Rev. Alex Awad, a prominent supporter of divestment in the United Methodist Church has offered to audiences a distorted view of the Arab-Israeli conflict to his audiences in both the West Bank and the United States.
In a video titled “A Palestinian Perspective on the Arab-Israeli Conflict,” which was sold in the gift shop at the Bethlehem Bible College during the recent Christ at the Checkpoint Conference, Awad describes the First Intifada as follows:
The first Intifada from 1987 to 1993 was mainly non-violent. Palestinian men women and children went into the streets to say to the Israelis “Enough is enough. We don’t want you to take our land.”The Israelis responded with plastic bullets, with tear gas, and with live ammunition and many Palestinians were killed in that uprising.But from the Palestinian perspective, it was not a violent uprising while the Second Intifada was very violent.
Rev. Awad’s omits some important details in his description of the First Intifada.
First, Rev. Awad makes no mention of the Israeli civilians who were killed by terror attacks during the First Intifada. According to the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs, 200 Israelis were killed by terror attacks in Israel between 1987 and 1993.
B’Tselem offers different numbers, reporting that 94 Israeli civilians were killed in the Gaza Strip, the West Bank and East Jerusalem during the First Intifada and that 177 were killed inside the Green Line. This yields a total of 271 Israelis killed during the First Intifada.
Second, Rev. Awad refers to Israeli use of rubber bullets, tear gas, and live ammunition during the First Intifada, but makes no mention of the violent attacks perpetrated by Palestinians during the uprising. These attacks were not restricted to the mere throwing of stones, but were characterized by the use of Molotov cocktails, knives and guns.
Here are three examples of how Palestinians killed Israelis during the First Intifada:
1. On Oct. 30, 1988 a mother and her three children were killed when terrorists attacked a bus with firebombs outside of Jericho. The Associated Press reported the following:
The red-and-white buswas stopped by a barricade of stones on Jericho’soutskirts, Israel radio said. Palestinians then hurled five firebombsat the buswhich was carrying about 20 people, most civilians.The bus was traveling from Tiberius on the Sea of Galilee to Jerusalem when it was halted about 8:15 p.m., the army said. Witnesses said it was engulfed in fire before the woman and her children, sitting in the rear, could be rescued.The army said the dead were from Tiberius. News reports said two of the children were infants.(Note: Subsequent reports indicate that a soldier who tried to rescue the mother and her children died from his injuries.)
2. On July 6, 1989, Abdel Hadi Ghanem, a Palestinian terrorist forced a crowded bus into a ravine, killing 16 people. Jonathan Kuttab, who serves as Chairman of the Board at Bethlehem Bible College, (where Rev. Awad serves as Dean of Students), was Ghanem’s lawyer. (Associated Press, September 14, 1989) Ghanem, a member of Palestinian Islamic Jihad, was one of the terrorists freed in exchange for Gilad Shalit in 2011.
3. On May 24, 1992, a 15-year-old girl was murdered by a Hamas terrorist as she waited for a bus in Bat Yam. (Associated Press, May 25, 1992). Her killer, Fuad Amrin, was one of the many prisoners freed in exchange for Gilad Shalit. (Jewish Exponent, October 20, 2011)
This is just a small sampling of the types of Palestinian attacks that took place during the First Intifada. Palestinians did more than take to the streets, as Rev. Awad says. They killed people – hundreds of people. This was no “non-violent” uprising. (For a more comprehensive list of attacks during the First Intifada go to this entry at Cifwatch.org.)
Lastly, in his depiction of the First Intifada as a “non-violent” uprising, Rev. Awad makes no mention of the intra-Palestinian violence that marked the First Intifada. The Palestinian Human Rights Monitor reports that
During the first intifada (1987-1993), an estimated 1000 Palestinians were killed under suspicion of collaboration, a number roughly equivalent to the estimated 1100 Palestinians killed by Israeli soldiers and settlers. However, only an estimated 40 to 45% of the Palestinians killed as alleged collaborators indeed maintained contacts with the Israeli authorities.
In sum, Rev. Awad’s depiction of the First Intifada as “non-violent” is counterfactual.
As stated in a previous analysis of this DVD, Rev. Awad serves as Dean of Students and full-time instructor at Bethlehem Bible College in Bethlehem, and is a Commissioned Mission Partner with the General Board of Global Ministries of the United Methodist Church. Rev. Awad was a prominent supporter of a resolution calling on the UMC to divest from three companies that do business with Israel. The resolution failed.