click here to jump to start of article
Join Our Newsletter

Get latest articles and videos with Jewish inspiration and insights​

Saboteur or Shahid?

Saboteur or Shahid?

By granting shahid status to the murderer, the PA media are portraying bombing as a positive religious act.


One of the most striking -- and effective -- strategies of the Palestinian Authority under Yasser Arafat was its policy of presenting one message in English to the mainstream media while delivering a separate, often contradictory, message to the Palestinian people in Arabic.

In the aftermath of Friday night's terror attack on a beachfront Tel Aviv night club -- the first since the tenure of Mahmoud Abbas began -- it is clear that the Palestinian media under Abbas's control is continuing Arafat's standard policies.

While the foreign media accept at face value the PA's official condemnation of Friday's suicide bombing, the PA-controlled media are glorifying the bomber as a shahid (martyr who died for Allah) – the highest level of human achievement for a Muslim. By granting shahid status to the murderer, the PA media are portraying bombing as a positive religious act.

Official condemnations need to be understood not as deploring the act, but its consequences – damaging the Palestinian cause.

Within this context the official condemnations need to be understood not as deploring the act, but its consequences – damaging the Palestinian cause.

Sunday's front-page coverage of the story in the official PA daily Al-Hayat Al-Jadeeda features a giant color photo of the terrorist at the top of the page, with the caption: "The executor of the Tel Aviv operation, the shahid Abdullah Badran." Another photograph shows his mother holding a picture of her son, and is captioned: "The mother of the Shahid."

The daily newspaper Al-Ayyam refers to "the family of the Shahid."

Al-Quds refers to "the family of the shahid Abdullah," and to the arrest of "the shahid's two brothers" and to a "mourning tent in memory of the shahid."

An earlier story in Al-Ayyam refers to the bomber as Istish-hadi -- a shahid who actively sought death for Allah and succeeded. To get a sense of the status the Palestinian media is granting Friday's terrorist by defining him as a shahid, here are the rewards awaiting the shahid, as described earlier by a Palestinian religious leader on Palestinian TV:

"When the Shahid meets his Maker, all his sins are forgiven from the first gush of blood, and he is exempted from the torments of the grave. He sees his place in Paradise. He is shielded from the Great Shock and marries 72 Dark-Eyed [Maidens]. He is a heavenly advocate for 70 members of his family. On his head is placed a crown of honor, one stone of which is worth more than all there is in this world." (Dr. Isma'il al-Raduan, PATV, August 17, 2001)

Accordingly, the use of the terms "shahid" and "Istish-hadi" for the terrorist leaves no question about the message the Palestinian media is sending its people about this terror attack: This murder and death for Allah, like those in recent years, is the supreme positive act for a Muslim.

Given this ultimate veneration of the act of murder, condemnations of the suicide attack within the Palestinian-controlled media have focused on the "poor timing" and the fact that the attack was a violation of the agreement between Abbas and Hamas to stop killing civilians during the cease-fire. The killings were detrimental to PA policy – nothing more. As in the Arafat years, the act itself was not portrayed as immoral or wrong.

On Monday, Hassan Asfour, a member of the PA parliament, put it this way on Palestinian TV: "This is the first action that no one is happy about. Everyone felt that the timing is not [right] and there is absolutely no need for it... It is not because the resistance against the occupation is a mistake, but because the nature, location and timing of the action are a mistake."

In his condemnation too, Abbas was careful not to criticize the action itself but the damage to the Palestinians:

"President Mahmoud Abbas described the operation... as a condemned sabotage attack, blaming a third party for the execution in order to jeopardize the peace process and to damage the reputation or the Palestinian people."

"Presidential adviser Nabil Abu Rudeineh [said the PA] 'condemns this operation especially coming after the hudna and the calming, which were achieved with the factions... the Authority opposes any action, which targets civilians. This is a part of the hudna which was declared in Sharm e-Sheikh. We oppose any violation of this hudna.' He also clarified that this sort of action harms the supreme national interests of the Palestinian people."

Under the new leadership of Mahmoud Abbas, the message to Palestinian society remains essentially unchanged from that of the Arafat era. PA leaders condemn the timing and potentially negative ramifications of a terror attack, but not the act itself.

Marcus is founder and director, and Crook is associate director and North American representative, of Palestinian Media Watch.

March 5, 2005

Give Tzedakah! Help create inspiring
articles, videos and blogs featuring timeless Jewish wisdom.
The opinions expressed in the comment section are the personal views of the commenters. Comments are moderated, so please keep it civil.

Visitor Comments: 7

(7) S.Waseem Janjua, September 18, 2005 12:00 AM

Change the vision and change the objective

In the Muslim World so for no line has been drawn between "FREEDOM FIGHTING AND EXTREMISM", so the motive remains there. It is believed(although falsely) that fighting against Israel and getting killed is an act of martyrdom or suicide for the cause of Palestine is not an act of extremism but a way to receive Shahada(martyrdom). If this concept or vision is not changed, the whole world togather can't stop people getting suicide in the name of Islam.It is important to understand the vision and motive behind all that killings/ suicide attacks. Once you manage to change the vision, the motive of self killing will go weak or unjustified. In the Muslim Umma(Muslim World), the concept of being martyred is misconcieved and then propogated by the extremists in such a way that it has become a norm.Now when some one explodes himself in a shopping centre, at bus stands, railway stations, hotels or any other public place you name it, he is straight away accepted as a hero or a Shaheed, with out thinking that how many innicent people/ children/ women have been killed due to him.This is a gangerous state of mind where all such extremist acts are accepted as holy work. If you need to discuss on the subject or like me to share with you the ways and means to improve the draustic conditions or bring changes in the culture, please ask me.
Best wishes,

(6) Angelito Q. Sechong, March 24, 2005 12:00 AM

PA should do more to stop suicide bombings by: 1. Stop praising terrorists by calling them martyrs; 2. Discouraging would-be terrorists thru right information; 3. Increase the level of education of their children, so that they can not be easily be tempted to join terrorist organization

(5) James, March 21, 2005 12:00 AM

Let's not write off Abbas too quickly

If Abbas is the Palestinian Gorbachev, he could still hardly be expected to go round firing half his apparachniks overnight. Qureia (old guard) will be demanding similar powers to what Abbas demanded when he was PM, and the PA media will be seeking some autonomy just like the BBC has from the UK government.

What really counts is the opinion poll that found that a majority of Palestinians opposed this suicide bombing. But will this tide be helped by today's news of expansion of West Bank settlements? Let's be realistic about that too.

(4) ZS, March 10, 2005 12:00 AM


Jeffrey Pomykala, "Steven" was replying to the post of "H Gordon" (see below) and not to the writers of the article. The title states clearly "To blind Mr. Gordon". Please take care next time before condemning.

(3) Jeffrey Pomykala, March 7, 2005 12:00 AM

Who's blinded by what??

In response to the comment by "Steven", in which he thinks Mr. Marcus and Ms. Cook are "blind" for what they've written in the article: Steve, did you even READ the article?? You come off condemning the writers, lumping them with the extremism and foolishness of Chomsky's rhetoric - then go on to say WHAT THE WRITERS THEMSELVES were implying in this article ~ what any reading person would see....and that's the same Abbas and Palestinian problems that you and I (and any other thinking person)see. The "tone" of the article might be too soft in your perspective, but it's exactly the type of initial disourse to get people in the "uninformed" world more critically thinking vis a vis the situation as it exists in Israel.
The article is diplomatic and factual - the writers are pointing out what is taught and glorified in pan-arabia, as well as the fact that, to quote an old rock song, "Meet the new boss...same as the old boss". Abbas is only continuing on in the same vein as Arafat - he's just going to be more "diplomatic" about it.

So, I truly can't understand your labeling of the writers as you have. The only logical conclusion I can come to, and giving you the benefit of the doubt towards comprehending the written language, is that you hadn't really even read this article. I suppose it's also possible that you have read other writings by these authors and, due to disaggreeing with them on those other articles, now have a bias towards their literary output, therebye hindering your ability to understand anything else they may write.

I don't know....the only thing I DO know, is that your commentary doesn't match to the article in the least.

In the mean time, may you, I and any others who read the words here, each continue to do all we can to inform the world of Truth.

The Bias - The Hate - The Religious intolerance and bigotry.....

Real thinking people, when shown the facts of history as well as the present, can come to an accurate conclusion as to which culture is truly "disfunctional", to say the least.

My prayers are that some day, soon, there be "True Peace" in Israel....

See All Comments

Submit Your Comment:

  • Display my name?

  • Your email address is kept private. Our editor needs it in case we have a question about your comment.

  • * required field 2000
Submit Comment