- The Washington Times - Friday, June 21, 2002

The president's men who are so eager to reward the Palestinian killers with a state of their own ought to consider what actually happens when a suicide bomber begins his journey to Islamic paradise.

The Palestinian campaign of indiscriminate murder by stealth, inflicting pain and death in a way that might have been perfected by primitive vandals in medieval ignorance, has already dulled our sensibility to the savagery. Some of us treat the barbarians as if they deserve the decencies of civilized men.

Rosie DiManno, a columnist for the Toronto Star who until recently sympathized with the Palestinian cause, talked to several physicists to get an idea of what exactly a suicide bomb does when a Hero of the Intifada pulls the trigger, vaporizing himself with no pain, and spreads hideous agony throughout a school bus, a cafe or a street.

"The force of the blast is determined by the quantity of the explosive," she writes. "An average bomb the kind strapped around a suicide terrorist's waist, covered by a shirt would likely detonate at a rate of about 28,000 feet per second or about 22 times faster than a 9 mm bullet leaving the muzzle of a handgun. That means the surrounding air pressure normally 15 pounds per square inch would spike to 2,200 pounds per square inch. Such heat and pressure will melt iron. A person sitting nearby would feel, momentarily, a shock wave slamming into his or her body with an 'overpressure' of 300,000 pounds. Such a blast would crush the chest, rupture liver, spleen, heart and lungs, melt eyes, pull organs away from surrounding tissue, separate hands from arms and feet from legs. Bodies would fly through the air or be impaled on the jagged edges of crumpled metal and broken glass."

The dispatches describing the work of the suicide bombers invariably fall far short of describing the actual result. The children killed are often far more fortunate than those described as "wounded." The wounded are left to suffer in hideous agony, their bodies and organs riddled with the nails and screws and other sharp pieces of steel wrapped around the Semtex explosive. The bedclothes of such a victim must be changed frequently as pieces of shrapnel with blood and flesh attached work their way out of riddled bodies.

This is not the result of gruesome accident, awful as that would be, but the calculated evil of men who have recruited children to kill other children.

Stanley Fish, writing in the new Harper's, quotes the mother of a suicide bomber telling of her ecstasy in her son's mission of mass murder:

"I am a compassionate mother to my children," she told him, "and they are compassionate towards me and take care of me. Because I love my son, I encouraged him to die a martyr's death for the sake of Allah . Jihad is a religious obligation incumbent upon us, and we must carry it out. I sacrificed Muhammad as part of my obligation. This is an easy thing . The happiness in this world is an incomplete happiness; eternal happiness is life in the world to come, through martyrdom. Allah be praised, my son has attained this happiness . I asked Allah to give me 10 [Israelis] for Muhammad, and Allah granted my request and Muhammad made his dream come true, killing 10 Israeli settlers and soldiers. Our God honored him even more, in that there were many Israelis wounded . Then Muhammad's brother came to me and informed me of his martyrdom. I began to cry, 'Allah is the greatest,' and prayed and thanked Allah for the success of the operation."

The wide-bottomed bureaucrats in Colin Powell's State Department write their learned papers and craft their memoranda, urging the president to overlook who these barbarians really are. The president and his men, comfortable in the security of Washington, might usefully try to imagine themselves and their children, perhaps a beloved daughter out for an evening with friends, being scraped off a sidewalk in Jerusalem. Their families probably wouldn't find enough bone or flesh to bury. Only then should they return to the work of devising a way to reward killers with a state that will be free to kill with sovereign impunity.

If this kind of imagining is not persuasive, the president and his men might usefully consider how it's going to be to deal with a Palestinian government made up of men who not only countenance, but encourage others to kill and maim schoolchildren, not only in the name of Allah, but in the name of a state that will expect to be treated with courtesies and honor. The barbarism in the Middle East is enough to drive sane men nutty, even in Washington.

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