Wednesday, September 08, 2010

8-Sep-10: The chasm between them and us

Wherever there are Jews, you will find them being introspective today. It's the eve of the Jewish New Year, a time for trying to understand what this year just ending has meant to us. Also what we want in the year about to start unfolding.

As bereaved parents, thoughts of what terror and its exponents do to people's lives are never far from the surface. On days like today, they are right at the top of the pile.

Our lives and those of our children - and we imagine the lives of many of our neighbours and friends too, but there we speak with far less familiarity - are permanently changed in the wake of the murder of our Malki. The extent of the impact naturally varies in both extent and nature. But it's there.

The idea that there are people who can harbor a hatred so profound that they will happily die in their own man-made explosion just so long as they know they killed some of the people they hate (us), is incomprehensible. The more you think about it, the more impossible it is to understand.

But not for everyone.

The Palestinian Authority sat down, via its highest representatives, in Washington this past week to talk peace with representatives of Israel. A little earlier (as reported in  the PA's official newspaper Al-Hayat Al-Jadida on Aug. 28, 2010 and via the invaluable Palestinian Media Watch) other representatives of the same Mahmoud Abbas PA regime bestowed a public honour on a woman called Um Youssef Hamid a resident of the Al-Amari neighbourhood of Ramalla, the seat of Abbas's PLO-dominated government.

Knowing about this honour, about Mrs Um Youssef Hamid and the values she has inculcated in her offspring and, by extension, the values that the political leadership of the Palestinians seeks to inculcate in their society, is - to say the least - illuminating. The sort of insight that might contribute hugely to one's introspection.

We don't know more about Mrs Um Youssef Hamid than what the handful of news reports - until now, all of them Israeli since this event is evidently of no interest to the wider ranks of the global media - can tell us. Here's what they tell us.

Mrs Um Youssef Hamid was honoured in a special ceremony (depicted on this Hebrew-language Israeli news site) by the Minister for Prisoners Affairs in the PA government based in Ramallah, the part of the Palestinian Arab polity not yet controlled by Hamas, and his senior officials. She was honoured because her sons were responsible for dozens (dozens!) of attacks on Israelis, the overwhelming majority of them on civilians. The sort of attacks that we call terrorist. The sort of cold-blooded and deliberate terrorist attacks that took the lives of more than 1,100 Israeli civilians, including the life of our fifteen year-old daughter Malki.

The sons of Mrs Um Youssef Hamid brought tremendous honour on her, on her family, on her people and on the Mahmoud Abbas regime. Nasser Abu-Hamid killed 7 Israelis and tried to murder 12 more. Today he is in an Israeli prison serving seven life sentences plus 50 years. The second son, Nasr Abu Hamid is serving 5 life sentences for his involvement in two terror attacks and arms dealing. Sharif Abu Hamid: 4 life sentences for involvement in several terror attacks and accompanying a jihadist bomber to a March 2002 attack. Muhammad Abu Hamid - serving 2 life sentences plus 30 years for involvement in multiple terror attacks. Rounding out the family's distinctive specialness, a fifth son - Abed Almun'am Muhamed Yousef Naji Abu-Hamid - was apprehended and terminated by Israeli forces in a firefight in 1994 after carrying out several terrorist murders.

Enough. That's them. Those are their values. What's important for our society is to know against whom we are defending ourselves, and the ideas and ideology that motivate them.

We, for our part, and our neighbours and our society are driven to do acts of a very different sort. Our Malki's death left an unfillable hole in our lives. For the past nine years, her family and friends have been engaged in creating an honour of an infinitely more constructive kind than the one we just described. It's called Keren Malki, the Malki Foundation.

As we go into Rosh Hashana, the Jewish New Year, this evening, we ask you to spend five minutes viewing a new video produced by Keren Malki UK, the London-based group of volunteers who are helping us communicate and support Keren Malki's message of goodwill and good deeds.

Please click below to view the video, and please condider passing it along to your friends.

We don't need ministers and ceremonies to articulate the values that animate the Jewish people and that run like a golden thread through three thousand years of Jewish history. All we need to do is remember lives like that of Malki, and the good that she embodied.

Shana tova! May this new year be a year of happiness, good health, peace and accomplishment for all people of goodwill.

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