By Moshe Phillips and Benyomin Korn
One little girl lies in a hospital bed, more than half her body burned by a Palestinian firebomb. Another little girl appears on television, reciting poetry about her dream of destroying Israel. The lives of these two 11-year-olds reveal everything that anybody needs to know about the Arab-Israeli conflict.
On December 25, Ayala Shapira was a passenger in her father’s car, on her way back from a math enrichment lesson. As they approached their hometown of Ma’ale Shomron, a Palestinian terrorist hurled a firebomb at the car. Ayala and her father leapt from the car, badly burned, as the vehicle was consumed by flames.
Ayala’s injuries were so severe that the doctors had to put her in a medically induced coma. Seven days later she awoke. Now begins an excruciating, years-long process of surgeries and additional hospitalizations as Ayala fights to rebuild her life.
Before anything else, Ayala is a person, an individual with feelings and hopes and dreams just like anybody else. But now she also has become a symbol. What happened to her reminds us of the brutal nature of Palestinian terrorists. They want to kill every Jew, young or old, civilian or soldier, religious or secular. They have no mercy. That is what the Jewish people are up against.
On January 9, as Ayala was struggling to utter her first words since the attack, another little girl was in the news. She appeared on official Palestinian Authority TV on January 9. Her name was not mentioned, but from the televised images she appears to be about the same age as Ayala. She, too, is now a symbol.
The TV show is a children’s program called The Best Home. The little girl sang a song called “Oh Flying Bird.” The lyrics – courtesy of Palestinian Media Watch – describe sending a bird to various cities in “my country, Palestine.”
According to the Obama Administration, the European Union, and the Jewish left, the Palestinian Authority does not want to destroy all of Israel, but only wants a small state in the Judea-Samaria (West Bank) areas. And, indeed, a few of the cities in those areas mentioned in “Oh Flying Bird,” such as Jenin, Ramallah, and Tulkarm. But then the lyrics take an ominous turn. The little girl tells the bird to “turn to Safed, and then to Tiberias, and send regards to the sea of Acre and Haifa” – all within pre-1967 Israel.
She doesn’t stop there. The girl tells the bird “Don’t forget Nazareth, the Arab fortress / and tell Beit Shean about its people’s return / Drink the water of Jaffa’s port, don’t forget Ramle…” – all likewise within the pre-1967 areas, all included in what she calls “My beautiful country, Palestine.”
Palestinian children are not born with hatred of Israel. They do not begin life with a determination to destroy Israel. They too start out with innocent feelings and hopes and dreams. For them to get to the point of singing on television that Israel has no right to exist, and all of Israel is really “Palestine,” somebody has to teach them.
That is what the Palestinian Authority has done. It has raised an entire generation of Palestinian children to believe that Israel is evil incarnate, that all of Israel is “occupied Palestine,” and that those who kill Jews are “heroes” and “martyrs.” Every day, every week, every month, year after year, PA television and programs are filled with this hateful message. It fills the mass media and saturates the classrooms. The young men who were arrested for making and throwing the firebomb that maimed Ayala Shapira surely heard the same message as they were growing up.
That is why there is no peace. It has nothing to do with settlements or refugees or borders or whether there will ever be a Palestinian state. It has to do with the hearts and minds of young Palestinians. That eleven year-old girl on PA Television might truly believe that eleven year-old Ayala Shapira is a “Zionist occupier” who deserves to be burned to death. That is the core of the Arab-Israeli conflict.
The process of changing the hearts and minds of an entire generation will take a long time, just as it took a long time in Germany after World War II. But until it is complete, there will never be peace.
The authors are president and chairman, respectively, of the Religious Zionists of America, Philadelphia, and candidates on the Religious Zionist slate (www.VoteTorah.org) in the current U.S. World Zionist Congress elections.