By Itamar Marcus - 07/13/10 02:14 PM EDT
In an attempt to distract Congress’s attention from a new Palestinian Media Watch (PMW) report documenting the Palestinian Authority’s terrorist glorification, Hanan Ashrawi rushed to publish an article in The Hill to malign PMW. More striking still, although Ashrawi’s article was in response to PMW’s new report released in Congress, she did not allot even one sentence to name, review or even criticize the report’s content. Why is Ashrawi so anxious to keep the contents of the PMW report from Congressional review?
Possibly because the report, From Terrorists to Role Models: The Palestinian Authority's Institutionalization of Incitement, documents 100 examples of the Palestinian Authority policy of turning terrorist killers into heroes and role models – a practice as disturbing as it is indefensible.
The PMW report documents, for example, that the terrorist Dalal Mughrabi, who led a bus hijacking in which 37 civilians were murdered, has been immortalized through the repeated naming of sites and events after her, including two elementary schools, a kindergarten, a computer center, a summer camp, football tournaments, a public square and street, an adult education course, a university club, a dance troupe, a military unit, a dormitory in a youth center and more.
Significantly, this terror veneration is coming from the leadership of the Palestinian Authority. It was PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas himself who funded the computer center named after bus hijacker Mughrabi, and it was Prime Minister Salam Fayyad who sponsored a sporting event named after Abu Jihad, who planned and directed the bus hijacking. The message the PA leaders are disseminating could not be more problematic: We, the Palestinian President and Prime Minister, believe that murdering brothers 6-year-old Roi and 3-year-old Ilan Hochman and their mother Rebecca, along with 34 other civilians on a bus, was an act worthy of honor.
The PA’s message that terrorists are role models is as damaging to peace as it is odious.
It is not surprising, therefore, that Ashrawi wants to distract Washington from the report, by attempting to wrongfully link PMW to extremist violence through one if its supporters, the Central Fund of Israel. PMW receives grants from CFI, which funds more than 250 organizations and gives financial aid to a range of non-profits, including soup kitchens, Ethiopian immigrants, and educational programs. There is no connection between PMW and any of the other 250 recipient organizations.
In fact, far from supporting or being involved in extremist violence, PMW’s senior staff has vigorously promoted peace and coexistence. To name just a few of our peace-promoting activities, I wrote a report on Israeli schoolbooks for the Center for Monitoring the Impact of Peace that documented and criticized any negative content that was found. Associate Director Barbara Crook sponsored an Interfaith Dialogue weekend in Ottawa, featuring Kadi Muhammed Zibdi, kadi of Jerusalem, and was a sponsor of Peace Camp Canada, a program for Israeli and Palestinian youth.
There is still another reason for Ashrawi to try to keep the contents of PMW’s report quiet. The US government has already responded to these PMW findings by emphatically condemning PA terror glorification. State Department spokesman Philip Crowley: “We also strongly condemn the glorification of terrorists... We will continue to hold Palestinian leaders accountable for incitement.” [April 8, 2010] Hillary Clinton likewise condemned a group that “... glorifies violence and renames a square after a terrorist who murdered innocent Israelis.” [March 22, 2010]
Moreover, US law prohibits the use of American funds for terror glorification. As the United States today is funding the Palestinian Authority, American money is indirectly being used to glorify Palestinian terrorists. Congress will soon be questioning if funding the Palestinian Authority violates American law.
Finally, it is important to note Hanan Ashrawi’s famous statement on terror. At the height of the Palestinian terror campaign in 2002, after hundreds of Israeli civilians had been killed in suicide bombings, Ashrawi and others issued a public declaration. However, she didn’t condemn suicide terror or say killing civilians was wrong. She said killing Israeli civilians should be stopped “... because we do not see results from these actions… We believe that these operations do not advance the fulfillment of our endeavor, for freedom and independence…” [Al Quds, June 19, 2002].
She went on to refer to suicide bombings as “military actions [that] are defined positively or negatively not by their own criteria but rather according to the achievement of political goals...” So is it any wonder that today she attempts to evade PMW’s report exposing Palestinian Authority terror glorification?
Hanan Ashrawi owes it to the readers of The Hill to at least address the findings of the PMW report. Will she join the US administration and Congress and condemn terror glorification? Or will she defend Mahmoud Abbas and Salam Fayyad’s honoring of terrorists? We are waiting for her answer.
Itamar Marcus, founder and director of Palestinian Media Watch, released the Palestinian Media Watch report with Rep. Brad Sherman and Rep. Steve Rothman on May 6 2010.