In the period leading up to the terror attack in the Adam community that was implemented by a Palestinian woman, increased Palestinian incitement encouraging female terrorism was documented. In a panel titled “Palestinian Incitement: From the Second Intifada Female Suicide Bombers to the Present,” which also marked the book launching of Women and Jihad, the strong connection between media coverage and increased Palestinian female terrorism was discussed.
This week, Gefen Publishing House and the Center for Near East Policy Research hosted a panel titled “Palestinian Incitement: From the Second Intifada Female Suicide Bombers to the Present” in order to mark the book launching of “Women and Jihad: Debating Palestinian Female Suicide Bombings in the American, Israeli and Arab Media.” The book was written by Rachel Avraham, who works as a news editor and political analyst for JerusalemOnline and the event was held at the Menachem Begin Heritage Center in Jerusalem.
At the event, David Bedein, the head of the Center for Near East Policy Research, described the author Rachel Avraham as a “woman who has succeeded with her Aliyah in so many ways. I get the greatest of nachus because you came out of nowhere as a student and then as an intern and now as a news editor and political analyst for JerusalemOnline. It goes all over the world and to see someone like this who has succeeded, who is also married with two children and now has this book that will also explore an area that people think about but don’t know enough about.” According to Bedein, entire chapters in the Palestinian educational system are devoted to praising the female suicide bombers of the Second Intifada that are mentioned in Avraham’s book: “This is a value taught in these schools. These schools are funded by all of the Western countries including the US as the lead country. After that, we have Germany, Sweden, and the UK. It is very important to understand the values being taught in the schools every day.”
Following Bedein’s introductions, Israeli Minister without Portfolio Ayoob Kara stressed that an increasing number of Palestinian women and girls are presently turning to terrorism: “I don’t know what the solution is (for the Islamist terrorism) but one of the solutions must include cooperation between Israel and the Saudi Arabian Coalition. If we leave the Palestinian issue and they are not afraid of this decision, I mean the Saudi Arabian Coalition, I think this could be the answer for the extremism.”
Watch: Minister Ayoob Kara speaks at Women and Jihad Book Launch
“People in the West don’t understand that they (the Palestinians) speak with two voices,” Kara declared in reference to the widespread incitement to terrorism within the Palestinian Authority. “One voice is in Arabic and the other one in English. There is a problem when they say no, no, no but we want peace. I am trying as a minister to speak about this situation in order to help the Western side to understand what is happening.” He claims that the Quran permits Muslims to lie under certain circumstances and this fact assists the Palestinian terror groups to obtain their publicity objectives.
Watch: Dr. Mordechai Kedar speaks at Women and Jihad Book Launch
One of the Palestinian female terrorists of the Second Intifada who continues to be glorified to date within the Palestinian Authority is Wafa Idris. Right before the recent terror attack near the Adam community that was implemented by a Palestinian woman, JerusalemOnline reported that there was widespread incitement in the Palestinian Authority glorifying both Wafa Idris and Ayat Al Akhras. Dr. Mordechai Kedar, a famous Middle East expert who teaches at Bar Ilan University, recounted that he himself was injured during Wafa Idris’ suicide bombing on January 27, 2002: “When I was on the bus between King George and Jaffa Street before the era of the train, there was an explosion. I was slightly injured. Later on, I heard that there was a suicide bombing in Jerusalem. They said that it was perpetrated by a lady. This was a surprise because this was the first time that a lady took her life in order to kill Jews.”
“I actually saw her,” Kedar related. “While I waited in the bus station, I saw something that was very strange. An Arab lady with a long garment was walking in the middle of the street not on the sidewalk. She was dressed in a velvet garment. You don’t see women during the day walking around in blue. Dark blue or navy blue garment of velvet is something which women go to weddings. You don’t see an Arab lady in the street going with such a garment. This was very strange in my eyes. I saw someone walking behind her at the same speed. I climbed on the bus and then came the blast. When I saw after a day or two her picture in the newspapers, she was dressed for her wedding, the wedding of the shahidas in heaven. She was walking to her wedding to become a shahida and to become one of those 72 virgins. This is my personal connection with women jihadists.”
According to Kedar, the Palestinian female suicide bombers represent the ultimate rebellion for they are standing up to the Islamic perception for the role of a woman in life. A Muslim woman is supposed “to get married, to bring children into the world, preferably boys who will eventually be jihadists and will fight against infidels. Women are not supposed to blow themselves up. Women are supposed to bring into the world sons or males who will fight for Islam. Here, the jihadist women are acting against their own tradition. They are actually the ultimate jihadists for they are not only fighting against Jews, Israel and the Western world. They are actually fighting against everyone including the Islamic way on how to oppress women. This I definitely think comes out in Rachel’s book. It is not only a rebellion against us. It is a rebellion against their fathers and those who don’t want their girls to blow themselves among Jews and to get married. Wafa Idris was actually a failure in this for she got divorced and didn’t fulfill the role of a woman that was expected of her. This is why I think that this book is so important for it actually shows how these women are viewed by the West and their own society as the impediment of the struggle against everything which is viewed as sacred.”
Watch: Former Israel Consul General Yitzchak Ben Gad speaks at Women and Jihad Book Launch
“It is a crazy era in the Middle East where a woman can go, kill other people and kill herself,” former Israel Consul General Yitzchak Ben Gad told the audience. “This is not normal. This means that we are living in a very tough neighborhood. We are living in chaos now. When I saw Rachel Avraham the author of this book, I was very impressed by her enthusiasm and seriousness. I agreed to write the forward and I wrote there ‘it is a timely book especially during an era of terror where the entire world is being challenged by radical Islam.’”
“The writer tells the story of 8 female suicide bombers in the Israeli, Arab and American media,” Ben Gad noted. “There are different views about the motives of these women. In the Arab media, they are liberated and physically attractive women who are seeking revenge after being inflicted with an injustice. In the case of the Israeli and American media, these women decide to become suicide bombers because of personal reasons. What makes these women go and commit suicide and to kill other people? The answer is that these women are brainwashed. Furthermore, she is in big trouble. Her life is miserable with her husband, with her parents and with her neighbors and her children. As we say in Hebrew, she lives in the trash. In this case, she went from zero to zero. In addition, she could have had an extramarital affair. She knows that her husbands’ family or her own family will kill her for the family honor. Therefore, she decided to be a shahida. She knows that her family will get financial help, streets and schools will be called after her name, and she will be famous.”
“Another case can be revenge,” Ben Gad stressed. “Here is a case mentioned in the book: ‘Motivators influencing Hanadi Jaradat include a desire for revenge combined with her religious beliefs, Palestinian nationalism and a strong sense of group solidarity. As Hanadi stated in her farewell video, those who die for the sake of Allah are not dead. Rather they are alive’ and they got 72 virgins in paradise. So she believes in that. The question is, if a man enjoys 72 virgins, what about the woman? She gets 72 male virgins, right? I believe that we live a very difficult situation. We are not going to see peace in our generation.”
Watch: Dr. Nancy Kobrin speaks at Women and Jihad Book Launch
Following Ben Gad, Dr. Nancy Kobrin related to the authors’ accomplishments: “I have to complement Rachel. She did such a wonderful job with the book. This is a big honor for me to be able to participate and I think that what she did is that she amassed the female suicide bomber. I have two Rachel Avraham moments. Several years ago after she finished her masters, I was at the ICT Conference and Rachel happened to be there. This young woman stands up and starts firing questions at this panel of men. I said to myself, oh my god, she is fabulous. I got to meet her. So I introduced myself to Rachel and she was really something. She was just amazing. And then full disclosure, a while after that during the Knife Intifada, Rachel interviewed me about my work because she wanted to understand at another level what was going on and I gave her quite a long interview. On the one hand, psychoanalytic thinking sounds very complicated on the one hand and on the other hand, it should make very clear sense. When I saw the interview written up, she did a fantastic job. So if you have any questions, you can go back and look at her interview.”
Dr. Kobrin agreed with Dr. Kedar that the Palestinian female terrorists are at the center of the jihadist story: “This is a shame honor culture. All cultures that have spawned suicide bombers and female suicide bombers as an extension of that are shame honor cultures. You have to understand it. The mother is portrayed as very heroic and this is a defense against how devalued the female is in that culture. And in the Arabic culture, it is taboo to psychologically separate from the mother. So they don’t go through an individualization/separation phase like we do in the West. That missed stage throws them back into a group thinking mentality. They don’t have individual identities that are solidly placed. People in this world are like objects. They are not people with needs for in shame honor cultures, it is not permitted to get your needs met because needs are considered toxic.”
“The female suicide bomber internalizes male rage of the female for they have a huge unconscious rage against the female because they are so enmeshed with their mothers,” she noted. “They are not allowed to separate so this built up rage trickles down to other females in the family as well. The female bomber internalizes male rage of the female with self-hatred and then projects it out to destroy the other and to destroy us. We know from early childhood development that the need to hate and the need to have an enemy is in place by age 3. And in this kind of environment, those that become terrorists and are radicalized have a kind of rage that exceeds murder itself. They don’t just murder. They have to obliterate. They have to annihilate. This is something that is very difficult for Westerners to understand. What is bad by our standards is good and what is good by their standards is bad.” According to Dr. Kobrin, the fact that we all have mothers and that all of our worst fears originate from our early childhood influences how the West covers Palestinian female suicide bombers for the West perceives women to be mothers with children, not terrorists. She noted that Avraham mentioned that female suicide bombers receive 8 times more publicity than male suicide bombers largely because of the shock value that they create.
Watch: Rachel Avraham speaks at Women and Jihad Book Launch
As Dr. Kobrin implied, the larger story behind the motivations for Palestinian female suicide bombings is the connection between media coverage and the rapid increase in Palestinian female terrorism from the Second Intifada to today. Avraham stressed that the main goal of the Palestinian terror groups is not to murder Israelis but rather to attract maximum publicity for their cause and women are a useful tool in order to obtain this end: “Palestinian terror groups have neatly defined publicity objectives when they decide to wage terror attacks. On the home front, they seek to rally the Palestinian masses behind their cause and to recruit members to their terror group. In Israel, they seek to undermine popular confidence in the government and to spread fear throughout Israeli society. And in the American media and even within Israel when possible, they seek to publish justifications for their acts of wanton death and destruction. They want us to ask, what would cause a young Palestinian woman with her whole life ahead of her to blow herself up? Certainly, she must be some poor miserable woman suffering from great despair. What did we do to cause her to be so desperate to do such a thing?” In her book and speech, she highlighted how from the Second Intifada till today, the American, Arab and even the Israeli media continues to give into the publicity objectives of the Palestinian terror groups merely due to the psychological shock value that female terrorism creates.
“The democratic nature of Israeli society compared to the authoritarian nature of Palestinian society creates an asymmetrical situation, where the media treats terrorists and democratically elected officials as sources with equal credibility,” she noted. “However, in reality, Palestinian terrorists alongside the relatives, neighbors and friends of Palestinian terrorists will never have the same level of credibility as democratically elected officials. Democratically elected officials are held accountable to the country’s laws, the country’s voters, the country’s justice system, the country’s parliament and of course, they must abide by international law and take into consideration how certain actions can affect the country’s relationship with other states. Furthermore, citizens of a free society can express what they truly think without having to worry about repercussions.”
“I work as a news editor and political analyst for JerusalemOnline news,” she stated. “I operate in an environment free of threats and intimidation. I can write about pretty much whatever I want. I am given the freedom to criticize the government if I feel the need to. I am also given the freedom to support the government if that is what I want to do. No one is over me censoring me. However, people who live in the Palestinian Authority do not have this kind of freedom. You can go to jail in the Palestinian Authority over a Facebook post. It’s a dictatorship so this creates an asymmetrical situation for our conflict. It is important to note that terrorists are outlaws that are accountable to no one except the agenda of the terror group that dispatched them. The friends, family and neighbors of the suicide bomber are following the same ideology for it is painful for them to admit that their loved one could have done something wrong so this is a defense mechanism for them. And even average Palestinians who are opposed to these terror attacks and terror groups unless they are given the freedom to speak anonymously don’t have the freedom to speak up. Occasionally, you will find some minor exceptions who have the courage to speak up with their names but most of them are too scared to not speak anonymously. You don’t know what they really think. You will never know if they are going with what their society dictates to them because they have no other choice or they truly think that way because of the incitement they were exposed to. But you will never know this watching the American media or even many media outlets in Israel.”
“There is so much written in Avraham’s book,” Dr. Kobrin concluded. “It is very well documented. But when I came to the part about Ben-Gurion University, I got so upset for no student should be forced into a situation where they are not able to express themselves. I had a similar experience in Minnesota in 1978 when I started on my doctorate. The department was Marxist. It was so anti-Israel at that time but when you look back on it and you look where Minnesota is now, it makes sense to me. The influx of Somalis, Keith Ellison, I could go on and on. It’s a horrible thing but I commend you for surviving and writing such an important text. So we should never give up hope. We have to educate the public about all of these aspects. We have to set boundaries about what we will tolerate and not. And you have to read Rachel’s book. And Rachel, keep asking questions.”