Israel glorifies its own murderers
In their March 17 Times Op-Ed article, “Why glorify the murderers?” Ron Kehrmann, Yossi Mendelevich and Yossi Zur make a number of misleading statements and remove all historical context in their effort to demonize Palestinians as people who hate Israeli children more than they love their own.
To begin with, the Palestinian Authority did not “decide to honor” Dalal Mughrabi, as the authors claim; the decision was made by a lower-level municipal council. The Palestinian Authority, in fact, canceled the public ceremony that was planned. Moreover, the square in question has not been renamed after Mughrabi.
The personal pain Kehrmann, Mendelevich and Zur have suffered as parents who lost children in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict cannot be minimized or dismissed. But if Israelis are so concerned about the glorification of “terrorists,” they should start cleaning up their own backyard.
To cite just one example of many, in July 2006 a plaque was unveiled in Jerusalem’s King David Hotel honoring the men of the Irgun terrorist group who bombed the hotel in 1948, killing 92 people. In response, the British ambassador to Israel issued a statement declaring, “We do not think that it is right for an act of terrorism, which led to the loss of many lives, to be commemorated.” Among those attending the ceremony honoring the mass murderers was Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. One of the perpetrators of the crime was on hand to provide guided tours.
Irgun’s leader, Menachem Begin, would go on to be elected prime minister of Israel, as would his fellow pre-1948 Zionist terrorist leader Yitzhak Shamir. Both men were responsible for the murder of far more innocents than Mughrabi, both men were unrepentant, and both men are honored in myriad ways in Israel today.
Yet there is one major difference between these two cases: The plaque honoring the bombers of the King David Hotel remains in place, whereas the official ceremony to honor Mughrabi was canceled.
For more than 60 years, Palestinians have been dispossessed, imprisoned, tortured, assassinated, walled up in ghettos, bombed, shelled and laid siege to. This is the world that Palestinian children grow up in, one molded and controlled by Israel. Last year, more than 300 Palestinian children were killed during Israel’s three-week military onslaught against the Gaza Strip, according to Israeli human rights organization B’Tselem.
Israelis and their supporters often accuse Palestinians of teaching their sons and daughters to hate and kill, but nothing fuels Palestinian anger and resentment more than Israeli policies and actions that strip them of their freedom, dignity and humanity.
The Palestine Liberation Organization and its leadership have renounced the use of violence in our struggle for freedom and self-determination, but we do not forget those who gave their lives for our people, just as Israelis do not forget those who sacrificed themselves in the Zionist campaign for statehood.
Unfortunately, rather than scratching below the surface of stereotypes of Palestinians as violent savages to discover the underlying causes of their hostility toward Israel, the authors of the Op-Ed article regurgitate stale and offensive propaganda that aims to “prove” that “Palestinian society glorifies terrorists and murderers.”
Israelis who are truly concerned about the safety and future of their children should be working to change their government’s policies rather than perpetuating racist stereotypes, which does nothing to advance the cause of mutual understanding and peaceful coexistence in the long term.
Christopher Hazou is the communications officer for the Palestinian Liberation Organization’s mission to the United States.