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Myth and Fact

MYTH

"Most Palestinians do not support terror, but are helpless to stop the militants."

FACT

Public opinion polls taken by Palestinian researchers in the Palestinian Authority have consistently shown broad support for violence against Israelis. In December 2002, for example, 63 percent of Palestinians said they supported suicide attacks against Israeli civilians. More than 80 percent favored continuing the uprising, and a plurality (47 percent) said the goal was to liberate all of historic Palestine (Jerusalem Media & Communication Centre).

Despite the suffering caused by the failure of their leaders, and Israel's necessary response to the terrorist atrocities against its citizens, the general Palestinian public has not called for an end to the violence. No equivalent to Israel's Peace Now movement has emerged.

Still, on an individual basis, it is possible for Palestinians to say no to terror. When the suicide bombing recruiter phoned the wife of Hamas leader Abdel Aziz al-Rantisi to ask if her son was available for an operation, she turned him down (Israel Radio, August 1, 2002.

In other countries, including Israel (where they helped prompt a withdrawal from Lebanon), mothers have often helped stimulate positive change. When enough Palestinian mothers stand up to the terror recruiters, and to their political leaders, and say that they will no longer allow their children to be used as bombs and cannon fodder, the prospects for peace will improve. So long as they prefer their children to be martyrs rather than doctors, bombers rather than scholars, and murderers rather than lawyers, the violence will continue and young Palestinians will continue to die needlessly.