European Parliament building, Strasbourg, France. (photo credit:ARND WIEGMANN)
Bereaved families of victims of terrorism sent letters of thanks to 17 European Parliament lawmakers on Tuesday after the latter protested the participation of relatives of convicted terrorists Marwan Barghouti and Ahmad Sa’adat at an event about Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails. The event was hosted by the European Parliament’s Delegation for Relations with Palestine in Brussels last week.
Barghouti, a popular Fatah leader, is serving five life sentences in Israeli prison for five murders. Sa’adat is serving 30 years for heading the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, which is internationally recognized as a terrorist organization, and for the assassination of tourism minister Rehavam Ze’evi in 2001.
Lawmakers from Italy, the Netherlands, Germany, Belgium and 11 other countries took a stand against the fact that Barghouti’s wife, Fadwa, and Sa’adat’s daughter Sumoud had been invited to deliver speeches at the event.
European Parliament President Antonio Tajani was among those who objected to said guests, and he rebuked the chairman of the Delegation for Relations with Palestine, Neoklis Sylikiotis, for having invited them.
“Such meetings must not become a platform for terrorism, nor should the agenda or guests put the reputation of this institution at risk,” Tajani said.
A group of families who have lost relatives to terrorism expressed their gratitude in a letter sent to the relevant European lawmakers: “We, Israeli citizens who have lost loved ones in deadly terrorist attacks planned by Marwan Barghouti, are honored to express our deep gratitude for your confident stand in support of our common values of humanism, peace and the determined fight against international terrorism.”
Among those who signed the letter were: Chaya Habi, widow of Yosef Habi, who was killed in 2004 in a shooting attack in Tel Aviv; Ami Arbiv, brother of Galit, who was killed in 2002 in a Jerusalem shooting attack; Ruth Malka, mother of nine-month-old Aviya, who was killed in a Netanya shooting attack in 2002; Roza Bakshayev, widow of Anatoly, and Yasmin Yazdi, widow of Avi, men killed in a shooting attack in Hadera in 2002.
The families are affiliated with the OneFamily organization, which supports victims of terrorism and their families through a network of support centers.
Chantal Belzberg, executive director of OneFamily, said: “While Democratic countries around the world are condemning terrorism and are in a war against extremist groups committing acts of terrorism on their soil, we are witnessing a dangerous phenomenon of applying a double standard toward terrorism in their own countries versus terrorism in Israel. One, they condemn, while the other, they justify.
Extremist groups murdering innocent victims and spreading fear throughout a country is the same evil terrorism in the rest of the world as it is in Israel. There is not and there cannot be any distinction between a terrorist killing a Jew and a terrorist killing any other citizen of the world.”