Politics & Policy

Recruitment Problems

Is enthusiasm for "martyrdom" waning?

Does it mean anything? Is it significant? Who can say?

Earlier this week, a female suicide bomber, beholden to the Fatah movement, surrendered to the Israelis rather than fulfill her lethal assignment. She revealed, according to the Israeli newspaper, Maariv, that two other members of her cell in Nablus were planning to board a bus in central Israel and blow themselves up. Her aborted assignment was to wait for the Magen David Adom (Israel’s emergency medical service) to arrive on the bomb scene when she, disguised as a Magen David Adom volunteer, would detonate her bomb belt. She has been arrested as were the two co-plotters and they are going to be tried in the next few weeks.

What is startling about this bit of news is that this is one of those very rare occasions where an Arab suicide bomber has defected. And she turned herself in knowing full well that her family would pay a heavy price for her defection and that she might never see her family again.

Could this event be the beginning of a rebellion against the Hamas-Hezbollah veneration of suicide, a rebellion against their sponsorship of a “cult of death”? The Maariv story gives no names, no background of the would-be suicide, but there have been some reports of Palestinian parents rejecting Hamas-Hezbollah invitations to have their children become martyrs.

Arafat and his operational cohorts have been recruiting suicide bombers for some time. Films have shown grade schoolchildren pledging their bodies for a suicide mission when they reach the right age. These films are taken from childrens’ programs on Palestinian Authority TV in a Sesame Street format. Are Palestinian parents so different from parents in the rest of the world that they willingly agree to allow their children to die?

One cannot make any sweeping judgments from a single event but at some point Palestinian parents will refuse to let their children become pawns in a war that seems to have no end. Has that point arrived?

Arnold Beichman is a Hoover Institution research fellow and author of Anti-American Myths: Their Causes and Consequences.

Members of the National Review editorial and operational teams are included under the umbrella “NR Staff.”

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