Schmoozing with Terrorists
by Aaron Klein
WND Books, 204 pp. $25.95
Reviewed by Lori Lowenthal Marcus
The people who kill Jews and other westerners for a living would seem to be a bit hard for nice Jewish boy to sit down and chat with about why they do what they do. But in Schmoozing with Terrorists
, Aaron Klein -- Jerusalem bureau chief for World Net Daily -- shares the wide-ranging conversations he has had with many of the top Arab Palestinian terrorist leaders in Israel about exactly that topic.
Klein's conversations covered the gamut from why Hamas, Islamic Jihad, and Fatah's al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades endorse the use of homicide bombing in light of the Koranic ban on suicide; to the way in which the terrorist leaders nakedly reject documented archeological and historical connections between Jews and Israel; to the ongoing persecution of Christians by Muslims in Bethlehem, Gaza and other cities.
Klein's style is conversational and personal: he never hides his own perspective or the fact that he is an Orthodox Jew (albeit the brawny, deeply-tanned twenty-something year old pictured on the book jacket inside cover does not fit the typical stereotype in this country). And yet those whom he interviews, although occasionally bridling at some of Klein's questions, are perfectly comfortable meeting with him and articulating their views and goals.
The Arab Palestinian leaders with whom Klein spoke are very candid about their dreams not only to wipe out Israel, but to establish a worldwide caliphate. Their plans for American society should awaken anyone who thinks the Arab terrorists are only Israel's problem. And it should also smack awake all the moral relativists who equate Israel's security measures with hegemonic brutality.
A deputy commander of Fatah's al Aqsa Martyrs Bridade, Nasser Abu Azziz, explained to Klein that when sharia law is imposed in Western countries, "these sick people [homosexuals] will be treated in a very tough way," explaining that the Islamic leadership will "prevent social and physical diseases like homosexuality." All the terrorists whom Klein interviewed agreed that homosexuality would not be tolerated in the US once Islam rules.
And homosexuality is not all they condemn. The failure of western women to conform to Islamic standards of dress will reap harsh responses including, if necessary, torture. Sheik Hamad, a Hamas cleric, said those women who refuse to cover themselves in conformity with Islamic values would be punished either by imprisonment, whipping or stoning. And we aren't just talking about Madonna's bustiers: under the standard described by Klein's interviewees, even Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg -- who does in fact wear a robe -- would be a target for stoning. She's omitted the head covering.
Given the opportunity to explain the source of Arab Palestinian terrorism, Klein's subjects contradict standard lore. Klein was told by Abu Ayman, the commander of Islamic Jihad in Jenin, that Muslims are strictly forbidden from becoming suicide bombers if they are motivated by anything -- including desperate poverty or revenge for Israeli wrongdoing to this individual -- other than love of Allah. When Klein pointed out to a young man in training to become a "martyr" CNN's claim that suicide bombing was motivated by poverty and despair, Abu Ahmed was visibly affronted and called it "Israeli propaganda."
The most bizarre and brazen interview Klein describes is with Sheikh Taysir Tamimi, the chief Palestinian Justice and one of the most important clerics in the Middle East. Tamimi lectured Klein that "there is no Jewish historic connection whatsoever to the Temple Mount or Jerusalem," and that the "Jews came to the [Temple area] in 1967 and not before."
Tamimi responded to Klein's recitation of archeological findings and historical connections: "These archeological things you cite are lies." Tamimi simply erases Judaism's connection to the Holy Land by ignoring irrefutable and concrete evidence of inconvenient facts. Such distortions are particularly troubling because Tamimi is an enormously influential Imam whose view of history is eagerly imbibed by his followers. Echoing Tamimi is Nasser Abu Aziz whose rhetoric, while perhaps inelegant, was crystal clear: "We are fed up with this crap nonsense of the Temple Mount."
Klein's interviews show that Palestinian leaders have also, and repeatedly, perpetrated a vile hoax on their acolytes. The myth of the seventy-two virgins in paradise who await each martyr is a theme echoed and believed by those who extol and consider suicide bombing an option. Klein's subjects do not explain how the appetite for virgins fits with the love of Allah as an incentive for becoming a suicide bomber.
When asked about the source for the promise of the seventy-two virgins, Ala Senakhreh, West Bank chief of Fatah's Martyrs Brigade, insisted such a promise was made in the Koran. When pressed about where exactly that promise could be located, neither Senakhreh nor any of his dozen henchmen clerics present could find such a passage. After much anxious searching, the Sheik became increasing hostile and Klein quickly left. He had apparently discovered the point at which the terrorists' hospitality collided with their refusal to be questioned closely about their ideological weapons.
I worry that this enlightening and highly readable book may not reach as many readers as it should because its name and title undercut its serious subject. The word "schmoozing" is known by and appeals to a rather limited audience. The cover picture shows a large grenade seated on a leather armchair. Perhaps the picture is easy shorthand for what he did, but there is something lighthearted about it that undercuts the gravity of Klein's book.
Nonetheless, and in addition to the glimpses Klein provides, at least two overarching questions are raised by this book.
First, Aaron Klein, a product of Philadelphia suburban Jewish religious schools, moved to Israel and within a few years was able to gain audiences -- as an identified Jew and a journalist -- with the most senior Arab Palestinian terrorists, who spoke to him frankly about their plans and their views. This forces us to ask: where is the rest of the press corps? If these murder merchants happily speak at length about their desire to murder and torture those who don't fit their religious profiles, why are the rest of the hundreds of journalists who call Israel their beat unable to obtain the same information? Do they prefer to stick with the standard mendacious narrative, either because they believe it or because they are too afraid to approach the terrorist leadership? Neither answer says anything favorable about the press corps.
Second, why are all those on the political left, those who identify themselves as advocates for minorities, so convinced that Israel is the villain and the Arab Palestinians are the victim? Anyone who claims to favor women's rights, gay rights, ideological tolerance, freedom of the press, of speech, of association, of religion, in fact, nearly all of the icons of the political left, should logically support the Israeli narrative. Instead, most of those in this country who fit the profile of the left support the Arab Palestinian narrative. Yet Klein's interviewees freely articulate their categorical rejection of the ideas these groups hold dear. And when these people categorically reject an idea, we're not talking polite disagreement over cocktails: we're talking beheading in the town square, as Klein's interviewees state in plain English. Yet these groups -- QUIT (Queers Undermining Israeli Terror) is my own personal favorite -- continue to support terrorists who would happily slaughter their western advocates if they attained the power they seek.
While Klein's book doesn't answer these questions, it provides the necessary proof that willful ignorance and cowardice play a strong role in the current widespread distribution of sympathy for the Arab Palestinian narrative.
Lori Lowenthal Marcus is a journalist who focuses on the Middle East.