Widlanski on Mao, Abbas, and the Eilat Terror Attack

The following is a guest post by Dr. Michael Widlanski, a specialist in Arab politics and communication who teaches at the Rothberg School of Hebrew University. He is a former reporter, correspondent and editor, respectively, at The New York Times, The Cox Newspapers-Atlanta Constitution, and The Jerusalem Post. He has also served as a special advisor to Israeli delegations to peace talks in 1991-1992 and as Strategic Affairs Advisor to the Ministry of Public Security, editing secret PLO Archives captured in Jerusalem.

Palestinians Unite Behind Terror Attack as Bomber Fulfills PLO Leader’s Wishes

By Michael Widlanski

Yesterday’s suicide terror attack that murdered three Israeli civilians was hailed rather than condemned by the Palestinian media controlled by PLO chief Mahmoud Abbas, and many Palestinians saw it as opportunity to unite against Israel while healing the wounds of the growing Palestinian civil war.

“Three Israelis were killed in an operation whose agent was heroically martyred [istash-hada] in the resort of Eilat,” reported the Fatah newspaper Al-Hayat Al-Jadida, which is controlled by PLO leader Abbas and his aides.

The paper showed picture of the bomber, labeling him as a “shahid,” a martyr. [See here, and here.]

eilat bomber

Palestinian terrorists from the Islamic Jihad organization made it clear that they were explicitly fulfilling the request of PLO leader Mahmoud Abbas that the Palestinians stop fighting each other and start aiming their weapons against Israel.

“Our rifles, all our rifles are being aimed at the enemy,” declared a masked spokesman for the Islamic Jihad terror organization shortly after the bomb attack on a bakery in the southern Israeli resort city of Eilat.

Jihad’s statement copied Dr. Abbas’s call—two weeks ago—for Palestinian unity and for attacking Israeli “occupation” instead of “brother” Palestinians. Hundreds of Palestinians have been killed by Palestinians in the last six months of what the Arabs call “felataan amni”—security chaos, more than 40 in the last five days alone.

“Let a thousand flowers bloom, and let our rifles, all our rifles, all our rifles, be aimed at the Occupation,” declared Abbas in a public rally that was aired on Palestinian television and radio on January 11, but his words were largely ignored by the Western press and diplomatic corps.

Official Palestinian television reported last night (Jan. 29, 5PM English broadcast) that the attack was carried out by the Islamic Jihad with the help of Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigade of the Fatah organization, that is headed by Abbas.

Abbas’s media prominently featured the statement by Jihad that the attack on Eilat “was the natural result” of Israeli occupation.

“This operation, which was carried out by the heroes of the resistance in Um Ar-Rashrash, in the lands of 1948,” ” declared the Jihad statement, using the old Arabic name for Eilat, stressing that the attacks on Israeli “occupation” also meant attacks on Israeli territory held before the 1967 war. [ See Islamic Jihad website, Saraya al-Quds and Quds News.

The attack, the statement continued, “is coming as an initiative of a different kind to wake up the consciences and to re-aim the rifles against the enemy.”

Abbas himself, who heads the PLO, Fatah and the Palestinian Authority, did not issue a clear condemnation of the attack, though some Israeli media and diplomats reported that he had.

In fact, most Palestinian media controlled by Abbas, such as the “independent” Al-Quds newspaper, referred to the human bomber as a “shahid” or martyr, a title of honor, featuring his picture in a heroic posture on its front page.

[Later in the day, the newspaper’s internet edition removed the picture from the front page. None of the papers printed a condemnation of the attack.]

Meanwhile Palestinian radio in Arabic—Sawt Felasteen—called the attack on Eilat “amaliyya tafjeeriyya”—an explosive operation—not a terror attack.

Only late in the day yesterday did Voice of Palestine radio issue a minor report stating that one of Abbas’s aides, Ahmad Abdul-Rahman, said the Palestinian leadership opposed attacks on civilians. Neither Abbas nor Abdul-Rahman appeared on radio or TV to make the statement themselves.

After yesterday’s terror attack in Eilat, the Islamic Jihad spokesman gave detailed biographical information about the bomber, Muhammad Faisal Al-Siqsiq, who, he said, had carried out the murders with the help of Jihad and the Fatah organization of Dr. Abbas.

The words and actions of Islamic Jihad organization—and those of Hamas and PLO leader Abbas—seemed to confirm that the attack was an attempt to move the Palestinians away from killing each other by moving them back to killing Israelis, as suggested by Abbas himself in a speech two weeks ago.

The internet web site of Islamic Jihad said the “Eilat operation” was meant to unite Palestinians of all organizations, and it seemed to work.

Pictures on Arab satellite television last night and this morning showed celebrations of the attack in Eilat, as several Palestinian women chanted “Wihda, wihda wattaniyya”—Unity, National Unity.

Voice of Palestine radio reported Tuesday (Jan30) that a truce between Fatah and Hamas had been reached, and VOP said there was relative quiet in the Gaza Strip and West Bank areas controlled by the Palestinian Authority.

Comment (RL)
: Meantime, Ynet has an article about journalist-blogger Fadi Abu Sada says, ‘If Israel attacks houses in Gaza and attempts to target the leaders of the Palestinian resistance, this would be the only solution to stop the fighting.’

We can no longer regret anything, what is happening already killed every emotion, we will not regret if we got more pain, and if Israel attack houses in Gaza and attempted to target the leaders of the Palestinian resistance, that this would be the only solution to stop the fighting.

The great tragedy would be that Israel did not do what we hope, I do not know where cycle of blood and revenge ongoing will lead us, no one even responded to the appeals of citizens to go down to the streets in an attempt to stop the bloodshed, and this confirms the loss of the sense of anything.

If the matter was my decision, I called for the elite and dignitaries that leap and stop what is happening, but it seems more evident now that there dignitaries originally, because if they are found, they certainly will stand idly by what is happening.

Not many options left: Either do same as what happened in Eilat, either go to hell, or leaving the country with shame of what’s happening.

Aside from the tragedy that the Palestinians have brought on themselves (and the “progressive” groups like ISM who have only reaffirmed their sense of injury and encouraged their arrested development towards a civil society), this situation is pure black humor.

What does the masochist say to the sadist? Beat me. And what does the sadist respond? No.

6 Responses to Widlanski on Mao, Abbas, and the Eilat Terror Attack

  1. igout says:

    RL, forgive me for wandering off topic, but this is as good a place as any to pass on this quote by, of all people, a Frenchman:

    “War is less costly than servitude, the choice is always between Verdun and Dachau.”–Jean Dutourd

    Honor is a 4-letter word here, but this guy has it. And I’d buy him a drink anyday.

  2. nobody important says:

    I understand your thesis about the Honor/Shame basis of Arab/Muslim society, but I can’t understand how someone can honored by such a shameful act of murdering innocent people buying bread. And isn’t the behavior of the Palestinian cynical at all?

    Maybe, I don’t understand much after all.

  3. Cynic says:

    I can’t understand how someone can honored by such a shameful act

    Nobody in their right mind can understand how a mother, after her two sons rape and impregnate their sister, can then cold bloodedly, with the help of those two sons, tie a plastic bag over her daughter’s head and then hack her throat with a kitchen knife in the name of the Family’s honor.

  4. RL says:

    Response to nobody important:

    these are two excellent question that are not easy to answer, but i’ll try.

    1) i’ve argued that with palestinian society we’re looking at a pathological case of honor-shame, a culture that has lived in such profound humiliation for so long that they don’t know what to do (and won’t come out of the honor-shame paradigm). they’ve been humiliated, like all Arabs, by Israel’s inexplicable success in defeating Arab armies repeatedly; and they’ve been humiliated by the Arabs by being kept in refugee camps and treated as prisoners of war. the situation has endured so long, has been so intractable, that they don’t know what to do. the very posture they adopt — appealing to the West and saying: “look at poor us, victims of Israeli aggression” — is the exact opposite of what a proud warrior would do — never show pain or injury, never appeal for pity from those you despise. similarly, in “normal” honor-shame cultures, if you rape my sister, i kill you, not my sister.

    as for the second question, about cynical behavior. of course their world is filled with cynicism — how can all these people live in a world of pathological blowhards and not have many of them be extremely cynical? the question is, how do you express that cynicism? i’m not sure where to go with this point. i’d like to hear from a cynical Palestinian.

    but there’s another point: hypocrisy. Palestinian (and Arab) leaders are masters of hypocrisy — especially sending other people’s children to martyr themselves. i have to laugh when i see Bin Laden distinguishing between the world of the infidel — all liars and hypocrites — and the world of the faithful.

    ultimately, this is why these movements will fail. they lack the integrity (as well as the humanity) to succeed in the long run. our problem is, how much damage will they do (and we allow them to do), before that failure.

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