The Palestinians have an old and nasty habit of placing themselves on the wrong side of history and aligning themselves with tyrannical leaders and regimes. Every time the Palestinians make the wrong choice, they end up paying a heavy price. Yet, they do not seem to learn from their mistakes.
The latest example of Palestinian misjudgments surfaced last week when the Palestinian Authority "ambassador" to Pakistan, Walid Abu Ali, shared a stage with UN-designated terrorist and Jamat-ul-Dawa leader Hafiz Saeed.
The two men appeared together at a rally that was held to protest US recognition of Jerusalem as Israel's capital. Thousands attended the rally in Rawalpindi, which was organized by the Defense of Pakistan Council, an alliance of religious parties dominated by Saeed's group.
Jamat-ul-Dawa has been blamed for the 2008 Mumbai attacks, which killed 166 people. Saeed is wanted by the US, which has offered a $10 million reward for his arrest. Pakistan, however, has turned down extradition requests and allows the terrorist to operate freely.
The appearance of the Palestinian Authority ambassador alongside Saeed drew sharp criticism from many Pakistanis and Indians alike.
Tarek Fatah, a Canadian-Indian writer and liberal activist who was born in Karachi, Pakistan, tweeted:
"Palestinian Ambassador to Pakistan, Walid Abu Ali, joins wanted jihadi terrorist Hafiz Seed on stage. Was the Palestinian Authority aware that Hafiz Saeed is the man who ordered the 2008 Mumbai attacks? Did the Palestinian Authority authorize this validation of India's enemy No. 1?"
Thousands took to social media to express their outrage over the joint appearance of the PA envoy and the wanted terrorist. Many Indians criticized their government for voting against US President Donald Trump's announcement recognizing Jerusalem as Israel's capital in the UN General Assembly. They also called on the Indian government to correct its mistake by strengthening its ties with Israel.
Anil Kumar Sharma wrote:
"Palestinians have slapped across the face the Indian government, which has recently betrayed Israel by voting in favor of the Palestinians (at the UN General Assembly). Hope this would jolt the Indian government to see the ground realities and formulate a totally pro-Israeli West Asia policy and follow US and move our embassy to Jerusalem."
Amitava Sarker commented: "India should have a strong practical policy on the Middle East. Again, we should know that progressive Israel is our friend and not fundamental Muslim countries."
Arvind Singh tweeted: "This is the proof that Palestinians support terrorism. We support them instead of supporting our friend, Israel."
Bobby Kapoor: "India sides with Palestine as recently as the UN vote while the Palestinian Authority sides with a global terrorist. India should review its policy towards Palestine."
Dhiraj Punj: "Huge embarrassment for Indians individually and for India as a nation. India votes for Palestine, and they (Palestinians) join Hafiz Saeed. Foreign policy disaster!!!"
Gpebble: "The Indian government must support Jerusalem as Israel's capital in response to this ugly brotherhood of Palestine and Hafiz Saeed the terrorist generator."
Harvey Kribs: "Palestinians are Islamic supremacists who seek Islamic hegemony in the Middle East in the same way Islamic terrorists seek Islamic hegemony in South Asia. If one puts an end to Palestinianism, the rest of the radical Islamists will fall by the wayside."
Alarmed by the strong reactions, the Palestinian Authority, in an unprecedented move, announced that it was recalling its ambassador to Pakistan.
A statement issued by the Palestinian Authority in Ramallah said that the Palestinians were committed to preserving their good relations with India. "Palestine is keen on supporting India's war against terrorism," the statement read. "Palestine and India are true partners in the war on terrorism." The Palestinian Authority claimed that the participation of its ambassador in the rally alongside Hafiz Saeed was an "unintentional and inexcusable error."
An "unintentional error"?
How, precisely, was the ambassador unaware of Hafiz Saeed's presence at the rally when he posed proudly for a "photo op" with the terrorist?
The Palestinians have a long record of making such "mistakes." Forging alliances with mass murderers and terrorists goes back to the days of Haj Amin Al-Husseini, the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem, who had close ties with Adolf Hitler and Nazi Germany. According to British records, Husseini told Hitler during a meeting in 1941: "The Arabs were Germany's natural friends because they had the same enemies as had Germany, namely the English, the Jews, and the Communists." He also thanked Hitler for supporting "the elimination of the Jewish national home."
Later, the Palestinians threw in their lot with the Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein and supported his invasion of Kuwait in 1990. Kuwait was one of many wealthy Arab countries that used to provide the Palestinians with billions of dollars in aid every year. When Kuwait was liberated a year later by the US-led coalition, hundreds of thousands of Palestinians were deported from Kuwait and other Gulf countries. When Saddam fired rockets at Israel during the first Gulf War, the Palestinians took to the streets to dance and cheer.
Palestinians also took to the streets to celebrate the 9/11 attacks carried out by al-Qaeda. In the past decade, they have also rejoiced each time Hamas or Hezbollah fired rockets or carried out suicide attacks against Israel. Scenes of Palestinians handing out sweets in the aftermath of suicide bombings and other terror attacks are commonplace on the Palestinian street.
Another sign of Palestinian support for dictators and terrorists emerged in August 2017, when President Mahmoud Abbas sent the leader of North Korea, Kim Jong-Un, a telegram congratulating him for "Liberation Day." In his letter, Abbas said the Korean people "sacrificed the most precious sacrifices for its freedom and honor" and expressed his appreciation to the support North Korea has shown the Palestinian people in their fight for freedom."
So, Palestinian history is packed with support for terrorists and despots. The Palestinian Authority ambassador's participation in a rally together with Hafiz Saeed was anything but an "unintentional mistake." In fact, it reflects a long-standing Palestinian tradition of siding with evil and ruthless leaders, regimes, groups and terrorists.
The response from many Indians is encouraging. Something good has come out of the fiasco surrounding the Palestinian ambassador's association with a global terrorist: the Indians now know the depth of Palestinian admiration for, and glorification of, terrorists and their thirst for violence. The Indians also realize now that Israel is their ally in the war on terrorism -- certainly not the Palestinians, who again and again align themselves with those who seek death and destruction.
Tarek Fatah, a Canadian-Indian writer and liberal activist who was born in Karachi, Pakistan, tweeted: "Palestinian Ambassador to Pakistan, Walid Abu Ali, joins wanted jihadi terrorist Hafiz Seed on stage. Was the Palestinian Authority aware that Hafiz Saeed is the man who ordered the 2008 Mumbai attacks? Did the Palestinian Authority authorize this validation of India's enemy No. 1?" (Image source: Tarek Fatah/Wikimedia Commons)
Bassam Tawil is a Muslim based in the Middle East.