(October 10, 2018 / Israel Hayom) Interior Minister Aryeh Deri has ordered the northern Arab town of Baqa al-Gharbiya to cancel plans to host a book launch for a convicted terrorist.
The event was to mark the release of The Story of the Oil Secret, a children’s book penned by Walid Daka, an Arab-Israeli terrorist who was convicted of the abduction and murder of Israel Defense Forces’ soldier Moshe Tamam in 1984.
Daka, who hails from Baqa al-Gharbiya, was sentenced to life in prison. He continues to deny any involvement in the murder and has unsuccessfully petitioned for a new trial several times.
According to reports in Israeli media, the town planned to host the event in a publicly funded community center, giving Deri the authority to order it be canceled.
Deri’s decision followed an appeal against the event by Tamam’s family, an organization representing disabled IDF soldiers and right-wing activist Shai Glick.
“The State of Israel will not give a platform to launch the writings of a terrorist in a public building belonging to the council,” Deri said on Tuesday.
“This is a man who murdered an IDF soldier and is serving a life sentence. We have a duty to preserve the dignity of Moshe Tamam and not allow the terrorist to use the local council’s facilities to launch his book.”
The interior minister further barred Baqa al-Gharbiya Council Head Mursi Abu Mokh from hosting any such an event.
In response, organizers said they plan to move the event to a private venue.
Israel’s Culture and Sports Minister Miri Regev denounced the move, calling it “a theater of the absurd. What began as a first act in which Walid Daka, a terrorist, is celebrated for his actions, continues with a second act in which the town of Baqa al-Gharbiya celebrates the release of his book. Turning this heinous terrorist into a role model for children is truly absurd.”
Regev demanded the town cancel the private event as well, saying “it is time we stop giving terrorists and murderers public platforms. Terrorists should rot in prison, where they belong.”
Baka al-Gharbiya’s council issued a statement saying the town has “adopted the motto of being a city of tolerance. We believe in coexistence based on the values of equality and respect among all Israeli population groups.””
As the content of Daka’s book had been approved by the Israel Prison Service prior to publication, the launch “is a cultural event organized by his [Daka’s] family. We have read the book and its contents are humane. It has no hatred, hostility or any illegal content.
“The Walid Daka of 32 years ago is not the same Walid as now. We are not in a place where we seek to hurt anyone, for that goes against the values of tolerance that we in Baka al-Gharbiya embrace,” the statement said, stressing that “if the book contained any incitement or racism, the city would most definitely not have allowed the event to take place.”