We're sitting here in Jerusalem this evening, listening to radio reports and watching television news, hearing Israeli political leaders, senior military figures from the IDF and prominent media personalities expressing their pain, upset, sadness. It doesn't matter whether (which we believe because it's so plainly true) the deaths were the result of mistake, an awful accident typical of the accidents that happen in war. Children died, lives were smashed, and the pain is palpable and crushing.
Israelis make no secret of the almost universally-held opinion that all of us in this region would benefit immeasurably if the lives of the Palestinian Arabs were better, more prosperous, healthier, more peaceful. To the extent it's up to us, we do what we can to make that happen. But it isn't really up to us.
It's a reflection of the asynchronous nature of this generations-long conflict that the feelings on the other side, on the Palestinian street, are the very opposite. We're strong, we're prosperous, we're healthy - and so they hate us, our lives, our strength, our prosperity, our health and well-being. We've mentioned in previous blog entries that this war is not about the Palestinian Arabs lacking a homeland. It's about the Jews having one. The core hatred stems not from what they lack, but from what we have.
A sense of just how far this goes can be guaged by a report put out today by the indispensible Palestine Media Watch. In a PMW report by Itamar Marcus and Barbara Crook entitled "PA Grants Religious Status to Suicide Terror", the authors/researchers point out that even before today's Israeli action that accidentally struck civilians, the government of Palestine continues, and has continued throughout its history, to promote Jihad, Shahada (Death for Allah) and suicide terror as religious imperatives. It grants the highest status and rewards to the shahids (martyrs for Allah) and terrorists.
The Palestinian Authority promotes suicide bombings constantly. A religious leader, Sheik Imad Hamato appearing on official PA television five days ago (November 3, 2006), compares suicide terror to a story found in the Hadith, Islam's holy writings, of a friend of Muhammad who died accidentally on his own sword. The point of the scriptural quotation is that Muhammad grants the man the status of martyr.
The lesson? Hamato says: "It’s like the conflict today! One who exploded with a bomb." With proper intent, the government-authorized preacher says, self-inflicted death is not suicide but shahada - the death of a martyr.
Hamato gives a graphic description of the corpse of a Shahid, with “no head, no legs, his body completely burned... intestines outside, fingers... gone”. While ordinary mortals fear such a death, this is “what the Shahids wish for most of all”, according to this man of the cloth. A video of his "religion" lesson as televised on state-run Palestinian television is here.
And here, courtesy of PMW, are some excerpts:
- "Hadith: There is one thing that causes Allah…to elevate his worshipper 100 levels in Paradise, and each level is like the space between heaven and earth. And what is this thing, Allah’s prophet [Muhammad]? It’s the Jihad for Allah. Jihad for Allah…
- “A man, when he sees one of his brothers being killed for Allah, those we consider Shahids for Allah, he sees [for example] a person with no head, no legs, his body completely burned. Yes? Intestines outside, fingers are gone, it’s a difficult image. The most difficult thing which we fear is what the Shahids wish for most of all.
- "They ask Allah: ‘Oh God, bring us back [to earth] to be killed by the Apache [Israeli helicopter]. Bring us back so that the planes will blow us up, that our heads will be cut off from the body.’ What is that? We have criteria, and Allah, praise him, also has criteria. Study the Hadiths that discuss this issue to understand the essence of Shahada for Allah…
- "Hadith: One of the Prophet Muhammad’s good friends was preparing a bow and arrow when his own sword struck him and killed him… Is he considered a Shahid or not? Did he commit suicide? It’s like the conflict today! One who exploded with a bomb. People talk about whether or not he’s a Shahid…"
- [Hamato continues with the Hadith, that people did not want to pray in memory of a man who was killed by his sword, because they didn’t know if he was a Shahid or committed suicide.] “They said: ‘The man died from his own weapon, and not from the weapon of the enemy.’ Answered Prophet Muhammad: ‘He died in an attempt to be a holy warrior… And his reward for that was doubled…'
- "Khamtu says: 'When we talk about Shahid and Shahids, we shouldn’t forget that Allah, praise him, in blessing the blood of the Shahid, he forgives him, from the first gush of blood. Yes, yes. And sees his place in Paradise. He is shielded from the Great Shock and marries 72 Dark-Eyed Maidens (virgins)...'
- “I once heard a father of one of the Shahids say: ‘I would pray with my son at night, and ask Allah for Shahada for my son.’ Allah Akbar, God is Great. ‘I asked Allah for Shahada for my son, until Allah gave me joy with his Shahada…”