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Saturday, January 28, 2006

Chorus

In Thursday's election for the PA parliament, the Palestinians ousted Arafat’s egregiously corrupt Fatah party, which won only 33% of the seats. The opposition party, in what seems to actually have been a sort of fair election, took 58% of the seats – a crushing victory. In power now is a party renowned for its extensive work in building up an education network, its scholarships, youth camps, sporting activities, care for the elderly, sponsorship of light industry, and for its diligent work to bolster a desperately needed healthcare infrastructure. Its meaningful and effective charitable work has been reported even by Western media, especially in the zakath, the benevolent gift to families bereft through violence of a loved one. Given the incompetence of the late Arafat’s kleptocracy, and the proven efficiency of the newly elected party, news of its victory was met with predicable jubilation in the streets of Ramallah. At last, the PA takes a faltering step toward joining the comity of civilized peoples.

Characteristic of these victorious “Young Turks” is Mariam Farahat - affectionately known as Um Nidal – whose stoicism in the tragic loss of three of her six sons has endeared her to countless Palestinians, and indeed to innumerable admirers throughout the world. Sari Nusseibeh, president of Al-Quds University and widely admired in the West as a moderate, praised her character with the following: “What comes to mind as I listen to sister Um Nidal is the verse 'Paradise is under the feet of the mothers'. Praise is due to this woman, and to every Palestinian mother...” She is called Palestine’s Al-Khansa – a revered heroine from Islamic history who was the subject of a television drama, and on International Women’s Day provided the inspiration for the official sermon of the PA. Heady praise indeed.

So.

The historic Moslem heroine Al-Khansa is glorified solely for celebrating the deaths of her four shahid – martyred – sons.

Um Nidal – the honorific of Ramallah’s matronly politico Mariam Farahat – means “mother of the struggle.” She found her acclaim on film sending her 17 year old son Mohammed off to kill Jews. She is seen ordering him “not to return except as a martyr for Allah.” Off he went and showered a lecture hall with gunfire, lobbing grenades, murdering five students and wounding 24 others. The following year another son, Nidhal, was killed while preparing to attack Israeli troops. Two years after that, in 2005, a third son, Rawad, was killed while transporting Kassam rockets for use against Jews – any Jew.

After young Mohammed’s death, Um - "Mother" - said, “My son is not dearer than Islam. I have offered him as a gift and a sacrifice to Allah, may He be glorified, and to His true faith..." After her election on Thursday, she said that her three remaining sons would follow in their brothers' footsteps, if necessary.

And the victorious party in Ramallah? Hamas. Hamas – “Zeal” - known for its civic and charitable work. And also for its terrorist activities. It is the gigantic brain behind suicide bombings, and pays a reward, a zakath, to the families of such “martyrs.” In three and a half years it arranged 425 attacks, killing 377 Israeli citizens and soldiers and wounding 2,076 others. Just prior to this election, Hamas' leader Mahmoud al-Zahar pronounced that under his government, "every citizen will be required to act in accordance with the codes of Islamic law." Plans have been announced in Bethlehem to institute (re-institute) the dhimmi, or al-Jeziya - the "unbeliever tax."

The charter of Hamas calls for the extermination of Israel and for its replacement with an Islamic theocracy. It states that "There is no solution for the Palestinian question except through Jihad. Initiatives, proposals and international conferences are all a waste of time and vain endeavors." It informs us that "The Zionist invasion is a vicious invasion.... It relies greatly in its infiltration and espionage operations on the secret organizations it gave rise to, such as the Freemasons, The Rotary and Lions clubs, and other sabotage groups. All these organizations … work in the interest of Zionism and according to its instructions..." The Jews’ scheme “is embodied in ‘The Protocols of the Elders of Zion’…"

So.

Hagar was Abraham’s scorned other wife. She raised rejected Ishmael, who is counted now as father to the Arabs. What seed of bitterness was planted in his young heart, to last so long. Today another Hagar has borne sons, whom she aims and looses like arrows of flame into the heart of Israel. When I heard of this woman in Palestine, laying out her sons as a blood sacrifice to Allah, some dim serpent stirred in the back of my memory.

Medea, the forsaken wife of Jason of the Argonauts, has effected the murders of several enemies. Her final revenge will be on Jason himself, and the instrument shall be his -- their -- sons. She turns to them and after many musings says:

        You will nevermore your mother see,
        Nor live as ye have done beneath her eye.
        Alas, my sons, why do you gaze on me,
        Why smile upon your mother that last smile?

-- a moment’s wavering, then she steels herself --

                                             Shall I let my foes
        Triumph, that I may let my friends go free?
        I'll brace me to the deed. …
        By the avengers that in Hades reign,
        It never shall be said that I have left
        My children for my foes to trample on.
        It is decreed.

And off she rushes to butcher her children. We hear their screams.

There’s something reptilian here, some affinity between the woman and the serpent. There’s something so unclean in all of this. What can we think, in the presence of such horror? Who can we blame? Well, mothers, of course. But fathers too. Isn’t anyone sane? Men must be faithful to their wives. Fathers must be faithful to their sons. But blessed Abraham, father of nations, faithful to his God, was faithless to his Ishmael – and this failure remains a curse unto the nations to this very day. We mustn’t blame him, though. The deed is four thousand years done - 3966 years, to be precise. And we really ought to find some more relevant scapegoat, don’t you suppose?

Euripides tells us, through his Chorus, his dark conclusion:

        Many a hopeless matter gods arrange.
        What we expected never came to pass,
        What we did not expect the gods brought to bear.

So the Greeks would have it. An easy answer. Let’s blame God.




J

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