Words But No Action
US congressman Tom Lantos has ripped the PLO a new one for showing their true colors in mourning recently deceased terrorist leader George Habash.
A top congressman blasted the PLO office in Washington for lauding a terrorist leader who died recently.
Afif Safieh, who heads the Palestine Liberation Organization’s Washington office, on Monday described George Habash, who headed the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, as a “great leader” and opened a condolences registry for him.
“I am astonished that the PLO’s representative to this country would make such an asinine comment and would actually have the temerity to call on Americans to come to his office and sign a ‘register of condolences’ for this vicious individual,” U.S. Rep. Tom Lantos (D-Calif.), the chairman of the U.S. House of Representatives Foreign Affairs Commitee, said Tuesday in a statement. “How disgusting.”
Habash’s group pioneered airplane hijackings in the late 1960s and early 1970s.
Habash broke with the PLO for negotiating the Oslo peace accords. Although he eventually reconciled with the mainstream Palestinian leadership, he never endorsed negotiations for a two-state solution with Israel.
The Palestinian Authority does not have an embassy in Washington, but the PLO is allowed to maintain an office.
The PLO mission has responded to Lantos, and in doing so, have done a better job of showing exactly what they stand for.
STATEMENT BY THE PLO MISSION IN WASHINGTON, D.C.
On January 28, 2008, The PLO Mission in Washington, D.C. issued a public statement announcing the passing of Dr. George Habash, a prominent Arab and Palestinian leader, who died in Amman, Jordan at the age of 82. In accordance with diplomatic and cultural norms, the PLO Mission offered the diplomatic corps and the Palestinian-American community the opportunity to visit its offices to express their condolences to the family of the deceased and the Palestinian people by signing a book of condolences. Similar steps were announced in Ramallah where President Abbas declared a three-day period of national morning.
In a gross misinterpretation of this gesture, the office of Representative Tom Lantos issued a statement accusing the PLO Mission and its director of making “asinine comments” and for “having the temerity” of availing a condolence book to the community to express its feelings on this sad occasion. The PLO Mission rejects this unfortunate and insensitive characterization by Mr. Lantos, which is deemed as a direct insult to the Palestinian people as a whole.
As Mr. Lantos is fully aware, honoring the memory of a national leader of the historical magnitude of Dr. George Habash does not constitute an endorsement of every ideological position or method used by Dr. Habash over the past 60 years of political struggle on behalf of the Palestine cause. The whole world knows quite well the considerable differences between Dr. Habash and the PLO leadership throughout this period. These differences, however, do not in any way, shape or form detract from his commitment to the liberty and independence of his people. Dr. Habash was undeniably the second most important figure in the contemporary Palestinian national movement.
The PLO Mission and its staff are not interested in engaging Representative Lantos in semantic debates. However, it is important to state publicly, that Palestinians are quite capable of recognizing their national leaders and honoring their memories. They are quite entitled to write their own history.
How revealing, especially those last words “They are quite entitled to write their own history.” Because that is exactly what they have been doing these last 40 or so years.
I fully agree with Solomon that “the clear and important implications of this statement will go completely unremarked on and unexamined outside a few select circles.” As has the facts that:
- The PLO has never amended their charter to repeal those clauses which deny Israel’s right to exist and call for its destruction through violence
- The PLO still promotes and incites their people to commit terrorist acts towards the eradication of Israel
- The PLO still have an armed wing that regularly commits terrorist atrocities
I do not believe for a second that the US government are unaware of these things. People such as Itamar Marcus of Palestinian Media Watch have brought it to the attention of US congress, and there are those such as Tom Lantos who talk about it.
What is truly worrying is that despite this knowledge, the US government (and world community) is still touting the PLO (PA) as Israel’s peace partners, and pumping money into their coffers.