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Feting terrorists

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LEILA KHALED holds a banner outside the US Embassy in Jordan.

LEILA KHALED holds a banner outside the US Embassy in Jordan during a protest in 1997.. (photo credit:REUTERS)

Individuals linked to organizations that are on the European Union’s list of terrorist groups will no longer be allowed to address the European Parliament, according to its president, Antonio Tajani.

Tajani’s announcement comes after Leila Khaled, a member of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, addressed the EU Parliament in September.

Public outcry from a number of prominent Jewish organizations led the parliament to rethink its policy.

“We should not allow members of organizations involved in terrorist acts to speak inside the Parliament,” Tajani wrote to MEP Anders Vistisen, first vice chairman of the EU Foreign Affairs Committee.

“I have reminded the members of the European Parliament, as well as Parliament’s general secretaries, that every effort should be made to ensure that no listed person for representatives and entities mentioned in the council are invited or admitted to parliament nor promoted through event or audio-visual means,” he wrote.

It should be a no-brainer that the European Parliament should not legitimize a member of the PFLP.

And this is doubly true in the case of Khaled, who has a record of terrorist activity and continues to spout vicious lies against Israel. She received long standing ovations to her keynote speech in September, at an event titled “The Role of Women in the Palestinian Popular Resistance.”

According to recordings provided by NGO Monitor, Khaled has compared the Gaza Strip to Auschwitz; has claimed the “Zionist regime” is worse than the Nazis; and has justified armed resistance against Israel.

Khaled has a long history of terrorist activity and self-sacrifice for the Palestinian cause. In 1969, she hijacked an American passenger plane, redirecting it to Damascus. Two Israeli passengers aboard the plane were held for three months before they were traded for Syrian prisoners of war being held in Israeli jails. Young and photogenic, Khaled was transformed overnight into the pin-up girl of the Palestinian armed struggle. A poster of her sporting a ring made out of the pin from a grenade presented the terrorist as a combination of femininity and deadly violence.

She even underwent cosmetic surgery in order to be able to carry out another hijacking without being identified. And until today, she remains a member of the PFLP.

While we agree with the decision to ban terrorists like Khaled from the EU Parliament, there is some value in hearing her ridiculous ideas. It is important for the public to know that Palestinian activists like Khaled make obscene comparisons between Auschwitz – where Nazi Germany ran a camp that systematically exterminated more than one million people, 90% of whom were Jewish – and the Gaza Strip, which was evacuated by Israel in 2005, and is now run by Hamas, another Palestinian terrorist organization.

It is important that these comparisons be made public so they can be refuted for the cheap, insidious propaganda they are. The same goes for Khaled’s comparison of Israel to Nazi Germany.

Free debate sorts good ideas from bad ones. Often, this is accomplished by confronting baseless claims and refuting historic falsehoods.

However, inviting a member of a terrorist group that is banned by the EU to address the European Parliament is a different matter altogether. Khaled should not be issued a visa to enter the EU, let alone be invited to address its parliament. Honoring Khaled, or the member of any terrorist organization, with a keynote speech is tantamount to a parliamentary stamp of approval. No self-respecting organization should lend its name and respectability to a person like Khaled, particularly when EU laws clearly state that her organization is involved in illegal activities.

We are strong advocates of freedom of expression and believe some countries have gone too far in curtailing this freedom. However, this does not mean that an unrepentant terrorist should be feted by the European Parliament. Fighting terrorism means waging a war on all fronts. Giving a platform to a terrorist in a parliament sends the wrong message.

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