Is Sari Nusseibah a Moderate?

Sari Nusseibah went on to tell the viewers of Al-Jazeera around the world that "suicide attacks are often defensive in nature, like the heroes who carried out suicide attacks when they defend their homeland in the refugee camp of Jenin."

David Bedein,

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credit David Michael Cohen
This Friday, December 10th, 2004, International Human Rights Day, Boston's Jewish Community Relations Council, the American Jewish Committee and the Anti-Defamation League are sponsoring a visit by Sari Nusseibah, a Palestinian whom these organizations describe as a "peace activist".

Indeed, Sari Nusseibah positions himself as a "peace activist", speaking throughout the world for reconciliation with Israel and against suicide bombers.

For the past four years, journalists have dispatched countless requests to Sari Nusseibah to ask him when he was going to express such thoughts on the airwaves of the PBC, the Palestinian Broadcasting Corporation, which runs the official Palestinian Authority radio and TV in the Arabic language.

Sari Nusseibah, a most senior member of the Palestinian Authority, serving as the official PA representative in Jerusalem, would have no problem to request an appearance on the PBC.

Yet Nusseibah has refused to make any such appearance.

Sari Nusseibah did address the issue of suicide attacks when he appeared on a panel discussion on the Al-Jazeera TV network, widely known as the "CNN of the Arab world" on June 29th, 2002, with Khaled Mash'al, the head of the diplomatic division of Hamas, and with Uhm Nidal, the mother of a young Palestinian man, Muhammad Pharis, who had been killed perpetrating a suicide attack.

On that panel discussion, Uhm Nidal announced to the world that she was proud to dispatch her son on a suicide mission to the Atzmonah yeshiva, where, on March 3rd, 2002, he murdered five yeshiva boys in cold blood.

The boys were each 18 years of age - Asher Marcus, Eran Picar, Arik Kroglak, Ariel Zana and Tal Kurtzweil.

What Sari Nusseibah said in response to the mother of a suicide bomber was something other than condemnation: "What comes to mind when I hear my sister Uhm Nidal speak is the verse in the Koran which proclaims that 'the Garden of Eden has been designed for these mothers.' All the more honor goes to every Palestinian mother, to every fighter, and to all those women who fight for the Palestinian jihad in our land."

Sari Nusseibah went on to tell the viewers of Al-Jazeera around the world that "suicide attacks are often defensive in nature, like the heroes who carried out suicide attacks when they defend their homeland in the refugee camp of Jenin."

Al-Jazeera screens that Nusseibah interview time and time again. Nusseibah has never objected.

The seminal Al-Jazeera interview was not the only time that Sari Nusseibah expressed a point of view which was less than moderate.

In 1986, Sari Nusseibeh wrote an article in which he described Israel as "a racist Zionist entity" and called for consolidating the Arab position in order to finally achieve a Palestinian secular state.(1)

Sari Nusseibeh played a leadership role during the Palestinian Intifada riots that broke out in 1987. In the indictment brought against seven leaders of the violence in Lod Military Court in 1989, the Israeli Government prosecutor stated that Nusseibeh served as a conduit for money "for financing the Intifada," and that Nusseibeh was responsible for "drawing up reports and leaflets for Intifada purposes such as instructing Intifada activists [on]... throwing firebombs" at Israelis and "fighting with knives."(2)

During the 1991 Gulf War, Sari Nusseibah was actually caught contacting Iraqi officials in order to help direct the SCUD missile attacks of Saddam Hussein. According to a statement by Col. (Res.) Shalom Harari, former Arab Affairs Advisor for the Israeli Defense Ministry: "While the rockets were falling it became clear... that... [he] was telephoning the Iraqi ambassador in one of the neighboring countries to tell the Iraqis where to shoot the missile."(3)

Nusseibeh was arrested by Israel's Shin Bet intelligence agency, and put in administrative detention for several weeks. After the Gulf War ended, Israeli officials allowed Nusseibeh a plea bargain under which he voluntarily left the country for three years.

By 1995, Sari Nusseibah assumed his position at Al-Quds University. He attracted considerable attention when he wrote the following letter to Saddam Hussein in January 2001: "In the name of Al-Quds University... allow me to express the admiration of the Palestinians for your honorable positions.... You represent the vanguard of steadfastness.... We, in Jerusalem, are inspired by you.... We are proud to belong to a nation, which [sic] considers you a symbol of resistance and a symbol of greatness.... We are certain of your support...."(4)

Appeal From Victim's Parents to the JCRC Goes Unheeded

On Tuesday, Yitzhak and Rivka Marcus, the parents of Asher Marcus, one of the boys murdered in Atzmonah, appealed to the Jewish Community Relations Council in Boston to cancel the luncheon event in honor of Sari Nusseibah, quoting the Talmudic saying that "he who [wishes] to take a wife should inquire about [the character of] her brothers." (Baba Bathra 110a; Soncino edition of the Babylonian Talmud) "Likewise," they wrote, "one should strictly investigate a person one is about to honor," and asked the JCRC to cancel the event because Nusseibah praised the murderer of their son.

Nancy Kaufman, a senior official of the JCRC, responded by saying that the Jewish community had "no intention of honoring Nusseibah," and that all they wished to do was "to meet with Sari Nusseibah to hear what he has to say and to challenge him with our concerns."

Yitzhak and Rivka Marcus responded to Kaufman's defense by noting that "the greatest honor that you can bestow upon an Arab in the Middle East is having him over for a meal. Please understand that inviting Sari Nusseibah to the 'Brown Bag Lunch' is the greatest honor you can bestow upon him.... We trust that the Jewish community in Boston will do their utmost to cancel the event."

However, the Jewish Community Relations Council of Boston would not budge, and their invitation to Sari Nusseibah has not been rescinded.




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