At Large

Children As Bombs

Anti-individualism taught to an extreme.

By 9.19.06

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As if things weren't crazy enough already in the Middle East, here's the officially sanctioned message in sixth-grade Palestinian textbooks for 11- and 12-year-old kids: "The noble soul has two goals: death and the desire for it."

The goal isn't to build magnificent skyscrapers or write brilliant novels or to work on cures for the world's most lethal diseases. The noble goal for the noble soul is as simple as strapping on a dynamite belt and blowing oneself into a million pieces in an Israeli pizza shop.

The "death-and-the-desire-for-it" line is from a poem by Abd al-Rahim Mahmoud. Along with other writings that glorify child martyrs, the quote is included in "Our Beautiful Language," a standard text for sixth-graders after the Palestinian Liberation Organization took control over education in the Palestinian territories.

As officially stated, the underlying ethos of the Palestinian curriculum is "built on the principle of breeding the individual on the basis of serving society as a whole." Translated, that means breeding kids who believe suicide and murder are noble, who believe it's noble to create a society where the individual reaches his highest stage of development by extinguishing his own individualism, his own existence.

It's Jonestown, writ large, a cult of suicide for the collective, for Palestine. Israel isn't on the maps in the Palestinian textbooks.

Abdullah Qura'an, a 12-year-old Palestinian boy, carried a 13-pound bomb in his school bag into a checkpoint near Hablus. He didn't die, because a cell phone rigged to set off the bomb didn't work. The unwitting youngster was told he was carrying car parts.

Shortly thereafter, a 16-year-old suicide bomber, Amar al-Far, outfitted for self-destruction by the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, killed three people in an open-air food market in Tel Aviv.

Said the boy's mother: "Why did they choose my son? He was just a child. It's immoral to send someone so young. They should have sent an adult who understands the meaning of his deeds."

The boy's father told of his last encounter with his son: "I was asleep when Amar woke me up. He kissed me and asked for two shekels, 45 cents. He left the house and I went back to sleep."

A recent article in Rolling Stone, "The Unending Torture of Omar Khadr," tells the story of a 15-year-old captured by U.S. troops in Afghanistan after he killed an American Special Forces soldier with a grenade.

"Born into a fundamentalist Muslim family in Toronto," Omar Khadr "had been prepared for jihad since he was a small boy," reports Jeff Tietz. "His parents, who were Egyptian and Palestinian, had raised him to believe that religious martyrdom was the highest achievement he could aspire to. In the Khadr family, suicide bombers were spoken of with great respect."

Before he turned 12, Omar had formal military training in bomb-making, assault-rifle marksmanship, combat strategy and sniper tactics.

"Omar and his father and brothers had fought with the Taliban against American and Northern Alliance forces in Afghanistan," writes Tietz. "Before that, they had been living in Jalalabad with Osama bin Laden. Omar spent much of his adolescence in al-Qaida compounds."

When Omar and his brothers were very young, their father told them, "If you love me, pray that I will get martyred." To bring honor to the family, the father, rather than blowing himself to smithereens, asked Omar's older brother Abduraham to be a suicide bomber.

After Abduraham refused, his father, suspecting a weakening of faith, told him, "If you ever betray Islam, I will be the one to kill you."

What the aforementioned young people could use is some major deprogramming. For starters, the suicide-promoting poetry in their curriculum could be replaced with some Ayn Rand, the perfect antidote for self-immolation.

In For the New Intellectual, Rand warns against "death-worshipping mystics" who control and humiliate through the use of guilt and fear, preaching that a man's pursuit of happiness here on earth is evidence of depravity and selfishness, that his independent mind is a source of arrogance, his body a source of evil, that his liberty, self-esteem and individuality are desecrations of the commandments for obedience, humility, suffering, renunciation and self-sacrifice.

"There is no way to make a human being accept the role of a sacrificial animal," writes Rand, "except by destroying his self-esteem."

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About the Author
Ralph R. Reiland is the B. Kenneth Simon professor of free enterprise and an associate professor of economics at Robert Morris University in Pittsburgh.