Mansdorf, Canadian J Psychiatry exchange

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Q. Rae-Grant, MD
Canadian Journal of Psychiatry
May 30, 2004

Dear Editor:

In “The prevalence of psychological morbidity in West Bank Palestinian Children”, [1] serious omissions presenting the data were present. Moreover, clearly biased and undocumented statements attributing causality on the basis of political, rather than scientific considerations were made.

Notwithstanding the rate of emotional and behavioral problems reported, the researchers failed to note that the Palestinian Authority, under whose sole responsibility the educational system has operated since 1994, has indoctrinated schoolchildren in violent, anti-peace messages encouraging acts of violence and terror.

At the time of and prior to this study, Palestinian children were routinely exposed to messages promoting “martyrdom”. Witness this description of one television program discussed by human rights lawyer Justus Weiner:

“Television broadcasts frequently include what in many Western countries would be deemed “hate speech.” On July 2, 1998, in derogation of its commitments to combat incitement under the interim peace agreements (discussed below), a Palestinian television children’s show called “The Children’s Club,” similar in its basic structure to “Sesame Street,” aired an episode in which young boys with raised arms chanted “We are ready with our guns; revolution until victory; revolution until victory.” On the same show, an 8-year-old boy announced to the audience (a group of children), “I come here to say that we will throw them to the quiet sea. Occupiers, your day is near, then we will settle our account. We will settle our claims with stones and bullets.” Also on the Children’s Club program, on February 8, 1998, a girl who could not have been more than ten years old declared that she wanted to “turn into a suicide warrior” in Jerusalem.”[2]

Other studies document premeditated, intentional indoctrination of children in Palestinian schools. Itamar Marcus, in an extensive discussion of this phenomenon, writes:

“Instead of seizing the opportunity to educate the future generations to live with Israel in peace, the PA has done everything in its power to teach hatred to young minds.”[3]

Along with unsubstantiated “anecdotal evidence” and “personal observation”, the authors can only cite a well-known anti-American and anti-Israel psycholinguist (Chomsky) to support the notion that the presence of and “encroachment” of Jewish settlements is responsible for the results. Stating that Palestinian children feared these communities, they fail to cite a single documented case where Jewish residents near these Bethlehem-area villages were involved in violence against children. This despite the experience of hundreds of Israelis being stoned by children from a Palestinian school on a frequently traveled road in the same area. The authors note a “significant military presence” and expansion of “infrastructure” but ignore the documented history of violence by these Palestinian children against Israelis, as noted in this UPI report:

“A high fence that once protected Israeli motorists from Arab stoning there is gone. The Israelis built a new road, farther to the west. Shops have opened alongside the old road. [4]

Mixing politics with science is a risky proposition, especially without solid evidence to support the conclusions reached. With the whole story, however, one can hopefully better understand the results presented.

Irwin J. Mansdorf PhD
Raanana ISRAEL
Jerusalem Project for Democracy in the Middle East
3 Nachshon Street
Raanana ISRAEL 43259
[email protected]

[1] Zakrison, TL, Shahen, A, Mortaja, M, Hamel, PA. The prevalence of psychological morbidity in west bank Palestinian children. Can J Psychiatry, 2004, 49: 60-63

[2] Weiner, JR. The use of Palestinian children in the Al-Aqsa Intifada. Jerusalem Viewpoints, 2000, vol 441


[4] Visitors get a feel of life in the West Bank. UPI, April 4, 2004.

Mansdorf, Canadian J Psychiatry exchange

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Irwin J. Mansdorf

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