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Book Review: Schmoozing With Terrorists

Klein interviews Palestinian terrorists.

– Lori Lowenthal Marcus

A local Philly boy who is now living in the belly of the beast has written a book about how those beasts describe themselves, their motivations and their goals. Aaron Klein is the Jerusalem Bureau Chief of the online news source World Net Daily. In “Schmoozing with Terrorists,” Klein shares the wide-ranging conversations he has had with many of the top Arab Palestinian terrorist leaders in Israel.

Those 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 pictured on the book jacket’s inside cover does not fit the typical corresponding visual). And yet those whom he interviews, although occasionally bridling at some of the questions, are at ease in meeting with him and discussing their views and goals.

The Arab Palestinian leaders with whom Klein spoke are very candid about their dreams to not only wipe out Israel, but to establish a worldwide Caliphate. Although many in the West have tired of hearing about them, the terrorists’ sincerely stated desire to stone to death Britney Spears and Madonna is certainly cause for concern. The terrorists’ plans for American society once they have established a Caliphate here should awaken anyone who thinks the Arab terrorists are only Israel’s problem. A deputy commander of Fatah’s al Aqsa Martyrs Bridade, Nasser Abu Azziz, explained to Klein, “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.

In addition to debunking standard assumptions readers may have about fundamentalist Islamists, there are some real surprises. For example, 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.”

Perhaps the most absurd 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.

When asked about the seventy-two virgins promised to martyrs, Ala Senakhreh, West Bank chief of the 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 present could find such a passage. After much anxious searching, the Sheik became increasing hostile, Klein quickly left, having 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 the serious subject it exposes. 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 comical about it which undercuts the gravity of the serious information in Klein’s book.

Still, Aaron Klein has done us all a service with his ‘fantastic journey’ into the beasts’ belly. Thanks to him we don’t need to get dirty, but it would behoove us all to know what he found.

Lori Lowenthal Marcus is a freelance journalist specializing in the Middle East.

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