Mixing sports and terrorism
Mixing sports and terrorism

Stephen M. Flatow, an attorney in New Jersey, is the father of Alisa Flatow, who was murdered in an Iranian-sponsored Palestinian terrorist attack in 1995. He is the author of  “A Father’s Story: My Fight for Justice Against Iranian Terror” now available on Kindle.

Here in America we often have debates about whether it’s appropriate to mix sports with politics—whether athletes should speak out on political or social controversies. But in Palestinian Arab society, there is no such debate. Sports are a major platform for glorifying and promoting terrorism against Jews.

Using sports events to glorify mass murder clearly contradicts the spirit of peaceful international sporting competition.
The Palestinian Authority’s Karate Federation recently held a “Sisters of Dalal Mughrabi Championship for Young Women.”  Normal societies name sports events after a prominent figure in that sport, or after the donors who made the event possible. Not Palestinian society; it names sports events after its most cherished heroes—those who have massacred Jews.

On March 9, 1978, Ms. Mughrabi —who was just 19 years old at the time— led a squad of 13 Fatah terrorists that landed in several small boats on Israel's shore. Another young woman, Gail Rubin, happened to be on the beachfront that morning.  

Gail, an American Jewish nature photographer, was taking photos of rare birds near the water. Gail’s work had been exhibited at the Jewish Museum in New York City and other major venues. She was the niece of U.S. Senator Abraham Ribicoff (D-Conn.).

One of the terrorists involved in the attack, Hussain Fayadh, later described to a Lebanese Television station what happened next: "Sister Dalal al-Mughrabi had a conversation with the American journalist. Before killing her, Dalal asked: 'How did you enter Palestine?' [Rubin] answered: 'They gave me a visa.' Dalal said: 'Did you get your visa from me, or from Israel? I have the right to this land. Why didn't you come to me?' Then Dalal opened fire on her."

As Gail laying dying on the beach, Mughrabi and her fellow-terrorists walked to the nearby Coastal Road. An Israeli bus approached. They hijacked it. During the ensuing mayhem, they murdered 36 passengers, 12 of them children. Mughrabi was killed by Israeli troops. Ever since, she has been lionized by the Palestinian leadership and news media as a heroine, martyr and role model—including as a role model.

The Palestinian Karate Federation belongs to an international organization known as the Asian Karate Federation, which in turn its part of the World Karate Federation. I have written to both, asking them to take action on the Palestinians’ exploitation of karate to glorify terrorism. Neither federation has responded.

Meanwhile, Palestinian chess players recently took part in the “Martyr Khalil Al-Wazir Abu Jihad Tournament of the Palestine  Northern Districts Individual Chess Tournaments.”

Khalil Al-Wazir, better known as Abu Jihad, was one of the most notorious terrorists in modern history. He was a co-founder, along with Yasir Arafat, of the terrorist Fatah movement in 1965. 

According to news reports as well as the PA’s own boasting, al-Wazir personally organized attacks in which 125 people were killed. Among the most infamous were the murder of American diplomats in Khartoum (Sudan) in 1973, and the above mentioned Coastal Road massacre led by Dalal Mughrabi.

Karate and chess are not the only sports through which the Palestinian Authority glorifies mass murderers. The Ansar Al-Quds soccer club, near Jerusalem, holds an Abu Jihad Tournament. So do the Palestinian Judo Association, the Palestinian Table-Tennis Association, and the Palestinian Boxing Association. 

The international federations to which these Palestinian sports associations belong have an obligation to act. Using sports events to glorify mass murder clearly contradicts the spirit of peaceful international sporting competition. Silence in the face of these Palestinian outrages will imply acceptance of such behavior.

The question of naming sports events after terrorists is not just a matter of symbolism. Young people are influenced by what they see and hear around them. When a society presents Dalal Mughrabi and Abu Jihad as heroes, then young Palestinians will aspire to duplicate their murderous deeds. How can there be any hope for peace if young Palestinians are raised to view massacring Jews as their goal in life?