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Our grief, their death cult…the real story of the ongoing muslim ‘Palestinian’ violence against Jews in Israel

Following controversial comments by a popular radio host comparing the grief felt by families of Israeli terror victims to that of the terrorists’ families, experts weigh in on the different perceptions of death in each culture.

Nadav Shragai

Just under 13 years ago, the No. 37 Egged bus was driving its route from Haifa’s Bat Galim neighborhood toward the University of Haifa. On Moriyah Street, near the one of the city’s main intersections, the bus stopped to pick up more passengers. As it pulled away from the stop, Hamas terrorist Mahmoud Umdan Salim Qawasmeh triggered the explosive belt strapped to his body, packed with about 10 kilograms (22 pounds) of explosives. The bus was completely engulfed in flames, and 17 people were killed, nine of them children and teenagers.

One of them was 17-year-old Asaf Tzur.

His father, Yossi Tzur, recalled this week that in the hours after receiving the news of his son’s death, he “felt like a robot. I was in shock.”

“My son was killed,” he said. “The [Israeli-Arab] terrorist’s mother, on the other hand, went completely against the customs of where she lives and refused her family’s wishes that she wear black and mourn. She told everyone she would celebrate her heroic son’s death for three days. And indeed, she greeted the guests at the mourning tent with sweets.”

Tzur’s memories resurfaced this week when veteran Army Radio host Razi Barkai said on air that “grief is grief, even on the other side of the fence,” and that “Jewish bereaved families feel the same human emotions” as terrorists’ families on the other side. Barkai’sremarks sparked a firestorm, and while he apologized for hurting the feelings of bereaved families, he refused to retract his comments.

But Qawasmeh’s mother, whom the bereaved Tzur finds so difficult to wipe out of his mind, is not alone. Just this week, Palestinian Media Watch published a photo from Fatah’s Facebook page. In thephoto, the mother of Hussein Abu Ghosh and the sister of Ibrahim Alan are seen, faces beaming, handing out candy to celebrate the “wedding of martyr Ibrahim Alan in Beit Ur al-Tahta,” as the caption notes. A martyr’s funeral is considered to be his wedding to the 72 virgins waiting for him in heaven. Alan and Abu Ghosh, for those who have forgotten, are the two terrorists who carried out thestabbing attack at the minimarket in Beit Horon last month, murdering 24-year-old Shlomit Krigman and injuring another woman. Both terrorists were shot to death by a security guard.

The mother of Mohammed Sunuqrut, a 16-year-old shot dead during riots in the Wadi Joz neighborhood of east Jerusalem, said during his funeral that it was “the first time I see joy in my heart,” adding, “Thank Allah for giving him martyrdom.” A quick scan of the posts published in the Palestinian Media Watch archive over the past few years reveals many similar cases: The mother of Ihab Maswada, who murdered Gennady Kaufman in a stabbing attack near the Cave of the Patriarchs two months ago, also expressed joy about her son’s “martyrdom.” His family members said their joy was even greater than the happiness they felt about his coming nuptials. Ayat al-Akhras, the 17-year-old suicide bomber who murdered two and injured 28 in the Kiryat Yovel neighborhood of Jerusalem, has been nicknamed “a bride in the dress of martyrdom.”

Many Jewish bereaved mothers have repeatedly expressed the hope that their child would be the last victim of this bloody conflict. But many Palestinian mothers speak in a completely different manner. The mother of suicide bomber Wafa Idris said she was proud of her daughter and hoped other girls would follow in her path. Another mother, named al-Sayoush, who has three sons serving life sentences in prison and whose fourth son, Moussa, was killed in the First Intifada, expressed hope that her children and husband would “follow Moussa’s path.” She even clarified: “I won’t be sad, since they would be following the right path.”

‘Martyrdom is sweet’

Palestinian public institutions broadcast similar messages and systematically glorify terrorism, suicide attackers and terrorists in general.

The Palestinian Authority’s official radio station, Voice of Palestine, plays songs of praise for suicide attacks, telling Palestinian mothers: “Don’t be sad, mother, don’t cry about my torn flesh. … We praised Allah and went for martyrdom [death in the name of Allah].” The Palestinian television show “For You” has broadcast images of “martyrs'” graves with songs playing in the background that offer comfort to the mothers: “Make sounds of joy, the blood of this martyr is a debt that we must pay back.” Hamas’ radio station has called killing Jews “worship” more than once.

Indeed, many Palestinian mothers act accordingly, and comments like those of the Idris and al-Sayoush mothers are not unusual. The mother of Ihab Abu Salem from the village of Rantis, who carried out a terrorist attack in Jerusalem in 2003, said, “I received the news of his death as a martyr with a happy heart, because death comes to all of us — with martyrdom or without it.” Another mother, who has four terrorist sons serving 18 life sentences in Israeli prison, and a fifth son, Naji Abu Hamid, who she says died as a martyr, recently won an award from the director of the PLO Prisoners’ Affairs Authority, Issa Karake. He honored her for her strength and called her the “al-Khansa of Palestine.” Al-Khansa was a seventh century Arabic poet whose four sons were killed in the Battle of al-Qadisiyyah. She did not grieve; instead she thanked Allah for their “martyrdom.”

Terrorist Dalal Mughrabi, who participated in the 1978 Coastal Road Massacre that murdered 38 Israelis, including 13 children, has become a source of inspiration and a role model for many in Palestinian society. Her sister has repeatedly said that she is “the pride of Palestinian women.” The happiness and sense of satisfaction over martyrs’ deaths even spills over into childhood. In a conversation with two young girls that was broadcast on Palestinian television, the youngsters recite the following text: “All human beings yearn for martyrdom. What could be better than reaching heaven? … Martyrdom is a sweet thing. … Palestinian youth are not like other youth. They are hot-blooded, and they prefer martyrdom, of course, because they are Palestinian.”

The height of this horror, it seems, which embodies the doctrine of death that makes their grief so different from ours, can be seen in a Hamas television show for children. In a studio packed with dolls and cheerful colors, a group of children — among them the children of female suicide bomber Reem Riyashi, who murdered four Israelis at the Erez crossing in 2004 — are invited to watch a video re-enactment of Riyashi’s attack. An actress playing Riyashi prepares a bomb as an actress playing her daughter asks, “Mommy, what are you carrying in your arms instead of me? A toy or present for me?” The mother leaves without answering, and after seeing a TV report of the suicide bombing, the girl says: “Instead of me, you carried a bomb in your hands. Only now I know what was more precious than us.” Back in the studio, the hostess says of Riyashi’s children: “These are the children of the martyr, the heroic jihad fighter who sacrificed all that she had for the sake of her homeland. She cared less about her own flesh and blood, and for their sake, she sacrificed [herself] for Allah.”

Death as an educational agenda

According to Middle East expert Dr. Mordechai Kedar, “The concept of life and death that we know from our culture is different in Islamic society, and even more so in Palestinian society. It’s a different culture.”

“At their funerals, martyrs are always carried on stretchers with their faces uncovered, and that is in keeping with the verse [from the Quran]: ‘And never think of those who have been killed in the cause of Allah as dead. Rather, they are alive with their Lord, receiving provision’ [3:169],” Kedar said.

“The martyrs are not considered to be dead. If you watch carefully, you will see that many people approach the body with tissue in their hands. They wipe the tissue on the martyr’s forehead and cheeks and then wipe it on their own faces and foreheads.

“The strange logic at play here apparently rests on the belief that the martyr is already in heaven, running wild with 72 virgins, so he is sweating and they are wiping him dry, wanting to participate. Passing the martyr’s sweat on to themselves is, in their eyes, the final opportunity to take part in these events in the martyr’s ‘heaven.'”

Kedar also mentioned the “scent of musk” and “the scent of heaven, according to Islam. … They speak about this a lot at martyr events.”

“The newspapers report that ‘the house smelled of musk from wall to wall,’ as the martyr at that point is both here and there — and the calls of joy are added to this. The funeral itself, as long as it’s the funeral for a martyr, is nicknamed the ‘zaffa’ — that is, the wedding, because the deceased is essentially not dead and, according to the Quran, is about to marry 72 virgins.”

Kedar added that “only a few months ago, a young man and young woman were killed on the same day after attempting separate attacks. They had separate funerals, but during the funerals, their fathers ‘married them in heaven.'”

Kedar believes that radio personality Barkai, who made the controversial comments about mourning


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