Photo Credit: Stephen M. Flatow
Stephen M. Flatow

While Palestinian Authority leader Mahmoud Abbas was being warmly welcomed at the White House last week, close allies of his were arrested for a series of shooting attacks against Israelis.

The captured terrorists were members of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP). They had carried out shooting attacks on residents of the Israeli towns of Shaked, Hermash, and Shavei Shomron, as well as Israeli soldiers in the Jenin region. Officials of the Shin Bet (Israeli security services) said the terrorist cell was planning a series of additional shooting attacks on Israeli civilian travelers in the weeks ahead.


Among those arrested were PFLP activists Shafiq Mahmoud Shafiq, age 35, and his cousin Louis Ahmed Shafiq Za’abaneh, a 33 year-old attorney. They are both residents of Fahma, a town ruled by the Palestinian Authority. The PA happens to have one of the largest per capita security forces in the world, but for some reason they never noticed the PFLP cell in Fahma. Isn’t that strange?

Advocates of the Palestinian cause like to pretend that all Palestinian terrorism these days is the work of “extremists” from Hamas, not “moderates” from the factions affiliated with Abbas.

How inconvenient for them that the PFLP happens to be the second-largest faction of the Palestine Liberation Organization, and Mahmoud Abbas is the PLO’s chairman.

Remember the PLO? People don’t talk much about the PLO any longer. The PA – which the PLO created – gets all the attention these days. But the PLO is very much alive and active. Its member-organizations include unabashed practitioners of terrorism such as the PFLP. And Abbas is the leader of the PLO.

The PFLP has been part of the PLO since the PLO’s founding in 1964. It has perpetrated numerous heinous terrorist attacks, including hijackings of airplanes and the murder of an Israeli cabinet minister. To this day, the PFLP is on the official United States list of terrorist groups, since it has continued to carry out terrorist attacks.

Although the PLO was required by the 1993 Oslo accords to act against terror groups, Abbas never expelled the PFLP from the PLO. He never outlawed the PFLP. He never sent his security forces to confiscate their weapons or shut down their safe houses. He has knowingly tolerated the terrorists of the PFLP. He has aided and abetted them.

Since Abbas was at the White House last week, demanding American economic and diplomatic assistance, it is worth noting that his friends at the PFLP have the blood of Americans on their hands.

On August 11, 1976, two PFLP terrorists threw hand grenades and sprayed machine-gun fire at passengers in the El Al terminal at the Istanbul airport. One of the four people they murdered was 29 year-old Harold Rosenthal, of Philadelphia – a member of the staff of U.S. Senator Jacob Javits, Republican of New York. Previously Rosenthal had served on the staff of Sen. Walter Mondale, Democrat of Minnesota.

Harold Rosenthal’s name has long been forgotten among the hundreds of other victims of Palestinian terrorism (including 145 Americans). That, of course, is what Palestinian propagandists are counting on. They don’t want anybody to remember Harold Rosenthal, or the parents and siblings he left behind. They don’t want anybody to remember the lives that the PFLP destroyed.

But I think our elected representatives have an obligation to remember. It’s a safe bet that the current senior senator from Minnesota, Al Franken, is friendly with Mr. Mondale, his fellow-Minnesotan. So I wonder why Senator Franken has never taken an interest in the question of why the U.S. gives hundreds of millions of dollars each year to Abbas, when Abbas refuses to expel the PFLP – the killers of Mondale’s former staffer – from the PLO.

Charles Schumer, the senior senator from New York, revered Senator Javits as his “model.” Schumer was the keynote speaker when the eight-foot tall bronze statue of Javits was unveiled outside New York City’s Jacob Javits Center in 1999. The PFLP proudly claimed responsibility for murdering Javits’s staffer. So why hasn’t Schumer ever demanded that Abbas expel the PFLP from the PLO?

The arrest of PFLP terrorists is a reminder that the PFLP has been getting away with murder for too long, and Mahmoud Abbas has been shielding and protecting the PFLP for too long. It’s time our elected officials demanded some accountability, instead of just giving Abbas a blank check, year after year.


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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 Terrorism,” now available on Kindle.