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Daughter's Hidden Truth:An Angry Martyr's Soul
April 3, 2002 6:28 PM   Subscribe

Daughter's Hidden Truth:An Angry Martyr's Soul Muhammad Akhras, a Palestinian construction foreman, thought he knew his 18-year-old daughter, Ayat, as well as anyone. But on Friday he was devastated to learn the truth...
posted by bunnyfire (35 comments total)

 
Saddening that the hate can be taught without the family even knowing about it.
Ayat left behind a farewell video, her head wrapped in a checked Arab head scarf, and the bombing was claimed by Al Aksa Martyrs Brigades, a militant group affiliated with the mainstream Fatah movement.
This sentence does not parse. (Something is up with the NYT copyeditors lately, at least for the web version - maybe some covert job action?)
posted by sylloge at 6:46 PM on April 3, 2002


How does it not parse? Looks fine to me.
posted by donkeyschlong at 7:10 PM on April 3, 2002


The one sentence should have been two sentences. Devastating story, all the same.
posted by raysmj at 7:14 PM on April 3, 2002


Amazing story. Tragic story.

I hope the father isn't "punished" by his neighbors for admitting he's friendly with Israelis.

Perhaps the suicide bombers are under the influence of some drug?
posted by ParisParamus at 7:20 PM on April 3, 2002


Ah, crusading for the Palistinians and for womens rights. Or Jihading? Maybe?

She's actualy kinda cute... or was...
posted by delmoi at 7:29 PM on April 3, 2002


"Politics is one thing, and work is something else," he said. "We work together, eat together, live together, like family. I love them like my children, and they love me like an older brother. I'm concerned for them like I am for my own son."

The surreal thing about this whole conflict is that at the very personal, day to day level of life, I suspect more than a few Israelis and Palestinians feel this way ... i.e., if they could they would just live their lives.

The company I work for does business in Israel and a number of Arab states, and I'm on global conference calls fairly regularly that have people from across that spectrum. While there are some topics that are just sort of tacitly off limits, conversation can't help but deal with such issues sometimes ... and my general sense is this: I think there's groups of people on both sides that hate the other side ... but I think a much larger number of people simply hate the situation itself.

I cannot imagine what that father is feeling.
posted by MidasMulligan at 7:41 PM on April 3, 2002


"Kinda cute." I find it fascinating how frequent that observation is made about the late Ayat, independent of her tragic death and how it came about.

No doubt there's a fan page and a Yahoo! group devoted to apolitical worship...

As far as the sentence sylloge quoted... I think he means it sounds as if the young lady left behind a video and her head. And breaking it up into two sentences doesn't help, I don't think.
posted by pzarquon at 8:09 PM on April 3, 2002


Ayat left behind a farewell video, her head wrapped in a checked Arab scarf. The bombing was claimed by Al Aksa Martyrs Brigades, a militant group affiliated with the mainstream Fatah movement.

Fear not! I am e-mailing this proposed revision to the Times right now.
posted by ParisParamus at 8:17 PM on April 3, 2002


OK, Mr. Snarky. But I didn't write it! (The two clauses, at least, had no obvious connection to one another, which was the first thing I noticed. In other words, the first clause - if it had made total sense - still seemed to have nothing to do with the second. In English grammar lingo this is called a "train wreck" of a sentence. Methinks the writer was aiming for a lyrical feel in that first clause, though. I got the gist of it.)
posted by raysmj at 8:32 PM on April 3, 2002


I think the three clauses of the sentence were intended to seem related: the video as symbol of militancy, the cultural marker of the scarf, and confirmation of both in the claim. But it was awkward and confusing.

Anyway: What Midas said.
posted by dhartung at 8:51 PM on April 3, 2002


OK, Mr. Snarky.

In all sincerity, what I wrote was not intended to be anything than funny. And not funny at anyone's expense.
posted by ParisParamus at 9:01 PM on April 3, 2002


Yes, *three* clauses. Yikes.
posted by raysmj at 9:07 PM on April 3, 2002


Even with the way Paris reworked it, it sounds as if she was wearing the scarf while she was hiding the video for her father to find. It's just a crappy sentence.

She was kinda cute. Maybe she should have been a suicide girl.
posted by bingo at 9:08 PM on April 3, 2002


I think he means it sounds as if the young lady left behind a video and her head.

Exactly, it's called a dangling modifier.
posted by Ufez Jones at 9:50 PM on April 3, 2002


how about:

Ayat left behind a farewell video showing her head wrapped in a checked Arab head scarf as she claimed the bombing for Al Aksa Martyrs Brigades, a militant group affiliated with the mainstream Fatah movement.

*shrug*
posted by centrs at 10:58 PM on April 3, 2002


Well, that's pretty good, but it could mean that she made the claim while she was leaving the video behind, and that the video showed her disembodied head.
posted by bingo at 11:33 PM on April 3, 2002


How bout this?

While draped in a checked scarf which is traditionally worn by Arab males, Ayat filmed a farewell video with messages for her family, friends and the leaders of both Palestine and Israel. After the bombing, the Al Aksa Martyrs reported Ayat as a member and claimed responsibility for the bombing.
posted by dejah420 at 2:52 AM on April 4, 2002


Shouldn't this thread be moved to Metatalk/Bugs? Great thread.
posted by ParisParamus at 4:12 AM on April 4, 2002


I was HOPING we could discuss the fact that her father indeed had Jews as friends...something up to now I don't recall seeing in regular news sources...that is the great tragedy of this whole thing. The average Joe Palestinian and Joe Israeli just want to Get Along...
posted by bunnyfire at 6:15 AM on April 4, 2002


Can someone post the full text of the story for those of us who don't want to give our information to the mark3ting fscks at NYT?
posted by SpecialK at 7:06 AM on April 4, 2002


As three clauses can come to live in harmony, so can . . . Or, alternately, if it's that hard to get three clauses to agree, imagine how hard it is to get two ancient peoples . . . oh, forget it. Someone call Paul McCartney and Michael Jackson. There's an anthem in there somewhere.
posted by raysmj at 7:07 AM on April 4, 2002


the link goes straight to the story...don't ask how I managed that.
posted by bunnyfire at 7:24 AM on April 4, 2002


Or Stevie Wonder, rather, not Michael Jackson.
posted by raysmj at 7:31 AM on April 4, 2002


It only links to the article if you have your NYT cookies already enabled. For you Special K:

HEISHEH REFUGEE CAMP, West Bank, March 30 — Muhammad Akhras, a Palestinian construction foreman, thought he knew his 18-year-old daughter, Ayat, as well as anyone. But on Friday he was devastated to learn the truth.

She left that morning at the normal hour, 7 a.m., for the half-hour walk to her high school in a neighboring village.

A straight-A high school senior, she hoped to study journalism in college and was preparing for graduation exams, her father said.

But that afternoon Mr. Akhras was horrified to learn that it was Ayat who was the suicide bomber who struck a supermarket in Jerusalem, killing herself and two Israelis and wounding at least 30 others. One of the two Israelis she killed was a teenager just a year younger than herself.

Ayat left behind a farewell video, her head wrapped in a checked Arab head scarf, and the bombing was claimed by Al Aksa Martyrs Brigades, a militant group affiliated with the mainstream Fatah movement.

Mr. Akhras, who said he has worked with and befriended many Jews, said today that he found the video too heartbreaking to watch for long. He sat cross-legged on a mattress on the floor of his spare home as people streamed in to pay condolence calls.

"You can't see anything because of the grief, and anyone who tells you he can focus is lying," he said.

Ayat Akhras was the third and youngest woman bomber of the current Palestinian uprising, her attack signaling a new readiness among some Palestinian women to join the ranks of dozens of men who have become human bombs in the fight against Israel.

Mr. Akhras, grief-stricken and baffled, discovered after his daughter's death that she was living a far different life than the one her family thought.

On the surface, he said, everything seemed normal. Ayat was engaged to be married to a local tile layer this summer, she was an outstanding student, and her days revolved around school, homework and housework, he said.

There wasn't even a hint of anger, despair or political zeal that could have led her to a suicide mission.

"She kept it a secret," Mr. Akhras said. "Had I known I would have closed the door and locked it with a key."

Out early to work in the morning and back in the afternoon for a meal, his prayers and an early bedtime, Mr. Akhras said he did not get a chance to spend enough time with his 11 children, of whom Ayat was the seventh. Neither he nor anyone else in the family had a clue what she was planning, he said.

Fathi Akhras, 26, an older brother, said he saw only a teenager going about her daily routine. "After school she would come home and help with cooking, laundry, ironing," he said. "What was inside remained inside."

Did she harbor a seething hatred for Israelis, stoked by months of deadly violence, or was she perhaps acting out of personal distress brought on by a planned marriage she did not want? Her relatives said they had no clue.

"Had I known, I would have prevented it," said another older brother, Samir Akhras, 27. "She didn't show anything, and we didn't sense anything. We're against this killing and blood. If people want to fight, they should fight soldier to soldier, man to man. What is the guilt of Israeli civilians?"

But there were others outside the house who voiced pride in what Ayat Akhras had done, pronouncing her a martyr for the cause.

"We're proud of her, " said Jamil Qassas," 32, whose teenage brother was killed in the first Palestinian uprising more than a decade ago. "How many children and innocent people have the Israelis killed? This is a natural response. The equation works both ways."

Mr. Akhras was devastated. A foreman at construction sites in the Jewish settlement of Beitar, he said he had made Jewish friends there and at previous jobs in Israel proper — friendships that have survived 18 months of deadly conflict between Israelis and Palestinians.

"Politics is one thing, and work is something else," he said. "We work together, eat together, live together, like family. I love them like my children, and they love me like an older brother. I'm concerned for them like I am for my own son."

"I taught my children to love others," he said. "We hope for life."
posted by macadamiaranch at 7:50 AM on April 4, 2002


A foreman at construction sites in the Jewish settlement of Beitar, he said he had made Jewish friends there and at previous jobs in Israel proper — friendships that have survived 18 months of deadly conflict between Israelis and Palestinians.

It is truly sad that this man has spent his life building houses where he could never live, no matter how much money he might have - because they're for Jews only, built on land "expropriated" from Palestinians by the Israeli government. These are homes that suck up the lion's share of the water in the West Bank for their swimming pools while village wells nearby go dry.
posted by laz-e-boy at 8:20 AM on April 4, 2002


The $25000 and other benefits given to the surviving families of these suiciders shouldn't be discounted when looking for motivation among them. Neither should be personal problems, such as unrequited love, or mental illness. Unless the Palestinians are collectively inhuman, historical experience suggests individual malady, financial gain, or personal discontentment that provoke suicide, no matter what the "public relation" values are.
Of course, growing up in refugee camps, unaccepted by other nations, Arabs included, having little education beside hatred and militant training, it's no wonder that kids grow up with little appreciation of what life may offer.
posted by semmi at 9:33 AM on April 4, 2002


I'm wondering a little about this girl, with ambitions to study journalism...betrothed to be married to a tile layer(not to denigrate tile layers-that is pretty darn hard work- I know people who do that job-it's physically demanding and requires thought to do correctly)...at an idealistic age anyway, perhaps very easily manipulated to be martyred for "the cause" right under her family's very noses....I think that is so damnable, to rob this family of her daughter in this way. If she were fully an adult, well, one could say she chose this, her choice, her option. Right now- if I were her father- I cannot help but wonder in what direction his revenge fantasies would lie.....
posted by bunnyfire at 10:01 AM on April 4, 2002


dejah420:How bout this?

While draped in a checked scarf which is traditionally worn by Arab males, Ayat filmed a farewell video with messages for her family, friends and the leaders of both Palestine and Israel. After the bombing, the Al Aksa Martyrs reported Ayat as a member and claimed responsibility for the bombing.


That's pretty good, except that you can't film a video. Well, you can, but why would you?

bunnyfire: If she were fully an adult, well, one could say she chose this, her choice, her option.

She was 18. How old do you believe one must be to acquire free will?
posted by bingo at 10:09 AM on April 4, 2002


The $25000 and other benefits given to the surviving families of these suiciders shouldn't be discounted when looking for motivation among them. Neither should be personal problems, such as unrequited love, or mental illness. Unless the Palestinians are collectively inhuman, historical experience suggests individual malady, financial gain, or personal discontentment that provoke suicide, no matter what the "public relation" values are.
Of course, growing up in refugee camps, unaccepted by other nations, Arabs included, having little education beside hatred and militant training, it's no wonder that kids grow up with little appreciation of what life may offer.


Anything other than living your life under occuation and seeing your friends and relatives shot, jailed, and tortured, eh?
posted by cell divide at 10:11 AM on April 4, 2002


Some news venues have been saying she was 16.

But the frontal lobe ain't mature till you are a little older than 18...anyway, let the kid graduate high school before you recruit her to kill herself, how about it...*heavy sarcasm directed towards terrorists*
posted by bunnyfire at 10:18 AM on April 4, 2002


Some news venues have been saying she was 16.

But the frontal lobe ain't mature till you are a little older than 18...anyway, let the kid graduate high school before you recruit her to kill herself, how about it...*heavy sarcasm directed towards terrorists*
posted by bunnyfire at 10:18 AM on April 4, 2002


Another story on the same topic, from the Christian Science Monitor. The NY Times is definitely not the only decent place for international news.
posted by raysmj at 10:44 AM on April 4, 2002


But the frontal lobe ain't mature till you are a little older than 18

This is, of course, supported by evidence:
NIMH summary of research
Frontline Website on teenage brains

However, a link between particular behaviors and changes in mylination and trimming of neural pathways is pure speculation at this point. Furthermore, it is not clear that specific periods of growth really mean that learning can't occur at other times, a point argued quite well by John Bruer.
posted by iceberg273 at 10:47 AM on April 4, 2002


cell divide, The Palestinians have long had a tactical alternative to terror: nonviolent resistance, à la Gandhi. You should understand that terror begets reprisals, of being jailed or shot.
posted by semmi at 5:29 PM on April 4, 2002


So does nonviolent resistance, semmi. If it doesn't, then it's kind of pointless. How important would the Salt March have been if no one had gotten arrested? What would the march on Birmingham mean if no one had been attacked by dogs? Nonviolent resistance is supposed to produce martyrs for the jails and cemeteries - that is where its power lies. The only difference between that and the cycles of violence in Israel and the Occupied Territories is that the latter include suicide bombings, a form of violence that many (though not all) Palestinians have come to see as justifiable under the circumstances, but that most of the rest of the world does not.

Now, it should go without saying that knocking down houses, building new settlements, sending in tanks, firing missiles into neighborhoods, etc. is pretty reprehensible. It should, but it doesn't, because the moral clarity of the issue for the global audience is obscured by the sight of burnt corpses in pizza shops. The suicide bombers aren't staging their productions for us; the attacks are intended for the domestic market, an audience that does not include Israelis. The same goes for the Israeli government. Is this short-sighted? Hell yeah.

The best argument for taking up nonviolent resistance is that it will allow the Israeli public to see the injustice of their government's policies, rather than convince them of the evil on the other side of the 1967 border. But sometimes, people want the short-term satisfaction of "not giving in" and "hurting them like they've hurt us" more than the long-term goal of forging a lasting peace.
posted by skoosh at 7:42 AM on April 6, 2002


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