–Beware PLO Moral Hazard!

By Robert Fulford, with the permission of the author

In their struggle against Israel, the Palestinians have developed an enormous fan base in the countries of the West, particularly among university students.

The campuses are full of busy boycotters, divesters and sanction-seekers who believe they are serving what they hope Palestine will become, though so far these efforts have been more symbolic than effective. And there are multitudes of citizens, apparently, who stand behind every anti-Israel declaration the United Nations can cram onto its agenda.

Are these people naive? Do they know even a little about the reality they are supporting? Are the university students signing on to BDS because it’s the fashion or because they like the Palestinian recruiter and think you’ve got to belong to something?

Those questions occurred to me when I read that the PLO gave the name Brothers of Dalal to a camp for young people, run by the Palestinian Liberation Organization’s Supreme Council for Youth and Sports. It honours Dalal Mughrabi, a former nurse (1959-1978) who became a lieutenant in the Fatah faction of the PLO.

On March 11, 1978, Mughrabi directed the Coastal Road Massacre, in which 38 Israelis, including 13 children, were killed and 72 were wounded. Mughrabi and eight other Palestinian terrorists also died.

She led the team of 11 who landed on the coastal plain near Tel Aviv. They hoped to create demonstrations that would shut down peace talks between Israel and Egypt. They also hoped to attack the ministry of defence or to “reach the Knesset and demand the release of Palestinian prisoners.”

On the beach they encountered Gail Rubin, an American photographer taking nature pictures. They asked directions, and after she answered Mughrabi killed her. On the coastal road they hijacked a taxi, killing its occupants. They seized two buses and put all 71 passengers in one of them. Israeli soldiers stopped the bus and the two sides fired. The bus exploded. The Israelis says it exploded because Mughrabi blew it up with a grenade. The Palestinians say the explosion was caused by fire from an Israeli helicopter gunship.

The plan to upset the Israel-Egypt talks failed; a peace treaty was signed and remains in force today. Even so, Mughrabi became, among Palestinians, a heroine and martyr, memorialized in the names of a public square, a computer centre and a soccer tournament as well as a summer camp.

Mughrabi once more made headlines when Al-Bireh, a West Bank city, decided to put her name on a public square. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said that honouring her encourages terrorism. The U.S. secretary of state, Hillary Clinton, said it was a provocation that needlessly inflamed tensions and imperiled prospects for peace. In March, 2011, Al-Bireh held an official ceremony and installed a plaque depicting Mughrabi cradling a rifle against a map of Israel, the West Bank and Gaza.

There’s something especially ugly about celebrating Mughrabi’s achievement. She killed out of principle, but she killed at random. She willingly killed Israelis of every kind, and perhaps a few tourists who got in her way. She had no reason to think of them as human beings. It was killing for killing’s sake, intended to terrify other Israelis and make their existence unbearable.

By raising her to the level of national standard-bearer, Palestinian leaders applaud the killing of innocents, morally authorizing others to do the same.

This attitude has carried over to the Knife Intifada, which began in 2015. Social media has been blamed for encouraging young would-be terrorists to draw knives abruptly and stab Israelis. The Palestinian President, Mahmoud Abbas, has helped create an aura of acceptance around this practice. While speaking publicly against violence, he recently met Palestinians who carried out knife attacks and met with the family of a terrorist.

Many of those who admire the Palestinians from a distance must imagine them as likeable victims, people just campaigning for the rights they believe they deserve. But the true story is much more complicated

Last week he received in his Ramallah office the family of Muhammad Al-Jallad, who was shot to death while trying to carry out a stabbing. Abbas also met a 14-year-old, Osama Zaidat, who was wounded while attempting to stab civilians. In a widely circulated photograph, Abbas appears to be embracing Osama.

Abbas says that freeing the prisoners convicted by Israel is a major priority for him. At a conference in December he said, “We remember the martyrs, the wounded and the prisoners and their record. We salute our brave prisoners and respect them. We will not forget our fighting comrades.” So official Palestine stands firmly behind erratic, indiscriminate homicide.

In the 1990s Yasser Arafat, the founder of the Palestine Liberation Organization, began providing educational benefits for convicted terrorists to help them find work after their release from jail. Eventually rehabilitation expanded so that the Palestinian Agency paid the convicts generous regular salaries.

A recent article in The Jerusalem Post said, “Ironically, what started out two decades ago under the pretense of a PA program to rehabilitate Palestinians convicted of violence against Israelis has become an incentive program for committing acts of terrorism.”

Robert Fulford’s e-mail address is:

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