Madinat al-Muslimeen Islamic Message Board
|Read between the lines|
|09/11/01 at 04:13:55|
|Read this article, and you'll find how Islam is seen as a threat to Israel. I think in the end they'll even stop dawah and say it is a threat to Israel and ban ALL Islamic activities. Man we've got tough times ahead.|
'How could he? He was not that kind of man'
Denial and disbelief among family and townsfolk in suicide bomber's home in Galilee as Israeli Arabs fear rightwing backlash
Special report: Israel and the Middle East
Suzanne Goldenberg in Abu Sinan, Israel
Tuesday September 11, 2001
The first time people took any notice of Mohammed Shaqir Habeishi was last autumn when he campaigned in flowing Muslim robes and turban for mayor of this small town in the Galilee.
Yesterday, his notoriety spread much further when Israel named him as the first Arab citizen of the Jewish state to blow himself up for the Palestinian cause.
The revelation that Habeishi, 48, the father of eight, had carried out Sunday's attack on a railway station in the northern coastal town of Nahariya, killing three Israelis, has caused consternation to Arab and Jew.
For rightwing Jews, the suicide attack is proof of a potential fifth column among the 1m Arab residents inside Israel's borders. For Arabs, it is a calamity, forcing them to demonstrate their loyalty once more to the Jewish state.
Both peoples should have read Habeishi's campaign literature more closely.
In fiery language, he accuses Israel of "desecrating our holy sites" and of "massacring our people, men, women and children" in the West Bank and Gaza.
"We are passing through terrible days. Our unarmed people are being killed and injured. Houses are being burnt and destroyed by oppressors using sophisticated weapons under the cover of democracy and while waving the flag of peace," his leaflet says.
Sunday's bombing was immediately claimed by the radical Palestinian group, Hamas. However, a spokesman yesterday refused to confirm if Habeishi was a follower.
In Abu Sinan, a mixed town of 11,000 Muslims, Christians and Druze, people were stunned that Habeishi had carried out the attack, and frightened by the implications. The town routinely sends its sons to serve in the Israeli army, and people succumbed to a collective state of denial.
None of their own was capable of killing, they said, maintaining that Habeishi never expressed a political opinion.
Most say that until Habeishi ran - and was soundly defeated - in last year's municipal elections, they knew him only by sight. He was considered a loner, who moved to the town several years ago, and raised two families from two wives on the proceeds of a hardware shop next to the town mosque.
His family says that he had a history of drug problems, and that he embraced religion wholeheartedly after emerging from a rehab programme.
"You have to understand, this is the first time anything like this has happened here," said Habeishi's second wife, Wafa, cradling their 16-month-old daughter. "I just can't believe it. He was not that kind of man."
Habeishi's son from his first wife was equally disbelieving. "My father has been missing for the past 10 days," said Abdur Rahman Habeishi, 20. "Where is the proof that he is even dead?"
Israeli security officials were suspicious of Habeishi, and his extended family, for some time. They raided both his homes nearly two weeks ago, and arrested two of his sons. Yesterday, one of his sons was held for further questioning.
Seven Abu Sinan residents - including Habeishi's brother - were charged with spying for the Lebanon's Hizbullah guerrillas in November, and last week four Israeli Arab teenagers were arrested for allegedly plotting to plant bombs in Israel.
For both peoples, the arrests are a measure of the growing alienation of a community torn between its sympathies for the Palestinian revolt waged by its ethnic kin in the occupied West Bank and Gaza, and Israel's demands that it remains loyal to the Jewish state.
Those competing demands collided when Israeli riot police shot dead 13 unarmed Israeli-Arab protesters in the towns and villages of the Galilee last October.
Nearly a year later, that rupture to the delicate co-existence within Israel remains unhealed, and Arab and Jewish political leaders yesterday expressed fears for the future.
"Hatred is accumulating," said Fawzi Mishleb, the mayor of Abu Sinan. "Imagine if this man had exploded himself on behalf of a group from this town. He would have jeopardised the whole town.
"A suicide bomber might kill Israeli Jews, but the Arabs will suffer greatly economically. It is very hard for people today to go to a town like Nahariya and do their work the way Jewish people look at them."
Despite the efforts of Habeishi's family to paint him as a man with no political inclinations, he was well known as a religious activist, and used to wander the towns of the Galilee preaching Islam.
He also appears to have been a follower of the Islamic Movement, a lawful political group that is gaining strength in the Arab towns of the Galilee.
Yesterday, several rightwing Israeli politicians demanded a ban on Islamic activists - although the movement's leader, and other Arab leaders - condemned Habeishi's attack.
"Any movement whose goal is to gnaw away at the foundations of the state of Israel should be outlawed, and if the Islamic Movement falls within this category then it too," the public security minister, Uzi Landau, said yesterday.
As suspicions deepen, Mayor Mishleb is anxious that Abu Sinan should not suffer collective punishment for Habeishi's actions.
"He represented himself, and himself alone," he said. "He is the only one responsible for his actions, and you can not blame us for what he did. The Israeli government must know that this is the action of just one man."
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