Friday, May 06, 2005

Orthodox West Bank settlers believe terrorists go to heaven

Recently, when researching for some information on the idea that Islamic terrorists could be deterred by burying them in pigskin, I came across this amazing article for a (more or less) reputable journalistic source, the Daily Telegraph. (I say, "more or less," becuase I was once warned by a nice lady on a train in England that the paper's proper name is really the "Tory-graph," and you should interpret their reporting accordingly.)

The concept I'm about to mock was developed because Muslims don't eat pork, and because there's supposedly a belief among Islamic suicide terrorists that they will be whisked to heaven (and 72 virgins for their enjoyment) immediately after their death in a terrorist action. However, if their bodies are contaminated by being buried in a pigskin bag or perhaps being annoited with lard, they will go somewhere else. (Where? To a right-wing ultra-Orthodox Hereidi Jewish yeshiva? Oh, yes. Jews don't like pigs, either. Maybe they'll have to spend eternity with the right-wing fundamentalist Christian Bible-Thumpers.)

Of course, this whole business is silly. I don't think suicide bombers are motivated by the promise of 72 virgins in the afterlife. But, if you believe the reportage of Mr. Alan Philips of the Telegraph, [registration required] back in 2002 the Orthodox Jewish settlers in the West Bank seemed to believe so:
The settlers believe that contact with a pig, an unclean animal for Muslims and Jews, will rob the bomber of the reward of martyrdom, traditionally said to be 72 virgins.

Shlomo Riskin, chief rabbi of Efrat, defended the practice: "If burial in pigskin will deter suicide bombers, then it is incumbent on us to do this. We should do anything
to save life."

So we have the spectacle of Orthodox Jews who believe in Muslim eschatology, and they are backed up by their rabbi!

Alas, this holy work has been in vain, and the settlers should have known it had they been paying attention in Friday school:

Palestinian Muslims reacted with scorn to the idea, saying the soul went to paradise and was unaffected by any taint to the body.

"The keys to heaven are not in the hands of settlers," said Sheikh Hassan Youssef, for Hamas, whose military wing has sent dozens of suicide bombers into Israel.

Islamic reference books say the body of a martyr who dies for the faith is so pure that it does not need to be washed before burial, in contrast to the usual Muslim practice.

Too bad, these Orthodox settlers will need to find another excuse to explain why they were seen shopping at the local Tiv Ta'am Store.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Alan Philips is missing the point here.

The settlers wanted to do that to deter the terrorists, because they thought that the terrorists believed that being buried in a pigskin would deprive them of their eternal reward.

There is no implication that the settlers believed that the terrorists would go to heaven either way.

For a more accurate report, see:

2:35 PM  
Anonymous said...

As a West Bank settler, I'm shocked by your silly assumption. You think I care where the bomber/bomberette goes after strapping kilos of explosives to themselves? If wrapping them in pigskin scares them into not bombing us, then the more the better.


6:51 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


What kind of Jewish name is that?

10:37 PM  
Anonymous Jameel said...

What sort of Jewish name is anonymous? At least I live near the Muqata...

11:14 AM  
Anonymous Practical said...

I think the focus of covering these murderers is to deter the Arab from furthering his ugly work. The jews living in the disputed areas are merely grasping at any method that will ensure the safety of their families, which include wrapping the murderer in pigskin. Will it work or does it work - it would be nice. This is not a display of disrespect just a Gordian knot effort to stop murder.

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