Tuesday, July 06, 2010

A scene from The Jihad

And what of my father? Had he, too, become a terrorist? One afternoon, I read a newspaper headline about a recent suicide bombing (or “martyrdom operation” as some in Hamas called them) that had killed many civilians, including women and children. It was impossible for me to mentally reconcile the kindness and character of my father and his leadership with an organization that carried out such things. I pointed to the article and asked him how he felt about such acts.

“Once,” he answered, “I left the house and there was an insect outside. I thought twice about whether to kill it or not. And I could not kill it.” That indirect answer was his way of saying that he could never personally participate in that kind of wanton killing. But the Israeli civilians were not insects.

No, my father did not build the bombs, strap them onto the bombers, or select the targets. But years later I would think of my father’s answer when I encountered a story in a Christian Bible that describes the stoning of a young innocent named Stephen. It said, “Saul was there, giving approval to his death” (Acts 8:1).

I loved my father so deeply, and I admired so much about who he was and what he stood for. But for a man who could not bring himself to harm an insect, he had obviously found a way to rationalize the idea that it was fine for somebody else to explode people into scraps of meat, as long as he didn’t personally bloody his hands.

At that moment, my view of my father grew much more complicated.

-- Mosab Hassan Yousef, Son of Hamas: A gripping account of terror, betrayal, political intrigue, and unthinkable choices, 2010

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