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"Militants" or Suicide Bombers? By: Chris Arabia
FrontPageMagazine.com | Friday, August 22, 2003

Lying is second only to murder for the terrorist Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigade.  Lies are impotent unless someone believes and perpetuates them.  By uniformly contorting their analysis to demonize Israel, therefore, left-leaning media outlets and other apologists render indispensable assistance to Al-Aqsa and other terrorist groups.

Loosely affiliated with Yasser Arafat’s Fatah terror organization, Al-Aqsa claims that it formed to avenge Ariel Sharon’s September 2000 visit to the Temple Mount, which is Judaism’s holiest site but also home to the Al-Aqsa Mosque, Islam’s third holiest shrine.  Leaving aside the absurdity of intentionally associating a holy place with a band of murderous thugs, the true story of Al-Aqsa’s genesis differs entirely. 

Arafat, of course, has built a political empire and personal fortune on a foundation of strife and Palestinian misery (David Horowitz has authored a brief but thorough history of the Israel-Palestinian conflict).  Understandably, the prospect of peace and Palestinian statehood profoundly frightens Arafat.  When Israel agreed to 95 percent of Arafat’s demands during the July 2000 negotiations, therefore, his cynical fear of success induced him to abandon the talks lest he obtain what the Palestinian people might need but he does not want: accord. 

To deflect international criticism and cover his retreat, Arafat concocted a renewed intifada, lives of innocent Arabs and Jews be damned.  As the Palestinian Authority’s Communications Minister conceded in 2001, “Whoever thinks that the Intifada broke out because of the despised Sharon’s visit to the Al-Aqsa Mosque is wrong . . . This intifada was planned in advance, ever since President Arafat’s return from the Camp David negotiations, where he turned the table upside down on President Clinton.” 

In his lust for a Nobel Peace Prize, Clinton helped expedite Arafat’s renewed deception and murder.  Senator George Mitchell, incidentally, has also contended that the Sharon excuse is bogus.

Sharon’s trip to the Temple Mount became a convenient excuse to soak the streets in blood.  Encouraging mindless violence in lieu of interfaith tolerance, Arafat and his minions organized the Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades.   In a gesture unlikely to evoke memories of Gandhi, Al-Aqsa initially promised to confine itself to hunting Israeli soldiers and the Israeli civilians living in territories that Arab countries lost during their multiple wars of aggression against Israel, i.e. the West Bank and Gaza.

Predictably, Al-Aqsa eventually reneged on its assurances and in early 2002 expanded its target list to include all civilians throughout Israel.  While citing Israeli combat operations against a prominent Al-Aqsa terrorist as rationale, the group was actually looking to stem the tide of defections to groups with more lethal aims, such as Hamas.

After pioneering the use of female suicide terrorists, Al-Aqsa unleashed a torrent of bomber and sniper savagery in Jerusalem, Tel Aviv, and even on a kibbutz.  Women, children and the elderly perished. 

In March 2002, Al-Aqsa joined the likes of al-Qaeda, Hezbollah, and Hamas on the U.S. State Department’s list of foreign terrorist organizations, where it currently remains.  Al-Aqsa issued a statement describing its placement on the list as “an honor.”  Former U.S. Middle East negotiator Dennis Ross has condemned Al-Aqsa as one of the terror entities that forced Israel to construct the security fence that leftists and Palestinians now deplore.

When convenient, Arafat feigns disassociation from Al-Aqsa, but his influence on the group is clear.  For example, the Palestinian Authority has employed most of the group’s members. 

“Our group is an integral part of Fatah,” an Al-Aqsa leader told USA Today. “We receive our instructions from Fatah. Our commander is Yasser Arafat himself.”

Another Al-Aqsa agent asserted the group’s autonomy but stopped short of discounting Arafat’s influence, telling the New York Times, “We respect our leader [Arafat],” even if the decision “to carry out attacks remains with the Aqsa Brigades leadership.”

Even more revealing, Israeli intelligence uncovered a $20,000 payment from Arafat to Al-Aqsa in June 2002.  Abd al-Fattah al-Hamayel, a Palestinian Authority functionary, confirmed that Fatah subsidizes its Al-Aqsa offshoot, and Arafat himself has referred to Al-Aqsa killers as his “children,” according to the New York Post.  

Its patience exhausted by the financial link, the Bush Administration finally called for Arafat’s removal.  Subsequently, an Al-Aqsa member disclosed a scheme to send men to fight the U.S. in Iraq.  Earlier this month, Arafat refused Palestinian Authority demands to surrender approximately 20 Al-Aqsa terrorists who have taken refuge in Arafat’s compound.

At a minimum, Arafat is a direct or indirect leader of Al-Aqsa, most of Al-Aqsa’s personnel draw Palestinian Authority paychecks, Al-Aqsa receives cash from Arafat, and Al-Aqsa’s leaders seek sanctuary in Arafat’s headquarters.

Despite Al-Aqsa’s reign of terror and significant ties to Yasser Arafat, much of the Western establishment legitimizes the group by portraying its terrorists as “militants” and commingling Israeli defense and Palestinian terror behind a shroud of moral equivalence.  Because it opposes Israel, Al-Aqsa can rely on leftist elements such as the New York Times and activist apologists to parrot Palestinian propaganda and justify the intentional slaughter of civilians.

Anti-Israeli bias often defies belief.  To emphasize its desire to follow not only the letter but also the spirit of the “Road Map,” Israel recently freed 334 Palestinian prisoners even though the “Road Map” requires no such releases.  Nominal Palestinian Authority leader Mahmoud Abbas has transgressed the Road Map’s lines by linking peace progress with prisoner releases.

Predictably, Palestinians punished the good deed, abetted by their friends in the Western press.  “Israel Inflames Prisoner Issue,” blared a headline in the Contra-Costa Times.  According to the AP, Arafat called the amnesty a “deceit”—he might as well have called the kettle black—and Abbas cancelled a meeting with Ariel Sharon.

“The Palestinian Authority…insists on the release of all Palestinian prisoners,” fumed the Authority’s Information Minister.

Not surprisingly in light of Arafat’s sentiments, Al-Aqsa shot an Israeli woman and her three children, in what Reuters offensively described as an “attack” by “militants,” just days before the scheduled prisoner release.  In the same story, Reuters reported that Al-Aqsa “threatened to break a three-month truce” even though Israel has already counted nearly 200 Al-Aqsa violations and Israel suspects that Iran has recently strengthened its ties to the terror group.

AP claimed “both sides have skirted obligations” because Israel has not completed a comprehensive withdrawal from the West Bank and the “Palestinians have not disarmed and dismantled militant groups.”  This formulation cavalierly absolves the PA of culpability for improperly imposing prisoner amnesty as a condition of Road Map progress.  Equally appalling, the AP evidently subscribes to the preposterous theory that Israel should abandon a West Bank teeming with heavily armed terrorists devoted to Israel’s eradication.

Not content to misrepresent a single event, the AP mischaracterizes the entire era.  Asserting “Israel's perceived failure to send an unequivocal message that a new page has been turned after almost three years of deadly violence,” the AP condemns Israel for not turning the page away from the violence that accelerated in 2000 and implies that Israel ignited the so-called Al-Aqsa intifada!

Also conjuring Israeli impropriety out of thin air, the New York Times criticized the prisoner release, reporting as fact the following fictional pabulum: “So far it appears to be having the effect of obscuring the precise concessions demanded of each side, which neither has fulfilled.”  Only on the Left can a humanitarian gesture assume the role of sinister obscurer of concessions—assuming the benefactor is either the U.S. or Israel, of course.

Soon after the release, the Times complained, “Despite a temporary suspension of violence declared on June 29 by the main Palestinian factions, Israel has continued scouring…for weapons laboratories and suspects.” Although the woman and children recently wounded by Al-Aqsa might question the “suspension of violence,” the Times appears gleefully ignorant of the reality that weapons and terrorists are just as deadly upon the expiration of a “temporary” truce.  Incredibly, in the very same Times article, reporter James Bennett recounts that Israeli troops patrolling Jenin “came under fire from members of Al-Aqsa” and wounded three of the group’s terrorists.

When Arafat defiantly sheltered Al-Aqsa terrorists that the Palestinian Authority wished to arrest, outlets like the San Francisco Chronicle’s website summarized with a misleading headline: “Militants agree [to] deal to end standoff,” as if the terrorists had sacrificed in the interests of an amicable resolution when in fact Al-Aqsa had done nothing other than obstinately persist and threaten more violence against Israel.  Al-Aqsa operative Kamel Ghanem confirmed that the group would remain in place and would agree to respect the truce that their comrades have repeatedly violated.

Nowhere does the story take issue with Arafat’s unwillingness or inability to compel the terrorists to surrender, just as left-leaning media entities typically absolve the Palestinian power structure of blame for wrecking agreements and sanctioning terror.  By contrast, the same media outlets regularly castigate Israel for initiatives such as goodwill prisoner amnesties and the construction of a fence to safeguard civilians.

Much like the U.S. or any civil society but unlike its opponents, Israel allows its people to oppose the government and its policies.  Unfortunately, some Israeli leftists have erected a fifth column just kilometers away from millions of mortal enemies.

For example, the Israeli Information Center for Human Rights in the Occupied Territories, also known as B’Tselem, proudly proclaims that it “does not distinguish between violations committed by Israel and those committed by the Palestinian Authority.” Only fundamental delusions enable adherence to such self-destructive moral equivalence. Any Israeli “transgressions” inevitably stem from Palestinian or other Arab atrocities—had Israel’s enemies ever ceased their unrelenting war against the Jewish state, Israel would have never had occasion to err in defending itself.  All sensible people, furthermore, distinguish between self-defense and terrorism.

Aiding the agenda of those who would murder all Jews, the Jews of B’Tselem coldly document the violence without even endeavoring to judge it. Relying on a venerable weaseling device, the passive voice, B’Tselem states that “Palestinians were killed by Israeli security forces” and “Israeli civilians were killed by Palestinians.” Only the unavoidable inclusion of the word “civilian” hints that the death figures lie together because of leftist politics, not because of similar causation. Not unexpectedly, the group consists of leftist “academics, attorneys, journalists,” and politicians who seem to feel an obligation to abet their enemy.

Both the U.S. and UK have suspended the operations and frozen assets of Al-Aqsa fronts posing as charities.  Nevertheless, at least one “Friends of Al-Aqsa” group still operates in England and a federal court in Germany recently invalidated the Interior Ministry’s ban on the Al-Aqsa charity there, allowing it resume fundraising and other activities. In spite of the Interior Minister’s protest that lifting the prohibition would substantially frustrate the war on terror, the Leipzig court opted to err on the side of terror. Given its 20th century history and its wavering on the liberation of Iraq, German nonchalance is especially galling.

Arafat clearly wields substantial influence over an Al-Aqsa leadership that has jeopardized the Road Map with its disregard not only for truce efforts but also for Palestinian Authority efforts to arrest Al-Aqsa terror suspects. Although news outlets reflexively assail Israel’s every move, habitual Palestinian subversion of the peace process regularly garners friendly coverage. Sadly, misguided leftists and other sympathizers are reprising a familiar role.  They comprise a fifth column extending from the West Bank to the West Side.  Nothing can deter them from rendering invaluable assistance to terrorists.

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