By Stephen M. Flatow/JNS.org
Fatah and Hamas don’t always get along.
Fatah, the largest faction of the Palestine Liberation Organization, is chaired by Palestinian Authority (PA) President Mahmoud Abbas. Hamas is the Islamic fundamentalist Palestinian group that rules Gaza.
Fatah and Hamas call each other names. They compete against each other in Palestinian elections (on the rare occasions that such elections are held). Sometimes Fatah goons rough up a Hamas member, and vice versa. There were even armed clashes between the two factions in 2007, leaving more than 100 terrorists dead.
But Fatah and Hamas have found at least one thing they agree on: anyone who massacres Jews is a great guy.
Jan. 5 was the 21st anniversary of the death of the most infamous Hamas bomb-maker of them all, Yahya Ayyash. He also shared his car bombing techniques, explosive vests and other deadly innovations with Islamic Jihad, the terror gang that murdered my daughter Alisa and seven other bus passengers near Kfar Darom in 1995.
Hamas honored the “hero” Ayyash Jan. 5 with a photo essay on its website, complete with images of the bodies of some of his victims. Ayyash had the blood of hundreds of Israelis and Americans on his hands. That’s why Hamas reveres him.
But guess what—the “moderate” Fatah admires the mass-murderer Ayyash just as much as the “extremist” Hamas. Fatah, too, celebrated Ayyash’s atrocities with a glowing feature about him on its website.
"Today is the anniversary of (the death of) the martyr engineer Yahya Ayyash,” Abbas’s group declared. “Revolutionaries never die. The pact of Fatah will remain the pact of the martyrs. We are marching on the path of Yasser Arafat on the way to national unity.”
When Hamas and Fatah call Ayyash a “martyr,” they are not using the term casually. “Martyr,” shahid in Arabic, has a specific religious connotation in Islam. The title is bestowed on a Muslim who died in the course of waging jihad against infidels. According to Islam, the shahid is showered with divine rewards in the afterlife.
That’s why there is an Ayyash Street in the PA capital of Ramallah just as there is an Ayyash Street in Beit Lahia, which is in Hamas-ruled Gaza. You name a street after someone you admire. There is no one whom both Fatah and Hamas admire more than the “martyr” Ayyash.
Ayyash’s handiwork included the August 1995 Jerusalem bus bombing in which five people were murdered—including Connecticut school teacher Joan Davenny—and more than 100 were wounded.
The words “more than 100 wounded” don’t begin to do justice to what those innocent people endured. Behind the statistic are horrific stories of suffering that lasts for years, often for a lifetime. One was Yonah Peter Malina, who while growing up in Switzerland did not even know he was Jewish.
At age 27, Yonah discovered his Jewishness, embraced Zionism and immigrated to Israel. He had been there less than a year when Ayyah’s bomb blew up that bus. Severely injured, Yonah awoke from a coma to find himself a paralyzed from the neck down. He spent the next 10 years on a 24-hour respirator until he passed away in May 2005.
Every time the United Nations tells us that Israel is the obstacle to peace, every time the Washington Post tries to convince us that Hamas and Fatah are enemies, every time J Street declares that Abbas is a “moderate”—let’s remember who maimed and ultimately murdered Yonah Peter Malina, and who calls the killer a “hero” and a “martyr.” In the end, that really tells us all we need to know about the Palestinian cause.
Stephen M. Flatow, a vice president of the Religious Zionists of America, is an attorney in New Jersey. He is the father of Alisa Flatow, who was murdered in an Iranian-sponsored Palestinian terrorist attack in 1995.