(photo credit: COURTESY OF FAMILY)
Last October 13, a few weeks into the current “knife intifada,” a 22-year-old Palestinian named Baha Alyan boarded a Jerusalem bus with an accomplice – Hamas terrorist Bilal Ghanem, who had served time in an Israeli prison – and went on a stabbing and shooting spree whose purpose was to kill Jews.
The two monsters were pretty successful in their endeavor that day, managing to wound more than a dozen passengers and slaughter three: Haim Haviv, 78, Alon Govberg, 51, and Richard Lakin, 76, who suffered multiple gunshot and stab wounds and died two weeks later. Alyan was killed by Israeli security forces; Ghanem was arrested.
While Lakin, an immigrant to Israel from the United States, was lying critically wounded in the Hadassah Medical Center in Jerusalem, United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon paid a visit to his bedside. It was the least Ban could do, while calling on “both sides” to ease tensions and exercise restraint – especially since Lakin had been a lifelong promoter of peace and social justice.
Upon Lakin’s death, Ban even stressed this fact in a condolence letter to his widow, which he ended by assuring her that the UN would “continue its efforts to promote a return to negotiations aimed at resolving this bitter conflict once and for all.”
Four months later, in February, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas invited 11 families of “martyrs” to his compound in Ramallah to honor them for having sons who were killed while committing terrorist attacks against Israelis. Alyan’s parents were among these distinguished guests.
Right around the same time, as was reported by the Middle East Media Research Institute, an event was held at Al-Quds University to commemorate Alyan’s “cultural legacy,” sponsored by the PA’s High Commission for Youth and Sports. At this event – called the “human chain of readers” – Alyan’s father declared: “Without education, the people would not have been able to confront the occupation. Baha [‘light’] is an idea, and the idea will never die. Today I have over 1,000 lights, students who are continuing in his footsteps. ...The occupation has turned the entire Palestinian people into seekers of martyrdom.”
This week, the PA ministries of culture and education organized a similar event in Alyan’s name, this one at a high school. According to Palestinian Media Watch, the event for 10th-graders was held at the Shariah School for Boys in Kalkilya, and an advertisement on Facebook bore the PA’s official logo and featured Alyan’s photo.
“Baha [Alyan] is the idea and the idea doesn’t die,” was the motto of the event, as pointed out by PMW.
Last month, Lakin’s son, Micah Avni – still mourning his father’s brutal murder at Alyan’s hands – addressed the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva.
Speaking on behalf of the Touro Institute on Human Rights and the Holocaust, Avni called the international body to task for its refusal to condemn Palestinian terrorism in general, and Abbas specifically for his part in it.
“My father, Richard Lakin, was a kind, gentle person,” Avni said. “An elementary school principal who educated thousands of children. A human rights activist dedicated to promoting coexistence.
He marched with Martin Luther King, Jr. He founded a school in Israel where Muslim, Christian and Jewish children studied together. He wrote a book called Teaching as an Act of Love. [But] last October, two Palestinian terrorists attacked a bus full of civilians in Jerusalem... [and] shot [him] in the head, and stabbed him multiple times after he fell, severing most of his vital organs.”
Avni expressed indignation that the UN never publicly denounced his father’s murderers “or the rampant Palestinian incitement that fuels this brutality.”
He said, “The UN office here has a Web page devoted to ‘UN Response to Acts of Terrorism,’ [which] contains a long list of terror attacks and UN condemnations. My dad isn’t on it. In fact, not a single Israeli victim of the latest wave of Palestinian terror is on it.”
Lakin’s devastated son concluded: “The passionate goal of my father and the people of Israel is peaceful coexistence. Your failure to condemn Palestinian violence and your continued rationalization of Palestinian terror is pushing peace away, making more death inevitable.”
Avni might have anticipated that his speech would fall on deaf ears. But he could not have guessed that a day after it was delivered, three Islamic State suicide bombers would blow themselves up in Brussels, making his words ring even truer.The writer is the web editor of The Algemeiner (algemeiner.com) and a columnist at Israel Hayom.