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The New Yorker, NYT, Foreign Policy: Whitewashing Palestinian Terror

I have seen no evidence that al-Sheikh has ever changed his terrorist ways. I have read no statements of remorse or regret from him for his role in the King George Street slaughter.

Palestinian Authority (PA) official Hussein al-Sheikh is “tall and affable,” according to a glowing feature article about him in the new issue of Foreign Policy. Al-Sheikh, a top candidate in the running to succeed PA chairman Mahmoud Abbas, “wears finely tailored suits”; he’s “pragmatic”; and he “urges cooperating, not clashing, with Israel,” the authors asserted.

But they forgot to mention one little fact. He’s also a murderer of defenseless women and children.

It’s not as if the authors didn’t have enough space to fully explain al-Sheikh’s background. The article, by Adam Rasgon of The New Yorker and Aaron Boxerman of The New York Times, is more than 5,700 words long. That’s about seven times the length of this op-ed.

And it’s not as if Rasgon and Boxerman didn’t consider al-Sheikh’s legal history relevant. They did summarize it, in paragraph 27. But they were very selective about what they mentioned.

In 1978, al-Sheikh “was sentenced to 11 years in prison after he joined a cell involved in attacks against Israelis, although he said he didn’t commit acts of violence,” the authors wrote. They quickly followed that with an anecdote about how al-Sheikh “tears up” as he recalls how his sentencing “broke his father’s heart.”

Now, here’s the part that Rasgon and Boxerman left out.

On Thursday morning, March 21, 2002, a Palestinian suicide bomber struck on King George Street, in the heart of Jerusalem. Five people were murdered, and more than 100 were injured. Four of the five were a young couple, Gadi and Tzipi Shemesh, and their unborn twin daughters.

A number of Americans were among the wounded. The force of the explosion hurled US citizen Alan Bauer 20 feet into the air. Two screws that were packed into the bomb ripped through his left arm. His 7-year-old son, Jonathan, suffered severe shrapnel wounds and fell into a coma. Jonathan underwent numerous operations to remove nails and screws from his head, including one that was lodged in his brain. He was left with permanent injuries.

The Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigade, which is the military arm of the Fatah movement headed by PA chairman Abbas, openly claimed responsibility for the bombing. In fact, it was the King George Street bombing that persuaded the US State Department to finally put the Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigade on its official list of terrorist groups.

Members of the Shemesh family filed a suit against the PA. As a result, details of those who were involved in the attack became public. In 2018, the Jerusalem District Court ruled that the PA was responsible for the bombing. In its ruling, the court cited closed-door testimony provided by Israeli intelligence officials. According to the court’s ruling, one of the names they put forward was “senior Fatah official Hussein al-Sheikh, who met the suicide bomber and two other operatives, and gave them money and two hand grenades to carry out the bombing.”

That’s right, the same al-Sheikh who is now touted as the next possible leader of the PA. He literally put hand grenades into the hands of the bomber and his assistants, in order to murder innocent people. And he financed their attack. Which, according to American and Israeli law, makes al-Sheikh equally guilty of multiple murders.

The passage of time did not diminish al-Sheikh’s fondness for those who murder Israelis and Americans. Here’s what al-Sheikh posted on his Facebook page on March 8, 2015–13 years after the Jerusalem killings–concerning Dalal Mughrabi, leader of the Coastal Road Massacre of 37 Israelis (and Gail Rubin, niece of US Senator Abraham Ribicoff):

“In the Palestinian memory, there are women before whom it is impossible not to stand in honor and admiration. For March 8 (International Women’s Day), thousands of blessings for the soul of heroic female Martyr (Shahida) Dalal Mughrabi, and to all of the Palestinian female Martyrs, as well as the female prisoners, the mothers of the prisoners and Martyrs, the wounded women, the working women, and all women of Palestine who stand firm and deal with the hardships and difficulties of life alongside the men.”

Even before the Jerusalem court ruling, the American government was aware of al-Sheikh’s terrorist background. Several years ago, a scheduled meeting between al-Sheikh and US diplomats at the American Consulate in Jerusalem was canceled when US officials realized al-Sheikh’s connection to the King George Street bombing.

I have seen no evidence that al-Sheikh has ever changed his terrorist ways. I have read no statements of remorse or regret from him for his role in the King George Street slaughter.

Instead, all I see are puff pieces in the Western press touting him as the next Palestinian leader and covering up his bloody background. The authors of the new Foreign Policy whitewash quote a Biden administration official saying, “When you go into a room with him, you can tell he’s really, truly eager for solutions.” Really! Truly! But I wonder what kind of “solution” this unrepentant mass killer has in mind for Israel.


The writer is president-elect of the Religious Zionists of America. He is the father of Alisa Flatow, who was murdered in an Iranian-sponsored Palestinian terrorist attack in 1995, and the author of A Father’s Story: My Fight for Justice Against Iranian Terror.

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