Chairman of Conservative Friends of Israel Eric Pickles again raised the issue of streets – and in this case a school basketball tournament – being named after Palestinian “terrorists”, as though it were something that only Palestinians did.
The Israeli prime minister Benyamin Netanyahu made a similar claim in a letter of condolence to the family of a Palestinian boy burned alive by settlers last year: “In our society, in the society of Israel, there is no place for murderers,” he said.
“And that’s the difference between us and our neighbours. They consider murderers to be heroes. They name public squares after them. We don’t.”
That is not only highly inappropriate in what was supposed to be a letter of condolence to a bereaved family, but also disingenuous and dishonest.
- Scores of streets in Israel are named after Jewish “terrorists”, including a suburb of Jerusalem where all the streets are named after members of Jewish militias who were hanged for “terrorism” by the British.
- Indeed, every country that has fought for its independence glorifies its “soldiers” who lost their lives.
And if you read the two photo-captions below you may conclude that the Israelis are more guilty of this than the Palestinians.
Here is the exchange at Foreign Office questions:
Sir Eric Pickles (Brentwood and Ongar) (Con)
: There have recently been two initiatives in the region: the extension of fishing rights for Gazan fisherman with Israeli co-operation, and the naming of a basketball tournament after a terrorist who killed 36 people, including 12 children. Which of those two initiatives does the Minister think is more likely to bring about a two-state solution?
: He highlights the dilemma that we face. We need grassroots initiatives on a low level such as extension of fishing rights, for which I have pressed for some time. Oil and gas reserves can be tapped into off Gaza, which will also help the economy. At the same time, basketball courts and, indeed, schools and streets are being named after terrorists, which does not suggest that the Palestinians are as serious as they should be.
In the city of Ramat Gan near Tel Aviv is a monument commemorating members of the two underground organisations Irgun and Lehi, who were tried in British Mandate courts and sentenced to death by hanging, some for attacks on British soldiers, others for attacks on Arab civilians. They are regarded as martyrs and streets are named after them in most Israeli cities.
On a hillside overlooking Hebron is the grave of Dr Baruch Goldstein who killed 29 people as they prayed in the Abraham Mosque. Settlers regard him as a martyr and gather on the anniversary to sing songs in praise of him. One of the songs says: “Dr. Goldstein, he aimed at terrorists’ heads, squeezed the trigger hard, and shot bullets, and shot, and shot.” The ceremonial plaza around the grave was dismantled by the Israeli army, but the park and walkway remain in place.
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