Monday, September 19, 2011

18-Sep-11: National heroines, national catastrophes

Understanding the choice of a people’s heroes can tell you a lot about those people and their values.

The Palestinian Arabs have been busy the past two weeks with a series of symbolic public events in the run-down to their campaign for recognition by the United Nations. More than Mahmoud Abbas and his Muqata clique realize, they have revealed more about the values that motivate them than their careful speeches conceal.

 Agustina, maid of Aragon [Source]
Almost every nation and people on earth has its iconic female figures. Here’s the briefest of looks at some selected national heroines and mothers of revolutions from different parts of the world.

The Spanish: Agustinade Aragón ('Agustina, maid of Aragon', known as the Spanish Joan of Arc) defended Spain during the Spanish War of Independence as a civilian and later as a professional officer in the Spanish Army. At the bloody sieges of Saragossa, at the moment Spanish troops abandoned their posts to avoid falling on the nearby French bayonets, she ran forward, loaded a cannon, lit the fuse and shredded a wave of attackers at point blank range. The sight of a lone woman bravely manning the cannons inspired the fleeing Spanish troops and other volunteers to return and assist her.

Joan [Source]
The French: Saint Joan of Arc, the Maid of Orléans (1412-1431), a national heroine of France and a Catholic saint, was a peasant girl born in eastern France who claimed divine guidance. She led the French army in an astounding series of victories that reversed the tide of the Hundred Year’s War, paving the way for the coronation of Charles VII. Captured by the Burgundians and sold to the English, she was tried by an ecclesiastical court and burned at the stake when 19 years old. 25 years after the execution, Pope Callixtus III examined the trial, pronounced her innocent and declared her a martyr. She was canonized in 1920 and is one of the patron saints of France.
Mary McKillop

The Australians: Mary Helen MacKillop (1842 – 1909), also known as Saint Mary of the Cross, was an Australian Roman Catholic nun who, together with Father Julian Tenison Woods, founded the Sisters of St Joseph of the Sacred Heart and a number of schools and welfare institutions throughout Australasia with an emphasis on education for the poor, particularly in country areas. Since her death she has attracted much veneration in Australia and internationally. She is the only Australian to be recognised by the Roman Catholic Church as a saint.

The Argentineans: MaríaEva Duarte de Perón (1919–1952) was the second wife of President Juan Perón (1895–1974) and served as the First Lady of Argentina from 1946 until her death in 1952. She is often referred to as simply Eva Perón, or by the affectionate Spanish language diminutive Evita. Born out of wedlock in a rural Argentina village, she pursued a career as a stage, radio, and film actress in the capital. Eva met Colonel Juan Perón on January 22, 1944, in Buenos Aires during a charity event at the Luna Park Stadium to benefit the victims of an earthquake in San Juan, Argentina. The two were married the following year. 
In 1946, Juan Perón was elected President of Argentina. Over the course of the next six years, Eva Perón became powerful within the pro-Peronist trade unions, primarily for speaking on behalf of labor rights. She also ran the Ministries of Labor and Health, founded and ran the charitable Eva Perón Foundation, championed women's suffrage in Argentina, and founded and ran the nation's first large-scale female political party, the Female Peronist Party. In 1951, Eva Perón renounced the Peronist nomination for the office of Vice President of Argentina. In this bid, she received great support from the Peronist political base, low-income and working class Argentines who were referred to as descamisados or "shirtless ones". However, opposition from the nation's military and bourgeoisie, coupled with her declining health, ultimately forced her to withdraw her candidacy. In 1952 shortly before her death from cancer at the age of 33, Eva Perón was given the official title of "Spiritual Leader of the Nation" by the Argentine Congress.
Queen Boadicea [Source]

The British: Boadicea (d. AD 60) was queen of the British Iceni tribe who led an uprising against the occupying forces of the Roman Empire. Her husband Prasutagus, ruler of the Iceni tribe who had ruled as a nominally independent ally of Rome, left his kingdom jointly to his daughters and the Roman Emperor in his will. However, when he died, his will was ignored. The kingdom was annexed as if conquered, Boadicea was flogged and her daughters raped, and Roman financiers called in their loans. Boadicea led the Iceni people, along with the Trinovantes and others, in revolt. They destroyed Camulodunum (modern Colchester), formerly the capital of the Trinovantes. The crisis caused the emperor Nero to consider withdrawing all Roman forces from the island, but Suetonius' eventual victory secured Roman control of the province. Boadicea then killed herself so she would not be captured. 

The Israelis: Hannah Szenes (1921 - 1944) was a Hungarian Jewish woman, one of 37 Jews from the British Mandate for Palestine (now Israel) that were trained by the British army to parachute into Yugoslavia during the Second World War in order to help save the Jews of Hungary, who were about to be deported to the German death camp at Auschwitz. Szenes was arrested at the Hungarian border, imprisoned and tortured, but she refused to reveal details of her mission and was eventually tried and executed by firing squad. She is regarded as a national heroine in Israel, where several streets, the headquarters of the Zionist youth movements Israel Hatzeira and a kibbutz are named after her, and her poetry is widely known.

The Palestinian Arabs: Which brings us to the Palestinian Arabs and their governments. They enjoy the experience so much, they have two of them (governments, that is), a fact that seems not to trouble the UN or most international governments but that we think may prove to be a little tricky in these coming weeks and months when a Palestinian Arab entity seeks to get to its feet and take its seat at the UN General Assembly. (As always, we're not so interested to deal here with the political issues. This blog's focus is terrorism and terrorists.)

Here's one of their highest profile heroines, as described by the most prominent of the Palestinian newsagencies, Maan
Leader of Hamas female detainees marks 11 years in jail
| Published Friday 16/09/2011 (updated) 19/09/2011 11:12 | GAZA CITY (Ma'an) -- The Detainees Ministry in Gaza highlighted on Friday the case of Ahlam al-Tamimi, 31, detained by Israel exactly 11 years ago [ThisOngoingWar Comment: Actually not right - see our comments below.] Al-Tamimi was detained from her family home in Ramallah, and sentenced to life on charges of transferring a suicide bomber to Jerusalem. She heads the Hamas female detainees group in prison, and is currently in isolation at Hasharon prison after she delivered a speech to detainees during Eid al-Fitr. Al-Tamimi, who studied journalism, is married to Nizar al-Tamimi who received a life sentence in Israeli jail in 1993. The ministry said al-Tamimi now suffers from severe backache as a result of her detention.
Detained for eleven years and with a sore back and all. Makes you wonder about the Israelis and their vindictiveness, no? 

The reporters and editors at Ma'an News Agency somehow forget to mention that this woman was tried in a court and convicted of fifteen acts of murder. Not a single enemy soldier, not one Zionist bureaucrat or Israeli police officer or Jewish tax collector appear in the list of her victims. That's because she planned the massacre so that its victims would be women and children. In this, she succeeded. Our daughter Malki, who was fifteen years old when her life was stolen by this monster and the Hamas gang that helped her execute the plan, is one of those innocent civilian victims. 

[And it's not eleven years, despite what Ma'an published. The Sbarro massacre itself, which she engineered and played a critical role in executing, took place 10 years ago on 9th August 2001. As we wrote in this blog three years ago: "In October 2003, Ahlam Tamimi was sentenced to 16 consecutive life sentences for her role in the terror bombing of Jerusalem's Sbarro restaurant." She had been arrested by the Israeli authorities 13 months earlier on 14th September 2001.]

This convict has been interviewed repeatedly in her Israeli prison and has taken the trouble each time to remove any doubts people might have about her state of mind. She makes clear that she has no feelings of remorse; she is proud that she can claim to have murdered so many children, woman and civilian men. 

And why not? Her governments, both of them, have said again and again and again that this convicted murderer is a heroine. A national heroine for a new state in need of role models and heroes. Killing the enemy's children? What could better express the sentiments that brought the Palestinian Arab leadership to want yet another Arab state? A barbarian in every sense of the word, she is the very embodiment of the spirit of our times.

Mrs Abu Hmeid: Embodying her people's
aspirations and values
Then there's Mrs Latifa Abu Hmeid (pictured at right). She received world-wide attention last week because it was she, a simple and bowed peasant woman, who presented a critically important document to the local representative of the UN secretary-general in the name of the Palestinian Arab government (one of them, at any rate).

Mrs Abu Hmeid evidently fits the Abbas regime's idea of Palestinian Motherhood with a capital M. This is because she stitches together quilts. Saves bean cans for recycling. And composes patriotic songs. Actually no. in the words of a Palestinian government functionary called Issa Karake, a minister in the Abbas regime, she is the recipient of the Plaque of Resoluteness and Giving "and she deserves that we bow to her in salute and in honor."

The reason for the salute and honor? You won't find the answer in any of the Reuters, AP, AFP and other news-agency reports. They're too busy mindlessly recycling the press releases handed to them by the spin-masters of Ramallah.

The official PA daily laconically wrote that the woman is the "mother of seven prisoners". For reasons about which we can only guess, they somehow deleted the part about how four of the seven are convicted murderers. To put it plainly, Mrs Abu Hmeid was honored by her government because she gave birth to a string of sons who became killers and terrorists. [See "Mother of 4 terrorist murderers chosen by the PA to launch statehood campaign", online here.] Take a look at the 2002 charge sheet for just one of them, Nasser Bin Mohammed Yusuf Naji Abu-Hmeid, an ally of the infamous Marwan Barghouti; it recites a long list of crimes including murder, attempted murder, conspiracy to murder and assorted acts of barbaric terrorism.

So what does all this tell us about the prospects for peaceful relations with a constructive, welfare-focused democratic state in our neighbourhood? Not that much, in our view. Most Israelis - long familiar with the bloodbaths that have periodically characterized  relations between citizens and their despotic rulers in Jordan, Egypt, Syria and Lebanon, all of them on our borders - take a realistic view of how these things work.

But what can the Palestinian Arabs - and their European minders and funders - be thinking?

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