Legitimization of Terrorism by Fatah and the Palestinian Authority: Glorification of the Murder of the Israeli Athletes at the Munich Olympic Games

Overview

On September 5, 2018, the anniversary of the terrorist attack at the 1972 Munich Olympics was marked, in which 11 Israelis were murdered[1]. The Fatah Movement, which carried out the terrorist attack, mentioned the anniversary of the event in posts posted on its official Facebook pages. These posts glorified the attack (“a high-quality military operation”) and praised its perpetrators. The terrorists who carried out the murder are referred to in the post of the Fatah Movement in Nablus as “the heroes of the Munich operation;” and in the post of the Fatah Movement in Bethlehem they are referred to as “heroes of the Fatah Movement, sons of Yasser [Arafat].” The portrayal of the terrorist attack in Munich is also expressed favorably in a Palestinian Authority history textbook, in which the murder is described as an act carried out by Fedayeen (who sacrifice their lives by carrying out a military operation) with the aim of “attacking Israeli interests abroad” (History Studies, 11th Grade, Part 2 (2017), p. 54)[2].

  • The glorification of terrorists who carried out murderous terrorist attacks is a common phenomenon in the Palestinian Authority and Fatah. A noteworthy example of this is Dalal al-Mughrabi, a Fatah terrorist who took part in the Coastal Road Massacre (35 dead civilians) and became a national heroine and a symbol of the Palestinian armed struggle. The Palestinian Authority and the Fatah Movement systematically glorify her personality, calling her “the bride of Palestine,” enhancing the importance of the Coastal Road Massacre in which she participated (“a heroic victory”) and commemorating her in various ways in the Palestinian Authority[3].

Glorification of terrorists who carried out murderous attacks. Post glorifying the Fatah terrorists who carried out the Munich attack, published by the Fatah Movement in Bethlehem (Facebook page of the Fatah Movement in Bethlehem, September 5, 2018)
Glorification of terrorists who carried out murderous attacks. Post glorifying the Fatah terrorists who carried out the Munich attack, published by the Fatah Movement in Bethlehem (Facebook page of the Fatah Movement in Bethlehem, September 5, 2018)

  • Glorifying terrorism and turning its perpetrators into heroes and role models means legitimizing terrorist attacks against Israel even today. The legacy of Palestinian terrorism is deeply embedded in Palestinian society and politics through the education system, the media, and social discourse. It is carried out not only by organizations designated by Israel and the international community as terrorist organizations such as Hamas and the Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) but also by the Palestinian Authority and Fatah (even if they sometimes do so in a more understated manner).
  • Hence the Palestinian younger generation is raised with a heritage that is deeply rooted in Palestinian society. This heritage praises the shaheeds and their terrorist attacks, including those that were carried out abroad on European soil and became a symbol of international terrorism, such as the murder of athletes at the Munich Olympics.
Glorification of the murder of Israeli athletes in Munich by Fatah
  • September 5, 2018, was the 46th anniversary of the Munich Olympics massacre carried out by Fatah terrorists under the cover name Black September. To mark the occasion, the Fatah Movement in Bethlehem posted the following on its official Facebook page: “So that we will not forget. September 5, 1972. In memory of the Munich operation at the Olympic Games in Germany. The heroes of the Fatah Movement, the sons of Yasser [Arafat], made it (a day) to remember.” Attached to the post was a video documenting the events of the Munich attack (Facebook page of Fatah’s Bethlehem region, September 5, 2018).
  • The Fatah Movement in Nablus also posted on its official Facebook page on the anniversary of the Munich attack. The post, which glorifies the terrorists who carried out the attack in Munich, says: “The high-quality fedayeen operation – the Munich operation.” Among other things, the post included photos of eight terrorists who carried out the attack under the title “Heroes of the Munich operation.” Below the photos of the perpetrators of the attack were photos of the 11 Israeli athletes murdered in the attack (Facebook page of the Fatah Movement in Nablus, September 5, 2018).

Post by the Fatah Movement glorifying the terrorists who carried out the Munich attack and calling it “the high-quality fedayeen operation” (Facebook page of the Fatah Movement in Nablus, September 5, 2018)
Post by the Fatah Movement glorifying the terrorists who carried out the Munich attack and calling it “the high-quality fedayeen operation”
(Facebook page of the Fatah Movement in Nablus, September 5, 2018)

  • An information website affiliated with Fatah’s Mohammad Dahlan camp, which is opposed to Mahmoud Abbas, published an article covering the Munich attack. The article mentions the names of two Fatah leaders who were among the planners of the attack (Abu Iyad and Abu Daoud). The article also includes a description of the preparations for the attack, the entrance to the Olympic village in Munich and the takeover of the building where the Israeli athletes were staying. The article ends as follows: “Therefore, the date (September 5) will go down in history as the Munich operation, which demonstrated the meaning of the heroism and daring of the Palestinian resistance figure (Al-Muqawem al-Filastini) and his self-sacrifice for his homeland and for the (Palestinian) cause” (Information website of Fatah’s Mohammad Dahlan camp, September 5, 2018).

Article published on the website of Fatah’s Mohammad Dahlan camp marking the 46th anniversary of the Munich operation. At the end of the article, the importance of the attack and its contribution to the homeland and Palestinian cause are emphasized (Information website of Fatah’s Mohammad Dahlan camp, September 5, 2018)
Article published on the website of Fatah’s Mohammad Dahlan camp marking the 46th anniversary of the Munich operation. At the end of the article, the importance of the attack and its contribution to the homeland and Palestinian cause are emphasized (Information website of Fatah’s Mohammad Dahlan camp, September 5, 2018)

Favorable presentation of the murder of the athletes in Munich in a Palestinian Authority textbook
  • An 11th grade history textbook reads: “The Palestinian resistance[4] turned to many methods in its resistance to the Zionist occupation. The fedayeen employed the guerrilla method in most of their confrontations with Zionism within the Palestinian territories. They also attacked Zionist interests abroad, such as the Munich operation in 1972, and [participated] in direct confrontation in many battles, such as the Battle of Karameh in 1968” (History Studies, 11th Grade, Part 2 (2017), p. 54). This description is devoid of any condemnation or reservation whatsoever about the murder of Israeli athletes during the Olympic Games, and the entire event is presented in a favorable context as an attack on “Zionist interests” abroad.

Excerpt from the 11th grade history textbook which mentions the Munich bombing

Excerpt from the 11th grade history textbook which mentions the Munich bombing

This description of the terrorist attack in Munich is one of the Palestinian textbooks’ expressions of indirect support for violence and acts of terrorism against Israel. This support is carried out, inter alia, by praising attacks and glorifying those killed as shaheeds. The inculcation of the glorification of the shaheeds and their activities is designed to prepare the students, mentally and ideologically, for the continuation of the violent struggle for the destruction of the State of Israel (using the vague term “liberating Palestine from the occupation”)[5].

[1] The attack on the Israeli athletes at the Munich Olympics took place on September 5-6, 1972. Eleven Israeli athletes were killed in the terrorist attack, which was carried out by a squad of eight Black September operatives who had undergone lengthy military training prior to the attack. Black September was a cover name for terrorist attacks abroad carried out by Fatah, with the knowledge and approval of Arafat and the organization’s top leaders.
[2] Fedayeen: A term with a positive connotation, which means those who redeem their lives through devotion by carrying out a military operation. The term was first used in this context after the end of World War I. In the first half of the 1950s, the term was identified with the Palestinian terrorists who infiltrated into Israel from Jordan and Egypt in order to carry out acts of terror against Israel. In recent years, it has been decided that fedayeen operations will be considered, retroactively, as operations that were carried out at the beginning of Islam, and this gave them Islamic legitimacy of sorts.

[3] For more information, see the ITIC’s Information Bulletin of March 23, 2017: “Glorifying shaheeds who carried out deadly terrorist attacks and turning them into role models: Dalal al-Mughrabi, a Fatah terrorist who participated in the 1978 Coastal Road Massacre, as a case study.”

[4] The Palestinian resistance is a term for the Palestinian terrorist organizations operating against Israel. Islamic terrorist organizations, including Hamas, are known as the Islamic Resistance.

[5] For further information, see the ITIC’s Information Bulletin from December 26, 2017: “Schoolbooks of the Palestinian Authority (PA): The Attitude to the Jews, to Israel and to Peace” by Dr. Arnon Groiss and Dr. Ronni Shaked. On October 24, 2018, a vote was held in the European Parliament, rejecting a draft resolution submitted to the Parliament to cut aid funds to the Palestinian Authority, in the amount of around EUR 15 million, if they did not remove parts of their textbooks dealing with incitement against Israel. The draft resolution states that the textbooks published by the Palestinian Authority in 2017 contain, among other things, many examples of incitement against Israel, glorification of terrorists, and inculcation of hatred. In the Palestinian Authority, the rejection of the draft resolution was seen as an important diplomatic victory and a “slap in the face” for Israel (Ramallah News; arabic.people website, October 24, 25, 2018).