Make no mistake, Israel is despised by the Palestinian populations because it is Jewish – not the other way around. In fact, Israel’s unceasing pattern of capitulation to Arab terror elicits even greater Palestinian loathing, as such surrender behavior merely confirms the prevailing Islamic view of the Jew as coward. When Haj Amin al Husseini, the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem, spoke together with Hitler on Berlin Radio in 1942, he cried out: “Kill the Jews – kill them with your hands, kill them with your teeth – this is well pleasing to Allah.” Today the PLO calls for annihilation of Israel – denied publicly by Abbas when speaking with the Americans – still remain recorded at PA websites and publications, and the Hamas Covenant still calls insistently for the “realization of Allah’s promise: ‘The Day of Judgment will not come until Muslims fight the Jews, killing them.'”
In the final analysis, for the Palestinians – and for the Arab/Islamic world as a whole – the “Zionist Problem” is merely a surface manifestation of what is truly intolerable: “The Jewish Problem.” Recently a prominent Palestinian “intellectual” wrote in Al-Ahram: “We are all, once again, face to face with the Jewish Problem, not just the Zionist Problem; and we must reassess all those studies which make a distinction between ‘The Jew’ and ‘The Israeli.’ We must redefine the meaning of the word ‘Jew’ so that we do not imagine that we are speaking of a divinely revealed religion….we cannot help but see before us the figure of the great man Hitler, may Allah have mercy on him, who was the wisest of those who confronted this problem, and who, out of compassion for humanity, tried to exterminate every Jew, but despaired of curing this cancerous growth on the body of mankind.”
Directed toward Jews, the violence of Palestinian terrorism is always “sacred” violence. Unlike terrorists in other parts of the world, the Palestinian movement fighters aspire to immortality. Paradoxically, that is why they commit uniquely homicidal forms of “suicide.” Urged on first by Arafat – and now by Abbas-appointed clergy in the mosques, they believe fully that by dying in the religiously-mandated act of blowing up Jews they will buy themselves free from the penalty of death. As for their fiery self-immolation….it is a small matter, only a momentary inconvenience on the Islamic “martyr’s” glorious journey to union with Allah. Identifying the PLO as “a father, a brother, a relative, a friend,” the Hamas Charter instructs: “We (all Palestinians) know the Palestinian problem is a religious one, to be dealt with on this premise….’I swear by that (sic) who holds in his hands the Soul of Muhammad! I indeed wish to go to war for the sake of Allah! I will assault and kill, assault and kill, assault and kill.'”
For terrorists elsewhere in the world, suicide is something “crazy,” not a proper tactic to be used for revolutionary confrontation. For the Palestinians, however, suicide in the act of murdering Jews represents the very highest form of political engagement, a correctly Islamic method warranting great praise. How different, for example, is the Movimiento Revolucionario Tupac Amaru, a Latin American terrorist group that took 74 hostages at the Japanese Embassy in Lima, Peru on December 17, 1996. After the kidnapper’s initial demands were rejected by the Government, the terrorists threatened to blow the entire Embassy as an act of suicidal desperation. Peruvian President Alberto Fujimori’s response was to say simply: “There cannot be peace talks or agreements while terror is being used as the principal argument.” Again, the terrorists threatened: “If the Government doesn’t cede, we will die with all the hostages.” Five months later, on April 22, 1997, with not a single hostage harmed, the hostages were rescued. Unlike Palestinian terror groups, who seek to inflict gratuitous harm on noncombatants – often by filling bombs with nails, screws and razor blades – the MRTA rejected suicide terrorism as both irrational and inhumane.
“Nail in brain; nail in heart.” Such labels attached to X-Rays in Israeli hospitals have now become routine. A recent victim of Palestinian suicide terror arrived at Rabin Medical Center in Petach Tikva with nearly 15 nails and metal fragments embedded in his body. One of the “merely wounded,” this 31-year-old man presented with multiple shrapnel penetrations along the left side of his body, second and first-degree burns on the left side of his face and chest, on his hands and on his left leg. His injuries required five types of surgery. After regaining consciousness, he was weaned from a ventilator and now faces years of painful rehabilitation.
What kind of a people inflicts such harms upon noncombatant populations, and then celebrates the most grotesque casualties in gleeful ceremony with their own young children? What kind of a world accepts such harms as “understandable” and even permissible? Anyone traveling across “civilized” Europe today (or perhaps, closer by, across the campus of Columbia University) will discover that no matter how distinctively murderous Palestinian terrorism becomes, so long as the victims remain Jews it is always fully pardonable. Plus ca change, plus c’est la meme chose. “The more things change, the more they remain the same.” How glorious, how refined are British manners and French cuisine. How marvelously sensitive to “diversity” are our great universities.
Palestinian terror seeks national self-determination, but shouts endlessly to the world that even after statehood, violence must continue against “The Jews.” Every map of every Palestinian group features a new Arab state (the 23rd) incorporating ALL of Israel. Not only Al-Fatah, but also the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine; the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine; the Palestine Liberation Front; Al- Saika and the PLO itself have exterminated Israel cartographically. In this respect, at least, let us be fair. Here, in this instance, the Arab/Islamic world deserves credit for absolute honesty. But what shall we say about those Americans and Europeans – those “civilized” parties – who refuse to acknowledge the incontestably genocidal message of Arab cartography?
Terrorism has brought suffering throughout the world, but Palestinian terrorism in particular will remain fiendishly unique even where it is manifestly counter-productive. Given the opportunity, it is probable that, ultimately, Palestinian terror groups will seek to exploit the particular horrors that still lie latent in weaponized pathogens or fissile materials. In Latin America, groups such as MRTA and Sendero Luminoso (Shining Path) have resorted to considerable bloodshed in a class-based fight for social, economic and political equality. But their violence is plainly instrumental and their goals have nothing to do with genocide. In Peru, moreover, whenever Sendero Luminoso exploded bombs in cars and buses, citizens uniformly condemned the terror. Who would condemn bioterrorism against Israel?
All Palestinian terror groups, as we have noted, are determined to use violence even on occasions where it is unsuitable for political gain and – as expressed at Article 15 of the PLO Charter – where it can achieve “total elimination of Zionism in Palestine.” Palestine, of course, refers to all of Israel proper as well as to Judea, Samaria and Gaza. As for Palestinian civilian populations, they regularly cheer even the most heinous forms of anti-Jewish terrorism. When, several years back, two lost Israelis were lynched outside a PA “police station” in Ramallah, a mob of thousands danced a frenzied bacchanal on top of the mutilated bodies.
What conceivable human emotions can move a mob of thousands of “ordinary” Palestinians to torture, gouge out the eyes, beat and then burn two utterly defenseless human beings? What was more incomprehensible that October morning in Ramallah, the (literally) elbows-deep-in-blood attacks by a desensitized people, or the twisted celebrations of the multiple Arab bystanders? Arab women as well as men could not contain the hideous ecstasy of their cruel involvement. What kind of human beings can commit the horrors the Palestinian mobs inflicted that terrible day upon Vadim Norjitz and Yossi Avrahami? While the answers to these questions are certainly complex, they have a great deal to do with understanding the distinctive barbarism of Palestinian terror groups.
Latin American terror groups sometimes fight for human improvement and survival, but look ultimately toward peace and coexistence. Palestinian terrorists, on the other hand, fight to expunge an entire people, the Jews, from the face of the Middle East. Palestinian terrorism is not a plea to Israel to relieve material needs, but rather a demand to die so that Arabs can realize their spiritual wants. Citing to a major HADITH (an Arab term which refers to the oral tradition by means of which sayings or deeds attributed to the prophet Muhammed have been handed down to Muslim believers), King Sa’ud once informed a British visitor to his court: “Verily, the word of G-d teaches us, and we implicitly believe it, that for a Muslim to kill a Jew, or for him to be killed by a Jew, ensures him an immediate entry into heaven and into the august presence of God Almighty.”
Palestinian terrorism, based upon fanatical religious hatreds and intentionally wanton killings, bears no close resemblance to other forms of contemporary terror violence. Starkly medieval, it seeks the death and dismemberment of individual Jews and the total annihilation of the Jewish State. It follows that there can be absolutely no justification for its manifold crimes and harms, and that Prime Minister Sharon’s planned “disengagement” will only hasten genocidal terrorist goals. For Mahmoud Abbas as for Yasir Arafat, Palestine must be built upon the ruins of Israel.
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LOUIS RENE BERES was educated at Princeton (Ph.D., 1971) and is author of many books and articles dealing with terrorism and international law. He has on occasion been associated with certain federal agencies on issues of counterterrorism, and has contributed to such Department of Defense publications as Parameters and Special Warfare. Professor Beres is Strategic and Military Affairs columnist for The Jewish Press.