September 2, 2001 Special Dispatch No. 265

I Cannot Hide My Happiness about the Martyrdom Operation that Took Place in Jerusalem. An Op-Ed in Egypt's Leading Government Daily

September 2, 2001
Egypt | Special Dispatch No. 265

In an article published by the Egyptian government daily Al-Ahram on August 14, 2001, Islamist Egyptian Journalist Fahmi Huweidi describes his feeling of happiness following the August 9th suicide bombing in Jerusalem:

"I cannot hide my happiness about the martyrdom operation that took place in Jerusalem last Thursday. I won’t deny that it liberated me from the sorrow and misery that have overtaken me over the past weeks, watching the Arab world mired in silence and indifference while Israel rampages on the occupied land, abuses the [Palestinian] people day and night, while the funerals in the West Bank cities are the only presence of the masses on the Arab street. In this dismal atmosphere, the operation that took place in Jerusalem was, for me, a ray of hope and a life-saver…"

"At first, I thought that this was my own private feeling, but shortly after the news was broadcast, I discovered that many share it with me. The telephone in my house did not stop ringing until after midnight. Most of the people I spoke with wanted to make sure that the news got to me. On the second day, I was informed that the masses in Lebanon, Jordan, and Gaza went out to the streets in cries of joy and shots in the air, and that some gave out candies to passers-by on the street, accompanied by the women’s howls of joy whose echo remained in the sky all night long."

"I know that some will curl their lips in loathing and disgust and will say that this joy is demagogical and uncivilized emotion, because the attack took innocent citizens as victims, and that this should be met with sorrow and not with joy. I read the words of one of those who wanted to take our joy away, claiming that the operation in Jerusalem brought joy to the Israeli government… because it gave them the opportunity to get support from the Western governments, especially Washington…"

"I don’t know if these echoes deserve a response or not. But I know for sure that war has been declared on the Palestinians, and it is directed against our entire people; Israel began this war, using all of the means at its disposal… Every war has its price, so why should the Palestinians pay the entire price, while the Israelis fight free of charge?"

"Likewise, I know that Israel has no mercy on any Palestinian and does not distinguish between a fighter and a woman, a child or an elderly [person]. The child Muhammad Al-Dura was not known as a member of the "Islamic Jihad" or the "Al-Qassam Brigades," he was killed simply for being Palestinian. Why is this so? Why do we not regret Palestinian blood but are shocked by blood when it is Israeli? Why do we shed a tear over the innocent victims who sat in the pizza restaurant on Thursday? It should be known that these citizens, like every Israeli man and woman, are accomplices in the crime of the robbery of Palestine [have we forgotten?] not to mention that they are reservists who turn into fighters and killers at the drop of a dime …"

"My happiness has a number of reasons. The first is that the attack in Jerusalem was a painful blow for the Israeli enemy. This reason alone is sufficient to bring joy to someone like me, since every blow that hurts Israel, wherever it comes from, brings joy to me and to any Arab citizen who has not lost his memory, consciousness or conscience - due to the will to avenge and to even out the accumulating account that began when the robbery occurred half a century ago. When I see the shock and the remains of bodies on the television screen, the long line of Israeli massacres comes to my mind - from Deir Yassin, Kafer Qasem, and Qibyah, to the image of the death of Muhammad Al-Dura in his father’s bosom."

"The second reason is the timing of the operation. This was important as ever because it happened at a moment of humiliation and shame in the Arab world, which had pushed many into the alleys of despair and frustration… Israel did not merely bomb, destroy, and unleash the settlers, but announced that it would continue to kidnap and kill all of the activists in the struggle against the occupation. These things were taking place in Palestine on a day to day basis, the Arab world took no action, and those who raised their voices and spoke did so either to ask for help from the Americans or for a return to the negotiation table. In this environment of humiliation, this attack took place and everyone realized that another type of reaction is possible, one that speaks to the Israelis in a language they understand."

"The third reason is that the blows Sharon leveled against the resistance [movement], raised his status in the opinion of the Israeli public, to the point where, according to the last public opinion poll 70% supported the policy of extermination of Palestinian activists… The attack in Jerusalem occurred in such an environment and carried a strong message for those ruled by pride, namely that the Israeli victory is not absolute, that the struggle continues and that 'Palestinian despair' is nothing more than a rumor spread by the Israelis."

"It would not be an exaggeration to say that the heroic and Fidaai [martyrdom] warriors are the only light in dark skies, they are the sole remaining sign of life in the Arab nation…. If we can still lift our heads with pride, it is only because we still have as models those young men who chose to die so that our lives would have hope and meaning and so that our long night will see a dawn with a message of hope."

"Therefore, I believe that the operation in Jerusalem was not aimed only at the Israeli occupation, but also at the lack of action by the Arabs. The magnitude of this lack of action is such, that only a martyrdom operation may shake it."

"It made me think of the stupid debate that a few people raised a while ago on the question of how we should view these Fidaai [martyrdom] operations, and whether they should be considered martyrdom or suicide [referring to the debate begun by the Mufti of Saudi Arabia who questioned the religious legitimacy of the suicide operations].[1] Right now I would like to see the embarrassment of those who doubted it being martyrdom, legitimate and sublime…"

"Now the cloak of the peace game has been removed and the Palestinians’ options are clear: occupation or death… No one can claim that the Oslo Accord was a possible solution. I will say that the Oslo accord was the beginning of the tragedy, since it created an impossible situation and it could have only ended in an explosion of this kind…"

[1] For more on this debate, see MEMRI Inquiry and Analysis No. 53, 54, 65, 66.

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