Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Menachem Begin in a New York Times Story

From a New York Times story:-

The dispute started last week when an Israeli television crew came through. As it passed the office of Prime Minister Salam Fayyad and the construction site of the new presidential compound, it noticed that a main road bore new blue signs declaring it Yahya Ayyash Street.

Mr. Ayyash was considered the most cunning of the Hamas bomb makers in the 1990s, known to friend and foe as the Engineer, whose work led to the deaths of scores of Israelis on buses and crowded city streets. He was assassinated by Israel in what its security forces viewed as poetic justice: they slipped him a booby-trapped cellphone and when he answered it one day in Gaza, they exploded it against his head.

The street signs not only honor Mr. Ayyash, but also offer a concise biography in Arabic and English: “Yahya Ayyash 1966-1996. Born in Rafat (Nablus), he studied electrical engineering in Birzeit University, he was active in Al Qassam Brigades, and Israel claimed that he was responsible for a series of bomb attacks, and he was assassinated in Beit Lahya (Gaza Strip) on 5/1/1996.”

Within an hour of the Israeli television report on the street name, the office of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu issued a furious condemnation, calling it a “shocking incitement.” By last Friday, the State Department had issued a similar statement, saying that the “glorification of terrorists” harmed peace efforts and had to stop.

The Palestinian Authority promptly replied, saying that the attention Mr. Netanyahu was paying to a street sign was an effort to divert attention from his real concern — international pressure against the construction of Jewish settlement units in East Jerusalem.

After noting that street names are chosen by municipalities, and that Ayyash Street dates back years, the Palestinian Authority attacked the names of hundreds of Israeli streets and institutions saying they honored men who had “committed crimes against Palestinians.” Among those it considered beyond the pale was Menachem Begin, the former prime minister and Nobel laureate.

As the Palestinian government statement put it, “Former Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin, who was responsible for the murder of innocent Palestinians in 1948 and is infamous for his role in the Deir Yassin massacre, has museums, streets and many public spaces across Israel named after him. Most were done through government funding.”
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