By Itamar Marcus and Barbara Crook, December 5, 2005.
The Palestinian Authority continues to speak about terror with two voices. In
English, it publicly condemns terrorists when attacks are committed, but its
pronouncements in Arabic turn terrorists into heroes and role models for PA
In PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas’s Arabic-language condemnation of Monday’s
deadly suicide attack in Netanya, his reason for this condemnation is
“President Abu Mazen stresses his sharp condemnation of this act of
terror… Today’s terror attack against civilians causes great damage to our
commitment to the peace process,” he said, adding that those responsible
would be arrested.
On the surface, that Abbas condemned the terrorist attack might be welcomed
by Western observers. But it must be noted that PA political leaders have
always been careful to specify that they’re not condemning terrorism because
it’s wrong, but rather because it hurts Palestinian interests. In this case,
Abbas’s denunciation of the attack refers to the damage it caused the PA, not
to the terror victims and their families.
But even beyond this particular pattern of cleverly-worded condemnations, the
policy within PA society continues to honor and glorify terrorists and turn them
into role models.
The case of the veneration of Fatah terrorist Al-Moayed Bihokmillah Al-Agha is
a good example. When the PA opened the Rafah Crossing (between Gaza and
Egypt) last week, many in the West saw it as a concrete step towards
Palestinian statehood. For the PA, however, it was another opportunity to turn
a murderer into a hero.
Al-Agha was killed when carrying out an attack at the Rafah crossing, in which
five Israelis were killed, in December 2004. The PA’s ruling party Fatah features
Al-Agha in a clip that glorifies violence and terror, and still shows the
murderous attacks on its Fatah Falcons website a year after the attack.
The American news network CNN’s coverage of the crossing’s reopening last
month showed footage of a giant sign erected over the site, which declares the
crossing’s name to be in honor of the Shahid (martyr) Al-Agha, and refers to his
murderous attack with the thrilling name, “Volcanoes of Rage.”
That the PA allowed such a sign to be erected at the site is a powerful message
to Palestinians, emphasizing once again that terrorists are heroes.