PA Society's Universal Support for Suicide BombersIntroduction
Two weeks ago, PMW reported that Palestinian Authority [PA] social organizations and NGOs [Non- Governmental Organizations] were refusing to sign a US required anti terror clause, which states, that the beneficiary organization will not transfer any money to terrorists or terrorist organizations. [See PMW bulletin] During these past two weeks the opposition to the US is growing more organized as 26 organizations gathered in Bethlehem to publicly declare they would not sign the US anti terror clause, while an even larger gathering is being planned. [See article below.]
It is also interesting to note that condemnation of the US anti terror conditions is spreading in the Arab world. "Egyptian intellectuals promised to organize a media campaign [against the US demands] ...They rejected the American document that established a condition and link between funding and signing. The Assistant to the Director General of the Arab Organization for [Human Rights] promised to raise the issue with other Arab countries and other Egyptian organizations." [Al Hayat Al Jadida Sept. 22, 2003]
It is also ironic that on the very same page in the PA daily, right under the article repeatedly attacking USAID, is an advertisement by USAID offering scholarships to Palestinian students for study in the US. [ Page 5, Al Hayat Al Jadida Sept. 22, 2003]
Commentary and Analysis:
There is far reaching significance to this collective refusal in the PA to sign the anti terror clause, as their refusal not only defies US policy, but, challenges a most fundamental premise regarding PA society. The common premise is that the general PA population rejects the murder of civilians through suicide terrorism, which would isolate suicide bombers on the fringe of PA society. However, when the entire organizational infrastructure, including social workers, psychologists, medical organizations and all social welfare organizations, refuse to sign an anti terror declaration, it points to a PA society unified in their support for suicide bombers.
This has important ramifications as much international policy, including the Road Map and the attempted isolation of Arafat, is based on the premise that Arafat and those supporting terrorism represent a fringe element, and their isolation would bring about an intrinsic and presumably permanent change in PA policy. However, if the entire society supports terrorism, as the NGOs stand indicates, Arafat's isolation and replacement would not indicate a change of substance, and certainly not an intrinsic and permanent change.
Below is the Arabic attacking USAID above English advertisement offering USAID scholarships to Palestinians. [Al-Hayat Al-JAdida, pg. 5, Sept. 22, 2003]
The following is the new article that appeared in the PA daily Al Quds:
Title: "The representatives of 29 NGOs [Non- Governmental Organizations] in the Bethlehem district reject the USAID document concerning support of the "terror". Our people are the victims of the terror".
"In the headquarters of the Social Workers and Psychologists Union in Bethlehem, a meeting took place with representatives from 26 NGOs ... [to] discuss the American Development Agency USAID document. [The US document] ... forbids aid to projects belonging to Palestinian agencies and organizations that support terrorism and assist it both directly or indirectly... Without signing this commitment, the funding will be stopped&
Mohammed Halil Al-Laham, Head of the Popular [Welfare] Service Committee in the Al-Dehisha refugee camp, said that the proposed document by USAID is clear intervention in the affairs of the civil society institutions. The response to this document should not be ambiguous nor hesitant, it should be rejected clearly...
Wijdan Al-Aza from the Working Woman's Society... demanded the rejection of any conditional funding or any foreign funding that does not respect not only the beneficiary Palestinian institutions, but also the legitimate goals of the Palestinian people, based on international legitimization.
In coordination with the Civil Society Institutions and with the NGOs, Daod Bishara, a member of the legislative parliament, called to coordinate positions regarding this document and its conditions and to hold a general conference in the Palestinian territories in order to take a united position regarding this subject.
At the end of the meeting, that was run by Adnan Ita from the Christian Youth Society and by Nabila Al-Dikak from the Social Workers Association, the participants decided to have a follow-up committee that would lead to another expanded meeting, and study the recommendations, with a remark that all those present stated their objection to signing and cooperating with [the terms of] this document.
Present at the meeting were also representatives from the District Headquarters and the Palestinian Ministry of Interior and from the Intelligence apparatus.
In the same context, the Emergency Committee of the National and Islamic Forces in the district held a meeting, during which all the Civic Society Institutions were called to refuse to sign this document... "
[Al Quds, Sept. 23, 2003]