From Terrorists to Role Models:
Introduction to the report. The entire report: From Terrorists to Role Models: The Palestinian Authority's Institutionalization of Incitement
The Palestinian Authority's Institutionalization of Incitement
The PA's policy of naming schools, streets, sporting events, summer camps and ceremonies after terrorists fundamentally undermines the chance for peace
by Itamar Marcus, Nan Jacques Zilberdik, Barbara Crook and PMW staff
Executive Summary The Palestinian Authority has named numerous locations and events after Palestinian terrorists responsible for killing Israeli civilians. In this special report, Palestinian Media Watch investigates the breadth of this phenomenon and to what extent it continues in 2010. Furthermore, PMW will assess whether this represents activities of a fringe group within society, or represents Palestinian Authority policy.
The Palestinian Authority's recent naming of a square in Ramallah (March 2010) after the terrorist Dalal Mughrabi, who led a terror attack that killed 37 civilians, was not an isolated incident. It is one example among many of how the PA has institutionalized incitement by systematically turning terrorists into role models. In this report, Palestinian Media Watch documents the ongoing Palestinian Authority policy of glorifying terrorists through the naming of places and events after them, especially after those responsible for the most murderous attacks. Dalal Mughrabi, whose bus hijacking killed more Israelis than any other Palestinian terror attack, has been immortalized through the naming of numerous places and events, including: Two elementary schools, a kindergarten, a computer center, summer camps, football tournaments, a community center, a sports team, a public square, a street, an election course, an adult education course, a university club, a dance troupe, a military unit, a dormitory in a youth center, a TV quiz team and a graduation ceremony. And Mughrabi is just one example among many. For this report, PMW has chosen 100 examples of places and events named after 46 different terrorists in order to show the scope of the phenomenon. 26 of the examples have been reported in the Palestinian media in 2010. Terror glorification is highly visible in Palestinian society. A Palestinian child can walk to school along a street named after the terrorist Abu Jihad, who planned a bus hijacking that killed 37, spend the day learning in a school named after Hamas founder Ahmad Yassin, in the afternoon play football in a tournament named after suicide terrorist Abd Al-Basset Odeh who killed 31, and end his day at a youth center named after terrorist Abu Iyad, responsible for killing the 11 Olympic athletes in Munich. A young woman can join a university women's club named Sisters of Dalal, after Dalal Mughrabi, attend a week at Al-Quds University honoring suicide bomb builder Yahya Ayyash, and participate in university rallies named after numerous terrorists. Honoring terrorists envelops and plays a significant part in defining the Palestinian world.
Two types of incitement: Direct calls to kill vs. honoring terrorists who killed
The PA practice of honoring terrorists is a very dangerous form of incitement, because it praises the killer and the act of killing after the actual murder has taken place. When an Imam on PA TV calls to kill Jews, the murder is at that point a possibility. No one has yet been killed. Honoring a suicide terrorist does not refer to a possibility, but glorifies an actual murder. When PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas funded a computer center named after Mughrabi, he was telling Palestinian society that killing Rebecca Hochman and her sons, 6-year-old Roi and 3-year-old Ilan, along with 34 other civilians in a bus hijacking, was not merely acceptable, but an act worthy of honor. When the PA Ministry of Education held a football tournament named after suicide terrorist Odeh who killed 31, it was saying that the act of murder is what turns Palestinians into heroes. The PA's message that terrorists are role models is as damaging to peace as it is disturbing. Honoring a murderer is incitement to murder. Palestinian Authority leaders honor terrorists The terror veneration that this report documents is not of a fringe group, but the policy of the PA, the Fatah party and the Palestinian leaders. PA Prime Minister Salam Fayyad sponsored a sports event named after Abu Jihad in May 2010, who orchestrated Dalal Mughrabi's bus hijacking and many other terror attacks. And Abbas, in addition to funding the computer center named after Dalal Mughrabi in 2009, also publicly supported the naming of the square in her name in 2010. Palestinian Authority defends policy of honoring terrorists In response to PMW's exposing the plans to name a square after Dalal Mughrabi, the PA defended this practice at the highest levels, acknowledging that this terror veneration is part of PA policy:
Mahmoud Abbas, PA Chairman, on naming square after Mughrabi: "Of course I did not go myself, but I do not deny [the naming]. Of course we want to name a square after her." [Al-Hayat Al-Jadida, Jan. 17, 2010]
Siham Barghouti, PA Minister of Culture, on naming square after Mughrabi: "Honoring them in this way [by naming public places after them] is the least we can give them, and this is our right." [Al-Ayyam, Jan. 11, 2010]
Mahmoud Al-Aloul, member of Fatah Central Committee, defending immortalizing terrorists: "It is important to continue commemorating the memory of the Shahids (Martyrs) and the Palestinian acts of heroism, and most importantly the anniversary of the Martyrdom of Dalal Mughrabi, heroine of the Coastal Road operation [attack that killed 37], which falls on March 11th… Al-Aloul said that Fatah has acted and continues to act to immortalize its Shahids (Martyrs) and heroes… He added: 'It is our right and our duty to take pride in all of the Shahids (Martyrs), and it is our duty to convey this message in the most direct manner to the generations to come.'" [Al-Hayat Al-Jadida, Feb. 25, 2010]
Speaking on behalf of Mahmoud Abbas, about street named after Abu Jihad: "In his speech on behalf of the President [Abbas], Tayeb Al-Rahim said: 'Today we are celebrating the inauguration of a street named after the leader Abu Jihad, Prince of the Shahids… He had the honor of introducing the idea of the armed Palestinian struggle… We say that the entire [Palestinian] nation has become Abu Jihad, and that our people are proud of him. His name has been given to hospitals and schools and centers and streets. Abu Jihad did not die; he lives on in our midst. Abu Jihad is the engineer of the revolution; the first bullet." [Emphasis added] [Al-Hayat Al-Jadida, April 21, 2010]
Defining a terrorist for this report
In this report, a terrorist is defined as a person who carried out, planned, organized or assisted in attacks that deliberately targeted civilians for the strategic goal of killing civilians and/or terrorizing a civilian population. It does not include as a terrorist act the attacking of military or terrorist targets for the purpose of eliminating a real or perceived threat, even though civilians may have been killed. The strategic purpose is critical in the definition of terror. Attacks intentionally directed at civilian targets are terror. Attacks targeting military targets are not terror, even if civilians were also killed. Furthermore, this report does not include individuals who participated in terror activities but later turned to political activity. The many places and events named after Yasser Arafat are not included, even though he planned numerous terror attacks whose sole purpose was the killing of civilians, because he later received the Nobel Peace Prize.
Non-Palestinians included in this report
It is not only Palestinians involved in violence who are honored in this way by the PA. Iraqi insurgent Ali Al-Naamani committed the first suicide bombing attack in Iraq, killing four American soldiers. The Palestinians named an area in Jenin after him. Likewise, Saddam Hussein has a Palestinian school and a road named after him. While these two do not fit the strict definition of terrorists, they have been included in the report because they are important for showing the range of people involved in violence who have been honored within the PA.
Methodology - general terrorist glorification not included in this report
This report is documenting only the naming of places and events in honor of terrorists that have been cited in the PA media. PMW has not investigated all the PA schools or all street names and therefore the full extent of the phenomenon is certainly greater. In addition this report does not include the PA practice of glorifying terrorists directly through events in their honor, such as, assemblies, rallies, or TV specials on anniversaries of terror attacks. For example, on the annual anniversary of Dalal Mughrabi's bus hijacking, PA TV has broadcast many special reports, interviews and programs about her and the attack. While all this greatly compounds the problem, it is beyond the scope of this report.
The explicit and unmitigated rejection of terror on moral grounds is a basic condition for a sincere and lasting peace. Whereas the PA leadership has publicly committed to fight violence, this message can only be seen as insincere by their own people, when numerous terrorists who murdered Israelis are repeatedly glorified by the PA leadership even in 2010. Indeed, there is no more fundamental statement of support for violence and terror than when the single act of intentionally targeting and killing Israeli civilians is enough to immortalize the name of the killer. If there is to be any chance for peace, the Palestinian leadership must convince their own people that terror is rejected -- not merely because it is damaging to Palestinian interests in 2010, but because it is immoral and wrong at all times. For peace to have a chance, terrorists must be ostracized as immoral outcasts, not immortalized as heroes and role models.