(June 16, 2016 / JNS) By Stephen M. Flatow/JNS.org
Suhair Halabi is very proud of her son, Muhannad. Mrs. Halabi is so proud, in fact, that she recently displayed her pride by visiting the site where Muhannad became famous. We know about her visit because she posted, on Facebook, a photo of herself at the site, flashing “V” for “Victory” signs with both hands.
But Muhannad’s “accomplishment” was not a 4.0 grade point average in school or a game-winning goal in a soccer field. It was the cold-blooded murder of an Israeli rabbi on the streets of Jerusalem, the slashing of the rabbi’s wife and 2-year-old child, and the fatal stabbing of a bystander who tried to assist the victims.
At a press conference on May 7, 2002, president George W. Bush said, “I deeply hurt when there is a lack of hope for moms and dads of anybody—Palestinian moms and dads—it bothers me.” President Barack Obama has made similar statements about “Palestinian moms and dads.” It’s a bipartisan myth—the notion that “Palestinian moms and dads” are just like moms and dads anywhere, that they have the same hopes as anybody else.
Not Mrs. Suhair Halabi. She has made very clear what her hope is. Flashing a V-for-Victory sign at the blood-drenched spot on Haggai Street where Muhannad committed his atrocity was a statement that she hopes for many more murders of Jews.
Her husband has made it very clear that he feels the same way. In the aftermath of the murders, Mr. Shafiq Halabi told reporters, “Muhannad has led the way and I feel that all those young people rising up are joining him. His attack was the wake-up call that Palestinians needed to act and break the current deadlock.”
If Mrs. Halabi were a little more sophisticated in the realm of public relations, she would have stuck to the script that the State Department and J Street would prefer she read from. She would have said how she condemns her son’s murderers, and how he was motivated by personal problems rather than ideology, and how the overwhelming majority of Palestinians just want peace like everybody else.
But Mrs. Halabi went off script. She was honest. She wanted the world to know how she really feels.
And why not? There are no consequences in Palestinian society for applauding the murder of Jews. On the contrary, everywhere the Halabis turn, their son’s behavior is praised. Recently, the Halabis attended an event at Al-Quds University, where Muhannad was studying law. (So much for another myth—that Palestinian terrorists are all unemployed, destitute, and lacking hope; Muhannad was on track to become a successful attorney.)
Now, a normal university would be ashamed that one of its students committed multiple murders. But not a Palestinian university such as Al-Quds. The administration proudly presented the Halabis with Muhannad’s diploma—even though he didn’t graduate (since he was killed by Israeli security forces shortly after his attack)—and the speakers warmly praised the murderer.
It doesn’t stop there. The “moderate” Palestinian Authority (PA), headed by the “moderate” Mahmoud Abbas, has named a street after Halabi and built a memorial to honor him.
The residents of the Halabi’s village, Surda, have also made their feelings clear. According to Israel Hayom, the villagers “began collecting money to rebuild [Muhannad’s] family’s home…which had been demolished by the IDF as a deterrent against future attackers. After it became clear the home would not be rebuilt on the same plot, the money went toward buying a fancier place in the nearby village of Abu Qash. The place spans about 3,870 square feet and is currently undergoing renovations.”
In 1996, then-first lady Hillary Clinton wrote a children’s book titled “It Takes a Village.” She explained how a child is shaped in part by the various people who live in his or her village and the cultural influences to which the child is subjected.
Muhannad Halabi’s village of Surda, like other villages under PA control, is saturated with glorification of violence and hatred of Jews. The schools teach it, the imams preach it, and the PA-sponsored news media promote it. And Muhannad’s parents, like so many other Palestinian parents, echo and reinforce those attitudes everyday—and sometimes even broadcast their feelings on Facebook. Unscripted, uninterested in PR, raw and honest for the world to see. When will the world start paying attention?
Stephen M. Flatow, an attorney in New Jersey, is the father of Alisa Flatow, who was murdered in an Iranian-sponsored Palestinian terrorist attack in 1995.