement works?

DB: In both the Palestinian Authority and the Hamas-ruled territory of Gaza there are carefully planned, widespread campaigns of incitement of children. These have induced profound effects on the psychology of Palestinian children. Due to this indoctrination children start viewing positively their involvement in terrorist actions in which they risk their lives. This process of incitement should be better documented. Thereafter it should be analyzed how this fits into the broader picture of Palestinian and Muslim genocidal ideology. Finally, methods of detoxifying brainwashed children should be discussed.

MG: Why do we know so little about it?

DB: As this incitement process has been poorly covered by the international media, it is hardly known abroad among Westerners. Even most Israelis who are closer to the source are largely ignorant of the sinister development of these profoundly successful programs. These are based on both familiar and innovative techniques of persuasion and indoctrination. Similar ones were used to maximum effect by totalitarian regimes including Nazi Germany, the Soviet KGB, and Chinese intelligence services. There is increasing evidence that some of these sources have inspired and trained the Palestinian Authority.[i]

MG: What does the indoctrination lead to?

DB: The incitement of Palestinian children has led to widespread hatred and an urge to violence. This includes children’s participation in stone throwing and suicide bombing against the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) or Israeli citizens. Palestinian leaders incite children to undertake such violent actions against Israelis even when it is likely that they will be injured or killed. They are promised to become martyrs who will be admired as heroes in Palestinian society and will find a place in Paradise with Allah. Thus encouraged, children’s natural fears are reduced. They then desire to be in situations where they risk injury or even death.

Martyrdom has been an integral part of the belief system of Shiite Islam since its early days. It was emphasized by Ayatollah Khomeini even before the Iranian revolution and has also become prominent in other currents of militant Islam since the 1960s. There are many Palestinians among those Sunnis who have adopted propagandizing martyrdom.

MG: What can you tell us about the methodology and tools used in the indoctrination campaign?

DB: The mass indoctrination of children is based on a carefully planned campaign that draws on strongly held cultural beliefs and deep-seated psychological mechanisms. The incitement uses a multimodal methodology, preaching Palestinian nationalism, martyrology and, under Hamas, emphasizing worldwide hegemonic shar’ia. The campaign utilizes the media, schools, and the street as well as religious figures.

Indoctrination in the Palestinian areas is far broader than textbook and television sources, encompassing general societal elements including newsprint, parents, teachers, methods of teaching with encouragement and praise for adherence, and strong disapproval for less devoted students. Imams are extremely influential in successfully emphasizing the goals of jihad and martyrdom. Summer camps, and the naming of streets, playgrounds, and soccer teams for martyrs, help maintain the ambience throughout society.

MG: Many people are surprised that this indoctrination works. How and why does it?

DB: Bearing in mind the actual panorama just described, it is worth looking at psychological mechanisms, for example, learning theory and social learning, which are applied by educators in the Palestinian Authority.[ii]

(a) Rote learning and ongoing repetition of mantralike formulas are a must, with (b) successful learning rewarded by (c) gaining social approval—known to be the most powerful of all motivators. The converse is equally true particularly in these collective societies where social condemnation is the punishment for nonadherence. (d) Adherence to group belief systems in a patriarchal collective society is an enormously powerful weapon; and (e) successful role modeling by teachers, other authority figures, and admired peers is another aspect of learning the message.

MG: Is not emotion an important psychological factor in the indoctrination?

DB: Among the psychological factors determining indoctrination, the transmission of emotion is the ultimate weapon.[iii] Hatred in this context is paramount, and abhorrence of the Jews, and to a lesser extent of the Americans, is transmitted. Academic papers back to the 1980s proposed listeners’ emotions as preceding rational considerations in determining their acceptance of speakers’ ‘messages’; this was a revolutionary concept at the time[iv] but is increasingly accepted.[v] However, it was well enough known to the master manipulator, Adolf Hitler, who deliberately stirred up the emotion of hatred to enmesh his mass audiences within his ideological monstrosities. He states: ‘...the French Revolution...found an army of agitators led by demagogues...who whipped up the passions of the people....’ and: ‘the Bolshevist Revolution in Russia, was brought about, not by Lenin’s writings, but by the hate-fomenting oratorical activity...of the greatest and smallest apostles of agitation.’[vi]

Nowadays, the use of emotion in persuasion/selling is stressed by the more sophisticated advertising organizations, which emphasize positive emotions of expectation, hope, and acquisitiveness but also recognize the place of fear.[vii]

MG: What are the indoctrination elements specific to Palestinian society?

DB: In patriarchal Palestinian society, manipulation of children’s emotions thus draws on fear of displeasing Allah. Arab proverbs not only state that ‘A father’s satisfaction is part of God’s satisfaction’ but also the fearful message that ‘A father’s anger is part of God’s anger.’[viii] Palestinian Authority TV clips also draw heavily on anger and hatred against Israel; hope for Allah’s approval; and anticipation—through martyrdom—of everlasting life in Paradise, a powerful package indeed. Authoritarian and totalitarian societies of Islamism both readily favor implantation and dissemination of such ideas.

Studies show that the frequent background drumbeat in the Palestinian Authority TV clips augments explosive states of physical tension and heightened suggestibility, which in turn increase receptivity to auditory messages. Electroencephalographic studies and the correlation of rhythmic drumming with its results in many ceremonies of primitive religions bear this out.[ix] Furthermore, the voice of the commentator and lyrics of the songs carry the messages of hatred, nationalism, self-sacrifice, and martyrdom.

MG: Very few Westerners seem to understand this. Why is that?

DB: The idea of conversion to self-destruction is a mystery for the Western mind. In part, altered states of consciousness, increased suggestibility, and hypnotic trance are involved. One does not have to be deeply asleep for that. We know from professional literature about hypnosis that there are altered states of consciousness in which critical judgment is suspended. Among prominent researchers of Western cult indoctrination, Marc Galanter, a hard-headed professor of psychiatry, makes a strong case for the involvement of ‘alterations in consciousness,’ namely suggestibility and trance, as does Margaret Thaler Singer, an outstanding expert on cults during her lifetime.[x] Many of the same mechanisms are traceable in Palestinian indoctrination, despite the obvious difference that cult indoctrination operates outside the mainstream of Western societies, whereas Palestinian indoctrination has been a hallmark of that culture particularly since the inception of the Palestinian Authority in 1993.

Recent research on hypnotic trance by Abela suggests that the higher monitoring mental facilities of reasoning and judgment, learned from prior experience, become subjugated to centers processing the incoming auditory suggestions and commands presented by the hypnotist.[xi] Further research by Gruzelier, and others[xii]—using sophisticated functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) and Positron Emission Tomography (PET Scans)—clearly demonstrates selective activation of various implicated areas of the brain during hypnosis, though Gruzelier’s theoretical conclusions vary somewhat from those of Abela. Thus concrete evidence exists for the reality of hypnotic phenomena. Current research by neurophysiologists and neuropsychiatrists aims to further untangle a very complex, multifaceted situation. There is reason to believe that music is also consequential in Palestinian indoctrination.

MG: Can you tell us more about the role of music in the indoctrination?

DB: In a 2003 article I already mentioned as an example of incitement a fifteen-minute video cassette that includes original soundtrack with Arabic dialogue, background music, and an overlay of English translation and explanation.[xiii]

The assembled TV clips clearly demonstrate a stylistic presentation that produces an overall effect of intense drama and emotion. Since the presentation in itself is integral to influencing children, of equal importance to the verbal messages are other essential elements including powerful visual and nonverbal auditory techniques designed to evoke powerful emotions.[xiv]

Music is a prominent feature, sometimes with a martial beat; gripping, pronouncedly rhythmic, maybe with a repetitive single drumbeat, sometimes triumphal, otherwise quiet, plaintive, nostalgic, then rising to a crescendo accompanying evocative lyrics. The chants are often those heard at funeral processions for fallen Hamas and Islamic Jihad shahedeen [martyrs]; underlying, stirring martial connotations are unmistakable. In many places one hears almost subthreshold, buried in long stretches of music to the slow beat of the rhythm, repeated endlessly like a mantra the quietly spoken word ‘shaheed…shaheed…shaheed...’

MG: Is substantial research going on in this field?

DB: There is ongoing relevant research on the effects of drumming, different musical rhythms, and various musical instruments by both academic musicologists and neurophysiologists.[xv] Research focuses on changes in brainwave patterns, sometimes in conjunction with ‘ecstatic’ or ‘possession’ experiences—of the type seen in voodoo ceremonies—and on changes induced by trance experiences. So far, findings are limited in extent but indicate clear-cut changes in occasional individuals, with, to generalize about a very complex situation, variable lowered brainwave frequencies associated with somnolence and increased suggestibility. Flickering lights may also be involved.

“Of interest here is Freeman’s correlation of those

brain-chemicals/neurotransmitters associated with emotions, with the ancient Greek formulation of three main classes of music relating to emotional states. Phrygian music was martial...with trumpets to incite action in battle [and he adds, associated with fear and rage]. Lydian music was...slow, plaintive and religious...relying on flutes...[associated with] relaxed moods. Ionian music was convivial, joyful...relying heavily on drums to induce dancing.’ He notes that these moods are associated with secretion of norepinephrine, serotonin, and dopamine, respectively.[xvi] It is thus tempting to speculate that the martial rhythms and drumming of the TV clips activate militancy roughly combined with the expectant mood receptive to the concept of self-sacrifice and redemption.

Other songs unfold that follow the messages of the narrative: the tears of the mother, throwing the stones, going off to be a martyr…. Often the constant slow rhythm of beating drums powerfully relays the attendant emotions. Images melt into each other: colorful, somber battle scenes; funerals; fantasies of the future life in Paradise; flag-waving young rock-throwers glorified or eulogized; lush roses opening and unfolding to the theme ‘How sweet is the fragrance of the earth, its thirst quenched by the gush of blood flowing from the youthful body.’

MG: When did this start?

DB: Since the 1993 advent of Chairman Arafat and the Oslo agreements, official Palestinian television has been programming clips that appear—as would commercials in Western television—between other programs. These clips escalate in number when a particular militant surge is in preparation, as at the beginning of the Second Intifada in 2000, even up to one-fifth of broadcasting time.

To give the flavor of this material I often use a few quotations of Palestinian Media Watch clips of this period from Palestinian Authority TV:[xvii]

? With accompanying visuals to demonstrate, a narrator tells 7 and 8 year old children: ‘The time for toys and games is over, throw away your toys; pick up rocks!’ (recorded 2 May 2001).

? The next scene shows young children throwing stones at armed IDF soldiers; a young boy is seen talking to even younger ones and singing, ‘Don’t be afraid, Allah is with him, A stone in their hands, Has turned into Kalachnikovs’ (recorded 11 January 2001).

? A crowd of young girls are seen at a demonstration. The apparent leader, shrill and angry is shouting: ‘…we the children must all get together to expel the enemy Israel…give us the weapons. We the children will…kill them on our own, murder them, shoot them all. Just give us the weapons. We will kill them all. We won’t leave a single Jew here’ (recorded 22 October 2000).

MG: Is promoting violence the only major element of these clips?

DB: Far beyond the advocating of violence, the next step is exhorting children to martyrdom for Allah:

? The screen depicts a military training camp for children run by the Palestinian National Authority Political Guidance and Training Unit where 50,000 children have been enrolled. A background of martial music includes the repeated word shaheed, shaheed. Shown are scenes of gymnastics classes including boys and girls jumping through hoops of fire, climbing ropes, assembling and training with machine guns, while 8 to 10 year olds standing to attention repeat ‘Children of my country, I am the suicide squad.[xviii]…As long as the mine explodes, In a cry of Allah Akbar…I return to my country, the beloved land of Jerusalem’ (from July-August 1998).

? The Mohammed al-Dura death is re-enacted by actors, after which the boy is shown in Paradise, frolicking along a beach…within a wondrous fun fair...at the Al-Aqsa Mosque…waving to the audience of children to ‘Come, follow me here’ while a singer in the background sings ‘How sweet is the fragrance of the martyrs!…’ (from 11 November 2000).

? Songs addressed by children to their parents express support and encouragement. One such song is at a martyr’s funeral, at which a male voice to martial music sings ‘I am the martyr, mother…. And if I do not return, Don’t cry for me, my mother…. My name I have inscribed with my blood’ (recorded 16 May 2001).

? A young boy is seen setting off for a martyr operation, his farewell letter already written to his mother, ‘Do not be sad my dear…. For my country martyrdom!… My beloved, my mother, my most dear, Be joyous over my blood and do not cry for me….’ (recorded 7 May 2001).”

MG: Does Hamas use the same incitement techniques as the Palestinian Authority?

DB: Since the Hamas takeover of Gaza in 2007, we see new casts of characters and techniques for young children along with emphasis on Qur’anic learning as preparation for ‘taking over the world.’ Farfur, a relatively recent Hamas icon, is a burly Disney Mickey Mouse replica that for a time was the star of a show until ultimately unseated by Disney Company’s objections because of plagiarizing and breach of its copyright.

The mouse Farfur is the ‘instructor,’ preaching to young children, admonishing them that learning the Qur’an, sacrifice, and martyrdom are sanctified and demanded by Allah and necessary for their ultimate redemption. In this he is aided by various young-girl assistant ‘instructors.’

For example, Farfur with his raspy, high-pitched, demanding voice, frequently screaming and gesticulating, is assisted by Sara’a, a pretty young girl who seems to be around the age of twelve. She is gentle, appealing, and dressed in pink with a double headscarf. Sara’a is calm and speaks with beautiful diction.

MG: Can you give us a few quotations?

DB: The following is taken from their script:

Farfur: We are setting with you the cornerstone for world leadership under Islamic leadership. Isn’t it so Sara’a?

Sara’a: Yes, our beloved children.

Farfur: You must…go to the mosque for all [five] daily prayers…until we can lead the world.

Sara’a: ...The nucleus, with the will of Allah, will be from here, from Palestine….

Farfur: …what do you mean? From Gaza, Jerusalem, Ramallah, or from all of Palestine?

Sara’a: ...Yes, from all of Palestine [this includes Israel]....[xix]

Further talk follows about Allah’s will, past glory, restoring this glory, conquering the Al-Aqsa Mosque, liberating Iraq, and all Muslim countries having been invaded by murderers.

MG: Weren’t there more direct examples of inciting children to become terrorists?

DB: In 2007 a Hamas video was spread that promotes child terrorism.[xx] It shows children participating in military training with a song of tribute and inspiration dedicated to Palestinian icons:

...These are the acts of the Martyrdom-Seekers,

Palestine—one of its leaders is Ahmad Yassin

Its children carry the knife.

Palestine—among its leaders is Ayyash [renowned Hamas bomb-

maker known as ‘the engineer’]

Its children carry machine-guns.…

Even though they killed our Yassin

The land will grow a thousand Ahmad!...

I should explain that Sheikh Ahmed Yassin was the cofounder of Hamas, at first known as the Palestinian wing of the Muslim Brotherhood.

In another broadcast of Al-Aqsa TV in 2007,[xxi] the hostess explains to Farfur: ‘Because we want to lead the whole world, so [therefore] we want to memorize the [entire] Qur’an.’ Then, children recite songs while Farfur, dressed like a symphony-orchestra conductor complete with bowtie, conducts from an imaginary podium.

The girl Harwa:

‘We liberated Gaza by force [This is a misrepresentation as the Israelis departed independently]

...We who do not know fear,

We are the predators of the forest.’

The boy Muhammad:

‘Oh, Jerusalem, we are coming....

Oh Jerusalem, we will never surrender to the enemy.…

We will destroy the chair of the despots, so they will taste the flame of death,

We will lead a war.’

I want to underline that with such indoctrination the character of the Hamas warrior and the martyr is built.

MG: How does Hamas select suicide bombers? Do we know anything about this?

DB: We know how part of the selection system has worked. Hamas and Islamic Jihad hear from clerics in mosques about youngsters who seem particularly ready for martyrdom. These are then given a lengthy course of spiritual studies and military-type training. They are also taught that dying as a suicide bomber will open the doors to Paradise for themselves and their families.[xxii]

More recently, youths, well indoctrinated by schools and social media, volunteer directly to terrorist groups whom they learn about from associates; they then receive only a few days of intensive training for a specific suicide bombing mission, for which they are then ready to depart. This is well depicted in the Palestinian film Paradise Now.[xxiii] It is noteworthy that the suicide-bombing phenomenon tapered off considerably after March 2002, due both to the markedly more efficient prevention by IDF targeted killings and preemptive actions, and to the construction of the security fence in strategic locations. The policy of the Palestinian Authority was unchanged but became less and less successful.

MG: Can you give us examples of the training material used?

DB: Particularly relevant now are murderous film clips from 2007 seen on Hamas TV throughout the period of the current Hamas government. On the web one can see a graphic video of Hamas TV clips that train for further abductions of Israeli soldiers.[xxiv]

The scenario commences with an Israeli tank that has been attacked, explodes, and bursts into flames. From the background emerges, running, a black-clad Hamas fighter, who scoops an IDF soldier from the ground nearby, slings him over his shoulder, and bolts away to be joined by other Hamas members who all flee together. As seen in the video the entire episode is over in the twinkling of an eye. Four photographs that summarize this incident are featured by Al-Aqsa TV.[xxv]

A striking YouTube video, ‘Hamas in Training’ also features a kidnapping of an individual from behind while he is seated at a desk. The assailant slings him over the shoulder, runs with comrades to a waiting vehicle, and makes off for the escape.[xxvi]

The video reviews all phases of military training with marching, jogging with full equipment in formation, wrestling, martial arts components, scaling, rappelling, shooting practice, camouflage techniques by group- formation movement carrying large treelike branches, battleground scenes, and so on, all accompanied by 4:4 tempo military music, monotonous but with a striking beat and rhythmic drumming, and singing and chanting of dirgelike repetitious refrains, which in toto create an almost ‘hypnotic’ sensation. Such videos are designed for ‘education,’ training, and indoctrination.

MG: To what extent do Palestinian textbooks play a role in hate promotion?

DB: Palestinian textbooks have an even longer pedigree than the TV campaign, going back to the 1947-1948 War of Independence when the Jordanian victors in the West Bank and the Egyptian victors in Gaza, instituted textbooks encouraging hatred and destruction of the nascent Jewish state. This, the then leitmotif of the Arab nations, festering from the influence of the Muslim Brotherhood established in 1923—and from the unthinkable Arab defeat by a minuscule Israeli state of six hundred thousand people—remained in the textbooks of what is now known as the Palestinian population.

In 1967, in a war of self-defense, Israel conquered the Jordanian and Egyptian enclaves of what are now the disputed territories of the West Bank and Gaza. The Palestinian textbooks were then overhauled by the Israeli administration and the ‘hate’ material was expurgated. However, ‘underground’ pamphlets were distributed to teachers who verbally taught the same material as in the original versions.[xxvii]

With the Oslo agreements, the circle was complete. Arafat restored the prior texts of the Jordanian and Egyptian occupation periods[xxviii] replete with hatred/liberation motifs and extremist Qur’anic injunctions to kill Jews.

MG: What was the essence of the Islamist influences on the Palestinian Authority textbooks?

DB: Arafat, who had headed the nationalist Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO), introduced increasingly Islamist proclamations and ideology. This was apparently an opportunistic hybridization with jihad/martyrdom themes that favored successful recruitment capabilities.[xxix]

Before the year 2000, the content of the books involving Israel and the Jews conformed to the above descriptions. Illustrations can be found in reports of the Center for Monitoring the Impact of Peace (CMIP) on the textbooks of the Palestinian Ministry of Education.[xxx]

MG: Can you give an example?

DB: The following telling example from National Education for Sixth Grade appeared both before and after 2000; it presupposes both total absence of Jewish Israelis and successful implementation of the Palestinian right of return:

The Inhabitants of Palestine, 1999

a). West Bank 1,973,000

b). Gaza 1,113,000

c). Palestinians of the Interior

(i.e. ‘Palestinians in Israel,’ or ‘Israeli Arabs’) 1,094,000

d). Palestinians of the Diaspora (Jordan, Syria, etc.) 4,419,000

TOTAL ‘Inhabitants of Palestine’ = 8,598,000

A CMIP report to the Knesset Education Committee, June 2000, led to a ‘unanimous resolution condemning the hatred in Arab schoolbooks.’ [xxxi]

Only after 2000, thanks to complaints to the European Union from nongovernmental sources, was the Palestinian Authority prevailed upon to rewrite the textbooks.[xxxii] This was done in staggered fashion by annual replacement of the books used by each of two grades, for the successive five years. Improvement over the next few years was modest at best.[xxxiii]

MG: How does the Palestinian indoctrination of children fit in with Islamism elsewhere?

DB:
Indeed, the Palestinian policy of incitement has to be seen in the framework of the genocidal intentions existing in parts of the Muslim world. Genocide is defined within the Convention for the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide, established by the UN General Assembly in 1948. The final definition as of 1995 incorporates the factors of: a criminal act, and the intention of the destruction of an ethnic, national, or religious group, targeted as such.[xxxiv] Such genocidal issues are clearly articulated by numerous Islamist sources within a pamphlet of the David Horowitz Freedom Center, The Islamic Mein Kampf..[xxxv]

A few such hallmark examples are:

  • Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, president of Iran, stated: ‘As the Imam [Ayatollah Khomeini] said, Israel must be wiped off the map.’ Ahmedinejad also stated: ‘...the annihilation of the Zionist regime will come.’ (9)
  • Hassan Nasrallah, leader of Hizballah, stated: ‘If they [the Jews] all gather in Israel, it will save us the trouble of going after them.’ (13)
  • Sheikh Muhammad Sayyed Tantawi, top Egyptian cleric of Al-Azhar University, emphasized [MEMRI report of 2002] that every martyrdom operation against any Israeli, including children, women, and teenagers, is a legitimate act according to [Islamic] religious law, and an Islamic commandment, until the people of Palestine regain their land and cause the cruel Israeli aggression to retreat....’ (15)

· In a 1992 statement, Hizballah vowed that: ‘It is an open war until the elimination of Israel and until the death of the last Jew.’(16)

· From the Hizballah Founding Statement: ‘We see in Israel the vanguard of the United States…. It [Israel] is the hated enemy that must be fought…. Our struggle will only end when this entity is obliterated. We recognize no treaty…no ceasefire…no peace agreements…we regard all negotiators as enemies.’ (17)

· Excerpt from Palestinian Authority sermon: ‘...as the prophet Muhammad said, “The resurrection of the dead will not arrive until you will fight the Jews and kill them....”’ (21)

MG: To what extent have these policies led to the killing of Palestinian children?

DB: As far back as 1982 in Lebanon, Fatah, the Palestinian National Liberation Movement (and main faction of the PLO), under the leadership of Yasser Arafat drafted children from age twelve into active service.[xxxvi] Children from the age of seven participated in the First Intifada, which started at the end of 1987.[xxxvii]

The policies of the Palestinian Authority since 1993 have led to high percentages of children killed in various insurgency actions. A report by Human Rights Watch states that despite disavowals by Hamas, Islamic Jihad, Fatah, and the Al-Aqsa Brigades, the participation of ‘children-persons’ under the age of eighteen continued.[xxxviii] The use of the term children-persons relates to the confusion of legal definitions of age, and actual practice of youths around that age.

Dr. Shafiq Massalha, a Palestinian psychologist who studied Palestinian children aged six to eleven, reported that over 50 percent dream of becoming suicide bombers. He concluded that ‘in about 10 years, a very murderous generation will come of age...’ [xxxix]

MG: In view of what you have said so far is change at all possible?

DB: Even when violence between Palestinians and Israelis stops, Palestinian children’s state of mind will not change by itself. Once one has been taught that suicide attacks will open the doors to Paradise for oneself and one’s family, much more is needed for detoxification. The problem is all the more acute if one grows up in an authoritarian society where there is little if any independent thinking.

MG: So what should be done to promote change?

DB: If one wants to induce change one has first to understand the long-term impact of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, and of the Palestinian indoctrination process on Palestinian children. As in other indoctrinated persons—for example, in cults—the ideology is likely to be extremely tenacious. Thereafter one will have to introduce specially devised programs to deindoctrinate their minds.

Palestinians prefer to attribute children’s traumas to actions of the IDF. An interesting comment from a Palestinian psychiatrist states that ‘[the children] were also rebelling against all forms of imposed authority, including that of family and teacher. And they were reacting to the sight of the humiliation of their fathers, who were helpless when abused or beaten by Israeli soldiers.’[xl]

Researchers have accepted that humiliation of children and of their significant others is important, as are deaths of relatives and friends. Some psychologists believed that for those Palestinian children participating in the First Intifada there was a therapeutic effect, improving their mental health and self-esteem. Later research indicated that there is no proof that those children who participate in violence fare better than those who do not. Barber presents a good review of this subject, indicating increased deviant behavior at the time of writing (1997), but unable to make predictions at that time regarding durability of negative effects.[xli]

MG: Your observations seem to indicate that a lengthy process of detoxification will be necessary. Can it at all be successful?

DB: Indeed, rectification of the martyrdom indoctrination will be lengthy and complex. From professional experience one learns that it is questionable whether it can be successful. Once such a belief system has been firmly implanted it is very tenacious. Studies elsewhere found that even after a number of years of deconditioning, regressive behavior can surface, depending on how well individuals are integrated within a new constructive framework.[xlii] Furthermore, if the present patriarchal culture persists, this will work against the deindoctrination process.[xliii]

MG: How should a deindoctrination program proceed?

DB: The Palestinian Authority bears the responsibility for the reeducation of Palestinian children. This would first of all require careful monitoring, termination of incitement, and subsequent deconditioning and reeducation to neutralize the long-term effects of the conditioning of Palestinian children, whose human rights have been abused by creating in them the wish for self-destruction.

UNICEF and UNESCO have developed treatment programs to aid children in various war zones. The Palestinian Authority has, however, never utilized them, although in 2002 a Save the Children program under the aegis of USAID West Bank/Gaza initiated a study on the psychosocial status of samples of West Bank and Gaza children with a support program to aid them.[xliv] This involved teachers, parents, classroom activities, training of local counselors, guidance on activities for children at home, and simple behavioral interventions for stress management.

Parents were instructed to communicate with their children rather than ‘discipline’ them, to treat them with respect and seek their opinions, and to permit children to have their friends home to play. Classroom-based activities included the opportunity to freely express their feelings, for teachers to refrain from corporal punishment, and to provide stress-free respite zones where children could have periods of play with toys, in a safe place filled with positive images and constructive activities, with lessened emphasis on discipline.

Positive results were claimed including a higher comfort level for many children, and better communication within families and between teachers and children. The program was devised by U.S. professionals but implemented by local Palestinian personnel of varying skill and aptitude levels, with local autonomy for them to interpret the program as they best saw fit. The local staff were responsible for the periodic assessments.

Nowhere—in fifty-four pages of a ‘Mid-Term Assessment’[xlv]—was there any mention of dealing with or confronting children’s indoctrinated ideological beliefs about violence or martyrdom. Clearly this was not part of the U.S. protocol, nor was it practicable to attempt to make it so.

MG: What should people in the West conclude from all this?

DB: Westerners certainly can learn much from these accounts about the vast difference between ‘normal’ practice in Palestinian childrearing and what is considered acceptable in Western societies. The question becomes, how can the invidious Palestinian indoctrination be overcome, and by what kind of programs, in an entrenched authoritarian sociocultural milieu that to all intents and purposes appears to be unbending?

MG: After the Second World War detoxification worked in Germany and Japan. Can’t we learn something from these experiences?

DB: The argument that the German and Japanese post-World War II populations were amenable to change, discounts the effect produced by acute crisis in rendering people’s previously rigid characteristics more malleable. In addition, occupying Allied armies with definite programs elucidated over several prior years, firmly ensconced themselves and carried out these programs of de-Nazification, deimperialization, reeducation, and societal reconstruction, facilitated by substantial economic aid such as the Marshall Plan.

MG: So what can we realistically expect as far as de-indoctrination of Palestinian children is concerned?

DB: The best that we can hope for is a gradual attrition of Palestinian indomitable nationalism and Islamist hegemonic hopes. In the absence of external forces this might be a possibility, but at the present time, with a rising crescendo of expressed international Islamist expansionism both violent and nonviolent, the immediate outlook appears bleak.

Notes:

[i] Joel Fishman, “Ten Years since Oslo: The PLO’s ‘Peoples War,’” Jerusalem Viewpoints, 503, 1-15 September 2003. On Arafat, see also Ion Mihai Pacepa, Red Horizons (Washington, DC: Regnery Gateway, 1987), 14, 19, 23.

[ii] Learning theory involves “operant conditioning,” by which behaviors are strengthened or weakened according to whether they elicit positive or negative feedback from the environment. Thus, receiving praise will strengthen behaviors that elicit it. This is true both inside and outside the classroom. Social learning refers to learning vicariously from models if the models are seen to be rewarded. See Richard H. Price, Mitchell Glickstein, David L. Horton, and Ronald H. Bailey, Principles of Psychology (New York: Holt, Rinehart & Winston, 1982), 337-381.

[iii] Daphne Burdman, “Education, Indoctrination and Incitement: Palestinian Children on Their Way to Martyrdom,” Terrorism and Political Violence, Vol. 15, No. 1 (2003): 109-113, note 10 regarding elucidation of psychological factors determining successful indoctrination.

[iv] R. B. Zajonc, “Feeling and Thinking: Preferences Need No Inferences,” American Psychologist, Vol. 35, No. 2 (1980): 151-175.

[v] David DeSteno, Richard E.Petty, Derek D. Rucker, Duane T. Wegener, and Julia Braverman, “Discrete Emotions and Persuasion: The Role of Emotion-Induced Expectancies” Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, Vol. 86, No. 1 (2004): 43-56.

[vi] Adolf Hitler, Mein Kampf (English edition) (Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1971), 475.

[vii] American Writers and Artists, Inc. (AWAI), Accelerated Program for Six-Figure Copywriting (Del Ray, FL: AWAI, 2007).

[viii] Halim Isber Barakat, The Arab World (paperback) (Berkeley and Los Angeles: University of California Press, 1993), 116. Of significance is the entire chapter, titled “The Arab Family and the Challenge of Change,” 97-118.

[ix] On drumming and what is best described as spiritual awakening, see William Sargant, Battle for the Mind (London and Kent: Invicta Press, 1985), 92-100.

[x] See Burdman, note 3, “Education,” and therein notes 51, 52. See also Marc Galanter, Cults: Faith, Healing and Coercion (Oxford and New York: Oxford University Press, 1999), 60-82; Margaret Thaler Singer, excerpts from Cults in Our Midst (2003), www.ex-premie.org/singer/.

[xi] Marcelle Bartolo Abela, “The Neurophysiology of Hypnosis: Hypnosis as a State of Selective Attention and Disattention,” Poster 37 at Sixth Internet World Congress for Biomedical Sciences, 2000 (M. B. Abela, Experimental Hypnosis Research Clinic, 63 St. Mary St., Hamrun, HMR 06, Malta).

[xii] John H. Gruzelier, “Frontal Functions, Connectivity and Neural Efficiency Underpinning Hypnosis and Hypnotic Susceptibility,” Contemporary Hypnosis, Vol. 23, No. 1 (2006): 15-32.

[xiii] See Burdman, note 3, “Education.”.

[xiv] Response to visual elements of TV viewing depends on the biological “orienting response” described by Pavlov in 1927. See Robert Kubey and Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, Scientific American—Digital, February 2002; find as “Television Addiction Is No Mere Metaphor,” www.mediastudies.rutgers.edu. Moreover, TV violence in regular Western societies begets violence in children (even in the absence of any personal message, as in the Palestinian TV campaign). See “Violence on Television: What Do Children Learn? What Can Parents Do?” from the American Psychological Association, www.apa.org/pubinfo/violence.html.

[xv] See Sargant, note 9, Battle for the Mind; see also Walter J. Freeman, “A Neurobiological Role of Music in Social Bonding,” in The Origins of Music, eds. N. Wallis, B. Merkur, and S. Brown (Cambridge MA: MIT Press, 2000), 411-424. Note that regarding music and trance, other musicology and neurophysiology researchers from recognized universities are not cited here by name since results are at an early stage and not readily summarized.

[xvi] Freeman, “Neurobiological Role,” ibid., 411-424.

[xvii] Burdman, note 3, “Education,” 93-123.

[xviii] Ibid., see therein note 16 regarding authenticity of this translation as “suicide squad” as well as for the political rationale.

[xix] Palestinian Media Watch Bulletin, 6 May 2007, citing as source Al-Aqsa TV, 16 April 2007.

[xx] See Palestinian Media Watch, “TV Archives—Video Library: Children as Combatants in PA Ideology,” then find “Hamas video promotes terrorism among children—March 2, 2007” citing as source Al-Aqsa TV, 25 March 2007, www.pmw.org.il/tv%20part3.html.

[xxi] Palestinian Media Watch Bulletin, 6 May 2007, citing as source Al-Aqsa TV, 30 April 2007.

[xxii] Nasra Hassan, quoted in Daniel Pipes, “Arafat’s Suicide Factory,” New York Post, 9 December 2001.

[xxiii] This film was directed by Hany Abu-Assad, who interviewed families of suicide bombers and read official Israeli reports and interrogation transcripts of failed suicide bombers. The film was nominated for an Oscar and won more than ten other international film-festival awards. See also Nasra Hassan, Timesonline, 14 July 2005. She is one of a number of researchers who describe volunteer phenomena.

[xxiv] On Google look for: YouTube Hamas Video: Training to kidnap an Israeli soldier. It usually comes up as a Palestinian Media Watch representation; this is the clearest visually but is more difficult to locate if starting with www.pmw.org.il

[xxv] Viewing by Al Aqsa TV occurred on 16 June 2008. On some versions the four photographs are seen below the video screen; clicking reveals more data.

[xxvi] See www.youtube.com/watch?v=eosiuQ83FIO, then request Hamas in Training, 27 September 2007.

Note: these videos are found through various routes, but sometimes with difficulty.

[xxvii] Personal communication from Dr. Yohanan Manor, Center for Monitoring the Impact of Peace (CMIP).

[xxviii] Itamar Marcus and Barbara Crooke, “New Palestinian Textbooks Present a World without Israel,” in SPME, Scholars for Peace in the Middle East, February 2007, www.spme.net/cgi-bin/articles.cgi?ID=1955.

[xxix] Hillel Frisch, “Has the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict Become Islamic? Fatah, Islam, and the Al-Aqsa Martyrs’ Brigades,” Terrorism and Political Violence, Vol. 17, No. 3 (2005): 391-406.

[xxx] See Center for Monitoring the Impact of Peace (CMIP), renamed as IMPACT (Institute for Monitoring Peace and Cultural Tolerance), www.edume.org and info@edume.org.

[xxxi] At Google enter: Center for Monitoring the Impact of Peace Newsletter June 2000 Knesset Education Committee. Then from the menu that opens, choose this whole item: Center for Monitoring the Impact of Peace http://www.edume.org Newsletter June 2000—Knesset Education Committee. WARNING: This is difficult; do not be tempted to click on a website address.

[xxxii] CAMERA, Tamar Sternthal, 21 December 2001, “History, Criticisms and Rebuttals Regarding ‘No Incitement’ in Palestinian Textbooks,” see on Google as <CAMERA: IHT Op-Ed Claims “No Incitement in Palestinian textbooks.”>

[xxxiii] The topic of the post-2000 PA textbooks will appear in a separate interview with Dr. Arnon Groiss.

[xxxiv] Definitions have been debated and have evolved. For an excellent review, see the report based on Alain Destexhe, Rwanda and Genocide in the Twentieth Century (New York: New York University Press, 1995). For that report, see on Google “Frontline: The Crime of Genocide.” This emanates from PBS Online. For a further useful discussion, see R. J. Rummel, “Genocide,” www.hawaii.edu/powerkills/GENOCIDE.ENCY.HTM.

[xxxv] At Google enter: The Islamic Mein Kampf. Note that according to sources quoted in note 34, genocide is purported to be purely for the extinction of peoples belonging to ethnic, national, or religious groups, and not linked to political or military considerations. If so, there are those who would claim the Islamist statements quoted above are not genocidal but rather political-military. This, however, would involve splitting hairs.

I think the simplest is to let people look it up on Google as The Islamic Mein Kampf.

[xxxvi] Raphael Israeli, ed., PLO in Lebanon: Selected Documents (London: Weidenfeld & Nicolson, 1983).

[xxxvii] Daoud Kuttab, “A Profile of the Stonethrowers,” Journal of Palestine Studies, Vol. 17, No. 3 (1988): 14-23; Jonathan Kuttab, “The Children’s Revolt,” Journal of Palestine Studies, Vol. 17, No. 4 (1988): 26-35.

[xxxviii] Human Rights Watch Report, Part V, “Structures and Strategies of the Perpetrator Organizations”; therein see “Recruitment and Use of Children,” www.hrw.org/reports/2002/isrl-pa/ISRAELPA1002-05.htm

[xxxix] www.israelnationalnews.com; “Palestinian Children ‘Dream of Martyrdom,’ ” WorldNetDaily, 5 February 2003.

[xl] Eyad Elsarraj, “Palestinian Children and Violence,” Palestine-Israel Journal, Vol. 4, No. 1 (1997): 12-15.

[xli] Brian K. Barber, “Palestinian Children and Adolescents during and after the Intifada,” Palestine-Israel Journal, Vol. 4, No. 1 (1997): 23-33.

[xlii] Marc Galanter, Cults and New Religious Movements (Washington, DC: American Psychiatric Association, 1989). In the framework of coercive deconditioning, Galanter describes long-term effects to be particularly persistent if the indoctrination has been of more than one-year duration. Noncoercive deindoctrination (see Steven Hassan, Combating Cult Mind Control [Rochester, VT: Park Street Press, 1988]) of cult members is relatively more successful. However, these may have had relatively shorter periods of indoctrination.

[xliii]Hisham Sharabi, Neopatriarchy: A Theory of Distorted Change in Arab Society (New York, Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1988). Chapter 3 (26-37) illustrates Sharaby’s presentation of patriarchalism and neopatriarchalism. As a Marxist of prior decades he is open to critical evaluation of Islamic society. He scans the panorama of capitalist society, contrasting it with the tribal-patriarchal family structure of traditional Islam, and its more recent development.

[xliv] Cairo Arafat and Neil Boothby, “A Psychosocial Assessment of Palestinian Children, July 2003.” This sets out the rationale and protocol for the program. Google lists this title and links to it.

[xlv] For the description from which my text is derived, see “Mid-Term Assessment of the Community Psychosocial Support Program (CPSP) USAID/West Bank and Gaza,” pdf.usaid.gov/pdf_docs/PDABZ664.pdf.


Dr. Manfred Gerstenfeld is Chairman of the Board of Fellows of the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs. He is an international business strategist who has been a consultant to governments, international agencies, and boards of some of the world's largest corporations. Among the fourteen books he has published are Europe's Crumbling Myths: The Post-Holocaust Origins of Today's Anti-Semitism (JCPA, Yad Vashem, WJC, 2003), Academics against Israel and the Jews (JCPA, 2007), as well as the just published Behind the Humanitarian Mask: The Nordic Countries, Israel and the Jews (JCPA and Friends of Simon Wiesenthal Center for Holocaust Studies, 2008).


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