Itamar Marcus' Lens on Anti-Semitism
Itamar Marcus, an Israeli counter-terrorism analyst who studies Palestinian culture through its media and schoolbooks, makes the argument that Palestinian children are taught to have intolerance for Israel and to martyr themselves for Palestine. Marcus closely examines Palestinian textbooks, poetry, literature and news broadcasts for slights against Israel, and points to these slights as one of the primary reasons that no peace plan has been successful. His critics contend he is biased.
In 1996, Marcus founded Palestine Media Watch (PMW), which seeks "to gain an understanding of Palestinian society through the monitoring of the Palestinian Arabic language media and schoolbooks. Palestinian Media Watch analyzes Palestinian Authority culture and society from numerous perspectives, including studies on summer camps, poetry, schoolbooks, religious ideology, crossword puzzles, and more."
From 1998 to 2000, Marcus was the director of research for the Center for Monitoring the Impact of Peace (CMIP), where he wrote studies on Palestinian, Jordanian and Syrian textbooks. In response to CMIP research on Palestinian textbooks, George Washington University Professor Nathan Brown found that the CMIP "presents reports that are tendentious and misleading." Brown found that Palestinian and Arab schoolbooks were "far less incendiary than portrayed; most were perfectly innocuous." Read the Study on Palestinian Textbooks here.
PMW claims to offer "a self-portrait of Palestinian society" but chooses to focus entirely on the instances where schoolbooks and the media made anti-Semitic and anti-Israeli statements.
Critics of Marcus point out that he places all blame on Palestinians and the Arab world for failing to make peace with Israel, while never examining Israeli culture or textbooks to find anti-Palestinian or anti-Arab biases.
Marcus has tried to link the number of references to Allah or the Quran in the Hamas charter to the organization's use of violence, but he appears to have no formal education in Islam, Arabic or any background in Arab culture.
Both in "Obsession" and at a Middle East Forum lunch in his honor, Marcus has aligned himself with arguments that Palestinian resistance to Israeli occupation shares similarities to Nazi Germany's plans to exterminate the Jews. Marcus argues that both the Nazis and Palestinians shift the blame for their anti-Semitism to their religious texts and God. More about Itmar Marcus and the Middle East Forum lunch here.
Marcus chooses not to discuss the very different geopolitical contexts in which anti-Semitism has emerged in Germany and the Middle East, and the anti-Israeli sentiment to which Palestinian youths, who grew up under an Israeli occupation, might be drawn.
Marcus has, to this date, not made any public statement about where he stands on "mutual recognition" of statehood between Israel and Palestine. In his writing, he refers to Palestinian territories as "(the Israeli) disputed territories of Judea and Samaria."
Even when problematic textbooks are altered, Marcus does not find them satisfactory. Akiva Eldar, a journalist with Ha'aretz, criticizes Marcus' stubborn refusal to acknowledge that progress has been made in removing anti-Semitic material from Palestinian textbooks. "The open calls for Israel's destruction found in the previous books are no longer present … references defining Jews and Israelis as 'treacherous' or 'the evil enemy,' common in the previous books, are likewise not present,' (writes Marcus). But this, to Marcus, is not enough. He complains that the new books 'continue to teach non-recognition of Israel,' and that the maps portray greater Palestine, with no boundaries separating the territories and Israel (just like the official textbooks and maps used by most Israeli institutions)." http://cosmos.ucc.ie/cs1064/jabowen/IPSC/php/db.php?aid=6297
Marcus lives in the United States as well as in the Israeli settlement of Efrat. He is published on the PMW website and in David Horowitz's FrontPageMag.com.
Itamar Marcus was a member of the Israeli delegation to the Tri-lateral [American, Israeli and Palestinian] Committee to Monitor Incitement, established under the Wye Accords.