The French city of Bezons, a suburb of Paris, has decided to grant honorary citizenship to Majdi Rahima Rimawi, a terrorist from the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine who was convicted of planning the assassination of former Israeli Tourism Minister Rehavam Ze’evi in 2001. The inscription honoring Rimawi refers to him as a “political prisoner,” even though Rimawi was one of the four members of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine who waited for Ze’evi outside of a hotel in Jerusalem with the express purpose of murdering him and the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine is listed as a terrorist organization within the European Union.
According to Bezons’ mayor, Dominique Lesparre, “Majdi is a direct victim of this occupation… As are the 4,500 Palestinian resistance fighters who were imprisoned for having dared to defend their country against an occupier whose military means are over-sized and whose methods constantly violate UN resolutions.” Evidently, the municipality of Bezons’ agrees with its mayor, for the special council unanimously voted in favor of honoring Rimawi. The Municipality of Bezons also hosted a special session attended by 200 people dealing with expressing solidarity with the Palestinian people and another meeting discussing Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails.
Evidently, the city of Bezons is twinned with Bani Zeid Al-Gharbiyya, the hometown of Rimawi, where Rimawi’s wife has served as mayor. Fathiya Irhima-Barghouti, Rimawi’s wife, told PA TV, “This connection between the city of Bezons and the Municipality of Bani Zeid Al-Gharbiyya began in 2008… The matter of prisoners in our region caught the attention of our French brothers, and they decided to honor them by granting honorary citizenship to a prisoner from this area.” As Bezons’ official newsletter proclaimed, “He is imprisoned for more than 10 years in an Israeli prison. His crime? Defending his city and its inhabitants, calling for the application of international law for the establishment of Palestine in the 1967 borders as recognized by the United Nations and Jerusalem as its capital. For this he was sentenced in 2002 to life in prison… More than 80 years!” Lesparre, a member of the French Communist Party, viewed honoring this terrorist as a “strong political act.”
Israeli officials and Jewish groups around the world are condemning the Municipality of Bezons for honoring Rimawi. Israel’s Ambassador to the UN, Ron Proser, was shocked, declaring, “The glorification of terrorists who deliberately murder innocent civilians is one of the greatest obstacles to peace in the Middle East. It must be condemned loudly and clearly. This appalling act made me wonder: What’s next for the city of Bezons? Giving honorary citizenship to Anders Breivik [the Norwegian mass murderer]? Or Osama bin Laden?” Similarly, Israeli Foreign Ministry Spokesman Yigal Palmor proclaimed that it was “humanly outrageous to honor a convicted murderer, no political view can justify it.”
European Jewish Congress President Moshe Cantor declared, “This is an outrageous and horrific decision, not just to honor a murderer, but the murderer of an Israeli government cabinet minister.” He claimed that it has been one year since the Toulouse terror attack where Jewish children were tragically murdered and that “the honoring of Rimawi in France demonstrates that murder and terrorism is being glorified when it should be condemned in all forms.”
He continued, “We call on the French authorities to immediately remove this stain from the French landscape out of respect for a friendly government, the people of France and tolerance. It is inconceivable that an elected figure can be so ignorant as to call a cold-blooded murderer a victim. This is the kind of ignorance that leads to people like Mohammed Merah perpetrating the murder of children because they are Jewish. This type of glorification of murder is sending a very ominous message to the next Merah.”
Abraham Foxman of the Anti-Defemation League concurred, asserting, “After Mohamed Merah murdered three children and a rabbi at a Jewish school in Toulouse, the French Jewish security agency noted a rise in anti-Semitic incidents, many of which included praise for Merah. By honoring another high-profile murderer, the city council of Bezons is callously encouraging more violence against Jews and it is important for all sectors of French society to counter this message and condemn the award. This award is an insult to the French concept of justice and liberty and a perversion of French values.”
Please write the French Parliament to complain!
Dear Mr. President,
As a concerned citizen, I am outraged to learn that the Municipality of Bezons has decided to grant honorary citizenship to Majdi Rahima Rimawi, a terrorist from the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine who was convicted of planning the assassination of former Israeli Tourism Minister Rehavam Ze’evi in 2001. It is critical to note that the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine is classified as a terrorist organization within the European Union. Yet, despite this, the municipality of Bezons unanimously decided to honor him. While Mayor Dominique Lesparre justified this decision based on Ze’evi’s political views, I am of the opinion that there is no justification for murder, regardless of ones political beliefs.
Both the European Jewish Congress President Moshe Cantor and the Anti-Defamation League’s Abraham Foxman have expressed deep concern that this incident could encourage another Mohammed Merah to murder Jewish children in France, for having a public official such as a mayor justify murder in one instance encourages the glorification of murdering Jews in many other instances as well. Indeed, since the Toulouse terror attack, the French Jewish security agency has noted a rise in anti-semitic incidents. Thus, I call upon you to remove the landmark in Bezons honoring Rimawi and to renounce all glorifications of terrorism and violence. Thank you for your consideration.
All the best,