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A call to value life

Opinion
The Jerusalem Post
4/27/04

In 1942, Haj Amin el-Husseini, then "prime minister" of a pan-Arab government formed in Nazi Berlin, broadcast from Germany to his numerous disciples in the Arab world: "Slaughter the Jews wherever you find them. Their spilled blood pleases Allah."

This virulent message has clearly been revived in Arab, particularly Palestinian, society, as it was when still-revered Husseini was its all-powerful warlord.

Sajid Abu Alous, the 18-year-old ringleader of a gang that recently roamed the streets of Jerusalem in order to gun down Jewish passersby, echoed the Nazi-collaborator's sentiments to the full, when he remorselessly declared a few days ago that he decided to spill Jewish blood "in order to please Allah and in his name. I knew God would be satisfied with me and that's all that matters."

He was apprehended Friday with his gang cruising the streets of Jerusalem, gun in hand, stalking his next victim. He told interrogators and the arraigning judge over the weekend that his one regret was that his three-member group's first "hit" was a young jogger who turned out not to have been a Jew at all.

At first, Arafat's own Fatah eagerly took credit for the close-range shooting last month of the jogger, who turned out to be Hebrew University student George Khoury. But it quickly dropped its triumphant boasts when it emerged that Abu Alous's victim was a Christian Arab and, even more embarrassingly, the son of noted east Jerusalem attorney Elias Khoury, who often represents the PA before Israeli courts.

When the mistaken identity became known, the PA became contrite and offered the father its condolences over the fact that his son was erroneously suspected of being a Jew and that he therefore paid for it with his life. There was nothing morally reprehensible in causing a young man's death, only in assuming he was a Jew.

Discomfited, Arafat personally declared the slain George a shahid � a martyr for the Palestinian cause. Arafat was described by spokesman Ziad Abu Ziad as being "shocked and outraged." Arafat even sent his representatives to the funeral to comfort the bereaved family. Like Abu Alous, he, without compunction, differentiated between the blood of Jews and non-Jews, by inference sanctioning the spilling of the former.

It is obvious that if Arafat had exhibited a fraction of the sincere regret that he has shown in the Khoury case when Jews were slaughtered, the Palestinian offensive would never have achieved its current proportions and would have ended long ago.

We do not mean to jeopardize Elias Khoury's status as a Palestinian patriot and nationalist, but we cannot help but note the humanity and courage with which he has responded to his son's death, and the example he has set for the Palestinian leadership. From the beginning, he rejected the designation of his son as a "shahid," as if he could be posthumously drafted into the orgy of murder that cost him his life.

Now that George Khoury's murderer has apparently been caught, Elias Khoury has gone a step further, openly calling on the Palestinian Authority to end the anarchy within its bounds, stop incitement, begin educating children for peace, and start reversing the Palestinian death cult � or what he called "a complete loss of human values."

These are brave words indeed from someone who lives under the PA's thumb and can well find himself exposed to its wrath. Dissent of even the mildest sort isn't easily tolerated in Arafat's fiefdom, where harsh punitive measures generally secure apparent cohesion and conformity.

Most courageous of all was Khoury's call on Arab clerics to cease influencing young people to "distort religion in the ugliest manner... Religious leaders, the Palestinian leadership... and all who still value human life in Palestinian society must rise, gather courage, and say that enough is enough."

We join Khoury in urging Islamic leaders to "rise and say this loudly and clearly. Their silence harms Islam and Palestinian society."

Indeed, history repeatedly shows that genocidal crimes inevitably turn on the purveyors of racism and chaos. In time, hate mongers reap the whirlwind they sow.

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