On March 5, 1997, the humor newspaper The Onion ran a story entitled "Crazed Palestinian Gunman Angered by Stereotypes." The gunman in question said, "Any time I enter a crowded temple with fully loaded AK-47s in both hands, people just assume I'm going to open fire. That really hurts."
Here’s a headline from November 21: "Terrorist's family: We are proud of him."
That’s not from The Onion. That’s from the Jerusalem Post.
The terrorist was 22-year old Na'el Abu Hilayel of Bethlehem, who blew himself up on a bus in Jerusalem on November 21. A member of Hamas, he murdered 11 and wounded 48. Among his victims were Kira Perlman and her eight-year old grandson, Ilan.
Abu Hilayel’s father remarked, "I thanked God when I heard that my son had died in an operation for the sake of God and the homeland." "Of course I'm proud of him and all the martyrs," his mother said.
It’s not Abu Hilayel’s death alone that makes his parents’ pride obscene. Many sons died in the struggle against fascism, after all, and their parents justly glorified them.
Blowing up children isn’t quite Iwo Jima, though.
I’d like to think Abu Hilayel’s parents aren’t representative of Palestinian parents. I’d like to think most Palestinian parents recoil at the idea of their children perpetrating suicidal mass murder.
I’d also like to think no Holocaust survivor stayed alive by betraying another Jew.
Daniel Pipes, author most recently of Militant Islam Reaches America, notes that "nearly every opinion survey, political speech, mosque sermon and other indication suggests that a substantial majority of Palestinians enthusiastically support the campaign of violence against Israel." Indeed, thousands in Gaza City gathered to praise Abu Hilayel the night after his "martyrdom."
Abu Hilayel’s father speaks for many of his peers when he says, "We are all one people fighting against the common enemy: the Jews." This translates politically into the election of legislators in Israel like Abdulmalik Dehamshe, who last April sent a message of solidarity to Syrian tyrant Basher Assad and referred to "the fascist Israeli government." Dehamshe gave his address as "Nazareth, Palestine," a brazen denial of Israel’s legitimacy.
Hamas leader Abdel Aziz-Rantisi similarly asserted at the Gaza City rally, "I want to tell the Zionists: There is no place for you here and there is no difference between one place in Palestine and the other. All of our land is usurped, and our warriors have the right to launch their strikes anywhere they wish." (Ditto for Hamas leader Sheikh Ahmed Yassin in August 2001: "All of Israel, Tel Aviv included, is occupied Palestine.")
To these individuals, the Jewish Star on Israel’s flag and national anthem about a yearning Jewish soul symbolize imposition and insult. Israel isn’t a country to them; it’s a trespasser that needs to be ejected.
It’s why the Palestine Liberation Organization was founded in 1964 when Egypt controlled the Gaza Strip and Jordan controlled the West Bank.
It’s why the 1968 Palestinian National Charter states:
The demand of security and peace, as well as the demand of right and justice, require all states to consider Zionism an illegitimate movement, to outlaw its existence, and to ban its operations, in order that friendly relations among peoples may be preserved, and the loyalty of citizens to their respective homelands safeguarded. (Lest one considers "outlaw its existence" vague, the charter also states that "the liberation of Palestine will destroy the Zionist and imperialist presence.")
It’s why Yasser Arafat said in 1970, "We shall never stop until we can go back home and Israel is destroyed…peace for us means Israel’s destruction and nothing else." It’s why he reiterated in November 1995, "The struggle will continue until all of Palestine is liberated." (Arafat wrote Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin on September 9, 1993, "The PLO recognizes the right of the State of Israel to exist in peace and security." He must have had a memory lapse in November.)
For Israel to satisfy these individuals, all it has to do is commit suicide.
Na'el Abu Hilayel’s parents believe he performed a holy deed in a holy cause, and they’re not alone. To understate, those who elevate mass murder to sublimity don’t inspire solidarity.