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News and views on Israel, Zionism and the war on terrorism.

February 05, 2003

The Play's the Thing

Muslims in Cincinatti are trying to stop the production of play called "Paradise" that features a seventeen year old suicide bomber. It is based on the true story of the killer of Chaim Smadar and Rachel Levy. Though the playwright understands:
Mr. O'Malley continued, "There was one man who said — chillingly — that suicide bombing was `the same as "Give me liberty or give me death." ' To my mind there is nothing about adult men strapping bombs onto kids — male and female — and sending them off to kill themselves and murder others that resonates even remotely with Patrick Henry's now axiomatic saying about the American Revolution."
he still has the unhealthy tendency to equate both sides such as saying, "I've worked to show the hard-line point of view from both sides of the conflict without justifying or condoning suicide bombing." FWIW the young murderess got a rather sympathetic writeup in the NY Times. Fortunately, Bret Stephens of the Jerusalem Post did a nice job of critiquing the Times story. I'll quote him because the link is no longer valid. Stephens notes that:
"But who's kidding whom? There's a hero to this story. She's a quiet, studious, beautiful Palestinian girl, with a rich and mysterious inner life, who one day bids a nonchalant farewell to her classmates, leaves a "grim warren of alleys and tightly packed dwellings," and commits something perfectly abrupt and terrible, in the stylized manner of ritual Japanese suicide or a French art-house film. The Rachel Levy of Greenberg's telling is, by contrast, just another transplanted JAP."
He also importantly points out that the effort to compare Rachel Levy with her murderer leaves out the hero of the story: Chaim Smadar.
For whatever your view on the vexed subject of martyrdom or murder, the supermarket bombing was not a one-for-one deal. There was a second victim, security guard Haim Smadar. The Israeli press has given him his due, as does Etgar Lefkovits's story in today's Jerusalem Post magazine. But in the West, he doesn't count: his presence interrupts the happy fictive symmetries of its political imagination. So a word about Haim Smadar.
He was a father of five. Two of his children are deaf. He had been married for more than 30 years. He made a security guard's salary. He prided himself on his alertness. He received a commendation last year from Mayor Ehud Olmert for his diligence. His knowledge of Arabic - he was born in Tunisia - may have alerted him to the danger posed by Akhras. Witnesses attest that his last words, as he struggled to stop Akhras from entering the supermarket were, "You are not coming in here. You and I will blow up here." He may have saved 12 or 20 or 30 lives, or more.

Cross posted on David's Israel Blog