By Stephen M. Flatow/JNS.org
While Americans have been tearing down statues that honor people who don’t deserve to be honored, Palestinian Arabs are doing exactly the opposite. A statue honoring Saddam Hussein, the notorious dictator, terror sponsor and mass murderer, was unveiled last week in the Palestinian Authority (PA) city of Qalqilya.
Technically, the statue was sponsored by the Arab Liberation Front (ALF), not the municipality of Qalqilya or the PA itself. But the PA’s district governor for the Qalqilya District, Rafi Rawajba, attended the unveiling ceremony. Rawajba is a representative of the Fatah movement, which PA President Mahmoud Abbas chairs.
You can see from the photos distributed by The Associated Press that the statue is 20 feet tall, with lights so everyone can see it at night, too. And it’s situated smack in the middle of a major street. If the mayor or Abbas didn’t want there, it would be gone in five minutes.
In fact, the ALF has erected statues of Saddam in several other PA-controlled cities, too, and Abbas has not ordered them taken down, either. That’s because he was always one of Saddam’s biggest fans. Abbas could have written the Arabic inscription on the statue himself: “Allah is great, long live the nation, Palestine and Iraq, the Lord of the era’s martyrs Saddam Hussein.”
Just two weeks ago, the official Facebook page of Abbas’s Fatah included Saddam alongside photos of other Arab heroes in a college with the slogan, “From the sea of the blood of the Martyrs, we will create the State of Palestine.” On the 10th anniversary of Saddam’s death, last December, the Fatah Facebook page featured a memorial poster hailing Saddam as a “martyr” (shahid).
There’s even an entire “Martyr Saddam Hussein Square,” in Ramallah, the PA’s capital city. I wonder if Abbas salutes it on his way to work.
The ALF is a small Palestinian terrorist group that was established in 1969 with Iraqi financial sponsorship. Remember those infamous $25,000 checks that Saddam sent to the families of Palestinian suicide bombers? The ALF was in charge of distributing the funds.
But the ALF’s record goes beyond handing out rewards to terrorists. It was responsible, for example, for a bombing on Jerusalem’s Ben Yehuda Street in September 1979, in which one person was killed and 58 were maimed. According to the Israeli police, the bomb was “set to detonate at a time when it would cause maximum civilian casualties,” just as “hundreds of customers were leaving the shops along the mail which close at 7 p.m. and other crowds were lining up for the first show at one of the many movie houses in the vicinity.”
Since the whole premise of the 1993 Oslo Accords was that the Palestinian leadership now rejects terrorism, you would think that Yasser Arafat and his then-number two man, Abbas, would have expelled terrorist groups such as the ALF (and the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, and the Democratic Front for the Liberation of the Palestine) from the PLO.
No such luck. To this day, the ALF is a member in good standing of Abbas’s PLO. The ALF operates openly and freely in PA territory. It has never been expelled, disarmed or outlawed.
Nearly 300 American soldiers died fighting Saddam in the Gulf War in 1990. Another 4,497 gave their lives fighting Saddam in the Iraq War of 2003 and its aftermath. The creation of statues and public squares in PA territory honoring Saddam is a direct slap in the face to the U.S. and its fallen soldiers.
Abbas and the PA received $357 million from the U.S. last year. Abbas seems to assume that the aid will continue to flow, even if he allows anti-American terrorists such as the ALF to be part of the PLO, and even if statues of America’s enemies, such as Saddam Hussein, are erected in PA cities.
To judge by the non-reaction of the Trump administration to the newest Saddam statue, it appears that Abbas’s assumption may well be correct.
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.