Recently Hani Al-Hasan, a member of Fatah's Central Committee and one of the PLO's top five men, said in a rally in the West Bank: "If I do not set myself on fire and you do not set yourself on fire, who will light the path?"

This statement, which incites Palestinians to violence against Israel, typifies the Palestinian leadership's continuous, hateful discourse in contradiction to the peace process. It demonstrates what Stephen S. Rosenfeld described in his Jan. 23 op-ed column as a "stream of hate-breathing, hate-breeding, antisemitic anti-Israel propaganda flowing constantly, in Arabic, from Palestinian sources."

All observers of the Arab-Israeli conflict can agree on several assertions. First, statements reveal what is in the hearts and minds of the Palestinian political leadership. Second, hearts and minds count. Third, such statements shape popular Palestinian beliefs and views, and move people to action. Fourth, hateful Palestinian statements toward Israel do not advance peace.

What remains in disagreement is whether such Palestinian statements against Israel are widespread, systematic and representative of the Palestinian political agenda or are -- as was argued by Prof. Rashid Khalidi in discussion with Rosenfeld -- marginal, rare and unrepresentative. Khalidi attributed the alleged misinterpretation of Palestinian rhetoric to "people who do not themselves know Arabic" and who do not systematically follow the Arab/Palestinian media.

The Middle East Media and Research Institute (MEMRI) does precisely that: It monitors the daily Arabic-language Palestinian media, translates it into English and breaks the language barrier that leaves Middle East realities as reflected in the Arabic-language media inaccessible to most Western audiences.

Our research conclusively demonstrates that the PLO's leadership engages routinely in exhortation to violence, armed struggle and martyrdom. Only two weeks ago the secretary general of the presidency, Al Tayyib Abd Al-Rahim, said in a speech delivered on behalf of Yasser Arafat in Gaza: "our people will continue to be seekers of martyrdom and eternal self-sacrifice. . . . The martyrs are the torches which lit the way of our people, and they made their blood and sacrifice into the bridge into which we cross to the homeland."

The Palestinian Authority (PA) employs antisemitic language and images, frequently calling Jews Shylocks and referring to the "Protocols of the Elders of Zion," a notorious old antisemitic forgery. Such motifs are employed by no other than Hafez Al-Barghuthi, the editor in chief of the PA's paper, Al Hayat Al-Jadida. He wrote that the U.S. ambassador-designate to Israel, Edward Walker, "underwent extensive hearings in the Congress, that is, the Council of the Elders of Zion." A week later he also wrote: "Whoever comes in contact with the banks discovers that they act in Shylock's way. . . . We have had enough of the Shylock of the lands and settlements."

The PA's officials further engage in Holocaust denial. The Palestinian undersecretary of culture, for example, claimed that "trial of Garaudy {a French Holocaust-denier now facing legal prosecution in France} is an example of the spiritual terrorism employed by Jewish organizations in various European capitals."

Hasan Al-Kashef, director-general of the Palestinian Information Ministry, claims that "Zionist racism reaches its peak with the Talmudic offensive which tears the pages of the Koran and offends the master of prophets, Muhammad." A member of the Palestinian National Council, Abroad Sidqi Al-Dajani, called Israel "the Zionist-racist entity."

Palestinian leaders, even Arafat, have hastened in the four years since 1993 to explain away agreements with Israel to their own people as temporary in nature and, as such, legitimate, both by the PLO's strategies of stages that will lead to the liberation of Palestine in its entirety, and by the conduct of the Prophet Mohammad, who signed temporary agreements with his enemies.

Palestinian leaders insist on the "right of return" of millions of Palestinians into pre-1967 Israel, which would amount to Israel's destruction. A member of the Palestinian Legislative Council, Jamal Shati, said: "I view the Oslo agreement as a stage that was forced on us. . . . The Palestinian people accepted it as a stage toward the fulfillment of the Palestinian national plan which is expressed in the Right of Return, self-determination, and the establishment of a Palestinian state with Jerusalem as its capital."

Such assertions are by no means aberrations -- they represent the decisive majority of statements made by the mainstream Palestinian leadership. The radical minority groups, such as Hamas, are even more extreme.

This is not to say that there are no positive Palestinian statements in favor of peace and existence. But they are rare and almost always made by unknown figures. Such, for example, was the call last December of a Palestinian intellectual, Ghasan Zaqtan, to "stop denying Israel's existence." In view of the deafening majority of hateful statements, the very appearance of such positive expressions is in itself a desired and hopeful sign. Unfortunately, these signs remain few and far between. Yigal Carmon is president and Meyrav Wurmser executive director of the Middle East Media & Research Institute.