Saturday, January 17, 2009

Nizar Rayyan, Martyr to Hatred

An Israeli air strike on a home in the Gaza Strip on Thursday killed a senior Hamas political leader Nizar Rayyan. Sadly, his 4 wifes and 11 children perished with him, persuaded by Rayyan to martyr themselves for the cause:
Surviving family members spoke to local Arab media and said that in the days before his death, Rayyan had repeatedly asked his children, "Who wants to die with me as a martyr?" The children would respond, "Yes, daddy, we all want to be with you alive or dead."

Rayyan's adult daughter, Wala, said even the younger children wished to die with their father. "If In the days before his death, Rayyan has repeatedly asked his children, "Who wants to die with me as a martyr?" you had asked my four-year-old sister Aisha, who died in the attack, she would have told you that she preferred to die as a martyr," Wala told Ma'an news.

One of Rayyan's daughter-in-laws said she was offered the chance to die with the family. She stopped by the family's large home in Jabaliya and was asked by Rayyan if she wished to die with him, his wives and their children. She agreed to die, but later left the building, shortly before the IAF strike.

As it turned out, when Rayyan offered his daughter-in-law the "opportunity" to die he had already received a phone call from the IDF warning him to evacuate his house due to an impending airstrike.

In the summer of 2006, Jeffrey Goldberg, national correspondent for The Atlantic and the author of Prisoners: A Story of Friendship and Terror (Vintage), had an opportunity to interview Rayyan. He came away with convinced Why Israel Can’t Make Peace With Hamas:
I asked him the question I always ask of Hamas leaders: Could you agree to anything more than a tactical cease-fire with Israel? I felt slightly ridiculous asking: A man who believes that God every now and again transforms Jews into pigs and apes might not be the most obvious candidate for peace talks at Camp David. Mr. Rayyan answered the question as I thought he would, saying that a long-term cease-fire would be unnecessary, because it will not take long for the forces of Islam to eradicate Israel.

There is a fixed idea among some Israeli leaders that Hamas can be bombed into moderation. This is a false and dangerous notion. It is true that Hamas can be deterred militarily for a time, but tanks cannot defeat deeply felt belief.

The reverse is also true: Hamas cannot be cajoled into moderation. Neither position credits Hamas with sincerity, or seriousness.

The only small chance for peace today is the same chance that existed before the Gaza invasion: The moderate Arab states, Europe, the United States and, mainly, Israel, must help Hamas’s enemy, Fatah, prepare the West Bank for real freedom, and then hope that the people of Gaza, vast numbers of whom are unsympathetic to Hamas, see the West Bank as an alternative to the squalid vision of Hassan Nasrallah and Nizar Rayyan.