Sunday, December 03, 2006

Exploding grannies and Segolene Royal

David Seaton's News Links
Ségolène Royal is running for president of France, she is a very smart lady who knows how to read polls and to gauge public opinion. She may not be a big expert on the Middle East, but she has French public opinion cold. Haaretz put the photo of Royal above as an illustration of an article, entitled, "Islamic Jihad threatens to attack Israel 'in the coming hours'. That is a message. France has the largest Muslim population in western Europe, estimated at 5 million, it also has the largest Jewish minority of any country of the diaspora after the United States, a community which is very assimilated and influential. Ségolène knows what is waiting for her and she is willing to pay the price. As to the article below from The Observer, the way you interpret it may have a lot to do with your age. No matter what your politics, if you are combing gray hair, it will touch you. DS
Abstract from The Observer: In the centre of Beit Hanoun, there is nothing left of the 800-year-old mosque but the minaret. It looks like a lighthouse stranded in a sea of rubble. People whose homes were demolished during the latest Israeli army incursion sit on plastic chairs around bonfires. At night they bunk down with the neighbours. One of them is Watfa Kafarna. 'I saw the Israeli soldiers eye-to-eye,' she said. 'They took my four-year-old grandson, Mahadi, who has Down's syndrome. They shook him and yelled: "Where are the guns?" Now he is traumatised and wets the bed every night.'(...) Not his own bed - the Kafarna family is homeless, living off the charity of friends. Tears run from Watfa's eyes as she looks at her son, daughter-in-law and grandchild huddled around a brazier. Her husband, Diab, shuffles across the ruins towards his wife. 'Bossa!' he says, 'A kiss!' In a highly unconventional move, Diab kisses his wife on the mouth. 'She is my heart, my eyes, my light. We have lost our house but not each other.' During the incursion, Israeli soldiers detained all men aged 16-40, including Watfa and Diab's sons and grandsons. The army targeted the mosque, attempting to arrest militants hiding there. The women put up their own resistance, gathering as human shields around the mosque to help the militants escape. 'I am 72, says Watfa, 'but by doing this I felt 20, young and useful and ready to act.'(...) Two women were killed by the Israeli Defence Force that day. Watfa was bruised, as was 70-year-old Fatma Najar, hit by a bulldozer. Three weeks later, Najar blew herself up near Israeli soldiers, wounding two. In Gaza she is seen as a heroine. 'If the Israelis came to my house to gun down my children and I had a belt, I would do the same,' says Watfa. 'The woman is the biggest loser here,' says Khola, a neighbour, standing on the remains of a kitchen where flour is mixed with pulverised masonry. Two hundred homes were destroyed in Beit Hanoun. 'Fatma Najar, an old woman, did what many people don't have the guts to do. If you go back and research Fatma,' says Khola, 'you will see her home was destroyed on top of her head, her sons jailed, her grandson killed.' 'We want to believe in peace, but how can we when the warplanes still fly over our heads every night,' asks Watfa, 'making our grandchildren cry and wet themselves? When there are still tank movements on the border? I can't believe there will be peace.' Najar's family heard of her attack on the radio. 'We thought it must be another Fatma Najar,' said her son, Jihad, 35. 'It never occurred to us it could have been my mother. Then the crowds started to arrive and we knew it was true. We had mixed feelings, sadness at her irreplaceable loss. But pride too.' There is a huge shaheed - 'martyr' - poster of Najar on her house. It is shocking to see an old woman carrying an M16. Some of her 70 grandchildren and great-grandchildren play beneath the picture. Israa, six, wears a pink top with 'Happy Childhood' embroidered on it. 'My grandmother's gone to heaven. Because she shot the Israelis,' she says.(...) 'I think the final straw was the Beit Hanoun massacre [a family of 17 killed at dawn when Israeli shells hit their house]. Mother went to the family's home and asked the women: "Why leave it to your sons to die? If Allah allows, I will become a martyr." They said: "You think they will take an old lady like you?"' A fortnight later she was a suicide bomber, injuring two Israelis, decapitating herself.(...) It was only after her death, her family discovered she had been working for Hamas: 'They told us she had carried food, water, ammunition to the resistance at the front line. We had no idea.' The night before her suicide operation, Najar went to visit all of her children and grandchildren. She brought clothes and sweets. 'But she was always so good to us,' says Inam. 'As she left me for the last time, she looked back in a way that made me wonder, but then she was gone.'(...)'I know at least 20 of us who want to put on the belt,' said Fatma Naouk, 65. 'Now is the time of the women. Now the old women have found a use for themselves.' READ IT ALL

1 comment:

kelly said...

wow... what a sign that it has come to the most desperate of measures...