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Leaflets and Slogans Betray the Violent, Unmerciful Aims of the Palestinian Riots

February 19, 1988|EYTAN BENTSUR | Eytan Bentsur is the consul general of Israel in Los Angeles. and

Little attention, if any, is being given by the media to the indoctrination of the demonstrators in the West Bank and Gaza. What one sees or reads is invariably an end product. The perception is one of frustrated demonstrators vociferously demanding an end to the Israeli occupation and encountering a harsh response disproportionate to what is at stake.

Indeed, what is at stake? What motivates the riots? What are the slogans that the demonstrators are voicing? What is the content of the preaching in the mosques to the gathering crowd before they demonstrate, defying Israel's presence? In other words, what are the overall and underlying demands of the Palestinians behind the recent riots in the West Bank and Gaza?

Let me categorize and analyze the characteristics of the leaflets being distributed by the thousands to the demonstrators.

Three main groups are disseminating their literature: the Palestine Liberation Organization and other associated organizations, the Palestinian Communist Party, and the various strands of Islam in the West Bank and Gaza. Virtually identical in their leaflets is the predominance of armed and violent struggle. But the leaflets and brochures differ as to long-term objectives and the means of struggle against Israel.

The leaflets of the religious organizations are typified by their extreme fundamentalist attitude that negates the very existence of Israel on religious grounds and calls for a jihad--a holy war to be waged against the Jews. (There is no ambiguity about jihad, which calls for the imposition of Islam on the non-believers, be they Jews or Christians, by force.) The goal is a religious victory over the enemy--first the Jews and eventually the Christians.

PLO leader Yasser Arafat in his broadcasts also resurrects the notion of jihad and the ultimate doing away with the Jews and Israel. The leaflets provide the religious, ideological background to the suicide phenomenon in the war against the enemies of Islam. The PLO issued and distributed leaflets of a "pragmatic" nature, emphasizing the violent struggle against Israel as the sole means of achieving its goal--the liberation of the "whole of Palestine," or, namely, the dismantling of Israel. Those leaflets, though from a "political" organization, contain religious elements and ignore any reference to a political process.

The Communist leaflets have more of a seemingly ideological nature, viewing the mass riots against Israel as a means of achieving a political objective--the convening of an international conference having PLO participation and guided by the Soviet Union. Though these leaflets also incite, they are less violent than those of the other groups. But often there are combined leaflets of all the above-mentioned elements: Communists alongside the PLO and fundamentalists with the end result of a vicious call for a violent and unqualified struggle against Israel.

Those leaflets illustrate in a most sordid and cruel fashion what it is all about: The Palestinians instigated and incited an all-out war against Israel and the Jews.

Is it not imperative for the Israelis to repel this unmerciful assault on them in the spirit of what former Foreign Minister Abba Eban used to say: "National suicide is not an international obligation."

It is time to end this tragedy.

It is time that the Palestinians relinquish their venom and hatred toward Israel and resort no more to the notion of doing away with Israel. They should allow a responsible leadership to emerge, capable of moving away from the forces bent on perpetuation of the Palestinian problem, and engage in negotiation with Israel and Jordan for an equitable solution to benefit the Middle East and avert further bloodshed.

If the Palestinians are serious about seeking peace and accommodation with Israel for the betterment of their own lot, they have to respond in the affirmative to the call and act for the revival of the political process. The violent demonstrations should be converted into an energetic effort for peace. This is a call that should be echoed by all responsible media in the United States, indeed in the civilized world.

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