Why glorify the murderers?
Vice President Joe Biden took umbrage last week when Israel announced during his visit that it had approved new housing construction in East Jerusalem. But another contentious incident that took place during Biden’s visit got far less scrutiny.
March 11 marked the 32nd anniversary of the deadliest terrorist attack in Israel’s history, and this year the Palestinian Authority decided to honor the 19-year-old leader of the attack, Dalal Mughrabi, by naming a square in a town outside Ramallah after her. The commemoration was scheduled for the anniversary.
The official ceremony was ultimately canceled to avoid antagonizing Biden during his visit, but the square was nevertheless named for Mughrabi, and several dozen Palestinian students from President Mahmoud Abbas’ Fatah movement gathered in her honor for an unofficial dedication.
So what was the deed that deserved this commemoration? On a Saturday in March 1978, the squad of Palestinian terrorists led by Mughrabi entered Israel by boat from Lebanon and made their way to the main road between Haifa and Tel Aviv. By day’s end, they had murdered 38 innocent men, women and children.
The first person Mughrabi and her gang of terrorists encountered was Gale Rubin, an American photojournalist taking photos of birds near the beach. They killed her and continued on their deadly path.
They then hijacked a bus full of happy families returning from a Saturday excursion. On their way to Tel Aviv, the terrorists shot at passing cars and killed more innocent people.
The terrorists tied all the men’s hands to the bus seats. When Israeli security forces stopped the bus, the terrorists ran out while throwing hand grenades into the bus, setting it on fire. The men inside were burned alive.
The three of us writing this article each have experience with Palestinian terrorists. Seven years ago this month, on March 5, 2003, our children were killed by a Palestinian suicide murderer who exploded the bomb he was carrying on a city bus in Haifa. Seventeen people, mostly children on their way home from school, were killed.
Our children were just beginning their lives when that bomb exploded. Tal Kehrmann was 18 years old. Yuval Mendelevich was 13 1/2 . Asaf Zur was almost 17 years old.
We don’t believe people who murder children should be held up as heroes. Though the official Ramallah ceremony was canceled, Mughrabi’s name will remain on that square. And she is already commemorated in Hebron, where a girls school is named after her.
What message is the Palestinian Authority trying to send to the Palestinian people, especially to the children growing up under its rule? These children are taught to hate Israelis and Jews and to disrespect their own lives.
When the mother of the suicide murderer who killed our children heard about the attack her son committed, she refused to wear customary black clothes because she thought his death should be celebrated rather than mourned. She wore everyday clothes and served her guests candies. How can a mother hate our children more than she loves her own?
How can terrorists use children as human shields in fire exchanges? Where are the parents, teachers, community leaders?
How does a society have a suicide-murderer waiting list of 500 young Palestinians wanting to kill themselves along with Israelis, as was the case during the worst days of the second intifada, when a terror attack occurred almost daily?
The answers lie in years of brainwashing, which starts at a very young age, through education and religious television channels, mosque prayers and lessons that make people believe that death is better than life; that killing innocent people, without distinction, will improve Palestinian life.
The answers are rooted in years of glorifying the murderers, putting their posters on streets, giving their families money and respect, and yes, in naming city squares after them.
Dalal Mughrabi came into Israel 32 years ago this month with one intention: to kill Israelis, randomly, as many as possible. In most countries, she would be condemned for eternity. In today’s Palestinian society, she is a heroine.
Israelis want a genuine peace with our neighbors. But as long as Palestinian society glorifies terrorists and murderers such as Mughrabi and the ones who killed our three children, we cannot believe that Palestinians are ready to live in peace with us.
Ron Kehrmann, a former Olympic swimmer, owns a print shop in Haifa. Yossi Mendelevich is a retired engineer in Tel Aviv. Yossi Zur is a software engineer in Haifa. All three work with projects to protect children from terrorism.