The Palestinian Authority (PA) did not rush to embrace Nashat Milhem from Arara, the Israeli Arab who killed three Israelis in Tel Aviv on January 1, 2016. The PA stuttered to recognize Milhem as a “martyr,” unlike the case of Muhanad Alukabi, an Israeli Bedouin from the Be’er Sheva area who was quickly honored as a “shaheed” after he shot up the Be’er Sheva bus station in October 2015, killing one and wounding 11. At first, the PA counted Milhem as one of the martyrs of this “new intifada,” then it retracted his name. Only after a public outcry, did the PA reinstate him as a shaheed.
The Palestinian Authority has good reason to discourage Israeli Arabs from joining this wave of terrorism. The PA sees more importance in Israel’s Arab citizens lobbying Israel’s political leadership, especially Knesset members, and promoting its interests in Israeli society. If Israeli Arabs joined this terror wave, they could lose political leverage in important political corridors in Israel.
So why did the PA not hesitate to pronounce Muhanad Alukabi, the Israeli Bedouin attacker, as a shaheed, whereas they were very slow to decide with Nashat Milhem.
The reason: Milhem’s attire was alarming. His black clothing and the nature of the terrorist attack in Tel Aviv appeared to be inspired by ISIS – the murderous organization that the whole world is fighting. Palestinians joining ISIS would be a disaster for the PA and a definitive signal connecting Palestinian terror not just to the “Palestinian problem” but to global Islamic terror.
The terrorist from Beer Sheva acted in the name of Hamas – still within the borders of the Palestinian struggle. Nashat Milkhem connected the Palestinians to Syria and to Iraq – and to the terror in Paris.