Ed Koch Commentary
January 25, 2012
In the Times of January 24 is an article headlined, “2 Palestinian Legislators Are Arrested in East Jerusalem Protest.” The article reported, “Israel arrested two Palestinian legislators affiliated with Hamas as they staged a protest in the offices of the International Committee of the Red Cross in East Jerusalem on Monday, an act criticized by the Palestinian leadership as a blow to the first direct meetings between the Israeli and Palestinian sides in more than a year now underway in Jordan.”
Actually there were three men protesting: Muhammad Totah, a member of the Palestinian legislative council, Khaled Abu Arafeh, a former minister, and Ahmed Attoun, a Hamas legislator. The Times reported, “A police spokesman, Mickey Rosenfeld, said that the two legislators arrested were suspected of carrying out Hamas activities in Jerusalem. The Islamic militant group is considered an illegal organization by Israel.”
As a result of the arrests, Saeb Erekat, the chief Palestinian legislator, said in a statement that the detention of Mr. Totah and Mr. Abu Arafeh 24 hours later was a “flagrant act of aggression.” Hamas is a terrorist organization designated as such not only by Israel, but by the Quartet – the U.S., European Union, Russia and the U.N.
This is all by way of background. Now to the reason for this commentary. In the same Times article, it was reported the highest ranked member of the Muslim clergy on the West Bank, Gaza and all of historic Palestine called for the death of Jews. The Times’ reference was, “The mufti of Jerusalem, Sheikh Hussein, addressed a crowd at an event marking the 47th anniversary of the founding of Fatah, the mainstream movement led by the Palestinian Authority president, Mahmoud Abbas. He quoted a hadith, a saying attributed to the Prophet Muhammad, stating: “The Hour will not come until you fight the Jews. The Jews will hide behind stones or trees. Then the stones or trees will call: Oh Muslim, servant of Allah, there is a Jew behind me, come and kill him.”
The Times reported: “Mr. Netanyahu described the words of the mufti of Jerusalem, Sheikh Hussein, as ‘morally heinous’ and compared the remarks to those of Haj Amin al-Husseini, the grand mufti of Jerusalem who notoriously aligned himself with Hitler in the 1930s. Palestinian television broadcast the mufti’s comments on Jan. 9 and Palestinian Media Watch, an Israeli monitoring group, drew attention to them on Jan. 15. An Israeli official said that the prime minister became aware of it only in the past few days.”
The Times further reported, “The mufti denied calling for the killing of Jews, telling Israel Radio on Sunday that he was only quoting the words of the Prophet Muhammad. He told Voice of Palestine radio on Monday that ‘these allegations come within the Israeli incitement campaign against Jerusalem and its figures.’” Go figure that out.
My observation: I recall when two I.D.F. reservists took the wrong road on October 12, 2000 and ended up in Ramallah on the West Bank. They went into the Palestinian police station, were taken prisoner and thrown out of the window head first and killed. Currently, the two Hamas legislators, part of a government at war with Israel, were arrested not lynched. Not long ago, in May of 2011, I wrote to Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak the following:
“Dear Ehud: On my office wall there is a picture of an Israeli soldier being thrown to his death out of a window in a Ramallah police station where he had been taken prisoner. He was one of two soldiers killed having, as I recall, taken a wrong turn in their car bringing them into that Arab city. In the years that followed, were any of the perpetrators arrested and punished.?
He replied on August 29th:
Thank you for your letter, expressing interest in the aftermath of the barbaric lynch in Ramallah of the two IDF reserve soldiers, Vadim Norzhitz and Yossef Avrahami, may G-d bless their memory.
I should let you know that as a result of our extensive efforts to bring all those responsible for this heinous crime to justice, sixteen people have been indicted for various offences related to this event, in accordance with their level of involvement and the evidence at hand.
Among them, eleven people were directly indicted for murder – nine imprisoned for life and two others – for 20 and 25 years. Four other people were indicted for various charges of involvement in the crime short of murder and one last case is still pending in the Military Court of Appeal.
I should add, we know very well that no punishment, no matter how harsh, will bring comfort to the families or bring back their loved ones. Nevertheless, from the very first moment, the Government of Israel, the IDF and the whole defense establishment have considered bringing the perpetrators of this atrocity to justice as a matter of top priority.
I thank you again for your concern and hope that we will never again witness such terrible acts in the future.”
The Times reporter, Isabel Kushner, to her credit, reported the incidents involving the arrests of the Hamas legislators and the mufti’s call for the murder of Jews. Apparently, the arrest of the two Hamas legislators was to the Times editor more important, therefore deserving the headline “2 Palestinian Legislators Are Arrested in East Jerusalem Protest” rather than a headline citing the call of the highest Muslim cleric for Palestinians and successor to the Grand Mufti Haj Amin al-Husseini who aided Adolf Hitler raising Muslim troops to fight on the side of Nazi Germany in World War II and responsible for the Arab pogrom of 1929 in Hebron in which 67 Jews were killed and the uprising throughout Palestine in 1936-1939 with the killing of more Jews.
If you are a supporter of the Jewish nation, a Zionist like me, or simply an impartial observer, wouldn’t you conclude the Times editor had his head screwed on wrong in determining the headline?
Will there be a Times editorial denouncing the mufti’s conduct? I haven’t seen any denunciatory releases from the J Street crowd in D.C. which constantly berates Israel for not being more forthcoming with concessions to the Palestinians. Will Times’ columnists Tom Friedman and Nicholas Kristof, who often criticize the Israeli government, denounce the Palestinian leadership for not removing this cleric? Muslim terrorists don’t simply murder Jews; they also murder Christians and have done so recently in Iraq and Egypt. The Coptic Christians today 10 percent of the Egyptian population are in great danger and fear. Their churches have been desecrated and destroyed. They have been assaulted and murdered.
Imagine what the outcry worldwide would have been had either of the two chief rabbis of Israel made a comparable call to kill Muslims. You know and I know there would have been U.N. Assembly and Security Council Resolutions denouncing Israel, not only calling for the removal of the chief rabbi, but sanctions against the state itself.
The lack of media attention given to these Arab threats and the constant unfair attacks by the media, cowardly governments and U.N. officials on Israel is what angers people like me.