November 20, 2014 Special Dispatch No. 5888

Reactions In The Arab Press To The Jerusalem Synagogue Attack: Congratulations And Justification, With A Few Condemnations

November 20, 2014
Special Dispatch No. 5888

The vast majority of Arab heads of state expressed no reaction to the November 18, 2014 Palestinian attack at a Jerusalem synagogue, while a few condemned it. Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud 'Abbas denounced it, but at the same time condemned "the damage to Al-Aqsa Mosque and the holy places."[1] A similar denunciation was issued by Jordan, whose state minister for media affairs, Muhammad Al-Momani, who is also deputy foreign minister, announced that the Jordanian government "condemns attacks on all civilians, and condemns all violent and terrorist operations and terrorism against civilians, whatever their origin."[2] However, the lower house of the Jordanian parliament opened its session yesterday, November 19, with the first verse of the Koran, in memory of the two attackers, whom it termed "martyrs."[3]

Egypt, for its part, expressed reservations about the attack, in a Foreign Ministry announcement condemning violent operations and stressing Egypt's support for a peace agreement based on the 1967 borders that will preserve the Arab identity of East Jerusalem.[4] Likewise, Bahraini Foreign Minister Khalid bin Ahmad Aal Khalifa tweeted his condemnation of "the killing of innocent people in a house of worship."

@Khalidalkhalifa, November 18, 2014.

Most articles in the Arab press on the synagogue attack expressed approval, welcomed it, and justified it. Particularly noticeable were articles in the Syrian regime press, as well as in the Jordanian and Qatari presses; one Qatari writer evoked the blood libel, calling the attack an appropriate response to those who bake cookies with the blood of Palestinians. Some articles blamed Israel entirely for the attack, because of the extremism of its government which, they said, was being expressed in attempts to Judaize Jerusalem, harm and take over Al-Aqsa Mosque, and let loose the extremist right to act against the Palestinians. Several articles even warned that the synagogue attack would spark another intifada, and others harshly criticized 'Abbas for condemning the attack.

A few voices in the Arab media condemned the attack. In the Kuwaiti Al-Siyassa daily, a Lebanese writer compared the murder of worshipers to the actions of the Islamic State (ISIS) and other terror organizations. Also condemning the attack was liberal Saudi writer Ahmad 'Adnan, who in a series of tweets spoke out against attacking any house of worship as well as against racism.

This paper will review the variety of articles in the Arab press following the attack:

Qatari Daily: The Attack A Natural Response To The Occupation's Crimes, The First Spark Of The Third Intifada

The Qatari press published many articles justifying the attack. An editorial in the Qatari daily Al-Sharq called it a natural reaction to "the crimes of the occupation" and the possible beginning of a third intifada: "The action of two Palestinian martyrs cannot be described as anything but a natural response to the Israeli occupation's crimes, which in the recent days crossed the limits of the conceivable, the expected or the acceptable. The action at the Jewish synagogue may be the initial spark that will cause a third Palestinian intifada. [This intifada] will erupt very soon, given the usurpation of rights, the insults, and the degradation suffered by the Palestinians at the hands of the [Israeli] government. [The members of this government] are best described by the term 'human animals,' which Netanyahu applied to those who carried out the action in the synagogue.

"It is Israel that shut the door to peace and opened the door to violence, and it should prepare to be burned by its own fire. The extremist Israeli government is leading its people into a dark tunnel and the entire region to an explosive situation. If the international community does not handle [this situation] by pressuring Israel, stopping the expansion of Jewish settlements in East Jerusalem, restraining the Jewish extremists who demand the right to pray at the Al-Aqsa Mosque, and setting a timetable for ending the occupation, a disaster will occur."[5]

Cartoon in Qatari daily: "The Third Intifada" (Al-'Arab, Qatar, November 18, 2014)

Qatari Columnist: The Attack A Fitting Response To Those Who Bake Cookies With Palestinian Blood

In an article in the Qatari daily Al-Watan, columnist Samir Al-Barghouti likewise justified the attack, and even evoked the blood libel, writing that the Israelis use Palestinian blood to bake cookies and drink glasses of Palestinian blood during their celebrations: "Every time Israel kills a Palestinian official or attacks a Palestinian target, the resistance factions and their allies respond so fast that the world is amazed at this power... The operation in Jerusalem was undoubtedly a reaction. We say it is a reaction. It was a counter-measure that had to be taken promptly. The action of the two self-sacrificing martyrs from Jerusalem quenched the terrible thirst of those who were scorched by Israel's criminal act of butchering a boy in a car and then ditching [his body] in order to terrorize the Palestinians. [The Palestinians indeed] learned the lesson that terror can be fought only with terror...

"[I] congratulate the [Palestinian] factions that welcomed the killing of the four settlers and the wounding of 13 others in this operation, which has been obligatory since the burning of the Al-Aqsa Mosque in 1968. The reaction had to be more severe than the burning of Al-Aqsa. This is the right of the resistance fighters and a natural reaction to the escalating occupation policy and the ongoing attacks on Jerusalem and its [Al-Aqsa] Mosque.

"A senior official in the resistance once asked me: What is the solution? A wise man replied: "If you don't do anything, [the enemy] will. They started their usurpation of Palestine with acts of massacre, and they will expel you from the West Bank with acts of massacre. They teach their children that it is permissible to spill Arab blood, and especially Palestinian blood. They use it to bake cookies during their holidays and raise [glasses of Arab blood] as a toast at their celebrations... The [Arabs] residents of Jerusalem could not react in any other way... " [6]

Cartoon in London-based Qatari daily: "Jerusalem Waging Resistance" (Al-'Arabi Al-Jadid, London, November 18, 2014)

Articles In Syrian Dailies: A New Palestinian Generation That Will Not Suffice With Nonviolent Action

An article in the Syrian regime daily Al-Ba'th called the attack a "high-quality martyrdom operation." It stated: "This valiant action marks a [new] stage that can be termed the stage of the new fidaiyoun [self-sacrificers], and underscores the birth of a new generation in Palestinian society that pays no heed to Israeli threats and pressures and does not recognize borders or [considerations of] the settlements' security. Moreover, it rejects any [notion] of sufficing with nonviolent action against the occupation, which has gone to extremes in Judaizing Jerusalem and in violating the sanctity of the Al-Aqsa mosque, to the point where it is threatening to uproot Jerusalem's [Arab] residents and completely eradicate their presence and rights.

"The action also demonstrated that the Palestinian people is capable of initiating and using tools that draw inspiration from the initial experience of the pioneers of the resistance, by attacking the enemy in the innermost [heart of his territory] and [thereby] sending messages in many directions - particularly to the Palestinian society [itself]. [The message is] that some things can be done to create a quasi-balance [of power] vis-a-vis the Israelis and cause the Israeli government to understand that Jerusalem and Al-Aqsa are [principles] that cannot be conceded and whose defense cannot be abandoned.[7]

An article in Syria's Al-Watan daily stated: "The Knife Revolution is raging in occupied Jerusalem The Palestinian territories are burning with tension and anger over the continued Israeli attacks on the Palestinians and their holy places. Palestinians are attempting to avenge [the insult] to their honor and the honor of occupied Palestine."[8]

Jordanian Articles: The Attack A Legitimate Act Of Vengeance; Those Who Condemn It Only Encourage The Zionists' Crimes

Reactions to the attack also appeared in the Jordanian press. In his column in the government daily Al-Rai, Jordan's former information minister, Saleh Al-Qallab, wrote under the title "This Is the Reaction": "It is inconceivable that, while the Netanyahu government is committing all these illogical acts, someone - anyone, be it Abu Mazen or anyone else - would be able stop the Palestinian people from avenging the blood of its sons and [reacting to] the daily attacks on its holy places. That was the reason for the latest operation and for the operations that will surely follow it, which will be even worse and more bloody, [and will continue] as long as Binyamin [Netanyahu] stays on this harsh path and as long as his government maintains this filthy Nazi policy and [continues] doing everything it is doing.

"Hence, we say to the Americans, and to all the others who hastened to condemn those who carried out the latest operation and to weep over the Israeli victims, that they must understand that their tears only encourage Binyamin Netanyahu and his government to continue defying the international [community's] will and to provoke the Palestinian people. The problem is the Israeli occupation and the Israeli army and settlers' daily targeting of the Palestinians."[9] 

The Jerusalem attackers are the beacon lighting the path to liberation (Al-Ghad, Jordan, November 19, 2014)

'Omar Kallab, a columnist for the Jordanian daily Al-Dustour, wrote in an article titled "Bless Their Hands" that, while Arab leaders stammer, the Arab street welcomes the heroic attack: "The corridors of the Arab foreign ministries will fill with embarrassment. Arab ministers will wring their hands [in distress] over the heroic act [carried out for the sake of] Al-Aqsa, and arm themselves with every word of condemnation. Some will even find it hard to find words befitting the magnitude of this act. One of them may dare to say that violence begets only violence and then condemn all forms of violence. [Speaking] not in official capacity, some politicians may take courage pills and say that the operation was a response to Zionist terror and that the Palestinian society's frustration engenders extremism and suicide [operations].

"[Conversely], the [Arab] street did not stammer even for a moment, but said loud and clear: 'bless the hands [that did this].' For resistance is legitimate and this act of heroism healed many wounds and gladdened the hearts of many. It is nothing but a legitimate act of resistance by any criteria, including the criteria of the lame U.N..."[10]

Another Al-Dustour columnist, Hilmi Al-Asmar, attacked the Arabs who criticized the attack on the synagogue, calling them "Zionist Arab parrots": "Those who bemoan the permitting [of the attack] in the nests of murderous settlers called 'synagogues' are either  ignoramuses or are begging to please those who cannot be pleased... In fact, there are no rules of play or red lines with the barbaric occupation that has looted land, expelled a people, and established a state on the remnants of human bodies scattered in every direction. The occupation media can deceive the Arab countries and conspire with them - that's their affair - but how is it the affair of some Zionist-Arab parrots who condemn the victim as he moans in pain and advocate for the aggressors as they exercise their tyranny?..."[11]

Editorial In Saudi Daily: The Attack A Prelude To A New Intifada, Genuine Revolution

The Saudi government daily Al-Madina stated in an editorial that the attack was a natural expression of Palestinian frustration and heralded a new intifada and revolution: "The Jerusalem operation... came as a natural response by the Palestinians in the PA territories, who sense that the peace process no longer exists after Israel rejected the two-state solution What is currently happening among the Palestinians in Jerusalem seems to be a prelude to an intifada and a genuine revolution, if [this intifada] has not already erupted

"There is no doubt that the responsibility for this action lies primarily with Israel, due to the policy of violence it is employing against the Palestinians The responsibility also lies with the international community, which is ignoring the fact that Israel continues to occupy the Palestinian territories to this very day."[12]

'Al-Hayat' Columnist: The Attack A Response To Actions Of Israel's 'Neo-Nazi Army'; 'Temple Mount' A Fabrication 

Jihad Al-Khazen, a columnist for the London-based Saudi daily Al-Hayat, held Israel responsible for the attack. He also repeated the claim he has made in other articles that no archeological evidence exists for the existence of a Jewish temple in Jerusalem, and called the IDF "a neo-Nazi army." He wrote: "I hold the Netanyahu government fully responsible for all the killing carried out by Palestinians and for all the terrorist crimes perpetrated by the occupation army and by the filthy settlers. What does the war criminal Netanyahu expect, when every day a Palestinian is killed by the occupation [forces], and when the settlers, under the protection of the neo-Nazi [Israeli] army, defile the sacred [Al-Aqsa] compound and try to pray at the Al-Aqsa mosque?

"[Calling Al-Aqsa] 'Temple Mount' is a despicable innovation, a legend or a lie. There are no archeological remains [of this temple anywhere] in our land, and the Jewish [ancient] prophets and kings are just like this temple: they exist only in fairytales written in order to steal a homeland from its owners...

"The entire land is Palestinian, and legends do not create a state, but only terrorism... The Israeli government alone is responsible for the third intifada, after it blocked every other option that the fighting [Palestinian] people had."[13]

Editor Of E-Daily 'Rai Al-Yawm': Muslims Must Not Be Tolerant Towards The Occupying Murderers

The editor of the e-daily Rai Al-Yawm, 'Abd Al-Bari 'Atwan, wrote in a November 19 editorial that the Palestinians have the right to resist in every way in order to regain their land, and that the Muslims must shown no tolerance to the "occupying murderers." He also condemned Palestinian President Mahmoud 'Abbas for denouncing the attack.

"The storming of the Jewish synagogue by two young men from the Abu Jamal family, residents of the Jabal Mukabber neighborhood in occupied Jerusalem, and their opening fire on those inside [the synagogue] and killing four of them... aroused satisfaction among the vast majority of the Palestinians and among the majority of the honorable Arabs and Muslims.

"These two young men belong to an ancient nation and to a religion known for its tolerance - but it not cannot be tolerant, and in fact must not be tolerant, towards the occupying murderers. What is expected of the Palestinian people, who live in humiliation and disgrace under the Israeli occupation? That they will receive [the Israelis] who invade Al-Aqsa Mosque with flowers and roses? That they will bless the murderers who burned the teenager Muhammad Abu Khdeir? That they will celebrate as the funeral of the martyr Yousuf Al-Ramouni, hanged by settlers in his bus, is underway? [Anyone who criticizes this operation] does not in fact know this people, its strength, and its belief in [the justice] of its cause. They have been misled by several submissive people among their [Palestinian] people, who maintain security cooperation with the occupation...

"The raid on the Israeli synagogue is a powerful message to more than one element, according to which the Jewish settlers will not enjoy security and stability as long as they continue with their occupation, their settlements, their provocations, their massacres and their siege.

"Let Netanyahu go to the U.S. and Europe and incite against the Palestinian people as much as he likes. All this will not change the fact that he is the first terrorist, who killed the peace process, endangered the security of the entire West, and prepared the ground for the rise of extremism and the assassination of moderation. [It will also not change the fact] that the Palestinian people is the victim, and has a legitimate right to the land, [and is entitled] to resist in all ways in order to regain it.

"We pray to Allah and beseech him to guide Palestinian president Mahmoud 'Abbas, who condemned this attack, on the right path, and that ['Abbas] will not send condolences to the families of the rabbis who were killed, as he has done many times. His condemnation and his condolences will not help him with Netanyahu and his settlers, who blame him for the operation and for inciting to [more] such [operations].  

"The Palestinian genie has begun to stir restlessly, to escape from the bottle of humiliation and submission, and to destroy everything in its path, whether government, occupation, or the Arab regimes that are plotting [against him] - because it has nothing [left] to lose, and it [represents] a people that believes that it will triumph over its enemies, sooner or later."[14]

Article On Website Of Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood Party Denounces 'Abbas For Condemning Attack

An article by Wael Kandil on the, the website of the Muslim Brotherhood party in Egypt, stated: "Even before any details were revealed about the valiant fidai [self-sacrifice] operation carried out by two Palestinian resistance fighters in occupied Jerusalem, the head of the [Palestinian] Authority, Mahmoud 'Abbas, hastened to denounce it. It almost seemed as though he wanted to erect a mourners' tent for the killed Zionists. Mahmoud Abbas's passionate human sentiment does not erupt as quickly and in such profusion except in circumstances that pose a danger to his rule, [and] it is very often absent when Arab blood is spilled in Palestine and in Arab capitals It is almost as though he is confining his calls against bloodshed to [cases where] the blood of the Zionist imperialists is shed, while remaining silent about the shedding of Palestinian or Arab blood"[15]

Articles Denouncing The Attack

Lebanese Journalist: The Synagogue Attack Reflects An ISIS-Like Culture Of Terror

A few articles in the Arab press condemned the attack on the synagogue. Elias Bajani, a Lebanese journalist living in Canada, wrote in the Kuwaiti daily Al-Siyassa: "There is no doubt that the Satanic culture of terror, and its savage, barbaric and blood-soaked rituals, are the same the world over, from Iraq, Syria and Lebanon to Nigeria, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Yemen and Gaza, as well as Iran and other nests of terror. The culture of terror, fundamentalism and jihad is one, its background is one, and its inhuman and hostile actions are [always] the same - though the murderers and criminals may have different names and faces. By all standards of faith and of shari'a, and by all legal and moral standards, these people are devoid of all feeling, values, principles and respect for human life, rights and freedom. This culture underpins the abductions and terrorism perpetrated by Boko Haram in Nigeria and all the barbaric actions of ISIS... The same culture of terror is also responsible for the killing of five Jewish worshipers in a Jerusalem synagogue, and for the fact that Hamas, Islamic Jihad, and dozens of similar organizations in Lebanon and Gaza regarded this as 'a welcome and courageous action...'[16]

Saudi Journalist: I Oppose All Attacks On Religious Sites And All Demonstrations Of Racism, Including Against Jews

Liberal Saudi Journalist Ahmed 'Adnan, a columnist for the London-based daily Al-'Arab and a former columnist for the Saudi government daily Al-Sharq, tweeted several messages denouncing the attack:

"Just as I always condemn racism and oppose it, I am very disturbed by any racist behavior towards Jews, and others"; "Our conflict is with Zionism, not with the Jewish religion"; "The greatest defeat for us would be if our enemies caused us to stoop to their own moral [standards]. Hence, I condemn the attack on the synagogue on Jerusalem and oppose it."[17]



[2] Al-Ghad (Jordan), November 19, 2014.

[3] Al-Ghad (Jordan), November 19, 2014.

[4], November 19, 2014.

[5] Al-Sharq (Qatar), November 19, 2014.

[6] Al-Watan (Qatar), November 20, 2014.

[7] Al-Ba'th (Syria), November 19, 2014.

[8] Al-Watan (Syria), November 19, 2014.

[9] Al-Rai (Jordan), November 19, 2014.

[10] Al-Dustour (Jordan), November 19, 2014.

[11] Al-Dustour (Jordan), November 20, 2014.

[12] Al-Madina (Saudi Arabia), November 19, 2014.

[13] Al-Hayat (London), November 19, 2014.

[14], November 18, 2014.

[15], November 19, 2014.

[16] Al-Siyassa (Kuwait), November 20, 2014.

[17], November 18, 2014.

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