Israeli man seeks ouster of Palestinians from scout movement

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JERUSALEM (AP) — The son of an American-Israeli man killed in a Palestinian attack last year said Wednesday he has asked the global scout movement to expel its Palestinian branch after local members dedicated a recent training course to one of his father's killers.

Micah Lakin Avni said the Palestinian scout branch is violating the world movement's core ideals.

"The scouts has really been for more than a century an international, nonpartisan organization dedicated to teaching kids to be good citizens of their neighborhood, of their world," Avni said. "Tragically, they are teaching their kids to hate and be violent."

A Palestinian scout troop in east Jerusalem held a training course last week that was dedicated to Baha Alyan — one of two Palestinian attackers who shot and stabbed passengers on a Jerusalem bus last October.

Avni's father, Richard Lakin, was among three people killed in the attack. Alyan was killed by a security guard, while a second assailant survived and is now serving a life sentence in an Israeli prison.

Palestinian scout leader Ahmed Mashahreh said Alyan was active for many years in the scouting movement and that the recognition had nothing to do with the bus attack.

He said the activity was a "pure scout course" that talked about volunteer work and other activities.

"This had nothing to do with politics," 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."

The attack came at the height of what has become a nearly yearlong wave of violence. Israel says the fighting has been fueled by Palestinian incitement. The Palestinians say it is the result of frustrations after nearly 50 years of military occupation.

In a letter to the 164-member World Organization of the Scout Movement, Avni described his father, a retired school principal and Israeli-Palestinian coexistence advocate, as a "gentle-hearted man."

He attached a screen shot from the Palestinian Scout Association's website, which promotes the course with a picture of Alyan in scouting uniform and describes him as a "martyr."

"Should you allow the Palestinian Scout Association to keep its membership," he wrote, "then your organization is effectively a co-sponsor of this terror promoting course."

In an emailed response to The Associated Press, Stephen Peck, the movement's director of communications, said the group is investigating and working on the matter with the relevant people. "We appreciate the gravity of the allegations and will address the issue accordingly," he said.

Jibril Rajoub, head of the Palestinian Scout Association, did not immediately return messages seeking comment.

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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