By Rafael Medoff/JNS.org
WASHINGTON—American victims of Palestinian terrorism are applauding Secretary of State-designate Rex Tillerson’s criticism of the Palestinian Authority (PA) and are urging him to press the PA to take specific anti-terror steps.
During his Senate confirmation hearing Jan. 11, Tillerson said that while the PA has renounced terrorism, "it's one thing to renounce it and another thing to take serious actions to prevent it." He also said Palestinian leaders have to do "something to at least interrupt or prevent [terrorism]" before there can be "any productive discussion around [Israeli] settlements.”
Sarri Singer, who was seriously wounded in a June 2003 Jerusalem bus bombing, told JNS.org she is “encouraged” by Tillerson’s focus on the need for concrete Palestinian actions. She urged Tillerson to press the PA to honor the 36 requests Israel has submitted for the extradition of Palestinian terrorists. “And those terrorists who were involved in attacks that harmed Americans should be handed over to the United States for prosecution,” she added.
Singer, who is the daughter of New Jersey State Senator Robert W. Singer, is the founder of “Strength to Strength,” an organization that brings together terror victims from around the world to deal with the trauma they suffered.
Stephen Flatow, whose daughter Alisa was one of eight bus passengers killed in a 1995 terror attack carried out by Palestinian Islamic Jihad, called Tillerson’s remarks about Palestinian compliance “a welcome change from previous secretaries of state, who never held the PA accountable for its failure to fight terrorism.”
Flatow, who is vice president of the Religious Zionists of America, told JNS.org that “an important first step” would be for Tillerson to put financial pressure on the PA to stop paying salaries to imprisoned terrorists and the families of dead terrorists. “The amount that the PA gives to these killers should be deducted from the aid that the United States gives to the PA each year,” Flatow said. “Paying terrorists is not only a moral outrage, but also a financial incentive to other potential terrorists to follow in their footsteps.”
Palestinian Media Watch, an organization that monitors Palestinian incitement, pointed out this week that according to current PA policy, the family of the terrorist who carried out the recent Jerusalem truck-ramming attack will receive a one-time grant of $1,580 as well as a monthly stipend of $760, since the attacker was declared a shahid (martyr) by the PA.
Arnold Roth, whose teenage daughter Malka was killed in the 2001 Sbarro pizzeria bombing in Jerusalem, said that “as a parent of a child who was murdered by Palestinian terrorists,” he is “particularly appalled” by the PA’s incitement of Palestinian children to commit violence. Roth said that in PA schools and children’s television programs, terrorists “are lionized for killing Jews.” Roth said he hopes the incoming Donald Trump administration will “actively pressure” the PA to reform its educational system.
Batya Medad, who was injured in what is considered the first-ever Palestinian car-ramming attack, carried out in Jerusalem in 1996, cautioned that changing Palestinian education cannot be achieved overnight. While praising Tillerson’s remarks, she urged him to keep in mind that since an entire generation of Palestinians has been raised to support violence, “it will take much more than a generation” to achieve genuine peace, “because there can't be peace when Arabs are educated and encouraged to murder and terrorize.”
Sherri Mandell, whose son Koby was murdered by Palestinian terrorists near Tekoah in 2001, told JNS.org that Trump’s secretary of state appointee “should insist that the PA change the names of the streets, public squares and sports tournaments that are named after terrorists.” There are a number of public sites in PA territory, including in the capital of Ramallah, that are named after terrorists such as former Hamas chief bomb-maker Yahye Ayyash and Dalal Mughrabi, leader of the 1978 Coastal Road massacre, an attack that killed 38 Israeli civilians.
Outgoing Secretary of State John Kerry mentioned the street-naming issue in his Dec. 28 address about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Kerry said that the Fatah party, which is headed by PA President Mahmoud Abbas, “glorifies the murderers of innocents” on its website, and that Abbas has been “naming public squares, streets and schools after terrorists.”
“For Kerry, it was just a throwaway line in a speech,” Stephen Flatow said. “Hopefully Tillerson will actually do something about it.”
Editor’s note: Stephen Flatow is a frequent op-ed contributor for JNS.org.