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August 26, 1998 Special Dispatch No. 4

Palestinian Reaction to American Strikes on Sudan and Afghanistan

August 26, 1998
Afghanistan, Sudan, Palestine | Special Dispatch No. 4

The official PA position, emanating from a meeting of the Palestinian leadership, expressed "concern over the [recent] bombings, while unreservedly denouncing terror and terrorist activities." The leadership called upon the entire world to "oppose terror and the Israeli occupation of our land Palestine," and called upon the US to "support legitimate International resolutions [i.e. UN Resolutions] with respect to all regions of the world, and all the parties concerned."[1]

Several Palestinian Officials condemned the American attacks. The Tunis-based Chairman of the PLO Political Department, Faruq Qaddoumi, denounced the American bombings, saying "…the Palestinian people condemn this aggression and express solidarity with their brethren, the peoples of Sudan and Afghanistan. The Palestinian people stand by these peoples in their struggle to guard their independence and sovereignty."[2]

PLO Executive Committee member, Zakariya Al-Agha, said that this was "an act of aggression and state sponsored terrorism against civilians in Sudan…. American policy and its attempts to impose hegemony and double-standards were the main reason for what had happened in Nairobi and Dar-es-Salam."[3]

The Fatah Movement published a communique condemning the US: "Fatah completely rejects organized terror…launched by the US against Arab peoples… America's state-sponsored terrorism against oppressed Arab and Islamic nations is far more dangerous than the kind of terrorism she professes to combat. It constitutes an American attempt to hit at the development of these nations and curtail the progress they make…"[4]

Palestinian Islamic Reaction:

Leader of the Hamas Movement' Sheikh Ahmad Yasin, told Israel's Channel Two TV that a Hamas response to the American strike would come and that it would be launched against Israel, which he considered to be "the other face of America."

Other Hamas figures followed suit. Mahmoud Al-Zahar stated that Hamas policies "would not change, they still target Israel…Hamas is not a direct party to the recent events, despite being listed as one of the organizations… targeted by America." That sort of aggression, Al-Zhar said, "would lead to an anti-American popular uprising." He called on Arabs and Muslims to unite against these "Anti-Arab and Anti-Islam American policies."[5]

Last Friday in Nablus, prayers in the mosques were followed by a Hamas-led demonstration, during which a US flag was burnt.[6] In Rafiah, PA-supporters joined forces with Islamic figures in a protest rally, attended by several members of the Palestinian Legislative Council. Ziyad Al-Sarafandi, a Fatah official from Rafiah district, said that protest was not enough, and that Palestinians should "confront the interests of America and its allies in the Arab Homeland."[7]

The Palestine [Muslim] Sages Union, an organization ideologically affiliated with Hamas, condemned the American action, calling it "an unjustifiable act of aggression against Muslims and Arabs, exposing America as the enemy of Islam and the Arabs."[8]

'Abdallah Nimr Darweish, spiritual leader of the Islamic Movement within Israel, said: "In the American mindset, what Clinton did with Monica [Lewinski] is not shameful… in the West, the more lovers a President boasts, the more popular he becomes. It just might be the case that the American-Zionist threat facing the Arab World could prove beneficial, if all Arabs and Muslims realize the situation is too serious to be shrugged off."[9]

Reactions in the Palestinian Media:

The media in the PA also adopted an anti-American line. Fuwad Abu-Hijla, in his daily column, blames the Jewish lobby in the US, alleging that the American "aggression proved President Clinton was too weak to confront the Jewish lobby that was annoying him with the Lewinski affair." [The Jewish Lobby] was seemingly responsible for preserving Monica's dress, in order to press the President…"in the meeting room, to sign the decision to attack Sudan as well as bases in Afghanistan… Clinton could have ridden out his crisis, if the Jews hadn't preserved Lewinski's dress just in case, setting up that Blond Superman [Clinton]…"[10]

In general the media equated the American bombings with the preceding terrorism in East Africa. Hafez Al-Barghuthi, Chief Editor of the PA daily newspaper, commented: "When the Americans launch such acts of aggression, they are no different than the perpetrators of the [African] bombings…"[11]

Journalist Nasri Qumsiya commented: "I could swear that real evil was born the day Columbus discovered what he referred to as America. That day, evil erupted with the killing of 40 million of the indigenous Indian inhabitants of the country culminating with the creation of that worst of evil, an American-made Pandora Box - the State of Israel. Israel was the one that spawned terror, sin, war, and vengeance in the region…We condemn an unjust attack on innocent civilians, but we also condemn… the American retaliation, which rendered the US no different than the initial terrorists and their indiscriminate bombings. Like any other terrorism, the American bombings were aimed at innocent civilians."[12]

Journalist 'Abdallah 'Awwad, a member of the National and Political Guidance Directorate, suggested that the legitimacy of the attacks on the American embassies in Africa exceeds that of the recent American bombings in Sudan and Afghanistan: "There is no precedent in the history of International Relations - World War II included - for a certain regime, even a Fascist one, to bomb other countries just because of suspicion. The American bombings constitute state-sponsored terrorism…omitting the term terror when referring to these [American] actions equally legitimizes the [destruction] of the two [American] embassies…. [The destruction of the embassies] is far more justifiable than the American bombings, because it had been provoked by [previous] American policies of aggression."[13]

In Al-Manar weekly, Isma'il 'Ajwa called upon the leaders of Arab countries to declare war on the US, Israel and their interests. Ajwa commented: "this is the age of American hatred, the age of bullying and barbarity. What keeps us from declaring that we will not live in such an age? What prevents us from opening up new vistas, so that we can keep our dignity? Why shouldn't we declare war? Washington and Tel-Aviv declared war on Arabs and Muslims long ago. What are we waiting for?"[14]

 

[1] Al-Hayat Al-Jadida, August 22, 1998.

[2] Al-Quds, August 23, 1998.

[3] Al-Hayat Al-Jadida, August 23, 1998.

[4] Ibid.

[5] Ibid.

[6] Al-Hayat Al-Jadida, August 22, 1998.

[7] Al-Quds, August 24, 1998.

[8] Al-Hayat Al-Jadida, August 23, 1998.

[9] Ibid.

[10] Ibid.

[11] Al-Hayat Al-Jadida; Al-Barghothi heads his editorial of August 22 with a reference to the Americans as "Murderers..."

[12] Al-Hayat Al-Jadida, August 23, 1998.

[13] Al-Ayyam, August 22, 1998.

[14] Al-Manar, August 24, 1998.

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