Micah Lakin Avni
Turning Trauma into Triumph: New Narratives for a New Israel

An Ecosystem of Incitement to Terror

My Remarks On the Occasion of International Day of Commemoration and Dignity of the Victims of the Crime of Genocide and of the Prevention of this Crime at the United Nations:  Incitement to Terror

I want to thank Anne Bayefsky from the Institute of Human Rights and the Holocaust at Touro College, Human Rights Voices and the American Association of Jewish Lawyers and Jurists,  for inviting me to participate in this distinguished gathering.

I have experienced radical Islamic terrorism in a very personal way.   My military commander was assassinated by the Hezbollah in a roadside bombing in 1999; one of my closest friends was killed struggling with the terrorists onboard AA Flight 11; and in October 2015, my father was brutally murdered by Hamas on a public bus in Jerusalem.

My father, Richard Lakin, was a kind gentle person.  An elementary school principal who educated thousands of children.  A human rights activist dedicated to promoting coexistence.  He marched with Martin Luther King, Jr.

He founded a school in Israel where Muslim, Christian and Jewish children studied together.  He wrote a book called “Teaching as an Act of Love.”

On October 13, 2015, two Palestinian terrorists attacked a bus full of innocent civilians in Jerusalem.  They shot my 76-year old father in the head.  They then stabbed him multiple times after he fell to the ground; severing most of his vital organs.

At the time, Secretary General Ban Ki-moon came to visit my father in the hospital before he died.  He wrote my mother a condolence letter.  What the Secretary General did not do, was to publically condemn these Palestinian terrorists or the incitement by the Palestinian Authority that fuels this deadly brutality.

Nice, Orlando, Brussels, Paris, San Bernardino, Tel Aviv, New York, Moscow, Istanbul, Jerusalem and Mumbai.  Once upon a time this list would have been associated with a geography class, or a travel agency, but today, this list is part of a very clear and frightening pattern:  – radical Islamic terror is spreading like wildfire across the globe.   This terror does not differentiate between religions, nationality, ethnicity, race or sexual preference.

If you have any doubt about the drama of this pattern, just type the words “list of Islamist terrorist attacks” into Google and click on the Wikipedia entry that comes up.  The list is mind-boggling.  If you plot the trajectory out on a graph, or pin the geographical spread out on a map, you will not be able to sleep at night.  It is truly terrifying.

ISIS, Al Qaida, Boko Haram, Hezbollah, Hamas and tens of other radical Islamic terror organizations are tied together by a unified goal – Jihad, a holy war to spread radical Islam and overturn the core values in which our modern lives are grounded: freedom, liberty, equality, democracy, and social justice.

This is big stuff.  It’s not academic. It’s life or death. This is the backdrop to our discussion about incitement today.

The concept of Jihad, holy war against the infidels, has been around for centuries.  So why is it spreading so quickly and so effectively now?  The answer: the Internet, wireless connectivity and social media.

Facebook, YouTube, Twitter and tens of other social media companies have created platforms that allow poisonous ideas to spread, and evil people to communicate and unite in a massive feedback loop.

Jihad by the sword has evolved into what I a call “Open Source Jihad” where hundreds of organizations and thousands of terrorist leaders use social media platforms to incite, motivate, radicalize and instruct Muslim youth around the world, encouraging them to join in this horrific holy war.

The open platforms of social media have become accomplices in this Open Source Jihad; allowing terrorist organizations, known terrorists and radicalized youth to operate freely for years.  Prior to the advent of the Internet and social media, incitement was not such an important legal issue.  But with the technology to amplify messages, incitement has become a very real problem.

So what is incitement?  Traditionally, “incitement” is defined as the action of provoking unlawful behavior or urging someone to behave unlawfully.  In the United States, I think that you frame the question of incitement in terms of Brandenburg vs Ohio – the imminent lawless action test: intent, imminence, and likelihood.

Earlier this week, New York Times Jerusalem Bureau Chief Peter Baker wrote:  “Facebook has become the battleground in a global struggle between free speech and incitement, and in few places is that more pronounced than in Israel, the West Bank and Gaza.”

So I would like to circle back and examine the issue of incitement through the case of Palestinian terrorism.  My home court.  But just a small part of the much larger problem of Open Source Jihad.

Unfortunately, Israel has become a recognized world leader when it comes to dealing with terrorism.  So our experiences are relevant for the entire world.

They Palestinians have created a culture of hatred, resulting in an ecosystem of incitement to terrorism.  A poisonous feedback loop with a single goal: educating their children to kill Jews, to destroy Israel.  Genocide.

I am going to describe for you this ecosystem of incitement to terrorism.  I use the word “ecosystem” on purpose.  Incitement has evolved.  Incitement is no longer about a specific action or statement; it’s about participation in the ecosystem of hate which is intentionally aimed at bringing about the result of terror – violent, brutal murder with an endgame of genocide (first Israel, eventually the rest of the Western World).  It’s about participating in, and strengthening, the feedback loop which eventually brings children to murder innocent civilians.

To drive the point home, and for some emotional impact, I will limit myself to examples related directly to Baha Alyan, one of the two terrorists who murdered by father.  All of these examples are based on source materials available on the Palestinian Media Watch website.  For those not familiar, Palestinian Media Watch provides an invaluable service monitoring Palestinian incitement.

The Palestinian Educational System

Over the past year, schools and universities in the West Bank and Gaza have hosted numerous lectures, reader’s circles, book fairs, school plays, wish boxes, etc., all glorifying Baha Alyan, the terrorist who murdered my father.  Calling him a “Shahid” (a holy martyr) and encouraging Palestinian youth to follow in his murderous footsteps.   These events as regularly sponsored by the Palestinian Authority Ministry of Culture and the Palestinian Authority Ministry of Education.  There have been so many events in the past year that I have lost count.  In one particular case, Mohamad Alyan, the terrorist’s father, spoke at an elementary school in the East Jerusalem neighborhood of Jabal Mukaber, less than a mile from my father’s house.  I asked the school for the opportunity to come and meet with the children and speak about co-existence.  Of course, I was turned down.

Extracurricular Activities

The Palestinian Scout Association (the local chapter of the Boy Scouts) established a leadership training course named after Baha Alyan.  They are teaching children that this horrible terrorist is an example for every scout.   The PSA Facebook page expresses hope that all the 250,000 scouts in the Palestinian Scout Association “will follow in Baha’s path” murdering Jews.

This summer the Palestinian Authority Supreme Council for Sport and Youth Affairs established a summer camp named after Baha Alyan in the village of Beit Anan, northwest of Jerusalem.  You can guess what they teach there?

Official Palestinian Authority Media

Palestinian Authority Television has hosted the terrorist’s father twice on their show Good Morning Jerusalem, where not surprisingly the host referred to his son as a “shining martyr.”

The Palestinian official daily newspaper Al-Hayat Al-Jadida devoted an article to the life of a terrorist killer, praising his virtues. The headline read “Baha Alyan – Martyr and intellectual”

The Palestinian Authority Official Facebook Page posted the “Ten Commandments of a Martyr” written by Baha Alyan – all about killing Jews and destroying Israel.

Praise from Official PA Leadership

President Muhamad Abbas has met publically with Mohamad Alyan – the terrorist’s father, praising my father’s murder – calling Baha Alyan “martyr”.

“Jabril Rajoub (#3 in the Fatah party hierarchy) has spoken on PA television commending Baha Alya’s activities and calling on others to follow suit.  (Mohamad Dahlan, – #2 in the Fatah party hierarchy is in jail, otherwise I am sure that he would have joined in too.)”Funding for the Terrorist’s Family

The Palestinian Authority provides the family of Baha Alyan with a monthly stipend of $3,000.  A reward if you will. I think that they actually use dollars which they receive from the US government to pay for this.

Social Media

Two days after the attack, the Hamas Student Union published a reenactment video explaining how to carry out a bus attack, and encouraging young Palestinians to do the same.  This video went viral and was viewed by hundreds of thousands.

There are Baha Alyan Facebook Pages and Baha Alyan memorial videos on YouTube, etc.  All glorifying this horrific terrorist for murdering my father.  All encouraging Palestinian youth to go out and commit similar acts.

Mind you, this is a micro-sampling of Palestinian incitement.  Just a few of the many examples related specifically to the terrorist who murdered my father. There are tens of thousands of other examples.  All with a very clear message to Palestinian youth:  Go out and kill Israelis in an attempt to destroy Israel and you will go to heaven.  You will become a martyr. A hero.  It’s the right thing to do. This is a poisonous ecosystem of incitement that grows every day, every hour.

The end game of the Palestinian “struggle” is clear. The destruction of Israel, and thus of the Jewish people. In fact, they don’t hesitate to say that out loud.

As Prime Minister Netanyahu mentioned in his speech here at the UN in September – Jabril Rajoub has actually said that if the PA had a nuclear bomb, he would drop it on Israel.  In a recent sermon on the official PA Television Station, the Mufti called for the destruction of Israel.  Just last week, during the Fatah Central Committee elections, a music video aired 11 times on official Palestinian Television calling for the murder of Israelis (Stab them in the chest it says. Stab them in the chest).

And yet, the UN sits by quietly.  Morally bankrupt.  Or in the words of Prime Minister Netanyahu: “The UN, begun as a moral force, has become a moral farce.”

Thanks to Anne, six months ago I had the opportunity to stand before the United Nations Human Rights Council and issue a direct challenge to the Secretary General, the High Commissioner, and Human Rights Council:

  • Killing civilians on a bus is terror. I challenged them to outright condemn the murder of my father Richard Lakin.
  • I challenged them to condemn President Abbas for calling my dad’s murderer a “martyr” and for his relentless incitement to hatred and violence.

This challenge was met with deafening silence.

The passionate goal of my father and the people of Israel is peaceful coexistence – the United Nation’s failure to condemn Palestinian violence and its continued rationalization of Palestinian terror is pushing peace away, making more deaths inevitable.

So on this, the International Day of Commemoration and Dignity of the Victims of the Crime of Genocide and of the Prevention of this Crime I would like to once again call upon the United Nations,

  • to condemn President Abbas and the Palestinian Authority for creating a culture of hatred and an ecosystem of incitement to terror; AND
  • to demand that President Abbas and the Palestinian Authority stop poisoning the minds of innocent Palestinian children against peace.

Radical Islamic terror is spreading like wildfire across the globe, threatening to overturn the core values in which our modern lives are grounded:  freedom, liberty, equality, democracy, and social justice.

The Palestinian ecosystem of incitement to terror is a test case for dealing with the larger global challenge of Open Source Jihad – a budding ecosystem of incitement to holy war against the West.

Genocide is brewing while the United Nations once again turns a blind eye.

About the Author
Micah Lakin Avni founded Peninsula Group Ltd., a publicly-traded Israeli commercial finance institution and served as CEO for 18 years. He was ranked among the 100 most influential people in Israel by The Marker Magazine in 2015, 2016 and 2018. Prior to founding Peninsula, Micah served as a General Partner with Jerusalem Global Ventures, and Israeli venture capital firm. Before joining Jerusalem Global Ventures, Micah was a corporate attorney with Yigal Arnon & Co., one of Israel's premier law firms. Micah serves in a volunteer capacity as the chairman of "Voices of Israel”, a long-term partnership between the State of Israel and the global pro-Israel leadership to facilitate ongoing strategic cooperation, counter the global Israel delegitimization movement and improve Israel's positive image and standing in world public opinion. In 2015, Micah’s father Richard Lakin was murdered by Hamas terrorists on a Jerusalem bus. While mourning the loss, Micah dedicated himself to raising awareness of the dangers of allowing terrorists to roam free on social media, communicating, recruiting, and inciting. He wrote op-eds in international newspapers, gave interviews, helped produce movies, lectured at universities, filed lawsuits and lobbied for legislation. These efforts helped set in motion a campaign that yielded dramatic change: While there is still plenty of work to be done, social media titans built significant infrastructures to remove terror groups from their platforms. Micah holds an LLB in Law from the Hebrew University Law School and a joint MBA from the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University and the Recanati School of Business Administration at Tel Aviv University. Micah lives in Tel Aviv, Israel with his wife and four children.