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memri
September 1, 1998 No.
5

An Interview with the Palestinian Intellectual Salim Al-'Awa

The August 28, 1998 edition of Al-Istiqlal presented an extensive interview with Dr. Salim Al-'Awa, a Palestinian author living in Egypt who is an adherent of the nationalist pan-Arab ideology. Al-Istiqlal is the weekly of the "Islamic Jihad" in Palestine, and presents Dr. Al-'Awa as an Islamic intellectual.

Annihilation of Israel by Weapons of Mass Destruction:

"I believe that it is the duty of Muslims to act in every possible way to acquire weapons of mass destruction, starting with nuclear weapons and ending with chemical and biological weapons. The fragile peace between Israel and us [will continue], unless we achieve this weapon. However, we do not want this peace. We want it to end and be annihilated; we want the State of Israel to cease to exist and the State of Palestine to be established in its place. [The State of Palestine] will be a democratic state in which Muslims, Christians, and Jews will live in accordance with the principles of international democracy that are familiar to all.[1] The flame of conflict will continue to burn in the region, as long as there is no opportunity of establishing a Palestinian state in which the three religions will live side by side. There is no doubt about it. We must acquire the weapons of mass destruction our enemy [meaning, Israel] has and also the weapons of mass destruction it does not have, in order to play a role in the conflict and so we can defend our rights and ourselves. [As it is said in the Koran:] "Make ready for them whatever you can of armed strength… whereby you may daunt the enemy of Allah and your enemy..." [8, 60]

Suicide Bombings in Israel:

"The conflict with the Israelis and Zionists is eternal and it will never end. The Zionists try to exterminate our Arab and Islamic identity in various ways…. The position of the Al-Azhar Institution [The religious highest authority in Sunni Islam] regarding the Arab-Zionist conflict has not changed, not even a bit. The only exception is a Fatwa [Islamic religious ruling] that was attributed to the present Sheik of Al-Azhar, Muhammad Sayyid Al-Tantawi. Sheik of Al-Azhar said that martyrs who self-explode [meaning suicide bombers] within Israeli society, killing women and children, are not [entitled to] martyrdom; however, he took this Fatwa back, and said that they were indeed martyrs and even praised them. This is the correct position. These are the mightiest martyrs of our generation and they should serve as models for all our boys and girls..."[2]

Cultivating Hatred toward Israel and Zionism:

"The role of the Islamic stream is to keep the flame of hatred toward Zionism burning in their souls. This is because we are not ready to fight and use our military power, due to the limitations forced on us. We are not capable of conducting daily confrontations with Israel in the battlefield, because it is not in our hand, but rather in the hands of others [meaning, the Palestinian Authority]. Nevertheless, we are capable of cultivating the flame of hatred to this enemy in the souls of our sons, daughters, and grandchildren. We can make hatred burn among the public. If we manage to do so, in our homes and with the help of our schools and media, our efforts will be successful. The fighting will come one of these days and if by that time the ideology of hatred has faded, we will be defeated; on the other hand, if on this day we will still hate [Israel], victory will be ours, with the help of Allah."

Permission to Use Violence against Israelis:

"Violence against tourists and Christians is prohibited. One must not use violence against a tourist or a member of another religion who safely enters our country. Violence is permitted, and even form a duty, only when it is directed at the occupier and plunderer. The best example for that in our Arab and Islamic land is Israel. Against the Israelis one is permitted to use violence always and at any moment, day or night..."


[1] This statement by Dr. 'Al-Awa confirms his pan-Arab tendencies. An Islamic intellectual is likely to assert that these principles should be Islamic.

[2] Dr. 'Al-Awa led the attacks on Sheikh Al-Azhar for meeting with the Israeli Chief Rabbi Israel Lau on December 15, 1997 in Cairo. See MEMRI’s January 1998 Islamic Media Review, "The Meeting between the Sheikh of Al-Azhar and the Chief Rabbi of Israel."