Last year, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas paid the family of a Palestinian terrorist who murdered two Jews 30,000 Jordanian dinars ($42,000). Abbas and his senior officials have repeatedly made it clear that they will continue to pay monthly stipends to families of Palestinian terrorists. On July 23, 2018, at a ceremony honoring Palestinian terrorists, Abbas said: "We will neither reduce nor withhold the allowances of the families of martyrs, prisoners, and released prisoners... if we had one single penny left, we would spend it on the families of the martyrs and the prisoners." (Image source: MEMRI)
Normally, parents are proud to see their sons and daughters graduate from high school or university and go on to pursue their lives. This is true of ordinary parents who care about the well-being of their children and want the best for them.
Some Palestinian parents, however, are proud to see their children carry out terrorist attacks or murder Jews. For these parents, it is more "honorable" if their son or daughter murders a Jew than becomes a doctor, lawyer or engineer.
In the past few decades, many Palestinian parents have publicly boasted of the involvement of their children and family members in terrorist attacks against Jews.
Like most Palestinians, the parents consider the terrorists "heroes" and "martyrs" who sacrificed their lives for the sake of the Palestinian issue.
Scenes of Palestinians handing out candies to celebrate terrorist attacks against Jews have become the norm in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.
Additionally, Palestinian groups and social media users praising shooting and stabbing attacks against Jews have become a routine practice.
Etaf Jaradat is the mother of Omar and Gaith, suspected of murdering Yehuda Dimentman, a 25-year-old Jewish man, in the northern West Bank on December 16.
On December 20, the Israeli army mapped the family's house in preparation for demolishing it -- a response, and hoped-for deterrent to future terrorists -- for having murdered Dimentman.
Shortly after the soldiers left the house in the village of Silat al-Harithiya near the city of Jenin, Etaf appeared in a number of Palestinian media outlets distributing sweets in an expression of joy over the murder of the Jew.
"I'm very proud of my sons," the mother said. "I raise my head very high, thank God. I want to tell Omar and Gaith that they are heroes. They brought pride to us. Their jihad [holy war] is honorable and historic."
Earlier, shortly after her sons were arrested by the Israeli security forces, Etaf also expressed pride in what they did. "If my sons did it [murdered the Jew], I raise my head very high," she said. "I pray to God to give us the patience and strength. I hope that they will be honored by God as jihadis. This is a jihad to defend the al-Aqsa Mosque and all Muslims."
Her husband, Mohammed Jaradat, also went on record to praise his sons for their involvement in the murder. "If my sons did it, they made a sacrifice for the sake of Palestine and the Muslims," he said. "If it is proven that my sons did it, I will be proud of them."
The parents of the suspected terrorists are not the only ones who are proud of the shooting attack. Several Palestinians took to various social media platforms to voice their support for the murder by using a hashtag "The Heroes of Silat al-Harithiya." The suspected terrorists are praised as "heroes" who are committed to the jihad against Israel.
Almost immediately after the shooting attack, several Palestinian groups, including Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad, applauded the murder of the Jew.
"Hamas welcomes the heroic operation," the Gaza-based Iranian-backed group said in a statement. "Our people in the West Bank will continue their struggle until the expulsion of the occupier from all of our Palestinian land."
In separate statements, the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) and Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine (DFLP) -- two terror groups that are part of the PLO, which is headed by Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas -- also praised the murder of Dimentman as a "heroic" operation and vowed to pursue the fight against Israel.
Abbas and the Palestinian Authority, needless to say, have not condemned the murder of the Jewish man. Instead, Abbas found time on December 20 to phone Hussein Sulieman al-Zrei, a terrorist who was released from Israeli prison after completing a 19-year prison sentence. Al-Zarei, a former commander of al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades (the armed wing of Abbas's ruling Fatah faction), was arrested by Israeli security forces in 2002 for his role in terrorist attacks against Israelis.
Last year, Abbas paid the family of a Palestinian terrorist who murdered two Jews 30,000 Jordanian dinars ($42,000). The money was handed to the family of terrorist Muhannad al-Halabi by the Palestinian governor of Ramallah and al-Bireh, Laila Ghannam.
On October 3, 2015, al-Halabi attacked the Benita family in the Old City of Jerusalem as they were on their way to the Western Wall to pray. He fatally stabbed Aharon Benita, the father of the family, and wounded the mother, Adele, and their two-year-old son, Matan. Nehemia Lavi, a Jewish resident who heard the screams and came to help, was also murdered.
By rewarding the family of al-Halabi and other terrorists who carried out attacks or murdered Jews, Abbas is also stating that he, too, is proud of those who engage in terrorism.
Abbas and his senior officials have repeatedly made it clear that they will continue to pay monthly stipends to families of Palestinian terrorists. On September 14, 2021, Palestinian Prime Minister Mohammad Shtayyeh said:
"From our perspective, the prisoners are the heart of the Palestinian national movement throughout history. The US is punishing us, and Israel is punishing us because we are taking care of the prisoners' affairs. As President Abbas says: 'Even if we are left with one penny, we will take care of them.' These people are our children, and we will protect them like we protect every central element of the Palestinian public."
This is the same Abbas who recently has been telling the Biden administration that he wants to revive the stalled peace process with Israel.
On December 13, Abbas met with US Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs Victoria Nuland and again repeated his desire to engage in a "real political process" with Israel.
This is the same Abbas who does not have the courage to condemn the murder of a young Jewish man in the West Bank and the same Abbas who does not have the courage to tell Palestinian parents that it is grossly immoral to express pride in the terrorist attacks carried by their sons.
This is also the same Abbas whose government continues to pay hundreds of millions of dollars to families of terrorists and the same Abbas whose media continues to glorify terrorists by describing them as "heroes" and "martyrs" of the Palestinians.
The next time a US official arrives in Ramallah to meet with Abbas or any of his senior aides, he or she should ask them about the wild incitement against Israel and Jews, especially in the Palestinian media. They need to ask the Palestinian leaders why the PA educates its youth to admire terrorist murderers and deny Jewish history. It does not matter what the Palestinian leaders say in response; they need to be told that the indoctrination and violence will not improve the living conditions or boost the economy of the Palestinians. Abbas needs to be reminded of his repeated statements about opposing violence and being committed to a negotiated settlement with Israel.
The top priority of the US officials should be to stop the latest wave of terrorism against Jews in the West Bank and Jerusalem. This can be achieved only if the Americans put pressure on the Palestinian leadership to stop the incitement and glorification of terrorists.
Recently, Palestine TV hosted a girl who threatened that "we will trample the necks of the Zionists and make a path out of them."
Palestine TV also broadcast home videos of two young girls singing songs that demonized Jews, presenting them as "impure" and the "the world's dogs."
The US officials also need to ask Palestinian leaders about blood libels they spread against Jews. They should ask: "Why are you telling your people that Jews are spreading the coronavirus?"
The Palestinian officials, who are accustomed to spreading such falsehoods about Israel and Jews, are likely to say that this is what they believe and no one is going to talk them out of it. The Palestinians will probably remind the US officials of another libel they have made in the past: that Israel uses wild boars to destroy their crops and drive them out of their lands.
The best reply from the Americans would be to tell the Palestinians to "knock it off " and stop demonizing Israel and Jews: it only encourages Palestinians to carry out more terrorist attacks. This reply should not be seen as an "order" by the US administration, but as a good advice to the Palestinian leadership.
It's possible that the Palestinian leaders will initially comply with the request and "turn down the volume" against Israel. The US administration, however, needs to follow up on its advice and make sure that the Palestinian leaders comply. Failure to do so will allow the Palestinian leadership to return to the incitement and indoctrination after a certain time. The Americans need to understand that what they are demanding from the Palestinian leadership is actually good for the Palestinians themselves, because Palestinian children will no longer be exposed to the poisonous messages that drive them into the open arms of Islamic extremists.
As Palestinian Media Watch revealed last month, Muwaffaq Matar, a senior official in Abbas's Fatah faction, accused Israel of deliberately bringing COVID-19 into the Palestinian communities. "It would not be an exaggeration if we say that the racist occupation government has worked to export the COVID-19 epidemic to us," Matar wrote in the PA's official newspaper, Al-Hayat Al-Jadida, on November 21, 2021.
The US officials further need to ask: "Why do you continue to deny Jewish history? Why do you keep telling your people that Jews have no rights to the land and that Jerusalem belongs only to Muslims and Christians?"
Again, the Palestinians will probably argue -- regardless of biblical history -- that the Jews have stolen land that belongs to them.
The Palestinians have long been waging a campaign to rewrite history as part of an effort to delegitimize Israel and the Jewish people.
As the Meir Amit Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center pointed out in July 2021:
"The Palestinian Authority leadership, led by Mahmoud Abbas, twisted and rewrote history in general and of the Jews in particular. The theme is elaborated upon extensively in one of his books and in his speeches over the years. His main theses are that the State of Israel is a Western colonial settlement, Jesus was a Palestinians, and the Palestinians are the descendants of the Canaanites who came before the Patriarch Abraham."
The US officials should then tell the Palestinians that with messages such as these, the Palestinian leadership is telling its people that Jews are not entitled to have their own homeland -- which means that Israel has no right to exist. The officials should tell the Palestinians that such statements prove that there is no difference between the Mahmoud Abbas's Palestinian Authority and Hamas, which also does not recognize Israel's right to exist. They should tell the Palestinian leaders that that the time has come for them to stop the vicious campaign to delegitimize Israel and demonize Jews or else the US will stop providing them with financial aid and suspend all its relations with them.
The Palestinian leaders were happy to resume their relations with the Biden administration earlier this year. The Palestinians want American money. They want the US to be involved in any future peace process with Israel. They know that they cannot ignore the role of the US as a major broker in any deal with Israel.
The Palestinians leaders need to hear these questions directly from the US officials they meet with in Ramallah and Washington. They need to hear these questions daily -- not only from the Biden administration, but also from all Western countries that fund the PA.
True, the Palestinians may not change overnight, but it is important for them to know that the world is watching their words and actions and is ready every moment to ask hard questions. One can only hope that as the time passes and the American and European pressure grows, the Palestinian leaders will finally realize that they must stop the incitement against Israel if they want a better life for their people.
Mahmoud Abbas and his PA officials Palestinian say (in public, at least) that they want a better future for their people. Their actions and rhetoric, however, suggest otherwise. They pay salaries to families of terrorists and glorify murderers, thus encouraging more Palestinians to become terrorists. A Palestinian leader who wants to see children grow up to become doctors and engineers does not glorify terrorists and encourage young men and women to go on television and talk about their desire to murder Jews.
The US officials additionally need to ask about PA Prime Minister Mohammad Shtayyeh's recent statement that there are no traces of Jewish history in Jerusalem:
"We are on the outskirts of the eternal capital, the jewel of the crown, the point where the earth meets the sky, the flower of cities and the hearth of the hearts of the believers, Muslims and Christians... Jerusalem, which includes Canaanite, roman, Islamic, and Christian monuments, is for them only, and others [Jews] have no traces in it." (Wafa, November 15, 2021)
The Abbas who picks up the phone to congratulate a terrorist upon his release from prison is saying, loud and clear, that murdering or wounding a Jew is a noble act, worthy of the leader's time and attention.
Is it any wonder, then, that not a single Palestinian dares to speak in public against the murder of Jews? Abbas knows very well that if he ever uttered a negative word about terrorism against Israelis, he would be instantly condemned by his people as a traitor. For the root of that savage reality, Abbas need only look in the mirror.
Bassam Tawil is a Muslim Arab based in the Middle East.