For my money (and since I am a taxpayer and at least a ten-spot of my taxes goes to the State Department every year, it is my money), this is the picture that should utterly kill what little sympathy for the Palestinian cause remains here in the United States: The picture is of a protest held in Berlin; the cute little girl in the picture has fake explosives strapped to her tummy. Being all of about five, it’s pretty clear she didn’t think up the idea of turning herself into a poster child for nitroglycerin; one suspects credit for that one goes to dear ol’ dad, currently hoisting his little girl on his shoulders.
Well, I say, fine. Let’s go ahead and strap some C-4 to this little girl, blow her up in a field (after all, not every suicide bomber takes someone with him or her — that’s just the risk you take), hand dad a pair of tweezers and make him pick up what little remains. See if he thinks it’s such a bright idea then. In fact, new rule: Let’s make every family of a suicide bomber responsible for the cleanup. I doubt there’s much that will make one reassess the validity of “martyrdom” more than scooping up a handful of intestines that are all that’s left of your child (or the people he or she blew up; it’s hard to tell from only a short length of duodenum) and watching them slide slickly into a Hefty bag.
Arafat’s wife, taking up the slack for her husband, recently mentioned to an Arabic-language magazine how she’d be proud if her son blew herself up to kill some Israelis (conveniently for her, she has only a daughter); get her a pair of tweezers for the next bombing. Get Arafat a pair, too, while we’re at it; sure, he denounced terror bombings in Arabic as the price for getting a chance to reject Colin Powell’s mission in person, but given the timing of his wife’s comments, which hit the newsstands concurrently with Arafat’s denunciation, let’s just say I’m less than convinced about the sincerity. It goes without saying that none of Arafat’s kids will ever blow themselves up; I wonder how many kids of the other Palestinian top brass have walked a checkpoint with fuses stuffed into their shorts. I expect it’s a low number. Blowing up Palestinians is all well and good, as long as it’s a certain class of Palestinian.
I have my own opinions about the ultimate disposition of the Palestinian people, which I won’t bother to share at the moment, but I will say this about this one specific father. I wish that years from now, as he dandles the baby of that little girl on a knee, he comes across this picture (believe me, it’ll still be around) and he looks at the message he sent to the world: That his aspirations for his child were that she strapped death to her young body and walked into a crowd. I hope that what he feels is the sort of shame that’s a stench on the soul — and that he realizes to his guilty relief that his shame feels immeasurably better than the “pride” of having a martyred child.