Abbas' advisor: PA should honor "Martyrs"
and not worry about donors' grants
by Itamar Marcus and Nan Jacques Zilberdik
Palestinian Authority Chairman Abbas' advisor, Sabri Saidam, recently defended the PA's honoring of Palestinian "Martyrs" by naming streets after them and marking their birthdays. Palestinian Media Watch has reported on the PA policy of turning terrorists into role models by naming events and places after them. Abbas' advisor said Palestinians should continue this practice and not be concerned about the condemnation from foreign countries or the possibility that countries who support the PA financially will cut funding:
Earlier this year, Saidam expressed strong support for naming a square after the terrorist Dalal Mughrabi whose bus hijacking killed 37 Israeli civilians in 1978. The official PA daily reported that he "emphasized that the anniversary of Dalal's Martyrdom-seeking (i.e., her terror attack) should be made greater by inaugurating a [city] square in her name." Following a popular inauguration of the "Martyr Dalal Mughrabi Square," Saidam told Agence France-Presse:
"Blessings to the souls of our Shahids (Martyrs), whom we will not forget - not for the sake of a grant, not for the sake of a deal..."
In the recent article he wrote in the official PA daily, he also expressed sorrow over the fact that some Palestinians view the Martyrs "as a burden" and do not wish to commemorate them out of fear of evoking international condemnation:
"Every one of us has tried in his own way to express his pride in this Shahida [Martyr Dalal Mughrabi]."
Saidam lamented that Palestinian youth don't know the names of past leaders, and mentioned three Fatah leaders from the 1960s: Abu Ali Iyad, Abd Al-Fatah Hamoud, Ahmad Al-Shuqeiri. Abu Ali Iyad was appointed head of Fatah military operations in 1966, and was responsible for several terror attacks. Abd Al-Fatah Hamoud was one of the founding members of Fatah and Ahmad Al-Shuqeiri was the first chairman of the PLO.
"How it pains me to see people who view our Shahids (Martyrs) as a burden because the donors will be angry and some countries will complain, or because economic and everyday interests will be harmed... Blessings to the souls of our Shahids, whom we will not forget - not for the sake of a grant, not for the sake of a deal, and not for the sake of a position."
When Palestinian Media Watch publicized the PA's plans to inaugurate a square named after Mughrabi in 2010, international disapproval and criticism forced the PA to cancel the inauguration. However, Fatah went ahead and held informal inaugurations in 2010 and 2011.
As documented by Palestinian Media Watch, the PA has named numerous places and events after Dalal Mughrabi.
The following is the article by Saidam, Abbas' advisor:
By Sabri Saidam, Advisor to Chairman Mahmoud Abbas and under-secretary of the Fatah Revolutionary Council:
Headline: "Are we loyal to the path of our fighters?"
"We have named streets after leaders who are not of our people, and have marked the birthdays of other heroes who are not from our society, as a sign of honor and esteem for them. This in itself is good and admirable, but there must be equal or even greater zeal for the heritage of our own struggle. How many of our young children and school pupils know of Abu Ali Iyad, Abd Al-Fatah Hamoud, Ahmad Al-Shuqeiri, and others like them? What is their position on our study curriculum? How it pains me to see people who view our Shahids (Martyrs) as a burden because the donors will be angry and some countries will complain, or because economic and everyday interests will be harmed... Blessings to the souls of our Shahids, whom we will not forget - not for the sake of a grant, not for the sake of a deal, and not for the sake of a position."
[Al-Hayat Al-Jadida, July 19, 2011]
The following are articles documenting Abbas' advisor's support for naming a square after the terrorist Dalal Mughrabi:
"Advisor to President Mahmoud Abbas and under-secretary of the Fatah Revolutionary Council, Sabri Saidam, delivered a speech in which he criticized [the fact] that many leaders don't participate in the [events marking] the anniversary of Martyrs... He emphasized that the weapons must be turned towards the main enemy [Israel] and that internal differences of opinion must be set aside. Saidam noted the awful living conditions of the families of Shahids (Martyrs), in the country and outside of it, and as proof he said that the allowance to the family of Shahida (Martyr) Dalal Mughrabi (i.e., leader of the bus hijacking in 1978 in which 37 civilians were murdered) is a mere $123. He... emphasized that the anniversary of Dalal's Martyrdom-seeking (i.e., her terror attack) should be made greater by inaugurating a square in her name in the city of El-Bireh."
[Al-Ayyam, March 10, 2011]
Headline: "Residents insist on naming square in Ramallah after the Shahida (Martyr) Dalal Mughrabi"
"Popular Palestinian activists announced yesterday that they were insisting on naming a square in Ramallah after the Shahida Dalal Mughrabi. This follows the PA postponement of an official inauguration of the junction, owing to Israeli protest. March 13th will be the 33rd anniversary of Dalal Mughrabi's death as a Martyr in a military operation that she led inside Israel in 1978. About a hundred residents, representing universities and the Palestinian Writers' Union, gathered yesterday and put up a huge poster, inscribed with the name Dalal Mughrabi, and a picture of the boat in which she entered Israel. Deputy Secretary of the Fatah Revolutionary Council [and advisor to Abbas], Sabri Saidam, told Agence France-Presse: 'Today a popular inauguration of the junction is being held. There has been insistence on naming this junction after the Shahida Dalal Mughrabi. Every one of us has tried in his own way to express his pride in this Shahida'... Senior Fatah members said that they had decided to inaugurate the 'Shahida Dalal Mughrabi Square' in the town of El-Bireh, close to Ramallah, despite Israel's threats in the past to destroy it. Secretary of the Palestinian Writers' Union, Murad Al-Sudani, told Reuters: 'The [Fatah] student Shabiba movement and the Palestinian Writers' Union decided today to inaugurate the Shahida Dalal Mughrabi square in the town of El-Bireh out of support for the path of struggle, and to express honor to the Shahids (Martyrs) of the Palestinian people.' A granite slab has been placed at the center of the square, featuring an engraved image of Dalal Mughrabi inside a map of historical Palestine, in the shape of a sail. A photograph of Dalal has been placed in a different spot on the square; she is draped in a Palestinian keffiyeh and holds an AK-47 machine gun."
[Al-Hayat Al-Jadida, March 14, 2011]
Headline: "Al-Quds Open University marks anniversary of the Martyrdom of Dalal Mughrabi with a call to approve the Families of Shahids (Martyrs) Law"
"Deputy Secretary of the Fatah Revolutionary Council, Sabri Saidam, emphasized that the Shahids (Martyrs) are the ones who should ascend the highest dais, because they proved to the world that they are entrusted with the sacred mission, since they sacrificed themselves for the sake of the homeland. He said this yesterday, as the Al-Quds Open University marked the 33rd anniversary of the Martyrdom of Dalal Mughrabi, in cooperation with the Palestinian Writers' Union and the National Union of Families of Shahids, in the presence of Sabri Saidam; member of the Revolutionary Council, Naif Sweitat; Secretary General of the Palestinian Writers' Union, Murad Al-Sudani; Secretary General of the National Association of Shahids' Families, Muhammad Sbeihat; Dean of Student Affairs at the university, Muhammad Shahin; sister of the Shahida (Martyr), Rashida Mughrabi; and several writers, family members of Shahids, and students. Saidam emphasized that the Shahida Mughrabi remains in [our] minds and in our dreams... Al-Sudani said that commemoration of the anniversary of [the death of] Shahida Dalal by the union [of Palestinian Writers] arises out of a cultural statement which lays the foundations for the homeland and announces the transition to the sacred obligation, which the elevated and dear Shahid masters set forth. He condemned the fact that there are some who are ashamed to mark Dalal's anniversary [of Martyrdom], and said that whoever is ashamed of his Shahids, is ashamed of [his] history. He emphasized that the Shahida Mughrabi square should be inaugurated...
Sbeihat, for his part, stated that this ceremony of honor was not just for Dalal Mughrabi, but for all the Shahids... Naif Sweitat of the National Guidance [Directorate] delivered a speech on behalf of the family of Shahida Dalal Mughrabi, in which he spoke of the political significance of the Dalal Mughrabi operation... Muhammad Shahin said in a speech on behalf of the university's president, Younes Amr: 'There is nothing that expresses greater loyalty to Dalal than our providing for her illustrious sisters that which will contribute to their resolve.'"
[Al-Hayat Al-Jadida, March 10, 2011]