Arabs and Palestinians on September 11
By Mazin Qumsiyeh, posted 9/14/01
After the horrific tragedy of 9/11, there were repeated airing of TV clips of Palestinian teenagers rejoicing. There was hardly any discussion or even reporting in the news of the following issues. Please read and contact us if you like more information.
- The terrorist act was strongly condemned by every single Palestinian organization and entity: Fatah, the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine, the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, Hamas, unions, Human Right Organizations (AlHaq, Law, Palestine Center for Human Rights), workers committees, student associations, municipalities, mosques and churches, etc.
- It was also condemned by every single Arab American, Muslim American, and other countless human rights organizations supporting Palestinian human rights
- Palestinian lawmaker Hanan Ashrawi told a news conference the celebrations were "misguided" and "aberrations" motivated by a feeling among Palestinians that they have been victims of U.S. backing for Israel. Palestinian analyst Ghassan al-Khatib said the ``human tragedy'' in the United States should not be exploited for political gains by making Palestinians, Arabs and Muslims look like the "bad guys.'' The majority of Palestinians condemned and were horrified and shocked by the terrorist attacks and identified with the victims (as victims themselves).
- We won't know the numbers but there are likely dozens if not hundreds of Muslim and Arab Americans killed in these despicable terrorist attacks. Many are still missing and we pray that they will be found safe
- The US Consul in Jerusalem reported that he has received a huge stack of faxes from Palestinians and Palestinian organizations expressing condolences, grief and solidarity. He himself was pained to see that the media chose to focus on the sensational images of a few Palestinians rejoicing.
- The Christian Peacemaker Team (Americans, Palestinians and others working in Hebron and other areas working non-violently to stop the Israeli aggression against Palestinian civilians) held prayer vigils for the community.
- The Palestine Legislative Council condemned the terrorist attack on the United States and sent an urgent letter of condolences to Mr. J Dennis Hasterd, Speaker of the House of Representatives.
- Dozens of Palestinian men, women and children gathered spontaneously upon hearing the news in front of the U.S. Consulate in East Jerusalem, lighting candles and placing flowers along its walls. Some of the placards they carried read: "Terror is our common enemy" and "We are victims too."
- Palestinians in Occupied East Jerusalem held a candle vigil on 12 September to express their grief and solidarity with the American families struck by this tragedy. Mr. Abdel Qader Al-Husseini, son of the late Palestinian leader Faisal Al-Husseini led the candle vigil.
- Palestinian Americans living in Palestine issued a statement in which they reported that all messages they received from other Palestinians were of sorrow and concern.
- The Jerusalem University students, along with the President of the University and the Deans of the various Faculties, began a blood donation drive in Occupied East Jerusalem. Students and professors went to hospitals in the Occupied City, in order to donate blood for the American victims who need it.
- The 1 million Palestinian students in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including Occupied East Jerusalem, stood five minutes in silence to express their solidarity with the hundreds of American children who have been struck by this strategy, which resembles in its shocking effects their daily sufferings.
- Throughout the US, Arab and Muslim Americans joined other American in vigils and prayers even when some of those members were attacked and/or frightened by irresponsible rhetoric and threats
- President Bush speaking to Gov. Pattaki and Mayor Guiliani stated "...And as we do so, I urge -- I know I don't need to tell you all this -- but our nation must be mindful that there are thousands of Arab-Americans who live in New York City, who love their flag just as much as the three of us do, and we must be mindful that as we seek to win the war that we treat Arab-Americans and Muslims with the respect they deserve. I know that is your attitude as well -- certainly the attitude of this government: that we should not hold one who is a Muslim responsible for an act of terror."
- Georgia Senator Zell Miller's stated "I say bomb the hell out of them. If there's collateral damage, so be it. They certainly found our civilians to be expendable." NY Times 9/13/01.
- "Asked tonight what the attack meant for relations between the United States and Israel, Benjamin Netanyahu, the former prime minister, replied: 'It's very good.' Then he edited himself: 'Well, not very good, but it will generate immediate sympathy.' New York Times, 12 September 2001, p. A22: http://www.nytimes.com/2001/09/12/international/12ISRA.html
- Israeli forces took advantage of the post tragedy confusion and stormed the Palestinian cities of Jenin and later Jericho killing scores of people, injuring over 120, and demolishing many homes and other buildings (Associated Press, AFP).
For other information on this issue, see http://electronicIntifada.net/coveragetrends/rejoicing.html
Mazin Qumsiyeh, PhD