What Palestinian Student Elections Reveal: No Candidates Supporting Peace

The entrance to An-Najah University Nablus. Credit: Almonroth via Wikimedia Commons.

by Stephen Flatow

(JNS) — Want to know what tomorrow’s Palestinian Arab leaders believe? You don’t have to look far. Just check out the results of the latest student elections in Palestinian Authority universities.

While Palestinian adults don’t have many opportunities to vote — P.A. leader Mahmoud Abbas is now in the 18th year of his four-year term, and the last P.A. parliamentary election was in 2006 — Palestinian university students continue to periodically conduct their own campus elections.

The results can be enlightening — in a frightening way.

On May 17, students at An-Najah National University in Nablus (Shechem) chose their representatives. Note that An-Najah is not some minor institution. With 24,000 students, it is the largest university in the P.A.-governed territories.

Three parties won seats in the election. Each of them is affiliated with one of the major Palestinian terrorist groups. The Islamist bloc, affiliated with Hamas, won 40 seats. The Shabiba bloc, affiliated with Fatah, which carries out terrorism through its Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigade, won 38. The remaining three seats were won by a group representing the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine terrorists.

Hamas, Fatah and the PFLP have minor ideological and tactical differences. But they agree on the most important point: All of Israel is “occupied Palestine,” and murdering Israeli Jews is the way to “liberate” it.

Was the outcome of the An-Najah student elections some kind of fluke? Hardly. A week later, on May 24, elections were held by students at another major P.A. campus, Birzeit University in Ramallah.

Once again, three terrorist groups competed for votes. The Hamas list (known as the Islamic Wafa bloc) won 25 seats. The Fatah candidates (called the Yasser Arafat bloc) won 20. And the PFLP (running as the Progressive Democratic Students) won six.

Why is it that in P.A. university campus elections, there are no candidates who oppose violence and support peaceful coexistence with Israel? Why is it that support for terrorism and destroying Israel is so widespread on these campuses that pro-peace students don’t even bother running?

Nablus, where An-Najah is located, and Ramallah, where Birzeit is located, are under complete P.A. control. Palestinian Arab children raised in those cities grow up without seeing a single Israeli in their cities. There are no soldiers stationed there, no military governor, no “settlers” occupying their land.

They weren’t born hating Jews. And they didn’t become haters because they were occupied or persecuted. They grew up in an environment controlled by the P.A. And that environment was supposed to be shaped by the Oslo II agreement, signed by Israel and the P.A. in 1995, which states (Chapter 4, Article XXII, clause 1) that the P.A. is required to “abstain from incitement, including hostile propaganda” against Israel and Jews.

Yet for the past 28 years, the P.A. has done exactly the opposite of what it pledged to do. For 28 years, an entire generation of Arab children was raised in an environment that should have been free of incitement and antisemitism. According to the Oslo agreement, the P.A. was supposed to foster peace and nonviolence through its schools, news media and popular culture.

Instead, it has done the opposite. It names streets and parks after terrorists. It pays salaries to imprisoned terrorists and dead terrorists’ families. P.A. schools teach that Arab terrorists are heroes and Jews are hook-nosed racist monsters. P.A. official maps in government offices and schoolrooms alike show all of Israel as “Occupied Palestine.”

The result? Violent, antisemitic children who grow up to be violent, antisemitic teenagers and then go off to college, where they vote for violent, antisemitic parties in their student elections.

The news of the Palestinian student elections was not reported on CNN or in The New York Times. It was not the subject of any press releases from J Street or Americans for Peace Now. You would think that such media agencies and organizations would be very interested in the subject of opinion trends in Palestinian Arab society. After all, the students who are casting ballots on P.A. university campuses today are going to be tomorrow’s Palestinian Arab leaders.

But that’s the problem. Acknowledging that soon-to-be Palestinian Arab leaders are unanimous in their support for terrorist groups reminds the public how dangerous it would be to create a Palestinian state. It means admitting that “Palestine” would be a terrorist state and Israel — reduced to nine miles wide — would be put in mortal danger.

So, the critics of Israel and most of the major news media are hoping that Israelis and American Jews will not notice the results of the P.A. student elections. Because they don’t want the public to know that the P.A. has raised a generation of haters, and now those chickens are coming home to roost.

Stephen M. Flatow is president-elect of the Religious Zionists of America. He is the father of Alisa Flatow, who was murdered in an Iranian-sponsored Palestinian terrorist attack in 1995 and the author of A Father’s Story: My Fight for Justice Against Iranian Terror.