Hanan Ashrawi, the Palestinian spokeswoman widely lauded in the West as a voice for peace and moderation, has endorsed the murder of Israeli soldiers and civilian settlers, stating that “the army of occupation and the settlers have become legitimate and select targets of Palestinian resistance.” (AP, November 15, 2000)
Ashrawi, the founder of a Palestinian “human rights” group, also characterized the recent fighting as a situation in which “the political rhetoric has been replaced by field action.”
This is not the first time Ashrawi has uttered statements wildly at variance with her image in the West as a peacemaker. In 1996, for example, in a radio interview in Arabic, Ashrawi used similar threatening language:
INTERVIEWER: What means of retaliation and confrontation do the Palestinians possess?
ASHRAWI: We have various means… [W]e prepared an integral plan for this confrontation. We still have field capabilities … (Paris Radio Monte Carlo, August 30, 1996, FBIS translated text)
Ashrawi has even defended the group Hamas, which has killed hundreds of Israeli civilians in suicide bombings and other attacks. According to Ashrawi, Hamas is a legitimate component of the Palestinian “political spectrum,” and she doesn’t “think of Hamas as a terrorist group. We coordinate politically … the people we know and talk to are not terrorists.” (UPI, April 30, 1993)
Despite Ashrawi’s support for violence and terrorism, Western journalists regularly proclaim her virtues. Leslie Stahl of 60-Minutes, for example, has lauded Ashrawi as a “Palestinian who has been at the peace process longer than almost anyone.” (60-Minutes, December 11, 1994)
When will journalists hold Hanan Ashrawi accountable for her words? Only when viewers and readers hold those same journalists similarly accountable.