Suicide Notes Provide a Window into Terrorists’ Motivations

In the past ten weeks, by Nadav Shragai’s reckoning, there have been eight shooting and stabbing attacks in Jerusalem alone, and several others elsewhere in the country. Although these terrorists are not actually blowing themselves up as their predecessors in the 1990s and 2000s did, many if not most seem to expect to be killed in the process—thus becoming “martyrs” (in Arabic, shahids). Roughly half of those carrying out such attacks leave behind testimonies to be read after their deaths, which often make their way around social media. Shragai examines these documents:

The wills often tell a story that is not religious or nationalist, but of personal distress. Mohammad Younis, who last week ran his car into a security guard at the Te’enim checkpoint near Tulkarm in Judea and Samaria, is believed to have argued with his father before taking his car without permission and deciding to become a “martyr.”

Other times, the motive is revenge, or identification with other shahids; what the Shin Bet calls “copycat attacks” or “infection.” . . . The most common motive documented in the wills is the desire to defend the al-Aqsa mosque from “Jewish invasion,” a reference to Jewish visits to the Mount. In Palestinian society, the al-Aqsa shahids are considered the elite, celebrities in every sense, guaranteed a place of honor in the Palestinian pantheon of martyrs. Their wills are accordingly popular.

Fuad Abu Rajab al-Tamimi from Issawiya in eastern Jerusalem, who opened fire on two police officers, also said in his writings that he sought to become a martyr. “My death was to sanctify and glorify Allah. . . . Don’t spread hatred in the hearts of my brothers after my death. Let them discover the religion and their own path, so they can die for the purpose of being a shahid and not as revenge,” he wrote.

Read more at Israel Hayom

More about: Al-Aqsa Mosque, Israeli-Palestinian Conflict, Jihadism, Palestinian terror

How to Save the Universities

To Peter Berkowitz, the rot in American institutions of higher learning exposed by Tuesday’s hearings resembles a disease that in its early stages was easy to cure but difficult to diagnose, and now is so advanced that it is easy to diagnose but difficult to cure. Recent analyses of these problems have now at last made it to the pages of the New York Times but are, he writes, “tardy by several decades,” and their suggested remedies woefully inadequate:

They fail to identify the chief problem. They ignore the principal obstacles to reform. They propose reforms that provide the equivalent of band-aids for gaping wounds and shattered limbs. And they overlook the mainstream media’s complicity in largely ignoring, downplaying, or dismissing repeated warnings extending back a quarter century and more—largely, but not exclusively, from conservatives—that our universities undermine the public interest by attacking free speech, eviscerating due process, and hollowing out and politicizing the curriculum.

The remedy, Berkowitz argues, would be turning universities into places that cultivate, encourage, and teach freedom of thought and speech. But doing so seems unlikely:

Having undermined respect for others and the art of listening by presiding over—or silently acquiescing in—the curtailment of dissenting speech for more than a generation, the current crop of administrators and professors seems ill-suited to fashion and implement free-speech training. Moreover, free speech is best learned not by didactic lectures and seminars but by practicing it in the reasoned consideration of competing ideas with those capable of challenging one’s assumptions and arguments. But where are the professors who can lead such conversations? Which faculty members remain capable of understanding their side of the argument because they understand the other side?

Read more at RealClearPolitics

More about: Academia, Anti-Semitism, Freedom of Speech, Israel on campus