What I said to the Fatah chief who lauded killers

The Jewish Chronicle - - WORLD NEWS - BY GER­SHON BASKIN

IN A very re­cent in­ter­view, a well­known po­lit­i­cal leader from Fatah praised the Pales­tinian youths who take their knives to the en­emy. He called them “he­roes” and “sha­heeds” [“mar­tyrs”].

I con­tacted him about this, chal­leng­ing him in a very di­rect and harsh text mes­sage.

He im­me­di­ately called me and said that I did not un­der­stand his mes­sage. He said he sup­ported the two-state so­lu­tion in the in­ter­view and that he was against vi­o­lence — he sup­ported a peace­ful up­ris­ing. He said that Pales- tinian lead­ers had to speak this way if they wanted to be seen as lead­ers.

That, in a nut­shell, is the Pales­tinian prob­lem and ex­plains why there is still no Pales­tinian state (in ad­di­tion to the Is­raeli stub­born­ness, fa­nati­cism and un­will­ing­ness to get to a so­lu­tion).

The politi­cian told me to lis­ten to the in­ter­view. I did, and this is what I wrote back to him: “I can­not un­der­stand how try­ing to kill a 70-year-old woman, or a 13-year-old boy, or a reli­gious cou­ple com­ing home from pray­ing, is hero­ism wor­thy of praise. In my mind, no vi­o­lence is wor­thy of praise, es­pe­cially against civil­ians. No, they are not he­roes and they are not sha­heeds. It is time to stop dy­ing for Pales­tine and in­stead to live for Pales­tine. Some­one who praises this is not a good leader of his peo­ple. I thought you were bet­ter than that.”

I add to ev­ery­one: those young peo­ple who have “died for Pales­tine” have died in vain. They did not help Pales­tine. They did not go to heaven and they are not mar­tyrs. They died as fools for noth­ing. They achieved noth­ing. They only added more suf­fer­ing to their fam­i­lies and to us all.

It is time for Pales­tinian lead­ers to un­der­stand that this cul­ture of death is the death of their own dreams and their own so­ci­ety. Ger­shon Baskin is the founder of the Is­rael-Pales­tine Cen­tre for Re­search and In­for­ma­tion

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