This past Sunday, we commemorated the anniversary of a massive explosion that ripped through a pizzeria crowded with children in the center of Israel’s capital city. It was a catastrophe that upended lives, futures and attitudes and — in relatively small measure — influenced public policies, at least for a time.
My wife and I are the parents of one of the children murdered there that day. In fact, a majority of the 15 lives lost in the attack by an Islamist terrorist gang on Sbarro in Jerusalem were children. (A 16th victim, a mother whose child was then two years old, remains in a vegetative state to this day.)
August 9, as it has been for the past fourteen years, was a time for writing and tweeting and receiving back messages of strength and support from the people in our lives who care for our well-being. But if we take a brief look at the Arab world — parts of it, at any rate — yesterday was a day of memories for them too.
But of a very different kind, as we found by googling today:
This Facebook account celebrates the anniversary because of the 19 “Zionists” killed at Sbarro Jerusalem. That most of them were children goes unmentioned, perhaps because of the sheer transcendental joy of the celebration. And if they overstate the death toll by 4, so what? The human bomb is offered hearty congratulations on his fine achievement. The page has gotten 190 Likes and 13 Shares between the time it was launched on Sunday morning and 5:00 pm today, Monday, Jerusalem time.
The Sahafah Arabiah website, based in Egypt, has a tribute page honoring the killing of 20 “Zionists” at Sbarro. (Actual death tolls are evidently a minor detail once the Islamists have crossed the “massacre” threshold.) Referring to the guitar case carried on the human bomb‘s back and in reality filled with thousands of nails along with ten kilograms of tightly-packed explosives, the writers of the page wax lyrical about “playing melodies of revenge“. It seems music does that to you, if you’re inclined a certain way.
Over at Nablus Live, their commemorative article focuses, at great length, on the personality of the human bomb (we don’t feel the need to type his name — may his memory be forever erased), and his short career as a covert member of the ranks of Hamas. He is described as “not an ordinary man…a person of calm and tranquility“. Dead children do not appear in this account. Nor, as far as we can see, is there a word of condemnation, embarrassment or regret. It’s simply a paean to heroism, to an acclaimed hero, and his attainment.
The Islamic Bloc at Hebron University has its own Facebook page too. It’s where they paid tribute on the 14th anniversary of the killings to the main killer, Ahlam Tamimi, the plotter who survived. They display a photo of her meeting Khaled Meshaal, the de facto fuehrer of the Hamas Islamists, on the day she was freed from her Israeli prison cell in 2011. It’s here, and has scored 106 likes since Sunday as of the time we wrote this post. The accompanying message, translated from Arabic, reads: “Freed prisoner in a deal…Ahlam Tamimi, by the Qassam martyr Izzedine Al Masri allowed him and identified the site, the Sbarro restaurant, in which he carried out the martyrdom operation…” Readers may be interested to note that Hebron University is part of the Global University Network for Innovation via which, in its own words, it “applies for the European Union Academic partnership programs and it is currently partner of several projects“, including several focused on “peace”. (What do they mean when they use that powerful word? Our language skills don’t get us that far — we don’t know.) The Islamic Bloc, the “students wing” affiliate of Hamas, has had a dominant position for years in Hebron University’s student government.
The personal Twitter account of the woman who personally engineered the massacre, who brought the human bomb into Jerusalem; who walked him to the target before slipping away in time to save herself; who celebrated with sincere joy the blowing to pieces of fifteen innocent victims most of whom, by her design, were children; who pleaded guilty to all the murder charges with zero remorse; who was convicted and sentenced to 16 life terms but is now free; focuses on the glory of the killing.
That is what it does, here. Given what we know about the life she now lives in total freedom from her home in Jordan, this should not surprise.
Tamimi too, a television performer with her own weekly show beamed throughout the Arabic-speaking world by satellite, adopts a musical metaphor (in her native Arabic tongue which we have translated to English) to pay poetic homage to the cultured young religious fanatic with the dual-purpose guitar case on his back and to the uplifting devastation wrought by its explosive contents:
When the (musical) melodies are turned into explosions,
Then hearing the music is pleasant to us.
Your time has come, oh ye who play the harp (referring to Masri, the human bomb).
All that remains is the memory of you.“
There are more. But we feel we should devote the remainder of the space available in this post to a complete and comprehensive listing of the various anniversary-driven condemnations of the Sbarro massacre that we were able to find online in the Arabic language. The list begins here.
And ends here.
Is there anything a reasonable person can learn about terrorism and what it does to people — especially to those who worship it and its practitioners — by considering this small handful of reactions to just one Islamist massacre?
Postscript: A modified version of this blog post appears on the This Ongoing War site which Frimet and Arnold Roth write. Their daughter Malki’s beautiful life is honored by the exceptionally fine non-political, non-sectarian work done daily in her name for more than a decade. It expresses eloquently the unbridgeable chasm existing between the values she lived in her fifteen years and the unspeakable deeds embodied by those who wished her dead and succeeded. More at the Malki Foundation website.