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Wednesday, March 16, 2005

The Ideal Palestinian Woman

Creating a supportive social environment for terrorists has been a critical factor in the Palestinian Authority’s successful promotion of suicide terrorism. To this end, PA policy has been to honor terrorists as Shahids (Martyrs for Allah), and to teach Palestinian mothers to celebrate when their children die as terrorist Shahids. Categorizing these dead terrorists as Shahids grants them the highest honor a Muslim can achieve, and is therefore cause for a mother to celebrate, according to this PA teaching.

This pressure on Palestinian mothers to celebrate their dead sons as Shahids continues under the regime of PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas, and even increased this past week with repeated PA TV promotion connected to International Woman’s Day.

Preaching before an audience that included Abbas, Sheikh Yusuf Juma’ Salamah said in Friday’s sermon on PA TV that the ideal Palestinian woman is like Al Khansah, the heroine of Islamic tradition who celebrated her four sons’ death in battle by thanking God for the honor. Salamah, the PA Minister of Waqf, quoted Al Khansah: “Praise Allah, who granted me honor with their deaths.” [PA TV, March 11, 2005]

It’s important to note that this was the first Friday sermon broadcast since the PA announced last week that it would control and vet all Friday sermons delivered in West Bank and Gaza strip mosques. This portrayal of the ideal Palestinian woman as one who willingly sacrifices her sons as Shahids, therefore, continues to represent official PA ideology – especially since this sermon was delivered in the presence of Abbas.

Two days later, PA TV broadcast a theatrical skit that included veneration of the same Al Khansah. A father taught his son her declaration: “Praise Allah, who granted me honor with their deaths.” [PA TV, March 13, 2005]

Both the sermon and the play portray Al Khansah’s celebration of the deaths of her four sons as superior to the way she mourned the deaths of her two brothers, who died before she adopted Islam.

During an interview with four university students for International Women’s Day last week, PA TV broadcast a telephone call from the Dean of Media at Al-Aqsa University. He expressed admiration for the “unique Palestinian woman ... she is the one who shouts for joy on the day of the Shahid.” [PA TV, March 10, 2005]

Promoting the Al Khansah ideal for Palestinians is a very powerful message for Muslims. Al Khansah was a poet in the early Islamic period. Before she converted to Islam, her brothers died, and she grieved. However, Islamic historian Ibn Athir writes that after she converted to Islam, she delivered a fiery speech encouraging her four sons to march into battle for Allah. When all four were killed, the poem she wrote was one of joy, rejoicing that Allah had honored her with the deaths of her sons.

Al Khansah is considered the archetypal mother of Shahids, a woman glorified by Palestinians for encouraging her sons to kill and die for Allah, and rejoicing when they achieved their Shahada deaths.

From a very young age, Palestinian girls are taught to adopt Al Khansah as a role model with her message of celebrating death in combat – which in contemporary Palestinian society includes death while committing acts of suicide terror. A music video for children, broadcast hundreds of times over three years on PA TV, included the farewell letter of a child Shahid, including the words: “Mother don’t cry for me, be joyous over my blood.”

In addition, the Palestinian Authority has named at least five girls schools “the Al Khansah School for Girls,” in Bethlehem, Jenin, Nablus, Han Yunis and Rafah. [Al Hayat Al Jadida, Jan. 9, 2005]