Palestinian incitement against the US has reached new heights. While the Palestinians have never been fans of the US, the past few weeks have revealed the extent to which they truly loathe Americans. The US, it is worth noting, funds the Palestinians to the tune of nearly $800 million every year -- $368 million every year to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA); and $400 million every year to the Palestinian Authority (PA), with $363 million from USAID and $36 million every year for security.
This is how the Palestinian incitement machine works: PA leaders and officials set the tone, while ordinary Palestinians take to the streets to express their hatred of the US.
Hardly a day passes in the West Bank and Gaza Strip without a photo or effigy of President Donald Trump and US flags being burned before local and foreign journalists and camera crews.
Such scenes have become commonplace since Trump's December announcement recognizing Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.
A Palestinian woman holds an assault rifle to the head of an effigy of US President Donald Trump in Gaza, December 9, 2017. (Image source: Ruptly video screenshot)
Until recently, such scenes of rage were reserved for Israeli leaders and the Israeli flag. The Palestinians, however, have now added the US to their list of enemies -- they do not like Trump's announcement on Jerusalem and see him as being "biased" in favor of Israel.
Most recently, US Vice President Mike Pence was placed on the Palestinian list of the condemned. Pence's visit to Israel and his speech before the Knesset turned him, too, into an enemy of the Palestinians.
How dare Pence voice his support for Trump's Jerusalem announcement and deliver a pro-Israel speech before the Israeli parliament? After eight years of being spoiled beyond their dreams by the Obama administration, this is nothing short of anathema to the Palestinian people.
Last weekend, the Palestinians' anti-American campaign reached a peak, when activists in a refugee camp near Bethlehem held a mock trial for Trump and Pence.
Initiated by the "Popular Resistance," a coalition of various Palestinian factions, Trump and Pence were "tried" before a Palestinian "peoples' court" in the Al-Aida refugee camp near Bethlehem.
The "court" found Trump and Pence "guilty" of endorsing a "racist" and "biased" policy, and they were sentenced to death by hanging. The court also ruled that the bodies of Trump and Pence would be burned after their "execution."
It is also worth noting that nothing here was hidden. The "trial" and "execution" were put on public display, and journalists and photographers were invited to document the "historic" event. The Palestinian activists burned US flags and carried placards that read: "Zionism = Nazism = Fascism" and "USA = ISIS = Terror."
Strikingly, this event took place inside a refugee camp that is run by the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA). More precisely, the execution took place outside a school run by UNRWA. Trump and Pence were "hanged" with the UNRWA flag flying atop the school in the background.
More interesting still is that members of Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas's ruling Fatah faction participated in the mock trial and "execution" of the US president and vice president.
Mohammed Al-Masri, Secretary-General of Fatah in Bethlehem, praised the activists for displaying their deep hatred for the US and its leaders. "This is a popular trial," Al-Masri explained. "The Palestinian people are entitled to bring to trial anyone who extorts them or denies their rights." He also accused the US administration of seeking to get rid of the current Palestinian Authority leadership.
Another senior Fatah official who attended the "trial" and "execution" was Mohammed Lutfi. He said that the mock trial was aimed at sending a message "to all the people of the world that they should support the Palestinians and defend the Palestinians' rights against the US administration's violation of all agreements [signed between Israel and the Palestinians]."
Never mind that it was PA President Mahmoud Abbas himself, now in the 13th year of his four-year term in office, whose calls for blood have been violating the Oslo Accords for years, or that just a few days earlier had said that the Oslo Accords, signed by his predecessor, PLO Chairman Yasser Arafat, were "dead."
Mohammed Al-Lahham, member of the Fatah "Revolutionary Council," a body dominated by Abbas loyalists, said the event was organized to express Palestinian outrage with the US administration's policies. He pointed out that in addition to Al-Aida, residents of two other UNRWA-run refugee camps, Dheisheh and El-Azza, also participated in the mock trial and "execution" of Trump and Pence.
Such an unprecedented display of hatred and encouragement of violence against American leaders could never have taken place without the approval of Abbas, who is also the chairman of Fatah, and the Palestinian Authority leadership in Ramallah. Once again, Palestinians are being taught by their "leaders" that, despite the hundreds of millions of dollars they receive annually from the US, they are meant to disgorge murderous venom at America. In fact, the mock trial and "execution" of Trump and Pence gives a green light to Palestinians physically to target Americans.
This incitement against the US should come as a surprise to no one. The activists -- who are burning photos and effigies of Trump and Pence and American flags -- listen with rapt attention to the anti-American rhetoric coming from Palestinian Authority leaders. Trump and Pence are vilified on a daily basis by Palestinian leaders and media outlets.
Palestinian leaders have managed to turn the US into an enemy in the eyes of the Palestinians. By stating that the US can no longer be trusted to play any role in a peace process between Israel and the Palestinians, Palestinian leaders have turned Trump and the entire US administration into "Zionists" and enemies of Arabs and Muslims.
Most importantly, this is not only a show of disrespect towards the US and its leaders: it is in fact a call for terrorism against American citizens. In the world of the Palestinians, any world leader who does not hate Israel or dares to challenge the Palestinian narrative is defined as the enemy. How will any of Trump's Middle East envoys ever be able to visit Ramallah or Bethlehem after this wave of incitement?
The US and other Western countries would do well to take the Palestinian campaign of threats and incitement extremely seriously -- and severely counter these threats. Submission to the intimidation will simply result in even more intimidation, more violence and more threats.
Things are going from bad to worse with respect to Palestinian intimidation. From the Palestinian Authority's point of view, if you do not support us, we will put you on trial and hang you. When will the world begin to grasp what kind of blackmail is going on here?
Bassam Tawil is a Muslim based in the Middle East.