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Palestinian Authority Punishes Youth Orchestra By: P. David Hornik
FrontPageMagazine.com | Thursday, April 02, 2009

Earlier this week a youth orchestra in the West Bank’s Jenin refugee camp—a “refugee camp,” by the way, that still exists thirteen years after the establishment of the Palestinian Authority—was disbanded. The 13-member orchestra ran afoul of the PA authorities because last week they played for a group of 30 elderly Holocaust survivors in the Israeli town of Holon.

Camp official Adnan Hindi called the Holocaust a “political issue” and accused “suspicious elements” behind the Holon concert of trying to “impact the national culture of the young generation and cast doubt about the heroism and resistance of the residents of the camp during the Israeli invasion in April 2002.” A camp spokesman, Ramzi Fayad, said all political factions in the camp strongly oppose normalization with Israel and that “there can be no normalization while Israel is continuing to perpetrate massacres against our people.”

Leaflets distributed in the Jenin area warned the residents against taking part in any similar future events. Wafa Younis, an Israeli Arab woman who was conductor of the orchestra and apparently helped organize the Holon event, has been barred from the Jenin camp and the apartment where she taught the orchestra has been boarded up. Activists of Fatah—the movement, headed by PA president Mahmoud Abbas, that has become synonymous with moderation and peace in Washington and other Western capitals—filed a complaint against Younis with the Palestinian police.

Those aware of the Holocaust’s role in PA media, culture, and education will not be surprised by any of this, and a handy summary is available here. For instance:

* PA TV has asserted that the Nazis did not specifically plan to kill Jews and that the term Holocaust refers to experiences of Palestinians and Gypsies.

* A PA crossword puzzle matches “Yad Vashem” (the Holocaust memorial museum in Jerusalem) with “the Jewish Center for eternalizing the Holocaust and the lies.”

* PA educational TV has taught that Dachau and Auschwitz were disinfection sites.

* The official PA daily Al-Hayat Al-Jadida wrote that “The Jews transformed what people think is the smoke of their burnt bodies into…a hen laying golden eggs.”

* The same daily published a list of “great Europeans” that included Kurt Waldheim, Jörg Haider, and prominent Holocaust deniers David Irving and Roger Garaudy.

Abbas himself, of course, in 1983 published his doctoral dissertation, The Other Side: The Secret Relationship between Nazism and the Zionist Movement, which maintains that “only a few hundred thousand Jews” were killed in the Holocaust and those mostly through collusion between the Nazis and the Zionists.

Not surprisingly, in such an ambience a poll last month found 54% of Palestinians supporting armed attacks against Israeli citizens within Israel.

Meanwhile, last week President Obama said it is “critical for us to advance a two-state solution,” and the European Union “once again sent strong warning messages to Prime Minister-designate Binyamin Netanyahu…, cautioning him that EU ties with Israel could take a turn for the worse if he rejects a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.”

In other words, Europe—in many of whose countries Holocaust denial is now a crime punishable by fines and jail sentences—is warning Israel of dire consequences if it fails to establish a Holocaust-denying state. This—after several years of George W. Bush, Condoleezza Rice, Ehud Olmert, and Tzipi Livni beaming at Abbas and his associates and lauding their commitment to peace—is where things now stand.

Holocaust denial is, of course, only one side of the coin; in a paradox that is common to the greater Arab and Muslim world of which it is part, both Holocaust denial and the Holocaust are popular in the PA. An Arabic translation of Mein Kampf was a bestseller there some years ago, and more recently a PA radio show featured Hitler as a hero.

Being challenged when it comes to human rights abuses that do not victimize—actually or allegedly—Muslim Arabs is indeed a general problem of the PA’s milieu. Author Savo Heleta notes that “the Middle Eastern media, such as Al Jazeera, covered the [recent Israel-Hamas] conflict [in Gaza] 24/7,” helping spark major demonstrations of rage against Israel and sympathy for the Gazans. Heleta asks, however, “why the Darfur conflict has never received similar attention” even though “over the past six years, about 200,000 have died [there] from fighting, starvation and disease [and] more than 2 million Darfurians…are living in refugee camps…. To this day, not one Arab or Muslim leader has publicly criticized Sudan’s actions in Darfur.”

A failure to criticize is only the half of it; at Monday’s opening of the Arab summit in Doha, Qatar, Sudanese president Omar al-Bashir was warmly received and “fellow Arab leaders rall[ied] behind him” when UN secretary-general Ban Ki-moon criticized him for expelling aid agencies from Darfur. Bashir had expelled the agencies after, earlier in March, the International Criminal Court at The Hague issued a warrant for his arrest on charges of crimes against humanity and war crimes.

On Saturday, however, Arab League secretary-general Amr Moussa said the League would “continue our efforts to halt the implementation of the warrant,” and at Doha, Syrian president Bashar Assad said the summit should take a “daring, clear and direct stance” against the ICC’s charges.

Also among those present at the summit was Abbas, who used the opportunity to slam Operation Cast Lead as a “criminal war” against “helpless civilians,” never mentioning the thousands of rockets fired by his ostensible rival Hamas, and to condemn Israel’s security fence as a “racist wall” while stating: “We must take a decisive stance of solidarity alongside fraternal Sudan and President Omar al-Bashir.”

Against this backdrop, the fate of the disbanded youth orchestra and its ostracized conductor—guilty of performing for 30 survivors of a very politically incorrect genocide—makes sense. If Israel cooperates in turning the PA into a sovereign state abutting its population centers, its fate will be much worse.

P. David Hornik is a freelance writer and translator living in Beersheva. He blogs at http://pdavidhornik.typepad.com/. He can be reached at pdavidh2001@yahoo.com.

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