Mid-East Realitieswww.middleeast.org


August 23, 2001

MID-EAST REALITIES - www.MiddleEast.Org - Washington - 8/23: It didn't begin this way. A few generations ago Arabs and Jews lived together in the same neighborhoods of the once Holy Land. In the 40's the famous Arab mayor of Haifa Hassan Shukri's only son married a Jewish woman. But as more Jews came in the aftermath of the European Holocaust, and then with Ben-Gurion's flagrantly broken promise not to seek to establish a separate "Jewish State", after considerable provocation a kind of civil war erupted when after decades of "divide and rule" tactics from which the region has yet to recover the British ran for it. The bi-national state concept -- one supported by many of the most enlightened among the Jews, including Martin Buber, Judah Magnes, and Nahum Goldman precisely because they feared the alternative that has resulted -- collapsed. Then the cancerous occupation of 1967 which quickly metastacized first into isolated "settlements", then into ever-more far-reaching dispossession, then into the brutal neo-apartheid tragedy of today. And now a potential religious war leading to eventual regional mass destruction, possible another holocaust in the years ahead, looms.

It was U.S. policies, arms, and training that created today's nemesis Osama Bin-Laden. Just a decade ago, Bin-Laden, a member of one of the most prominent and wealthy families of Saudi Arabia, was sitting in the Riyadh Palace with King Fahd contemplating the future of "the Kingdom". He had worked closely with the CIA during the years of the Afghanistan war; now he was seized with the basic issue of the independence and integrity of his own country.

It was U.S. policies which armed and fueled Saddam Hussein first encouraging the Iraqi attack on post-Shah Iran and then the subsequent attack on Kuwait, an area which indeed was self-servingly carved out of Iraq in the 20s, again by the British. Iraq's program of biological weapons, now of such concern, was initially subsidized by American funds laundered through the U.S. Agriculture Department, the original toxins sent to Baghdad from a Virginia laboratory nor far from Washington, DC. And now it is U.S. policies -- most traceable in terms of the huge flow of money and arms to the small "Jewish State" of Israel -- that have quite literally tortured an entire generation of Palestinians knowing nothing other than Israeli military occupation and American duplicity into making the ultimate sacrifice attempting to liberate themselves as indeed is their right.



[The Mirror, UK, 22 August 2001]: HE has the face of an angel - yet his young heart is full of hate.

Four-year-old Ahmed Masawbi has only one ambition in life, to follow his uncle Ismail and become a suicide bomber in Palestine's bloody intifada against Israel.

Clutching a poster of Ismail to his chest, smiling Ahmed told me: "When I grow up I want to be a suicide bomber just like him. Yes, I want to kill the Jews too."

Asked if he had any other ambitions, he childishly ignored the grim fact that Ismail blew himself up as well as three Israeli soldiers, and said: "I'll grow a long beard just like Uncle Ismail. And I'll carry a gun and kill the Jews who killed him."

For Westerners untouched by the Israel's bloody cycle of vengeance piled on vengeance, his words are truly shocking from one so young.

For his grandfather Bashir - father of dead Ismail - they are the signs of a pure heart and a young warrior.

For if Ahmed dies in the cause he will become a holy martyr by killing those seen as an enemy of Islam.

Sitting in his home in the human hellhole that is Gaza City, Bashir said: "I hope I too will become a martyr for the sake of Allah, like Ismail, and all my sons and daughters too."

Then, with a grandfatherly smile, he pointed at Ahmed and added: "Yes, and Ahmed too."

Every time a suicide bomber strikes at Israelis, Bashir celebrates by handing out sweets to local children. He said: "I thank God."

And there is no shortage of volunteers. In the back streets of sprawling Gaza City I met another young activist who wore the green flag of martyrdom across his chest.

His face covered with a scarf, he told me: "I too am a suicide bomber and I'll kill the Jews if God allows me. There must be more bombings to drive them from our land."

This is Israel's nightmare without end - a hatred passed from old to young, with the message that vengeance is holier than life.

THE Middle East peace process is in ruins. More than 540 Palestinians and 150 Israelis have been killed in the last 11 months.

But the cycle of revenge and counter-retaliation is no nearer an end. And in this bloody war the suicide bomber is the most feared aggressor of all.

Suicide bombing is the ultimate weapon of the Muslim fundamentalist groups Islamic Jihad and Hamas, who have vowed to wage a jihad - Holy War - against Israel.

Bombers are driven close to the target or guided by mobile phone. Most strap the explosives to their chest. Others may hide the bomb in a plastic shopping bag.

The final act is a simple flick of a switch that will blow their own bodies and those around them to bits.

To inflict higher casualties recent suicide killers have mixed the explosives with nails.

How can any sane person do such a thing? The answer lies in the poster that Ahmed holds.

This proudly claims that thanks to his bombing mission 23-year-old uncle Ismail is a "shadeen", a blessed Islamic martyr.

According to believers, he is now now in paradise where he can have sex with 70 virgins and lives for ever in a green oasis of bliss. The poster not only glorifies Ismail's martyrdom but also his harvest in human lives.

Gruesomely, it features pictures showing a military rabbi picking up body parts of the three Israeli soldiers Ismail killed in a Jewish settlement in the disputed Gaza Strip.

This is a document of cold human hatred. But to the Masawbis it is a roll of family honour.

They are as proud of Ismail as another family would be at a son's college graduation. Soon, they will receive a cheque for 8,000 from Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein in honour of the slaughter and an official certificate of Ismail's "martyrdom".

The family sitting room is already a shrine to their dead son with posters of the bomber, the third of 10 children, covering the walls.

Bizarrely, a video was made of Ismail shortly before he set out on his murderous mission. The family is proud to show it.

On screen, he is seen holding a Kalashnikov in one hand and the Koran in the other. Across his forehead is the green bandanna of martyrdom. With eyes glazed, he drones as if in a trance: "I am a living martyr. I long to meet the Prophet and his disciples in paradise.

WE must stand against the Jews and kill them. I urge you to follow with more martyrs until we reach our target."

Ismail looks as if he has been on hunger strike. But no one disputes that he went willingly to his death.

Like most suicide bombers, his path to martyrdom was bred into him from birth. There is no hope on the mean and crowded streets of Gaza City where the Masawbis have lived as refugees for 53 years after fleeing their village from the advancing Israeli army in 1948.

The city is home to more than a million Palestinian refugees. Rubbish fills the streets, sewers overflow, the water supply is polluted and there are daily power cuts.

Donkey carts jostle alongside cars on pot-holed streets. The contrast with the gleaming tower blocks and wealthy shops of Tel Aviv or Jerusalem is shocking. Gaza City is a Third World slum. According to the 1993 Oslo accord between Israel and PLO leader Yasser Arafat, the Gaza Strip should be the Palestinian homeland. Instead it has become a Palestinian prison.

Every border, entrance and exit and entrance is manned by Israelisoldiers. Because of the fear of suicide bombers, it is now impossible for Palestinians to cross into Israel for work, or even hospital treatment. Ismail grew up in this impoverished and angry environment vowing to avenge the catastrophe inflicted on his family.

Like his father, he did not believe in the promises of the corrupt Arafat administration or the words of an enemy.

peace. The Jews hate us and we hate them. Israel is a cancer, it should be uprooted.

"Many people volunteer for martyrdom because they see how we suffer every day. This is a prize of God. There will be no pain."

Like other bombers before him, Ismail turned to Islam. He spent most of his time at the local mosque. And there, it is believed, he was recruited for his mission.

He was convinced that dying in a suicide bombing was a supreme act of faith. In his video he sang verses about his longing for death. Five months before that longing was achieved, Ismail started giving away his possessions.

Then he warned his mother Rawda he was about to die.

Rawda said: "One day he said 'What do you think, mum, if I became a suicide bomber?' I told him not to say things like that."

Soon after making his video Ismail drove into his target Jewish settlement, pretended he had a flat tyre and called over an Israeli patrol.

When their Jeep was within range, he pressed the button and blew everyone up. Two days later, the Israeli army returned his few remains in a canvas bag. Hamas and Islamic Jihad have launched more than 70 suicide attacks against Israel. Each brings a harsh Israel clampdown with fed-up Palestinians having to put up with daily checks. Israeli government defence spokesman Shlomo Dror is unrepentant. He said: "Every Palestinian is a potential suicide bomber." But the Israeli iron fist has only fuelled Palestinian resentment. Islamic Jihad spokesman Abdullah Sami said: "Our aim is to resist occupation of our country, to make them frightened. "They will not oppress us. They will pay the price for this in blood."EARLIER this month, a bomber blew himself up in a Jerusalem restaurant killing 15.

Israel has struck back, bombing Palestinian police stations, assassinating Palestinian leaders and inevitably killing some innocent civilians mistaken for suicide bombers. But nothing can deter the bomber whose ever present threat has left Israel in a state of terror. Tourists have fled, the hotels are empty and streets are deserted. Meanwhile every funeral of Palestinians killed by the Israeli Army now follows the same ritual of hate. Gunmen fire in the air screaming Allah Akbar! (God is Great!)and call for more suicide bombers. Often those who run with the coffin through the city's streets are already preparing themselves for the next attack. The suicide bomber is part of a plan by Hamas to shift the balance of fear. Dr Meir Hadina, of the Dayan Centre, said: "These are not the acts of madmen. The real aim is to cause anxiety in Israeli society and erode the stamina of most Israelis to resist."

Settlers' spokesman Chaim Block added: "They are determined to hurt women and children. They don't show any mercy. Their dream is our destruction."

It is a dream so potent it is even shared by a boy of four who says he is ready to die
Mid-East Realitieswww.middleeast.org

Source: http://www.middleeast.org/articles/2001/8/356.htm