|A Fatah website published this tribute to another convicted murderer |
Mustafa Ghneimat as he gets gift from PA Minister of Prisoners' Affairs,
Issa Karake, yesterday [Image Source: Palwatch]
Understanding the choice of a people’s heroes can tell you a lot about those people and their values.Events this week remind us again of how far away we are from reaching any mutual understanding with the people on the other side of the fence.
Most of us remember ceremonies that took place in our youth, sometimes at school, often in the local town square or television studio, once or twice a year. Heroes - usually veteran soldiers in their declining years - were embraced and honored for acts of bravery and dedication. Some public figure would make a solemn, respectful dedication, the honorees would perhaps say a modest word or two, and for us in the audience or standing around in a circle, gentlemanly and humanitarian values would be called to mind and become a source of inspiration - or at least momentary good feelings about ourselves.
The Palestinian Arabs have their own culturally-distinctive way of doing the same thing. But any resemblance to the dignified events of our societies are... remote. But just as our ceremonies said something about the world we came from and sought to build, so do theirs.
The good people at Palwatch (who by the way do fine and indispensable work) published a report today that records a ceremony organized by Fatah, the terrorist group at the head of which Mahmoud Abbas, the Palestinian Authority president, stands. This happened in Hebron two days ago, and was broadcast live on official PA television. The keynote speaker is Abbas Zaki, a veteran Abbas apparatchik who serves on the Fatah Central Committee.
Three of Hebron's finest, men who had been sentenced to long prison terms for murdering Israeli civilians, and freshly released by Israel as part of an 'understanding' brokered by the United States, were the proud and not-so-modest honorees.
The Fatah man speaks:
"No one expected that Israel, which hands down life sentences and decided that they [the prisoners] would go from prison to the grave, [would release them]... We say to Israel: die in your rage. Go to your cemeteries and recite over your dead whatever you recite. Here they are [the men about whom Israel said they] 'have blood on their hands' [meaning murderers]. Here they are among their own people. Fighters! Knights! Free men!" [These unrepentant killers] have become medals of honor on the chest of this nation.It's a term worth remembering: three men, convicted of murdering ordinary unarmed civilians, uplifted by a morally-bankrupt leadership to serve as medals of honor on the chest of a nation. Some honor. Some nation.
The event is recorded in this Palwatch/YouTube clip of the live PA television coverage:
Note also the widely quoted statement by the PA's chief peace negotiator, Saeeb Erekat, who says they are "symbols of Palestine". They are, we think, though not in the way he means it.
Jonathan Tobin, writing in Commentary Magazine last week, captures articulately and sharply the yawning gulf separating our side from theirs. Discounting (though not dismissing) the role played by divergent political strategies, Tobin focuses on the reality, highlighted by the ceremony we just described, that
the two peoples in this conflict seem to be driven by values that are not merely at odds but which represent a gulf between civilizations.We expressed some similar sentiments here: "30-Oct-13: The bogus manufacture of heroes and legends"
The focus of Palestinian nationalism is not on building up their putative state, making it a better place to live, or even in creating a political process that would allow them to express their views freely. None of that was on display in Ramallah as a “president” serving the ninth year of the four-year term to which he was elected did his utmost to identify his political fortunes with people who had stabbed, shot, and blown up Jews in cold blood. Abbas did so because the political culture of the Palestinians still venerates the shedding of blood as the essential bona fides of any patriot. That is why terrorists are Palestinian heroes rather than shameful remnants of a violent past that is supposedly finished...
Among Israelis, there is a debate about the wisdom of West Bank settlements even though few dispute the right of their country to build in any part of their capital. But Israelis don’t treat that tiny minority of Jews who have committed acts of lawless violence against Arabs as heroes. They are punished, not cheered. Until the same is true of the Palestinians, peace is nowhere in sight. [A Cultural Gulf Between Israel and Palestine | Jonathan S. Tobin | Commentary Magazine | October 30, 2013]