Globe and Mail reporter Carolynne Wheeler filed a report today from Gaza about the role of Palestinian women in what Wheeler calls "their resistance against Israel." The most recent "resistor"? A Palestinian grandmother who blew herself up in a failed attempt to kill Israeli soldiers.
Wheeler’s profile can be read either as a glimpse into the twisted mindset of Palestinian suicide bombers, or a sympathetic portrait replete with multiple justifications for the suicide attack. Take, for example, these touching passages:
"Grandchildren handed out strong coffee and dates to visitors, and spoke lovingly of their grandmother: ‘Thanks be to God, I’m proud of her. She was not an ordinary woman, she was a good mother and a good grandmother,’ said 18-year-old Fatima Ghabin, a white niqab covering her face and dark chador swelling over her pregnant belly. Another daughter of Mrs. Najar, Anam, 45, said the family matriarch was a religious woman, who read the Koran daily, prayed and fasted regularly and gave generously to the poor…"
Missing from Wheeler’s report is an attempt to document or understand the pathology inherent in "martyrdom" operations. In the New York Sun, for example, former New York Times Middle East correspondent Youssef M. Ibrahim adds some context to Wheeler’s gentle profile of the exploding grandmother:
"On Thanksgiving Day, a Palestinian Arab woman of 61, mother of nine, and grandmother of 41, blew herself up after recording a video. In her suicide tape, Fatima Omar Mahmud al-Najar holds up an M?16 rifle and says, ‘I offer myself as a sacrifice to God and the homeland.’ At her funeral, two of her sons praised their mother and expressed the wish that some of her grandchildren ? their own children, who were standing nearby ? would kill themselves one day, too.
Instead of shock and awe at the multiple layers of dehumanization in all this, the woman was praised widely as a martyr and an idol from one end of the Muslim world to the other.
Herein lies Islam’s other issue ? its intellectual problem. Where jurisprudence is offered nowadays in Islam, it is designed not to advance people to a higher moral plane, but to egg them on to killing, suicide, and a cult of death."
The National Post explored another angle that Wheeler avoided, namely the depravity of an organization that would dispatch a grandmother in her sixties to kill herself:
"Even by the standards of Palestinian terrorists, this ranks as a new low. On Thursday, Hamas sent an unusual kind of suicide bomber to attack Israeli soldiers in Gaza. The twist: The bomber, Fatima Omar Mahmud al-Najar, was a grandmother with nine children and more than 40 grandchildren. Her exact age is unknown. But the standard grinning-martyr-posing-with-machine-gun video sent out by Hamas shows a woman of about 60."