Hijacked passengers disembark Hercules aircraft at Ben Gurion airport
Hijacked passengers disembark Hercules aircraft at Ben Gurion airportDavid Rubinger - Yedioth Ahronoth Group

The scheduled address “Whose Narratives? Gender, Justice, and Resistance,” by Palestinian Arab terrorist Leila Khaled to San Francisco University students and members of the public remotely on September 23 has caused outrage among Jews throughout the world.

Khaled, a member of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) and the world's most infamous plane hijacker, demonstrated the critical importance of the media to the Palestinian Arab cause.

In 1969 she participated in an in-flight hijacking of a TWA plane and an El-Al passenger jet the following year. “Until then [the hijackings],” she said “the world only dealt with us as refugees. We demonstrated and screamed and shouted to make the world listen, but the only answer we got was more tents and humanitarian aid. The hijackings were only a short-lived tactic, but I think they were successful in getting international opinion to ask: who are these people? Now the intifada is giving the answer." [1]

Sarah Irving, author of Leila Khaled: Icon of Palestinian Liberation, said Khaled’s notoriety meant that “her image joined that of Che Guevara on thousands of left-wing walls, and to many she became the archetype of the female revolutionary and the Palestinian woman.” Her actions have influenced the way Palestinian Arabs have been perceived by the world, and “have ensured that she looms large in discussions of women, the Middle East, and the tactics of liberation struggles.” [2]

“The media are part of the war,” asserted Malek Wabdeh, a Hezbollah cultural representative, “CNN is more important than airplanes.” [3] For years, the Palestinian Authority has used pictures of dead Arab children from whatever cause to manipulate public opinion against Israel. [4] At a stall in Gaza, one journalist found a Suicide Bomber calendar featuring all of the dead terrorists, and Sheikh Ahmed Ismail Hassan Yassin, a founder of Hamas and its spiritual leader. [5]

In 2006, Palestinian Arab psychiatrist Dr. Shafiq Massalha, predicted that the next generation of Palestinians Arabs would be a very murderous population. Their education, media, websites, and even their families were being exposed to an environment of extreme rage and hatred toward Israel and Israelis. He found that more than half the Palestinian Arab population between the ages of 6 to 11 were dream of becoming suicide bombers. [6]

By 2015, Amos Harel, the military and defense analyst for Haaretz, confirmed Massalha’s warnings. “A new, defiant generation of Palestinians has arisen” in Judea and Samaria, he said, who are motivated, in part, by their regular negative encounters with Israeli security forces, and in many cases, by their religious zeal. “This is no longer an intifada of the miserable,” he continued. Israel, the PA and even families of the terrorists have no control over them anymore.

The terrorists are not deterred by the probability of being killed, which the Palestinian Arab media calls “execution” or by the failure of the upsurge of terror to achieve any significant changes—except for reducing Israelis sense of personal security and renewing the debate about the future of Judea and Samaria. [7] Terrorists are also not discouraged by knowing their bodies will not be returned to their families for burial, relatives might be arrested, some might be fired from their jobs.

Girls as young as 12 and 13 years old have been arrested and incarcerated for being possession of a knife at a checkpoint with the intent of killing a soldier. On March 13, 2016, one 13-year-old in the seventh grade threw stones at a soldier so he would come near enough to her so she could stab him with her knife. [9]

The momentum the Palestinian Arabs have achieved in creating a movement of individuals eager to become suicide bombers is frightening. Terror expert Bruce Hoffman explains how unique this success has been. "Groups there[Israel] succeeded in what terrorist organizations have rarely been able to do, and that's transform their campaigns into almost mass movements, not dependent on a hard-core cadre of fighters but rather with people from the population readily stepping forward to replenish the terrorist ranks.” [10]

The suicide bomber “is the ultimate smart bomb. Perhaps most important, coldly efficient bombings tear at the fabric of trust that holds societies together.” They also ensure international media attention. [11] Attacks by women receive eight times the media coverage as those by men in the West and in the Middle East, mainly because women are not perceived to be violent.[12]

Sarah Irving notes that on some internet sites, “grotesque male bloggers celebrate Leila as the ‘ultimate badass feminist revolutionary chick with a gun,’ objectifying Leila and her comrades while revelling in their own radicalism.”

Khaled remains a “figure of admiration, fascination, and inspiration,” which is why universities are under no moral or legal obligation - in fact, it is reprehensible that they even considered it, let alone went through with it - to provide a forum for her to spew her hatred of Israel or our democratic way of life. [13]


[1] Seumas Milne, “Hijacker back in Britain on campaign trail,” theguardian (January24, 2001); see also Daniel Henninger, “The Blogosphere of Killers,” The Wall Street Journal (July 12, 2007); Frank J. Cilluffo and Daniel Kimmage, “How to Beat al Qaeda at Its Own Game,” Foreign Policy (April 14, 2009); Khaled, Leila, My People Shall Live: The Autobiography of a Revolutionary (London: Hodder and Stoughton, 1973), 58, 61-63,67-68;

[2] Sarah Irving, “Leila Khaled: The Poster Girl of Palestinian Militancy,” Pluto Press website. ND.

[3] Christoph Reuter, My Life Is a Weapon: A Modern History of Suicide Bombing (Princeton, New Jersey: Princeton University Press, 2004),73.

[4] Itamar Marcus and Barbara Crook, “Seducing children to martyrdom,” The Jerusalem Post (July 4, 2006).

[5] Kevin Toolis, “Where Suicide is a cult,” The Guardian (December 15, 2001); James Bennet, “Leader of Hamas Killed by a Missile Strike,” The New York Times (March 22, 2004).

[6] Justus Reid Weiner and Noam Weissman, (“Hamas' Determination to Perpetuate the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict: The Critical Role of Hate Indoctrination,” Jerusalem Viewpoints Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs, Number 545 (August 1, 2006); Michael Sussman and Justus Reid Weiner, "Will the Next Generation of Palestinians Make Peace with Israel?" Jerusalem Viewpoints, Jerusalem Viewpoints Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs (December 1, 2005); Itamar Marcus and Barbara Crook, "Hamas Encouraging Children to Die for Allah on Website," Palestinian Media Watch Bulletin, (March 6, 2006); "Palestinians Exploit

Children for Terror," Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs, (March 10, 2004).

[7] Amos Harel, “Analysis Why Israel Is Failing to Pick Up the Scent of Lone-wolf Terrorists,” Haaretz (December 18, 2015).

[9] Gideon Levy. “Israel Sentenced a 13-year-old Palestinian Girl to Prison,” Haaretz (April 14, 2016).

[10] Bruce Hoffman, “The Logic of Suicide Terrorism,” The Atlantic (June 2003).

[11] Ibid.

[12] Edna Erez and Anat Berko, “Palestinian Women in Terrorism: Protectors or Protected?” Journal of National Defense Studies, Number 6, (May 2008).

[13] Irving, op.cit.

Dr. Alex Grobman has an MA and PhD in Contemporary Jewry from the Hebrew University. He is Senior Resident Scholar at the John C. Danforth Society, and a member of the Council of Scholars for Peace in the Middle East. He lives in Jerusalem.