(June 1, 2015 / JNS)
Jibril Rajoub, head of the Palestine Football (Soccer) Association, was all over the news this past week, calling Israel various ugly names and, ever the showman, dramatically hurling red penalty cards in front of eager television cameras at the 65th Congress of FIFA (world soccer’s governing body).
Most Americans and media consumers around the world don’t know the names of individual Palestinian Authority (PA) officials, so very few would have recognized Rajoub’s incredible hypocrisy. They had no way of knowing that the man who was loudly accusing Israel of being cruel and violent has a resume filled with terrorism, torture, and general thuggery. And for some reason, the major American news media declined to inform them.
Rajoub was one of the original “child terrorists.” In 1968, at age 15, he was convicted of assisting fugitive terrorists and was jailed for four months. In 1970, he was arrested after throwing a hand grenade at an Israeli bus. Released in a 1985 prisoner exchange, he immediately resumed his terrorist activities, and spent time in Israeli jails in 1986 and 1987. Rajoub played a major role in the first wave of intifada violence, in 1987, and as a result, Israeli defense minister Yitzhak Rabin deported him to Lebanon.
When Yasir Arafat established the PA in early 1994 (following the signing of the Oslo Accords), he handed out senior positions to numerous veteran terrorists. This should have been a red flag. After all, if Arafat had truly reformed himself and abandoned terrorism, why reward terrorists with plum jobs?
One of the biggest beneficiaries was Rajoub. He was appointed head of the Palestinian Preventive Security Services, a Palestinian equivalent of the KGB. And, no surprise here, Rajoub then turned around and handed out jobs in his security force to members of the younger generation of terrorists.
Between 1996 and 1998, Israel submitted more than 30 requests to the PA for the extradition of terrorists. The Oslo Accords require the PA to honor such requests. Instead, it ignored them—and U.S. president Bill Clinton’s administration did nothing. But in making the requests, Israel publicized some of the details of Rajoub’s protect-the-terrorists racket.
One was Bassam Issa, a suspect in the February 1996 bus bombing in Jerusalem, in which American students Matt Eisenfeld and Sara Duker, a schoolmate of my daughter Alisa, were murdered. After the attack, he was hired by Rajoub’s security force. Three others whom Israel identified as connected to that attack, Kamal Khalifa, Yasser Khasin, and Mahmad Sanwar, were also hired by Rajoub. So was Atef Hamadan, who had been involved the kidnap-murder of an Israeli soldier.
Rajoub also used the Preventive Security Forces for thievery. The Jerusalem Report revealed in 1997, at the height of the huge wave of Palestinian thefts of Israeli cars, that a thief named Hamad Hamadi captured in Jerusalem’s Musrara neighborhood told police that he was acting on instructions from Rajoub, who paid 1,000 shekels for every stolen Israeli automobile.
Under Rajoub’s regime, the Preventive Security Forces were also used to settle personal scores. In 1997, a Palestinian journalist reported on a secret meeting between Rajoub and an Israeli official. Big mistake. Rajoub didn’t want the meeting to be known. He summoned the journalist to his headquarters in Jericho, and shouted, “I can call Arafat myself and tell him that I want to kill you, and the president will give his blessing.” The journalist got lucky; he “got away with being tortured” for two days, according to the Jerusalem Report.
As a result of internal Palestinian Authority quarrels, Rajoub was ousted from the Preventive Security Forces in 2002. As consolation, he was put in charge of both the Palestine Olympic Committee and the Palestine Football Association. In the Olympics job, he is perhaps best known for his assertion in 2012 that Israel’s request for one minute of silence to remember the 1972 Munich massacre was “racist.”
But it is as head of the soccer association that he is truly leaving his mark. Beyond the recent attempt to have Israel expelled from FIFA, Rajoub has acted to ensure that every young Palestinian soccer player reveres mass murderers. In city after city under PA rule, there are soccer fields, teams, tournaments named after Palestinian terrorists, including some who have murdered American citizens.
Long after this week’s FIFA controversy is forgotten, long after Rajoub himself retires from public office, young Palestinians will continue to be reared in an environment that glorifies terrorists, thanks to Rajoub and his comrades. So much for co-existence and peace.
Stephen M. Flatow, an attorney in New Jersey, is the father of Alisa Flatow, who was murdered in a Palestinian terrorist attack in 1995.