April 5, 2013
The Cancer Intifada
Malek Nasr A-din entered Caffit Cafe in Jerusalem, gun at hand, suicide belt ready to go. But something happened to Malek: He decided not to blow himself up. He turned around and hurried out of the coffee shop. The patrons finished their cups and went on with their lives.
One of the people sending Malek on his suicide mission that Sunday in 2002 was Maisara Abu Hamdiyeh. Hamdiyeh was arrested, convicted and imprisoned; on Wednesday he died of cancer in a hospital in Israel, at 64. His death triggered a series of prison riots.
It’s only natural that Palestinians held in Israeli jails are the pinnacle of Palestinian mythology of heroism and sacrifice. The fact that these heros are the likes of Hamdiyeh, who was doing time for putting together a hair-raising orgy of blood and religious fantasies, is an indication of a deep cultural malaise.
Hundreds riot in the West Bank immediately after Mr. Hamdiyeh’s death. Two men are killed - both healthy and much younger than Hamdiyeh was. It’s unclear how much of a leader or a follower the Palestinian Authority is in this; Whatever the balance may be, the Authority seems happy to participate in an reckless escalation, and death from cancer, so it seems, is a reason to recklessly escalate.
Even more frustrating is the Authority’s choice to reject the civilized alternative at hand: Dr. El-Alul, the top Palestinian pathologist, conducts the autopsy together with his Israeli counterpart Dr. Liss. Reason of death: Cancer, the kind common with heavy smokers like Hamdiyeh. President Abbas, nevertheless, announces through his spokesperson that “The Palestinian presidency holds the government of Netanyahu responsible for the martyrdom” (echoing the well-nurtured myth that Israel killed Yasser Arafat), and Secretary of Prisoners Issa Kara’ke tells the mourning family that “It’s time to turn to the International Court in Hague in regards to the prisoners”. Inversion complete: Terrorists don’t go to Hague, those who put them in prison do.
The prospects of political exploitation of the legal procedure is precisely why both the United States and Israel refuse to be states parties to the Statute of the International Criminal Court. The Palestinians have been throwing fervent glances at the international legal system that the UN nod last November made available to them, with two targets in mind: Delegitimization of Israel, and impunity for their own foul acts. Both goals are as contradictory to the reason this court was established as they are to justice itself. Abuses of progressive legal systems in Belgium, Spain and the UK by pro-Palestinian activists had already led to some restrictions in Universal Jurisdiction legislation - Damage inflicted under the Palestinian banner, and goes unnoticed by a civilization that holds the ideas of Universal Jurisdiction dear.
There’s a constant campaign going on in (and by) the Palestinian Authority to glorify the prisoners and their violence - It’s only natural. Generation after generation, indiscriminate killing - terrorism - is further cemented as the glorious, honorable Palestinian way. [see many examples from Itamar Marcus and PMW here] Fire fed, rage nurtured, fantasies encouraged - any day is a good day for an Intifada, be it because of death of cancer, or any other occasion.
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