Eulogy for an Arab Martyr
A pro-Syrian Lebanese young woman, F. H. G., undertook a suicide mission in order to kill Israelis. She, like many before her and after her, was willing to sacrifice life in order to murder Jews. What led her to this horrible act that also resulted in her own violent death? Was it hatred, frustration, nationalism? Was she simply mentally deranged?
A young Arab woman is dead, along with her innocent Israeli victims. Perhaps if she had been born somewhere else or in another era, she--and her victims--would have lived full lives. But she was born in the Middle East and grew up in a whirlpool of hatred. So she, and so many other young men and women before her--Arab and Israeli--have died.
Some years ago, I delivered a lecture at a college in the American Midwest. A student of Iraqi background asked me publicly and without embarrassment: Why do Jews kill Muslim children and use their blood for ritual purposes? I had thought that this vicious blood libel, this horrendous lie against the Jewish people, had long been put to rest. But I was wrong. The lie has persisted. After pointing out that this charge was a medieval anti-Jewish fabrication and slander, I asked the student to explain how she had come to believe that libel. She answered without hesitation: she had learned it at home, and everyone knew it was true! That a lie of such malicious and dangerous nature could be taught and accepted by "everyone" in her society is an indication of the power of hatred. Indeed, the blood libel has cost many innocent Jews their lives over the centuries, and apparently continues its evil work.
F. H. G. was a martyr who died because her mind was poisoned against Israelis and against Jews. She had come to believe that it was worth sacrificing her own young life if she could only kill and injure Israelis--men and women she did not even know as human beings. To her, they were stereotypes, evil characters.
An environment of hatred, fear and demonization of enemies creates martyrs. This is profoundly sad.
I imagine that no individual Arabs or Israelis would want the situation to be as it is, a situation of constant anxiety and violence. I imagine that they, like we, would like to live in peace and tranquility, to live to ripe old ages with their children and grandchildren. But somehow, this goal has been elusive. Years of hatred and wars, slanders and violence undermine trust. Memories of martyrs inspire new generations of martyrs.
G. H. G. was willing to die to prove her hatred of Israel. But what if she had been willing to give her life--by living it--for the sake of peace and understanding? What would happen if all the would-be martyrs would strive with all their mights to find a peaceful resolution to their conflicts?
This notion certainly seems utopian. Too much blood has been spilled, there are too many scars. Perhaps the United States can effectuate a new era of real peace in the Middle East. But to do this, the United States needs the will and resolution to see the process to a proper conclusion. It needs to press the Arab countries to recognize Israel, to affirm Israel's right to exist as a Jewish State. It needs to give Israel the necessary sense of security so that it can participate in a peace process with confidence. No people on earth want peace more than Israelis: and yet, Israel is a tiny country that needs to be sure of its own safety and security.
Part of the peace process takes place at the negotiating table. But there is another--at least equally important--arena where peace must be developed: in the attitudes of the people of the Middle East. As long as Arab children learn to stereotype and to hate Jews and Israel, no peace treaty can be altogether successful. As long as the deep-seated hatred festers, a genuine peace will be impossible to achieve. Public attitudes need to be shaped in the spirit of peace and mutual respect.
It is time to stop the cycle of martyrdom. Young Arabs and Israelis should be living their lives in peace.
To F. H. G--a eulogy: I pray that your death will not have been in vain. I pray that your death will awaken the world to the tragedy of needless martyrdom. May the hatred and violence which infused your life and brought your death, come to an end. May your martyrdom generate no more new martyrs.