Israeli Arabs raise Palestinian flags at a Land Day rally, March 30.
(photo credit: REUTERS)
Air Force One had barely lifted off carrying US President Donald Trump to the next stop on his recent peace mission when the Palestinian town of Burka proudly declared it would ignore mounting requests to cease its incitement against Israel by naming a women’s center after a terrorist murderer.
The glorified murderer in question was Dalal Mughrabi, who was one of the killers in what was then the worst terrorist atrocity in Israeli history – the Fatah attackers killed 38 civilians (including 13 children) and a soldier, and wounded 71 others – in the horrific bus hijacking known as the Coastal Road Massacre of 1978.
Palestinian Media Watch reported that the village council of Burka would not budge from its decision to name its center after Mughrabi. Council head Sami Daghlas hailed Mughrabi as a hero, another “holy martyr of the resistance.”
He told reporters she was chosen by the villagers to commemorate a Palestinian hero “who sacrificed herself for her country, and therefore they have no intention to change its name regardless of the price.”
According to a May 15 report by Ma’an, which claims to be an “independent” Palestinian news agency, the center will focus on presenting the history of the “Martyr Dalal Mughrabi” to youth groups. Ma’an declared further that this constitutes “the beginning of enrichment activities regarding the history of the Palestinian struggle.”
Khaled Abu Asba and Mughrabi were the only two of the 13 attackers who survived the Coastal Road Massacre – which he helped to perpetrate when he was 18. He spent seven years in an Ashkelon prison before being released in a prisoner exchange. Abu Asba told Haaretz in 2009 that Mughrabi, the lone female among the terrorists, killed the only non-Israeli victim, American nature photographer Gail Rubin, at the outset of the massacre.
Made aware of this continuing incitement, despite Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas’s transparently false assurances to the contrary, Trump was livid. Channel 2 reported the president’s shouted accusation during their Bethlehem meeting, citing an unnamed American source.
“You tricked me in DC! You talked there about your commitment to peace, but the Israelis showed me your involvement in incitement,” Trump is said to have yelled at Abbas, who was shocked into an uncharacteristic silence for several minutes.
This incident was quickly followed by condemnations of Palestinian incitement from both the UN and Norway, the latter demanding the immediate removal of its name as donor of the Mughrabi “martyr’s” women’s center.
“The glorification of terrorism or the perpetrators of heinous terrorist acts is unacceptable under any circumstances,” read a statement by UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres. “The UN has repeatedly called for an end to incitement to violence and hatred, as they present one of the obstacles to peace.”
Norway’s government echoed his remarks. “The glorification of terrorist attacks is completely unacceptable, and I deplore this decision in the strongest possible terms. Norway will not allow itself to be associated with institutions that take the names of terrorists in this way. We will not accept the use of Norwegian aid funding for such purposes,” Foreign Minister Borge Brende said in a statement.
Abbas, for his part, had told Trump in their joint White House press conference that “we are raising our youth, our children, our grandchildren on a culture of peace.”
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu slammed Abbas for the lie, saying it was “unfortunately not true.” The PA, Netanyahu noted, “names their schools after mass murderers of Israelis and pays terrorists.”
A report last month by the NGO Monitoring Peace and Cultural Tolerance in School Education (IMPACT-se) found that the PA’s textbooks for first to fourth grades continue to demonize Israel and glorify “martyrdom.” Contrary to Abbas’s empty promises, the report cited an “alarming deterioration” in the content of such incitement since the previous study.
It is time that Abbas took the necessary steps to stop this incitement. Netanyahu correctly pointed out after the attack in Manchester last month that “if the attacker had been Palestinian and the victims had been Israeli children, the suicide bomber’s family would have received a stipend from the Palestinian Authority. That’s Palestinian law. That law must be changed.”
This should be easy for Abbas to fix. Now is the time.