I am a daughter of Palestine….

Koran in my right hand, in my left — a knife.

A slightly older girl with her ponytail wrapped in a checkered kaffiyeh gives an emotional recitation of a poem for Palestinian leader Yasir Arafat:

I am finished practicing on the submachine gun of return….

We swear to take vengeful blood from our enemies for our killed and wounded. We will board a bustling boat which will take us to Jaffa.

The girl approaches Arafat, who plants congratulatory kisses on her cheeks.

These are excerpts from children’s programs broadcast on Palestinian television, a facility funded in part by American aid. They are the basis of what might be called Exhibits A and B in a case the Israeli government is mounting against the Palestinian Authority. It says the fledgling Palestinian radio and television network is being used as a powerful propaganda tool to incite hatred against Israel.

The excerpts are from broadcasts aired before three suicide bombers killed four Israelis in Jerusalem on Thursday, but they are considered all the more incendiary by Israelis in the aftermath of the latest Islamic terror attack. The images of violence and death on the broadcasts are especially galling to many Israelis because of repeated pledges by Arafat to crack down on terrorism. After a June 30 suicide bombing of a Jerusalem market killed 15 Israelis, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu threatened to jam the broadcasts. He didn’t carry out the threat, but he is expected to voice the complaint when Secretary of State Madeleine K. Albright visits this week.

The Palestinian Broadcasting Corp. is a creature of the 1993 peace accords, which afforded Palestinians the first trappings of self-rule. The “Voice of Palestine” radio broadcasts began in 1994, television the following year.

The network was nurtured with about $500,000 in equipment and training from the U.S. Agency for International Development and with more than $6 million in aid from the European Union, according to network chairman Raddwan Abu Ayyash. A spokesman for the United States Information Service in Jerusalem said he could find records for only $70,000 in U.S. aid spent on training and TV cameras, but he added that the United States provided other funding for the network.

The network is based in Ramallah, a sun-bleached West Bank city that has become the de facto seat of government for the Palestinian Authority. Abu Ayyash, a prominent journalist who was jailed by the Israelis in the 1980s, denies the broadcasts incite, but concedes they relay an increasingly angry mood among Palestinians.

“I can’t put love longs and dances on television when people are being killed,” Abu Ayyash said, referring to Palestinians killed while taking part in attacks on Israeli soldiers. “Journalists have to be part of society and reflect what is happening on the ground.”

To some extent the debate over Palestinian media mirrors the larger debate about Arafat himself: The conflict between his conciliatory statements, usually in English, to diplomats, and his often incendiary speeches in Arabic to his Palestinian political constituency.

Israeli officials protested last month when Arafat embraced a Hamas leader and delivered an anti-Israeli tirade to supporters in Gaza in which he declared, “all options are open” — a clear implication that armed struggle remained a possibility.

Palestinian TV broadcasts the usual mixture of sports, movies, cartoons, talk shows and news. Most of it is not nearly as violent as, say, the police dramas on American television, but the shows do reflect a society preoccupied with war and struggle. In a show about the opening of Palestinian schools, girls in frilly white dresses were shown dancing — incongruously — with Kalashnikov rifles that they twirled like batons. In another broadcast, a schoolboy, asked what he got out of summer camp, answered: “I am defending the homeland and undergo training like army drills.”

There is a children’s quiz show about great figures in Palestinian history — many of whom are considered heroes by Palestinians, but terrorists by Israelis.

One show featured Izz Al-Din Al-Qassam, a sheik who was killed by the British in 1935. The military wing of Hamas, the Islamic resistance movement, which has carried out many terrorist bombings in Israel, was named for Qassam.

The heroine of another episode was Delal Al-Magribi, a woman who commanded a bus hijacking near Haifa in 1978. Thirty-four Israelis and nine Palestinian commandos, Magribi among them, were killed. The quiz-show emcee referred to Magribi as “our sacred martyr.” Under the peace accords, the Palestinians were allowed to set up a police force, but not an army. But it is hard to tell the difference in some of the Palestinian footage — shot MTV-style with inspirational music accompanying shots of police marching in formation, drawing rifles and diving under burning barricades.

In one rapid and heavily edited sequence in a music video, an Israeli soldier is shown firing a gun. Then, a quick cut and a shot of a girl falling in a forest.

The television excerpts were taped and translated from Arabic by the Palestinian Media Review, a private, nonprofit organization run in part by former Israeli security specialists. English-language transcripts were shown to Abu Ayyash, who said they appeared to be accurate, but added that they represented only a few examples from hours and hours of programming.

David Bar-Illan, Netanyahu’s spokesman, says he is most distressed by the broadcasts designed to influence children. “The unfortunate thing is that it leaves very little hope for a better relationship between the two peoples… especially if children are being taught to hate Israelis,” he said.

Ghassan Khatib, an independent media analyst and head of the Jerusalem Media and Communication Center, says the Palestinian programming has grown more militant since Netanyahu came to power in 1996, coinciding with the souring relationship between the Israeli and Palestinian leadership.

“I think in the beginning, when the Palestinian Authority first took over in 1994, they were speaking in a very moderate voice, avoiding anything that was very hostile or critical of Israel,” Khatib said. “Later, it changed. The mood became hostile. I don’t think the Palestinian Broadcasting Corp. is to blame. I think they are reflecting the views of official Palestinians.”

One article in the peace accords says that Israel and the Palestinian leadership must “foster mutual understanding and tolerance and shall accordingly abstain from incitement, including hostile propaganda.” But exactly what constitutes incitement — and what is merely the free expression of opinion — is a matter of intense debate.

Itamar Marcus, codirector of the Palestinian Media Review, says the problem with Palestinian broadcasting lies not strictly in what is said, but in the mood created.

“It is a whole atmosphere of a nation preparing for war,” Marcus said.

Marcus is particularly critical of Palestinian TV’s habit of broadcasting maps of Palestine that include all of Israel — not just the West Bank and Gaza, the territories that Palestinians expect to make up a future Palestinian state.

“There is no sense here that they are willing to accept Israel as a neighbor,” Marcus said.

Voice of Palestine radio referred to Thursday’s suicide bombing as a “terrorist attack,” but in “occupied Jerusalem.”

Under an unusual structure, the Palestinian Broadcasting Corp. reports directly to Arafat, bypassing the Palestinian Ministry of Information. He is able to dictate its content while shaping a different message when addressing diplomats, Israel and the Western news media.

In September 1996, on the day before protests over a tunnel opening in Jerusalem’s Old City led to clashes in which 61 Palestinians and 15 Israelis died, Arafat told Palestinian police: “The believers shall fight for the cause of Allah. They shall kill and be killed…. Our blood is a small price to pay for the cause.”

Addressing a news conference as the clashes spread, he spoke of the need to “calm the situation down.”

Last month, during another widely broadcast speech delivered to the Palestinian legislative council during a visit by U.S. envoy Dennis Ross in which Arafat promised to crack down on terrorism, the Palestinian leader said: “We must confront them. We must confront them…. We must confront them in every sense of the word.”

Arafat carefully refrains from any references to “the Jews” or even to “the Israelis,” usually specifying that his anger is directed toward the Netanyahu government and often going out of his way to praise other Israelis. With some exceptions, the same applies to other senior Palestinian officials.

The Israeli government, however, has complained about the Mufti Ikrama Sabri, who in a recent Friday prayer broadcast by radio from Jerusalem’s Al-Aqsa mosque, called for “Allah to take revenge on behalf of his prophet against the colonialist settlers who are sons of monkeys and pigs.”

Abu Ayyash and other broadcast officials contend that if they had the resources to carefully scrutinize Israeli television, they would find an equal or greater number of inflammatory anti-Arab statements.

“People sometimes make extreme statements, especially on our live shows. I can’t put plaster over their mouths,” Abu Ayyash said. “At times, I’ve tried to soften the mood, but if this is the way people think, these are the kinds of things they say.

“What I won’t do, though, is become a branch of Radio-Television Israel. That is what Netanyahu would like us to do and that is an occupier’s mentality,” Abu Ayyash said. “This is Voice of Palestine. We have to reflect our own culture and our own history.”

Barbara Demick is a Inquirer Staff Writer