By Julio CÚsar Guest Columnist
A letter to Ayat al-Akras, who died a martyr’s death on March 29, 2002 in occupied Jerusalem, Palestine. Bismillah, r-Rahman, r-Rahim As-salamu-‘alykum-wa-rahmatullaahi-wa-barakatuh! In the name of Allah, the most Compassionate, the most Merciful, peace and blessings of Allah be upon you. Dear beloved Sister and Martyr: Freedom bird, freedom bird! How happy you must feel in the midst of millions of Muslims who have sacrificed themselves for over 14 centuries so that Islam might live. Arabs and Kurds, Chinese and Malays, Indians and Africans walk the same ground alongside you in Jennah (paradise). You, Ayat, are a shining star of the greatest generation raised for humanity since the days of the Companions of the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him). I write “you are” because the Koran teaches that those who die in the cause of Allah (all praise is for him) “are not dead but alive, though ye see them not.”
You made things so much easier, especially for the Palestinian men. You may have noticed how they posture in front of the TV cameras, firing their AK-47’s or M-16’s into the air, but seem to disappear when the Israelis appear. You have showed them! They know they have nothing to fear from Palestinian men but have to watch the young girls else their wives and children could be murdered.
Why did you choose martyrdom, Ayat? That is what most Americans wish to know. The latest issue of Newsweek magazine has a picture of you on the cover, calling you “the human bomb.” The author of the story, Christopher Dickey, wonders why an 18-year-old girl wanted to commit “suicide” rather than finish high school and marry her boyfriend. He says you are a “terrorist” and that the majority of Palestinians condoned your action, making them “terrorist” cheerleaders. Forgive Americans for thinking that Palestine is at peace and you, a demonically possessed creature, genetically programmed to kill by Arab DNA, are the one making war.
Americans don’t actually think that Palestine is at peace. They think it could be if your leaders showed any kind of leadership. Unfortunately you are led by an unshaven gnome who is much enamored of his Mercedes Limo, Rolex watches and Swiss bank accounts. Your leaders are pleased that they can find those such as you who are gullible enough to swallow their rhetoric without examining it. You won’t see you “leaders” joining with you, you will only see them far, far behind you. As for whether or not you are a “terrorist”, well, the answer is yes, you are. Your mission was not to fight the Israeli military but to slaughter as many women, children and elderly people as you could. Despite what your people say, this makes you a Terrorist.
You are not a terrorist, Ayat. The real terrorists are those who some 100 years ago hijacked a beautiful religion and transformed it into a real estate venture. Glancing around the world, they saw in Palestine “a land without a people, for a people without a land,” as their spokesmen and women chant ad nauseaum. The Zion of the concertina wire, F-16 bomber death planes and tank crews collecting skulls and shedding martyrs’ blood. The birthplace of your ancestor, and mine, the Palestinian pacifist Joshua ben Josef, is now a battle zone — with Christians, Muslims and peace-loving Jews trapped inside Bethlehem.
Yes, your Palestinian men ran like rabbits when the Israeli Defense Force showed up. They ran to a church where they shot the lock off and entered, hiding behind the skirts of Christian nuns. Now they make bold statements but still hide in the church which they had no qualms about defiling and talk about how brave they are.
Your last cry, by gesture rather than the spoken word, was “Stop, thief! This is not your land and we are a people.” I can assure you, Ayat, that the whole world stopped to listen. Even the numbskull who parades as president of the United States heard you, and, following the text written for him by his handlers, expressed astonishment at how a teenager could perpetrate such an act. Simply, it is pronounced “justice” and spelled C-O-U-R-A-G-E.
Actually their reaction (other than Europe) pronounced it murder and spelled S-T-U-P-I-D.
Forgive us Ayat, the Muslims of the world, for not rushing to the defense of the Holy Land. Beg the master of the universe to forgive us. If we had your conviction we would not only stage we would not only stage rallies but boycott all “Israeli” and American products. General Electric, which “brings good things to life,” also supplies the enemy with engine parts and laser-precision bombing sights. But where are the decent people of faith who would part with their GE video cameras or switch off the National Broadcasting Company, owned by said corporate behemoth?
We like our comforts and like to rail about the Western influences, but we flock to the United States. We honor your sacrifice, but are thankful that we are not in Palestine because then somebody might expect us to do something besides run our mouths
Forgive the American public, Ayat, because we, or better said, the government of our masters, send tax money that goes directly to the forces occupying Palestine — four billion dollars every year since 1948, not that any of this comes as a shock to those who study American history. I will wager that in Jehannah (hell) sinners laugh themselves silly over this irony: The American-made helicopters that rain hellfire over Jenin and Ramallah, Bethlehem and Nablus bear the names of Native American peoples, the Apache and Chinook, wiped of the face of this land in a previous genocide. From the heights of paradise, pardon us Sister, for permitting such hypocrisy to go unpunished.
Yes, honor your Arab brethern, the Jordanians who ran you out in 1970, the Lebanese who repeated the favor in 1980 and the Kuwaitis who expelled you in 1990. These are your true brothers. They see Palestinians in a slightly (very slightly) more favorable light that the Israelis. They would use you to get rid of Israel but if it comes to pass that the Israelis get rid of you, they are OK with that too
A supplication from those of us left on Earth: O, Allah, protect the soldiers of Islam fighting in Palestine. Accept the martyr into paradise. Heal the wounded, succor the sick, free the captive, grant shelter to the refugee, comfort the widow and orphan. Let us take the pain of Ayat al-Akras and the hundreds like her into our hearts, so that the suffering awakens us to the terror done in our name and with our implicit silence, and moves us to action.
May Allah elevate your place in paradise, Assad Jibril Pino Julio CÚsar Pino is an associate professor of history and a guest columnist for the Daily Kent Stater
A confused man who cannot decide if he is Hispanic or Arab. Fortunately he is only an associate professor and does not teach younger children. This is the country where children get suspended from school for pointing an oak leaf and saying “bang’ what would the Zero Tolerance crowd say about Mr. Pino. I am sure Mr. Pino would say that he wrote this column to stimulate discussion about the Middle East. I encourage everyone to discuss it with him, if you can find him.