Last night, the Claremont Institute, with a little help from Larry Mizel and others, and with sponsorship from ActionIsrael and Americans Against Terrorism, hosted a showing Pierre Rehov's "Suicide Killers." Inside the mind of a suicide bomber isn't necessarily a place most of us want to go. But it's a place worth touring if we're to understand why explosive one-time belts are the Palestinians' leading export.
The film goes a long way towards dispelling the myths about why teenagers - usually male teenagers - volunteer for these missions. It's because they're carefully taught. By schools, state-sponsored mullahs and broadcasts, parents, street signs. You think of it, they've got it.
It's not money. Money is mentioned only in the context of needing it to get married (more about that later). The very first on-camera personality, a hooded volunteer, explains that he's happy to go on this mission because he knows his children lack for nothing. And the fact is that, even in the West Bank, towns like Ramallah, Jenin, and Nablus have infrastructure and utilities courtesy of Israel, that citizens of other countries would kill for. So to speak. It makes the academic who prattles on about economic deprivation sound as though he's from another galaxy.
Remarkably, in Israeli prison, as at Guantanamo, the radicals hopped-up on Islam are able to have communal prayers. Since they derive their strength and their identity from their religion, it would seem that any good deprogramming effort would first take that away from them. Freedom of religion is a principle, not a fetish. After all, they're in prison, without freedom of speech, freedom to bear arms, freedom from search and seizure, you know, all the basics.
Much of this we've seen before. Rehov's most powerful and most disturbing point is that Palestinian society operates under a radical deformation of relations between the sexes.
Notions of democracy and equality, of course, threaten the status quo, where men run the place with an iron fist. One of the biggest laughs came from a clip of Saudi TV of an imam of some sort saying that "if it were my sister, and her husband, he would completely and totally oppose beating her, except in one case..." (pregnant pause) "...and that is if she did something to deserve being beaten." Another mullah explained that women's rights meant that women went out of the house naked.
Women and women's bodies are quite literally demonized. There is complete and utter inaccessability of girls to boys, and young women to young men, in a society whose average age is a hormone-flooded 16. Actually scraping together enough money to get married is hard. Having to live next door to Israeli beaches makes it harder. Pushing a button and getting 72 wives is a lot easier.
And here's where Rehov made one of his few mis-steps. The fact is, Israel isn't any more permissive than the average Western society. But when he cuts from a mullah denouncing western nudity to a beach where there's not much left to the imagination, he actually gives some credence to Islamist complaints. It's worse that the pop song they're dancing to mocks, "...God, the Blessed, we are all students." I don't want to chance to appease murderous fanatics, but I wouldn't mind changing, nonetheless.
The movie was probably about 20 minutes too long, and a little repetitive, as well. But it's well worth seeing, and dragging your friends to see, since it probably won't be showing at the multiplex any time soon.
John Andrews and Kathleen LeCrone did a great job putting this together at the last minute, and wec can only hope that the performance is repeated in other cities.
See Ben DeGrow's take for better insight.