Sometimes we talk about anti-Jewish and anti-Israeli ‘incitement’ in the Middle East. We also understand that there is a deep reservoir of hatred built up among Arabs, in great measure a result of the constant drumbeat in their media. But this is abstract. Let’s make it concrete.
The Israel-Jordan peace treaty was signed in 1994. Like the treaty with Egypt, it wasn’t an especially warm peace. But unlike the Oslo Agreement with the Palestinian Arabs, the Jordanian leadership did not sign it with intent to violate it. In 1996 my wife and daughter visited the remarkable city of Petra. They are certain that border officials and others knew they were Israeli citizens despite their American passports, but nobody bothered them.
When the treaty was signed, a spot at the confluence of the Jordan and Yarmouk rivers, ‘nahariyim‘ [two rivers] in Hebrew, was set aside as a tourist site. It was called “the Island of Peace.” The area was under Jordanian sovereignty but the site was developed by several Israeli kibbutzim in the area.
On March 13, 1997, a Jordanian soldier, Ahmed Daqamseh, opened fire on a group of Israeli schoolchildren from the town of Beit Shemesh on an outing near the Island of Peace. Seven 11-year old girls were killed, and others seriously wounded. The event shocked Israel and Jordan as well. King Hussein himself traveled to Beit Shemesh and apologized to the families, something heretofore — and probably today — unthinkable for an Arab leader.
Various news reports call Daqamseh ‘mentally disturbed’. But here is a bit from an Aljazeera program broadcast in July, 2001:
The next caller was the mother of the Jordanian soldier, Ahmad Daqamseh, who murdered seven Israeli girls on the Israeli-Jordanian border in 1997. She made the following speech: “I am proud of my son, and I hold my head high. My son did a heroic deed and has pleased Allah and his own conscience. My son lifts my head and the head of the entire Arab and Islamic nation. I am proud of any Muslim who does what Ahmad did. I hope that I am not saying something wrong. When my son went to prison, they asked him: ‘Ahmad, do you regret it?’ He answered: ‘I have no regrets.’ He treated everyone to coffee, honored all the other prisoners, and said: The only thing that I am angry about is the gun, which did not work properly. Otherwise I would have killed all of the passengers on the bus.” — MEMRI tr.
If Ahmed was ‘disturbed’, so was his mother. Of course by enlightened standards, the slaughter of innocent children is beyond horrible, to the point that only mental illness can explain it. But there is a culture — and I am not saying this is Arab culture in general, clearly many Arabs, including King Hussein, were stunned and ashamed — in which this isn’t crazy.
This is the culture of people who have learned to reason according to rigid ideological strictures and to feel by pulling up the hatred that’s been pumped into them by parents, schools, media, religious leaders, etc. for as long as they can remember. These are people who do not empathize, at least not with others outside their family, tribe or religious circle. Fill them with hate and give them rules that legitimize murder, and they murder. With pride and without regrets.
Apparently education and status are irrelevant. In today’s news, we read this:
Jordan minister dubs Israel girls’ killer ‘hero’
By Ahmad Khatib (AFP) – 12 hours ago
AMMAN — Jordan’s justice minister on Monday described a Jordanian soldier serving a life sentence for killing seven Israeli schoolgirls in 1997 as a “hero,” drawing an expression of “revulsion” from Israel.
“I support the demonstrators’ demand to free Ahmad Dakamseh. He’s a hero. He does not deserve prison,” Hussein Mujalli, who was named minister last week, told AFP after taking part in the sit-in held by trade unions.
“If a Jewish person killed Arabs, his country would have built a statue for him instead of imprisonment.” Mujalli, a former president of the Jordan Bar Association, was Dakamseh’s lawyer.
Mujalli is only one of many. The item continues:
Maisara Malas, who heads a trade unions’ committee to support and defend the soldier, told AFP he handed a letter to Mujalli, demanding Dakamseh’s release.
“We cannot imagine that a great fighter like Dakamseh is in jail instead of reaping the rewards of his achievement,” the letter said.
Jordan’s powerful Islamist movement and the country’s 14 trade unions, which have more than 200,000 members, have repeatedly called for Dakamseh’s release.
Mujali is not uneducated and 200,000 unionists are not all mentally disturbed. They are, rather, part of the culture of death and hate, a subculture that has developed in the Arab world. Start with a strictly authoritarian interpretation of Islam, taught by methods which do not allow the smallest opening for questions or empathy for outsiders. Then add the incitement blazing forth every day, always saying that Jews, Israel, the United States, the West, are corrupt, evil, devils, spawn of animals, enemies of Islam and Muslims, over and over again, the voices of authority saying these things.
Add also the falsehoods and blood libels: the IDF shot Mohammad Dura in cold blood, the IDF kills Arabs and takes their organs, thousands were massacred in Jenin in 2003, AIDS and Measles are spread by Jews, Israelis have trained sharks to attack tourists off Egyptian beaches, the IDF shot hundreds of Egyptian prisoners of war in the Sinai in 1967, Ariel Sharon himself shot children to death in Sabra/Shatila, the IDF went into Gaza with orders to kill as many civilians as possible, Israeli soldiers landed on the deck of the Mavi Marmara shooting… I could go on and on.
This comes from Syria, from Egypt, from Turkey, and yes, from Jordan. Some of it starts in Europe in ‘enlightened’ places like Sweden, or is abetted by the most respected figures in the media establishment of France. But the result is the same: a huge reservoir of people who believe that in the case of Jews or Israelis, murder is not only justified, it’s laudable. Daqamseh’s mother is proud of her son, because he took direct violent action to regain the Arab/Muslim honor that has been stolen by the despicable Jews, the ones who should be on the bottom but who inexplicably have defeated and humiliated Arabs.
This isn’t exactly ‘terrorism’ in the way US officials and even some Israelis think about it. It’s not a military tactic used to obtain objectives, to demoralize the enemy, although it has that effect. It is a spontaneous outflow of hate from people that have been made into vessels for hate and instruments for its expression. Possibly they are used as unguided missiles, human Qassams, by some Arab leaders with political goals, but the force that propels them is hate, not politics.