TEL AVIV – The son of an American-Israeli murdered by Palestinian terrorists last year rejected a statement from an international organization for scouting claiming that a Palestinian group responsible for naming a course after the murderer had no connection to the global scouts body.
Following an investigation, the World Organization of the Scout Movement (WOSM) determined that the Jerusalem-based Palestinian scouts group had nothing to do with the Palestinian Scout Association (PSA) and therefore could not be held accountable for naming a leadership program after the terrorist Baha Alyan.
Richard Lakin, a 76-year-old former elementary school principal from Glastonbury, Ct. and peace activist who marched with Martin Luther King, died after being shot and stabbed on a bus in Jerusalem last October in a terror attack by Alyan and two accomplices that claimed the lives of three people and wounded a further 15.
His son, Micah Lakin Avni, was horrified to read a report by Israeli NGO Palestinian Media Watch that exposed a Palestinian scout’s leadership course had been named after the “martyr” Baha Alyan, one of his father’s two murderers.
Six months ago, the Palestinian Scout Association (PSA), which has 18,700 members, was accepted as a full voting member in the WOSM.
Avni lambasted the move in a letter to the WOSM, saying it was tantamount to promoting terror.
“There is no greater impediment to peace than bringing up children to see murderers of innocent civilians as heroic role models,” he wrote in a letter published in the Times of Israel.
“Should you allow the Palestinian Scout Association to keep its membership in the World Organization of the Scout Movement at the same time as they are presenting a murderer as a role model for future scout leaders, then your organization is effectively a co-sponsor of this terror-promoting course,” he added.
However, the WOSM responded by saying that the group was not connected to the larger PSA.
“We have investigated the recent allegations against one of our members and we are able to confirm that the group concerned is not a member of the Palestinian Scout Association or recognized by WOSM,” a statement read.
It added: “We are extremely disappointed that the good name of both organizations has been abused in this way.”
The statement seems to be the result of talks between WOSM’s regional director in Cairo, the PSA and the Palestinian Authority.
Another statement by the WOSM, cited by the victim’s son Micah Lakin Avni, said that the scouting body found the “group is not a member of the recognized Scout Association” after speaking to the Palestinian Authority and the PSA “to determine the facts.”
Avni accused both the PA and the PSA of lying, writing, “Scouts don’t lie, terrorists do.”
For starters, he said, the announcement about the course named after Alyan was published on the PSA’s official website.
“Yesterday the practical studies for the [scout] deputy unit leaders – Martyr (Shahid) Leader Baha Alyan Course began. [The course] was organized by the Committee for Training and Developing Leadership of the Palestinian Scout Association, in cooperation with the scout commission in the Jerusalem district.”
When presented with the above, the PSA did not deny its association with the leadership course, rather it defended its choice to name the course after a terrorist, saying that Alyan was an active scout and the honor had nothing to do with the terror attack.
“This had nothing to do with politics,” scout leader for the PSA, Ahmed Mashahreh, said. “During his lifetime, Baha was very active in scout activities. That’s why we picked his name, not because of what he did on the last day of his life.”
Palestinian Media Watch director Itamar Marcus demanded “concrete evidence” from the WOSM to prove that the course had nothing to do with the PSA.
“Until we are given evidence otherwise, will assume the information on the PSA website is correct and that this is a PSA course,” Marcus wrote in a letter to Stephen Peck from the WOSM.
Peck, in a Facebook comment on Avni’s article, reiterated on Sunday morning the WOSM’s findings that the PSA had nothing to do with the leadership course and that the website that referred to the course was not the PSA but was run by a group unaffiliated with the WOSM that calls itself “The Palestinian Scout and Guide Association.”
According to Peck, the WOSM-recognized PSA group “has not been able to secure a domain name in Palestine and therefore does not have a website – which of course only adds to the confusion.
“The end result here is that anything published on this website is not an official communication of the PSA or WOSM,” he added.
On Thursday, Israel returned Alyan’s body for burial. WAFA, the official PA news service, honored the terrorist by calling him a “martyr” who had “ascended to heaven” after carrying out the attack.
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas’ Fatah page posted a picture of the terrorist on its Facebook page with the caption, “May Allah have mercy on Baha and all of our heroic martyrs. Glory kneels before you.”
The Fatah movement also republished a text authored by Alyan before he died, entitled “The 10 commandments of every martyr.”
The “commandments,” which include abstaining from grieving over the martyr and the importance of dying for the homeland [Palestine], end with the epitaph, “I will see you in Paradise.”
Alyan was also honored by several Palestinian universities through a “human chain of readers” set up in his name.