January 9, 2009
Respect for Life Begins at HomeBy Lauri B. Regan
While on a recent vacation, my thirteen-year-old son stepped onto the railing of a bridge and prepared to bungee jump into a 200-foot abyss. (Actually it was just a canyon -- to me it looked very much like an abyss.) I watched with abject terror. But my husband had made the leap just before my son, so I could not object that the leap was unsafe and that I would not allow my son to enjoy the same experience.
Much to my elation and relief, my son decided not to jump. He walked over to me with outstretched arms, and whispered, "It's just not worth it, life is too short."
And while I believe that fear played a role in his decision to not take the plunge, what enabled him to choose to step away from the precipice was his confidence that his parents would be waiting with open arms and would not judge his decision. I was overwhelmed with pride that my son understood the value of his life and that he turned to God for strength in dealing with his fear and for assistance in making his decision.
Upon arriving back to our hotel, I proceeded to check the internet for the latest news and world events. The first story that caught my eye was the threat by Hamas of renewed suicide attacks in Israel. The dichotomy of my experience with my son earlier in the day could not have been more profound. Children raised in a civilized society are taught to love life and fear death while terrorists and suicide bombers are taught from a young age to live just long enough to create as much death and destruction as possible, including their own.
I began to wonder what it is that makes the parents of these suicide bombers send off their children with bombs strapped to their chests. Do they watch in horror as I did earlier in the day at a mere bungee jump? Do they love their children, and if so, upon what is that love conditioned? Now that Saddam Hussein is no longer around to wire $25,000 in cash to the parents of every Palestinian suicide bomber, what is their motivation for teaching their children such hate?
I wondered what happens when these young "patriots" panic and decide to save themselves from leaping into the murderous abyss to which their lives have been destined. Are their parents waiting for them with open arms of love and support? Are their parents relieved and elated or are they embarrassed and angry?
Andrew G. Botsom wrote in depth on these pages about Hamas's genocidal Jew-hatred and made it clear that martyrdom is not a foreign concept in the Arab world. Martyrdom is something with which Israelis have become all too familiar. But, as a mother, I have a difficult time understanding how one rears her children only to send them off to kill themselves in the name of God.
Clearly a society, whose ideology results in the creation of human bombs, is not one in which love, respect, and pride are relevant. From infancy, Palestinian children are treated to television shows depicting Israelis killing the Arab equivalent of a Mickey Mouse -- a cartoon character that glorifies martyrdom and jihad against Israel. And how can we forget the images, as the Twin Towers fell on 9/11, of Palestinian children cheering in the streets with rifles raised in the air?
It is a popular argument that suicide bombers kill because their lives are desolate. I don't buy it. The demographics of the al Qaeda terrorists who carried out the 9/11 attacks on the United States certainly suggest otherwise.
Gaza is the perfect example of the choices that the Palestinians have made regarding their destiny. Palestinians in Gaza elected Hamas and what they received in return was a city mutated into a terrorist training camp. This was the people's choice. They voted for death and destruction rather than hope and prosperity.
Furthermore, it is not simply the lives of Jews and Americans that are considered irrelevant and expendable to these terrorists, but those of their fellow Arabs as well. Arab ideology teaches its population that it is commendable and heroic to kill oneself in the process of killing Israelis and infidels. Saddam Hussein turned his ire on his own population and gassed thousands of Kurds.
And were Iran to adhere to its promise to wipe Israel off the face of the map, the death of millions of Arabs throughout the territory would also result. David Solway noted in Frontpage Magazine:
"Even the Palestinians themselves do not seem to have caught on, either because what we are dealing with is a veritable suicide culture that can tolerate its own extinction or, to put it bluntly, with a people too stupefied by hatred and fanaticism to realize that, under these circumstances, their very existence is no less at risk than Israel's. The fact remains that they have been sold out by their Arab brothers and Western enablers who are perfectly indifferent to the devastation Palestinians would suffer should Iran follow through on its threat to unleash nuclear havoc on Israel."
Much has been written regarding the "disproportionate" response by Israel to the constant barrage of rockets by Hamas upon its civilian population. Again, the dichotomy is astounding. Hamas plants its arsenals of bombs and launching pads in civilian neighborhoods and buildings without a care for the people it was elected to protect. Israel calls ahead to warn of bombings, despite losing the element of surprise, in the hopes of ensuring as minimal a loss of life as possible.
In Israel, America, and the rest of the civilized world, governmental, educational and religious institutions teach respect for humans in life as well as in death. However, life's first lessons begin in the home and are instilled by parents. Parents make the decision where to education their children, who to elect as their government representatives, and most importantly, what values they wish to inspire in their offspring -- the future of the world.
The children of Palestinians, reared by religious fanatics who only believe in Israel's annihilation and brainwashed by the Hamas "government," are destined to kill and destroy. Herein lays the problem for Israel. While my son prays to God and asks for his life to be prolonged, Palestinian children pray to a God that instructs them that death is noble if it involves killing Jews.
Golda Meir once said, "Pessimism is a luxury that a Jew can never allow himself." I believe that is true for Israeli Jews living with the threat of a Palestinian mother willing to lead her child to the edge of a homicidal abyss and awarding him with a final push. Sorrowfully, as an American Jew, I am feeling extremely pessimistic that the Palestinian people are capable of living peacefully, side by side, with Israelis at any time in the near future.
Lauri B. Regan is an attorney at a global law firm based in New York City.