November 19, 2014 Special Dispatch No. 5887

Palestinian Press Following Synagogue Attack: 'Al-Hayat Al-Jadida' Praises, Justifies It; Other Papers Express Reservations, Condemnation

November 19, 2014
Palestine | Special Dispatch No. 5887

Reactions in the Palestinian Authority (PA) dailies Al-Hayat Al-Jadida and Al-Ayyam, and in the Jerusalem daily Al-Quds, to the November 18, 2014 deadly attack in the Jerusalem synagogue, and to other recent attacks in Israel, were mixed. Articles in Al-Hayat Al-Jadida praised the attack and held Israel responsible for it, while Al-Ayyam and Al-Quds featured a wider range of reactions: justifications of the attack and claims that Israel is to blame for it, alongside expressions of criticism and fear that the events would escalate into a third intifada and a religious war.

The following are excerpts from articles in the three papers:

Former 'Al-Hayat Al-Jadida' Editor: The Occupation Is To Blame

Hafez Al-Barghouti, a former editor of the PA daily Al-Hayat Al-Jadida, wrote: "The actions, which were all carried out by lone [attackers], were carried out with readily available tools, such as cars, tractors and cold weapons. These are revenge attacks by a lone [attackers], not by organizations. Even if [various Palestinian] factions claimed responsibility for them, they did so as a token of support, [seeking] to appropriate them and gain popularity, nothing more. Such actions are unstoppable, because they are a spur-of-the-moment response and are not planned in advance.

"It is the occupation that bears responsibility for [the attacks], [for] it is the one pushing to inflame religious sentiment on both sides. We have probably warned before of the dangers of religious war, because, unlike other kinds of war, it leaves nothing behind it and scorches everybody. Therefore, many efforts must be made to remove the causes of tension and violence in Jerusalem, which are known to all. It is also necessary to push for negotiations on the basis of terms that are likewise known to all. The alternative is interminable mutual violence that will result in even worse explosions."[1]

'Al-Hayat Al-Jadida' Columnist: The Synagogue Attack A Natural Reaction To The Crimes Of The Right-Wing Israeli Government; Israelis Must Wake Up To Reality

'Omar Hilmi Al-Ghoul, an advisor to former PA prime minister Salam Fayyad, wrote in Al-Hayat Al-Jadida: "The operation carried out yesterday morning at a religious institution in West Jerusalem, in the area of Dir Yassin – the village where 250 Palestinian martyrs were slaughtered in 1948 – resulted in the death of four and the wounding of six people who attended that institution, or, [more precisely], the Jewish synagogue. [This action was committed] in response to a series of Israeli violations and crimes...

"The operation carried out by Ghassan and 'Udai Abu Jamal from Jabal Al-Mukabbar is but a natural response to the crimes of the extremist right-wing Israeli government and to the acts of slaughter it has committed as part of a calculated plan to bury any spark of hope for a diplomatic settlement. [This government] has refused to meet all its obligations in the framework of the peace process and the two-state solution [based on] the June 4, 1967 borders, and it continues to fuel anger and hatred in the occupied Palestinian territories, particularly in the capital Jerusalem, in order to realize its objectives, which are to kill off any diplomatic settlement, facilitate a policy of transfer, and refrain from granting the Palestinians any of their national rights.

" Israel and its leaders have learned nothing from previous experience. They did not grasp [the extent of] the Palestinian people's ability to fight, and deluded themselves [into believing] in the option of 'subjugating' the Palestinians and 'branding into their consciousness' that they must accept the existing reality. But the evidence shows that the opposite is true. After the latest self-sacrifice operations, the Israelis had better grasp the reality, before it is too late."[2]

Fatah Revolutionary Committee Member: The Young Palestinians Who Perpetrated The Synagogue Attack Are Not Evil Like Those They Killed -- The Rabbis "Wearing The Robes Of Satan"

In his column in the PA daily Al-Hayat Al-Jadida, 'Adli Sadeq, a member of the Fatah Revolutionary Council and a senior official in the PA foreign ministry, wrote of the two Palestinians who perpetrated the attack in the synagogue: "[Their] perception of the reality in the land of their fathers and forefathers was shaped by despicable, shameful and deadly events that occur on a daily basis. [These events] are part of a crazed attack on the tombs of the dead and on the mosques and the homes of the living, [which also includes] the uprooting and burning of their trees and the theft of their land. As for the rabbis wearing the robes of Satan, who dispatch the extremists, murderers and terrorists..., they regard us all as if we were superfluous creatures or names traced in chalk on the board of life, which are easy to erase and must be erased...

"I am confident that the culture of the two youths [who carried out the attack] is completely different from that of their victims, whether they were five or six in number. [These youths] do not exclude people indiscriminately, and are not indiscriminately wicked to people, and are willing [to accept] a settlement in whose framework the two peoples will coexist without one attacking the other... They do not hate anyone based on religion or nationality. As for the culture of their victims, it is inscribed upon the shattered gravestones, upon the walls of the attacked mosques and torched churches, and upon the trunks of uprooted trees..."[3]

'Al-Ayyam' Columnist: The Only Path Is The Path Of Full-Force Conflict With The Occupation

Columnist Hani Habib wrote in the PA daily Al-Ayyam: "Under these explosive and provoking circumstances [created] by the Israeli occupation, and in the absence of political options, in light of the failure of the negotiations process and the continued Judaization of the Palestinian capital and all the regions of the occupied West Bank by means of settlement, the only path for the Palestinians is conflict with this occupation with all the strength that we have. This is the context in which the operation in Jerusalem was carried out – and the responsibility for its consequences belongs to Netanyahu and his fascist government!"[4]

'Al-Hayat Al-Jadida' Columnist: Everyone Should Note That Palestinian Society Welcomes Such Actions

Columnist Dr. 'Osama Al-Fara wrote in the PA daily Al-Hayat Al-Jadida: "Everyone should note that Palestinian society, including all its diverse political groups, welcomes such actions and in fact views them as the beginning of a new stage that the idiotic policy of the occupation government has forced [upon us]. Palestinian society does not need one of the Palestinian organizations to take responsibility for these actions in order to express its support for them. The extremism led by the rabbis, who day and night call to murder Arabs and defile the Al-Aqsa mosque with the protection of the occupation army, is enough to make the Palestinians welcome this intifada and aspire to expand its scope and resources. Due to its idiotic policy, the occupation government alone is to blame for the present situation and for future developments..."[5]

'Al-Ayyam' Columnist: The Murderous Attack On The Synagogue Is Dangerous, Illegitimate

"Columnist Hassan Al-Batal wrote in the daily Al-Ayyam: "The murder [in the synagogue] is a dangerous act whose repercussions could prove even more dangerous. Let the [Palestinian] factions say what they will. Even if they justify or praise [the action] or describe it as an act of heroism, or condemn the [Palestinian] Authority's condemnation of it... [I still hold that] this action threatens to transform the struggle between the two peoples into a war, at a time when Palestine is struggling on the diplomatic plain to become a state, and the state of Israel is struggling against it [on the same plain].

"The abduction and killing of the three settler youths escalated the situation a notch, the murder of the youth Muhammad Abu Khdeir escalated it still further, and this was followed by a wave of Jewish provocations at the Haram Al-Sharif [i.e., Al-Aqsa]... Israel placed the blame for the abduction and killing of the three settlers on [individuals affiliated] with Hamas. Later, during or following 'Protective Edge' – the third war against Gaza – Hamas took responsibility for the action.

"Hamas is the one controlling Gaza, and it is party to the failing efforts to establish national unity. However, if the announcement by the Popular Front [for the Liberation of Palestine] that it is responsible for the action in the synagogue is accurate, this will have repercussions, for [this organization] is part of the PLO... Members of a left-wing front are not supposed to carry out a murderous attack on a synagogue and pour oil on the fire of religious war, when PA Chairman [Mahmoud 'Abbas] warned against the danger [of such a war], as did many sane people in Israel...

"This is violence and counter-violence. Some Palestinians call various types of Palestinian counter-violence 'armed struggle', 'resistance' or 'intifada', [whereas] some Israelis call it terror. Some people describe the first intifada as 'popular', the second as 'armed' and the third, [based on] its initial characteristics, as political-diplomatic. [But] what we call [these] intifadas is immaterial; what matters is their political results. Some believe that the first intifada resulted in the rise of the Hamas movement and that the second resulted in its coming to power. What will be the results of the third [intifada]? Perhaps it will go in a religious direction, like the ISIS [organization]?...

"The [Palestinian] struggle is legitimate [and] the diplomatic and military fighting are also legitimate. But the killing of people and groups or people at the initiative of any private individual or faction is illegitimate, especially if it offends religious feelings – regardless of who the injuring party is.

"The Palestinian individuals who commit the attacks know that they will be killed, and they are nevertheless undeterred. [Conversely,] the Israelis, soldiers and settlers know that they will escape punishment [for their crimes] and this encourages them. Official Israel does not care that the actions of the Palestinian [attackers] are committed outside the zones of the PA's relative control, and holds it responsible. The Palestinians do the same thing, holding the Israeli government directly or indirectly responsible for the actions of settlers, soldiers, ministers and Knesset members. But nothing justifies torching a mosque or perpetrating a murderous attack on a synagogue, even if the excuses are many and some call these 'acts of heroism.'"[6]

Fatah Central Committee Member: In The Shadow Of The War On ISIS, Palestinians Have An Interest In Maintaining Their Struggle's National Character

Fatah Central Committee Member Nabil 'Amar wrote in the Al-Quds daily: "When axes, knives, and metal bars enter the picture, and the response is steps taken by a strong country with horrifying deterrence and vengeance capabilities, the highly dangerous result is that the Palestinian-Israeli conflict enters a phase that can be called the 'no rules' phase. This phase is different from the previous ones, to whose rules and ways we became accustomed, in that both sides seem incapable of controlling it... The danger is that the 'no rules' phase drags us all into the circle of violence, without the public being able to save itself from the catastrophic results of a conflict of this kind.

"There is no doubt that the powerful actions and the cruel Israeli response in these days in Jerusalem have begun to create a new equation, and even have begun to bring the public into a routine of a war that, if not religious [in itself], wears religious guise. Despite all our attempts to distance ourselves from the religious plane in the conflict and to adhere to the political plane, insisting that this is a comprehensive national battle for freedom and independence, bringing the [variables of] Al-Aqsa Mosque and the Temple into the equation has imposed a different reality, one that is closer to religious war than to any other description.

"Perhaps what sparked the fire of this idea, which we all fear, is the [general] environment that is forcing itself on the entire region. There is no ignoring the fact that in our environment a world war, in the full sense of the word, is being waged, and its headline is the elimination of a plan for a religious state and of the enterprise of a state wearing religious guise that has mobilized thousands of people [i.e. the war against ISIS]...

"The Palestinians have an interest in keeping their struggle clearly national in character, and in remaining in the eyes of the world a national liberation movement with an enterprise of humanity, liberation, and progress. Therefore, the region and the entire world bears the responsibility for supporting the national, political, and cultural dimension of their struggle."[7]

Former Palestinian Minister: We Must Not Be Dragged After A Small Group Like In The Second Intifada

Former Palestinian minister Ashraf Al-Ajrami wrote in the Al-Ayyam daily: "These days remind us of the days before the second intifada... in October 2000, that is, three months after Camp David. Although the negotiations continued in one way or another and even progressed bit by bit, we slid rapidly to using weapons and IEDs and into a situation of sweeping chaos that caused us to lose everything, set us back decades, and created the circumstances that led to Hamas's armed takeover of Gaza and the schism from which we are still suffering, which apparently will be with us for a long time to come. [Today] following the failure of the peace process and our arrival at a dead end... we are again back in the tense situation, but it is even more [tense] than the situation that prevailed on the eve of the Al-Aqsa intifada [i.e. the second intifada].

"When we warned about the chaos [that would result from the use of] weapons in the second intifada, some claimed that this position was against the resistance, even though almost everyone... reached the conclusion that everyone who predicted the tragic results of this chaos was right. Today, it seems that we are back at the same place... However, in 2000, the [Palestinian] Authority supported the intifada in one way or another, and in several of the violent operations, while today it clearly and unequivocally opposes the use of weapons."

"The operation at the synagogue is considered problematic for two reasons: [First,] it was against a place of worship, which contradicts the essential reason for the [current] tension – that is, the Israeli policy against Al-Aqsa and the holy places. The Palestinians here appear to be doing what they [themselves] are protesting against and are fighting to stop.

"The second reason is that the group against whom the operation was carried out is a fundamentalist group that belongs to [the Israeli religious political party] Agudat Yisrael, whose members are not politically extreme – on the contrary, they oppose Jews visiting Al-Aqsa Mosque and even resolutely ban them from doing so. This indicates a desire to do something against Jewish Israelis and nothing more, without thinking of what they want to accomplish with this deed...

"A small group here or there is likely to determine our fate, because if we allow things to take place without forethought, then we will find ourselves in the [same] situation we were in the second intifada, which began with resistance to the occupation and ended in chaos and in a takeover by those with interests and agendas that have no connection to the liberation of the homeland...

"We still have an opportunity to not lose control and mourn the past, as happened with the second intifada, when we found ourselves facing the Hamas agenda on the one hand and the agenda of the gangs on the other, after the best of our sons had been killed or imprisoned or had lost hope, and after the dream had vanished and we had taken tremendous losses.

"This call is aimed to [making] us stop and calculate our moves, and not be dragged after our emotions."[8]


[1] Al-Hayat Al-Jadida (PA), November 19, 2014.

[2] Al-Hayat Al-Jadida (PA), November 19, 2014.

[3] Al-Hayat Al-Jadida (PA), November 19, 2014.

[4] Al-Ayyam (Palestinian Authority), November 19, 2014

[5] Al-Hayat Al-Jadida (PA), November 19, 2014.

[6] Al-Ayyam (PA), November 19, 2014.

[7] Al-Quds (Jerusalem), November 19, 2014

[8] Al-Ayyam (Palestinian Authority), November 19, 2014.

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