The Myth of Palestinian Incitement: Three Points to Remember

Media Briefs
February 03, 2014


“the action of provoking unlawful behavior or urging someone to behave unlawfully.”

1. Israeli Claims of Incitement Are a Diversionary Tactic; If They Were Genuine 
Then Israel Would Have Accepted to Resume the Tripatite Committee on Incitement

In January 2014, Israeli ambassadors of Rome, London, Madrid and Paris were summoned, as a result of Israel’s then latest announcement of 1400 new settlement units. Unable to justify settlement construction, which is a violation of international law, Israeli PM Netanyahu responded as follows:


“The European Union is acting hypocritically…When did the EU call the Palestinian ambassador to complain about incitement?”


The accusation of incitement is a form of propaganda, which Israeli officials use in order to divert attention from Israel’s illegal behavior and from the core issues of the negotiations process, as illustrated by the above example.

Established in 1998, the Tripartite Committee on Incitement, a Palestinian-Israeli-American initiative, is the agreed forum for the parties to raise and solve issues of incitement from all sides. Palestinian officials have repeatedly called upon Israel to resume this committee.

On January 20th 2014, the PLO issued its most recent statement calling on Mr. Netanyahu to resume the committee. “Despite our firm belief that these allegations of Palestinian incitement are nothing more than diversionary tactics, we hereby call upon the Government of Israel to accept our standing offer to resume the work of the Tripartite Committee on Incitement.”

2. Academic Studies Have Shown That Israeli Accusations of Incitement Are False, 
Misleading and/or Exaggerated.

In February 2013, a comprehensive report on textbooks in Israel and Palestine was published, entitled “Victims of Our Own Narratives? Portrayal of the ‘Other’ in Israeli and Palestinian School Books"1. Sponsored by the US State Department and independently examined at Yale University, the study looked at 94 Palestinian textbooks2 and 74 Israeli textbooks3 published between 2009 and 2011.The results of the study formally exposed the Israeli accusation of one-sided extensive Palestinian incitement asa myth.

Where incitement or misleading narratives were found, they were found on both sides. As a result the report recommended: “that the Israeli and Palestinian Ministries of Education each establish a committee of Ministry staff and community experts to review current and future books in light of the study findings and prepare a plan of action based upon the review. Additional steps will be necessary to facilitate similar processes regarding the books of the Israeli Ultra-Orthodox communities.”

The then Palestinian Prime Minister, Salam Fayyad, welcomed the study and instructed the Ministry of Education to follow up on its recommendations. The Palestinian Ministry of Education cooperated fully with the study citing its “firm conviction of the significance of the issue and the need to discuss it on objective and professional bases, rather than preconceived notions and stereotypes."4

Israel’s Ministry of Education boycotted the report. During the press conference at which the study was released, Professor Wexler, who led the independent examining team at Yale University, referred to the ministry’s statement as “false at every level”. He added that: "The Israeli government would rather hold on to a propaganda claim [it] know[s] to be false than to get change in Palestinian5.

3. If Incitement Is Really the Issue That Israel Wants to Discuss, 
Then Official Israeli Incitement Must Also Be Discussed.

Incitement in Education- a by Israeli Academics:

  • Israeli professor Nurit Peled has researched the subject of incitement in Israeli textbooks extensively. Peled describes what she found as racism that prepares young Israelis for their compulsory military service. For example, textbook which states that the Palestinian exodus in 1948 following the brutal massacre of Palestinians by Israeli militias at Deir Yassin “solved a terrifying demographic problem” for Israel. Israeli President Chaim Weizman called it a “miracle”.6
  • Example question and model answer for an Israeli high school civics exam, 11 June 2012 [English translation]

Sample Question:

“ The wives of rabbis published a letter calling on the daughters of Israel not to hang around Arabs. There are those who support this letter and those who think it is not appropriate. Express your opinion about the letter. In your answer, present two reasons and explain using concepts you learned in Civics."

Sample Response:

I support the letter of the rabbis’ wives.

  1. If the daughters of Israel hang around Arabs, they are liable to have relationships and marry them. This would harm the Jewish majority of the state.

  2. If the daughters of Israel hang around Arabs, they are liable to fall victims of violence for nationalistic reasons. This would harm their right to life and security."7

Examples of Provoking Unlawful Behavior:

By demanding that Palestinians leave Jerusalem:

  • On Friday 17th January 2014, news came out that Arieh King (Jerusalem Councilman and founder of the “Israel Land Fund”) has been distributing flyers to Palestinians in Jerusalem, urging them to leave. “...In the Torah it is also written that the land of Israel, this small land, belongs to the Jewish people alone and it is forbidden for others to live here in a permanent manner…Therefore we demand that you leave the land of Israel. We say this from a religious perspective, in order to ensure peace in the land of Israel.”

By encouraging illegal settlement in the occupied State of Palestine:

  • “No Jewish town [settlement] will be uprooted. We’ll continue building in our homeland” [and] “There are no two-states west of the Jordan River and there will be no two-states” Israeli Minister of Housing Uri Ariel, January 8, 2014.

  • “That we will never agree to give up Jerusalem, a united city under Israeli sovereignty, and only Israeli. We will not accept a terrorist Palestinian state, we will not accept an agreement based on the 67 lines (…) We will not exchange territory as if we were doing cut-and-paste on some Word document on the computer.” Israeli Minister Naftali Bennett, January 7 2014.

  • “Israel will not evacuate Hebron or Bet El as part of any deal” PM Netanyahu referring to Israeli settlers in the heart of the occupied Palestinian districts of Hebron and Ramallah, January 6 2014.

  • “It is our duty to encourage continuous Jewish construction in Judea and Samaria [the occupied West Bank]” – Israeli Minister Naftali Bennett, December 11 2013.

  • Raids on Al-Aqsa mosque by settlers including Members of Knesset- see press release, March 2013.


The problem of incitement is an issue which is sadly not uncommon in situations of conflict. Where it genuinely exists, it remains the firm conviction of the State of Palestine that incitement should be an issue that is addressed seriously by both parties. It should not be used a tool for propaganda purposes or to divert attention away from other matters.

Several studies by Palestinian, Israeli and international experts have concluded that the issue of Palestinian incitement is vastly exaggerated, and that incitement exists just as firmly on the Israeli side. If Israel feels it has genuine concerns about incitement, then PM Netanyahu should not hesitate to accept the resumption of the Tripartite Committee on Incitement.

The greatest cause for concern for Palestine is that Israeli incitement, defined as the provocation of unlawful behavior, goes far beyond words in the case of Israel. This is a situation where one people is engaged in a belligerent and draconian occupation of another, which the Israeli government constantly attempts to justify to its own people and the rest of the world.

The Israeli government’s ongoing occupation, at the heart of which lies its illegal settlement enterprise from which it is constantly striving to divert attention, sets a clear example to its people. This includes, on a daily basis: forcibly evicting people from their homes and land; soldiers harassing and humiliating parents at checkpoints in front of their children; children being arrested and beaten by Israeli soldiers; 1.6 million people in Gaza living under a crushing military siege which, according to the UN, will make the place “unlivable” by 2020; and settlers attacking Palestinian families, their animals, trees, churches, mosques, houses and other property. An end to the occupation and the fulfillment of Palestinian rights is the only way to achieve peace and solve any issue of incitement on either side.

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