Monday, February 19th | 4 Adar 5778


Be in the know!

Get our exclusive daily news briefing.

May 21, 2015 10:37 am

Why the Palestinians’ Gun Culture Should Concern Us

avatar by Stephen M. Flatow /

Email a copy of "Why the Palestinians’ Gun Culture Should Concern Us" to a friend

Palestinians waving the PLO flag. Photo: Elder of Ziyon.

JNS.orgAnother Palestinian teenager was shot to death last weekend.

You didn’t hear about the latest killing? Maybe that’s because she was shot by Palestinians, not by Israelis. That kind of news, it seems, is not fit to print.

Ilaa al-Araj, age 16, was shot in the head by gunfire that erupted during a wedding in Balata, in Palestinian Authority (PA)-controlled territory.

Palestinian Arabs bring their shotguns to weddings because it is a staple of their culture to fire guns in celebration on such occasions. It’s a “common practice,” according to the Palestinian news agencyMa’an. In 2006, Ma’an recalled, three young Arab girls were killed by such gunfire at a wedding in the PA city of Jenin.

Jews like to use noisemakers and musical instruments to express their joy at weddings. Many Palestinians apparently prefer guns.

The Boston Globe didn’t consider Ilaa’s death newsworthy. Nor, for that matter, did the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, the Washington Post, or, it seems, any major American daily newspaper.

Why the silence?

For editors who are hostile to Israel, it’s a non-story. Can’t blame the Israelis, no point in reporting it. As one editor told me, “a dog biting a man is not news.” It’s the same reason that American newspapers almost never report on so-called “honor killings”—when Palestinian Muslims murder their  female relatives on suspicion that the women violated some Islamic moral stricture (such as speaking to men).

For editors who want to make the Palestinians look good—so that Americans will sympathize with their cause—the story is a problem. It makes Palestinians look violent and reckless. These editors want Americans to think that the Palestinians are “just like us.” Acknowledging cultural differences might undermine that agenda.

For anyone concerned about Israel, however, the death of Ilaa al-Araj should be big news. In addition to the natural humanitarian sympathy we all feel any time an innocent person loses his or her life—especially at such a young age—there is also a powerful, life-and-death lesson for Israel.

The PA’s territory is awash in guns. Tribal clans have them, terrorists have them, criminals have them. Guns are an acceptable feature of Palestinian life.

Even though the PA regime has one of the largest per capita police forces in the world, the PA police make no serious effort to confiscate the guns. The PA makes no effort to discourage this gun culture. On the contrary, the PA’s schools and media teach young Palestinians that those who use guns—to kill Jews—are heroes and martyrs.

It’s bad enough that Palestinian society is already rife with such attitudes. Now try to imagine what would happen if the Obama administration and the United Nations force Israel to accept the creation of an independent, sovereign “Palestine.” Israel would be faced with an entire state rooted in a culture of guns and violence. For real peace, that culture must be transformed—not next year, but now.

Stephen M. Flatow, an attorney in New Jersey, is the father of Alisa Flatow, who was murdered in a Palestinian terrorist attack in 1995. He is chairman of the Alisa Flatow Memorial Scholarship Fund (, which provides financial assistance to students wishing to study in Israel.

The opinions presented by Algemeiner bloggers are solely theirs and do not represent those of The Algemeiner, its publishers or editors. If you would like to share your views with a blog post on The Algemeiner, please be in touch through our Contact page.

Share this Story: Share On Facebook Share On Twitter Email This Article

Let your voice be heard!

Join the Algemeiner
  • Joining pro-Israel organizations might help Israel.

    Pro-Israel organizations include:

  • PA chairman Mahmoud Abbas admitted in an Arabic interview, that his family was forced to flee in 1948 CE due to threats by Arab leaders.

    Jews were NOT responsible!



    “Is it racist to criticize the Palestinians as the world’s most tiresome cry-babies, with a bogus cause, and a plight that is entirely self-inflicted?

    …I see the Palestinian cause as a lie; a lie designed to exploit Western liberal guilt…”


    “Every concession Israel makes is met with more demands, and more excuses not to negotiate; they [the Palestinians] could have had peace ten times over if they wanted it, but they [the Palestinians] don’t want peace, they want victory, and they won’t be happy until Israel is wiped from the map.”

    Pat Condell Finally Gets it on Israel

    Pat Condell is an atheist who was born in Ireland around 1950 CE and raised in England as a Roman Catholic and educated in Church of England schools.

  • Yoel Nitzarim

    I am distressed to read about the slaying of anyone due to negligence, especially the kind cited in this article. Toting guns to display celebration is as barbaric and contrary to any rationality I can think of as mating a whale and an amoeba. Human life is sacrosanct: it is not our gift to ourselves! It is the Providential gift of the universe, and must never be taken for granted.

  • Larry Fleisher

    mr cohen,
    your liberal hypocrisy and illogic answer is a liberal i have a gun. i support the right of all citizens to own a weapon if they so desire..i support the authorities wish to be able to monitor who purchases weapons. please, understand, as my drill sergeant said in his own distinct way with words. ”guns are for killin somethin.” killing for food or to inflict havoc and kill someone. that is their only reason. jew, gentile or muslim. it is for killing and for that reason needs to have controls placed upon its ownership to be sure that the ”fadreit” do not possess them .
    working for peace is not a sign of weakness. there are many vet organizations working for peace in the mideast without guns and death. please do not misinterperet our wish for peace as being weak. we did our time.

    • Rich

      Larry, The true hypocrisy in this situation is although Palestinians are allowed to have guns Jewish Israelis as a rule are not. During the last 50 day war with Hamas an active duty Captain in the IDF reserve applied for a permit to carry a handgun to protect himself on the way to his unit. He was turned down.

  • Genghis Cohen

    Dear Mr. Flatow: I share some fraction of your grief over the loss of your child to terrorism. I agree with you that no peaceful accommodation can come of a union with barbarians sworn to annihilate ALL Jews. Since the liberal intelligentsia obsessively despises the private ownership of guns, then in the name of humanitarianism, I believe that Israel must declare that all Gazans must give up their guns or leave Gaza or face expulsion by the IDF for the good of all humanity. Since Israelis do not threaten their neighbors with death and they live by a civilized code of law, then there is no reason why Israelis can’t own guns.

    • Ephraim

      It is NOT the liberal intelligentsia it is the left wing intelligentsia. They would also boil alive any man who looks at a beautiful woman, but they love the Muslims who do the fgm, honor killings, write books on the proper way to beat their wives, etc.

  • Another example of Liberal hypocrisy and illogic:

    Liberals have negative opinions about any American who has ONE small and legal gun in his house.

    Yet those same Liberals have no criticisms against Muslims whose homes and mosques are jam-packed with dozens or hundreds of deadly weapons.

    The Liberal Bottom line:

    Muslims with guns = OK.
    Americans with guns = NOT OK.


    The Liberal hypocrisy is even more striking when we consider that most Americans own guns that they are not likely to ever use, except to defend their homes; while Muslims own guns that they are very likely to use for bloodthirsty jihad against innocent people whose only “crime” is not being Muslim.

    • Ephraim

      All true EXCEPT, they are NOT liberal! There is nothing liberal about bigotry, and most of them are becoming Antisemites. They are left wing fascists, adherents to the cult of politically-coerced censorship, and are as liberal as Hitler.

      • Genghis Cohen

        While you are debating the fine points of liberal and fascist, you are forgetting that the focus of this is to get guns out of terrorist hands. The reason why today’s liberals are in this is because they typically defend criminal elements and side with them. That is why they are now into antisemitism; it supports the evil doers. You seem to believe that today’s liberals are the same lassai-faire people of 100 years ago. They are not. They are far more the dupes of Marxist fascism now.