What Harriet Sherwood won’t report: PA kindergarten students sing “Martyrdom for kids”

The following story provides some much needed context in light of Harriet Sherwood’s characterization of Israel’s recent decision to require that kindergarten students sing Israel’s national anthem once a week as representing one of many measures indicating Israel’s extreme move to the right politically, as well as her more recent report about alleged anti-Arab racism in Israeli textbooks.

According to Itamar Marcus and Nan Jacques Zilberdik at Palestinian Media Watch (PMW), “A Palestinian kindergarten ceremony included a play performed by children named The Martyr’s Wedding alongside a play from the story of Little Red Riding Hood.” PMW also recently documented the frequent use by Palestinians of the term “wedding” to refer to the death and funeral of “Martyrs,” in keeping with the Islamic tradition that the Martyr for Allah marries 72 Dark-Eyed Virgins of Paradise“:

“‘The Birds of Paradise’ kindergarten held a nice graduation party… The ceremony included beautiful performances… one of the most outstanding was a play from the story of Little Red Riding Hood, and another performance named ‘The Martyr’s Wedding’, delighted the audience by the role-play of the children, whose acting depicted the reality of roadblocks, children, occupation soldiers, and the children’s death as Martyrs. This charm caused the audience to cry, as the children’s performance was accompanied by the playing of nationalistic songs.”  [Al-Hayat Al-Jadida, June 2, 2011]

According to Marcus and Zilberdik,  The Palestinian Authority received significant international criticism for this and most of the Shahada promotion for children was removed from TV. Occasionally, however, according to PMW, PA TV still broadcasts children singing songs about the importance of Martyrdom even for children.

And, recently, PA TV broadcast a girl dedicating a song to her terrorist uncle about aspiring to Shahada


Also, contradicting the claims of Sherwood’s source in Academic claims Israeli school textbooks contain bias (Guardian, Aug. 7th), that there is no incitement in Palestinian school textbooks, Marcus and Zilberdik note:

In keeping with the PA’s earlier promotion of Martyrdom death for children, PA schoolbooks continue to glorify Martyrdom:

Reading and Texts Part II, Grade 8:

“O heroes, Allah has promised you victory …
Do not talk yourselves into flight…
Your enemies seek life while you seek death.
They seek spoils to fill their empty stomachs while you seek a Garden [Paradise] as wide as are the heavens and the earth…
death is not bitter in the mouth of the believers. These drops of blood that gush from your bodies will be transformed tomorrow into blazing red meteors that will fall down upon the heads of your enemies.”[Published by the Palestinian Authority Ministry of Education, 2006]

No, it’s not only Sherwood who fails to scrutinize Palestinian society to the same degree that Israel is, but the capacity of Western journalists to willfully ignore such chilling incitement of Palestinian children while contextualizing the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict for their readers either represents phenomenal laziness or ideologically driven journalistic malfeasance.

When it comes to the Guardian, I’d place my bet on the latter.

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