A woman organizes several small children into a line to greet Gamal Abdel Nasser, the President of Egypt. Lt. General Mustafa Hafez, head of Egyptian Military Intelligence in Gaza and commander of the Fedayeen —a left-wing nationalist terrorist organization — has been killed by the Israeli army. In an operation planned by Israeli military intelligence officer Yehoshafat Harkabi, a parcel filled with explosives was mailed to Hafez. This is his funeral. These are his children, his wife, and his dear friend, President Nasser. “Which one of you will avenge your father’s blood by killing Jews?”, President Nasser asks the children. Nonie Darwish was only eight years-old when she and her siblings were asked to become martyrs for their father, the man who had been launching Fedayeen—”Fedayeen” literally translates as, ‘to give up oneself for jihad’ — raids across Israel’s southern border for five years. These raids claimed the lives of hundreds of Israelis, many of which were civilians. For a time, Nonie felt compelled to pick up the sword and avenge her father, she had become the daughter of a heroic shahid —”shahid” denoting those who die waging jihad — and the call to jihad seemed inexorable. In her memoirs she has described the darkness that enveloped her youth,
“I always blamed Israel for my father’s death, because that’s what I was taught. I never looked at why Israel killed my father. They killed my father because the fedayeen were killing Israelis. They killed my father because when I was growing up, we had to recite poetry pledging jihad against Israel. We would have tears in our eyes, pledging that we wanted to die [as martyrs].”
It is important to note that by the time her father had been killed, Palestine had twice refused to accept a two-state solution; once in 1936 when Palestine was offered 80% of the disputed territory and again in 1947. In both instances Israel had agreed to the two-state solution, while Palestine refused and responded with all-out war after their second veto of peace; Palestine would later refuse a two-state solution on three more occasions. Against all odds, Nonie would find her way out of the desert. She would go on to become the found of Arabs for Israel, and one of the most articulate, passionate, and insightful critics of Islam. Since she left, the situation has worsened for children. She has been a vociferous critic of the indoctrination children face under Islamic regimes,
“‘In Gaza elementary school the indoctrination was incredible. It’s worse now, of course, but I remember in the playground we used to sing songs with words like: ‘The Arabs are our friends, the Jews are our dogs.’ We were told that Jews like to kill pregnant Arab women just for fun, to see if it is a boy or a girl. I would be warned: ‘Don’t take any candy or fruit from a stranger. It could be a Jew trying to poison you.’”
Her remarkable story and the stories of those like her are the exception to the rule, and it should be instructive to Westerners. The jihadis who killed 22 people — Saffie Rose and Georgina Callander, 8 and 18 years-old, were among the slain— in Manchester may not have been Palestinian, but they were motivated by the same Islamic ideology that nearly drove Nonie to wage jihad. Islam is not the religion of peace and in the light of yet another act of Islamic terrorism, we are reminded that children will either become the weapons of jihad or the targets of the sword themselves.
Peace with Islam does not rest on the shoulders of Western tolerance, the answer will be found in the voices of those who have lived under the shadow of Islamic fundamentalism. Westerners should amplify the voices of people like Nonie, because as long as the West continues to insist that Islam is the religion of peace for the sake of political correctness, Islam will never reform; the voices and safety of peaceful Muslims will be threatened all over the world. A clash of civilizations is at hand, but the west refuses to pick up the shield, not even to defend the brave Muslim reformists. In Nonie’s words,
“The lesson America needs to learn is that the West is not doing Muslims (especially the reformists) a favor by constantly treating them as children who should be shielded from reality. Muslims need to know that the world does indeed have a justifiable and legitimate concern about Islam and actions done in the name of Islam by Muslims. Muslims need to look at themselves in the mirror and see the world from the point of view of their victims. Instead, the West is sacrificing its culture, values, laws, pride and even self-respect. Muslim culture needs a wake-up call telling them that, sooner or later, non-Muslim nations will close their doors to any kind of Muslim immigration if the jihad culture continues. That will also be a strong message to Muslims already in the West who still believe in jihad. The Muslim people are hungry for the truth: that their educational system and mosque preaching are full of incitement, abhorrent, hate-filled and the foundation upon which violent jihad is built. The Islamic commandment to do jihad sacrifices Muslim men, women and children to kill and get killed.”
You can learn more about Nonie’s story here. The voice of another brave former Muslim, Somali-born author and activist Ayaan Hirsi Ali, can be heard here. Ayaan’s foundation that fights to end Islamic violence against women can be found here.