Palestinian heroes, all.
* * * * *
Every country has an overwhelming and irreversible obligation under international law to seek out and to prosecute terrorists. This obligation, which derives (ironically) from ancient Jewish law, is known generally as nullum crimen sine poena, no crime without a punishment. It is codified directly in many different sources, and is also deducible from the universally binding Nuremberg Principles.
Principle One, adopted by the UN International Law Commission on August 2, 1950, stipulates: “Any person who commits an act which constitutes a crime under international law is responsible…and liable to punishment.”
Terrorism is always an established crime under international law. An authoritative listing of constituent offenses that comprise this particular crime can be found, inter alia, in the European Convention on the Suppression of Terrorism (1977).
Moreover, many Palestinian terrorists had also been complicit in related crimes of war and crimes against humanity, crimes so egregious that perpetrators are singled out in law as hostis humani generis.
A clear and to this day underreported example would be the active Palestinian Liberation Army (PLA) assistance extended to Saddam Hussein’s torturers during and after the 1991 Gulf War. As the world has already forgotten the irrepressible jubilation of Palestinian celebrations on 9/11, so too it no longer recalls the intimate and mutually supporting ties that had earlier existed between Yasir Arafat and Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein.
Following Operation Desert Storm, Amnesty International identified at least thirty different methods of torture used by the Iraqis and their Palestinian allies. These methods included burning alive, electric shock, gang rape and forced starvation.
In one instance, more than 2,000 women and children were crammed into a single large room and given nothing to eat or drink. When many began to die, the bodies were passed to the Iraqi and Palestinian guards, who then tossed them playfully onto a nearby field. One mother recalls pushing her way to a window to see what had become of her child’s corpse. She witnessed dozens of dogs roaming hungrily in the field:
“I looked outside and saw the legs and hands of my son in the mouths of the dogs. The dogs were eating my son.”
The Palestinian Authority no longer comments on its previous support for Saddam Hussein, but it does continue to appoint Islamic clerics who feverishly denounce the United States and Israel in their weekly sermons. A typical sermon on PA Radio proclaims: “Oh Allah, grant victory to the Muslim people over the hateful America.” Here, there is also regular and ecstatic praise of Palestinian suicide bombers, both male and female.
Some years back an issue of the Hamas magazine for children featured the picture of a Palestinian girl with her severed head lying nearby. The caption read: “Suicide bomber Zainab Abu Salem. Her head separated from her pure body, and her ra’ala [Islamic head scarf] remains to decorate her face. Her place is now in Paradise.”
The “new and improved” post-Arafat Palestinian Authority still teaches children to aspire to shahada, martyrdom, which it calls “sweet.” Palestinian mothers of suicide bombers elicit special praise in their communities. “There goes the mother of a shahid” is what they yearn to hear.
Rejecting the normal maternal instinct to protect one’s child, these women find solace not in life but rather in the most hideous death cult of contemporary political life. For them, the simultaneous killing of their own children and the children of certain despised others (“the Jews”) is the undisguised source of their greatest pride.
In mid-March 2005, PA TV offered special promotions related to International Women’s Day. To help commemorate it, Sheikh Yusuf Juma’ Salamah, in a Friday sermon to an audience that included PA President Mahmoud Abbas, likened the ideal Palestinian woman to Al Khansah. This heroine of Islamic tradition celebrated the death of her four sons in battle by thanking God for the honor. Salamah, the PA Minister of Waqf, quoted Al Khansah: “Praise Allah, who granted me honor with their deaths.”
Al Khansah has become the archetypal mother of all shahids. From a very early age, Palestinian girls are now urged to adopt her as a model. A music video for these children, broadcast again and again on PA TV, includes the farewell words of a child shahid: “Mother, don’t cry for me, be joyous over my blood.” The Palestinian Authority has named five girls’ schools “The Al Khansah School for Girls” (in Bethlehem, Jenin, Nablus, Han Yunis, and Rafah).
About the Author: Louis René Beres (Ph.D., Princeton, 1971) is professor of political science and international law at Purdue University and the author of many books and articles dealing with international relations and strategic studies.
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