“Fire was lit in the body / Don’t just stand by perplexed / Remember the day the restaurant burned / Remember the day the roof flew away / What prevents honor from returning? / What prevents the rebels from laughing?” These are the first lines from a rhyme by Ahlam Tamimi, the proud mastermind of a bombing targeting a Sbarro restaurant in Jerusalem 15 years ago, on Aug. 9, 2001. The terror attack claimed the lives of seven children and eight adults, including a pregnant woman; 130 people suffered injuries; one young mother was left in a permanent vegetative state.
When Ahlam Tamimi posted her ghastly commemorative rhyme last September on her Facebook page—which is adorned with images of the suicide bomber who carried out the attack—she didn’t just wax nostalgic about a massacre of civilians she had planned and helped to perpetrate. She went on to urge Palestinians to intensify the wave of terror attacks that was just beginning: “Try and plan / Try and carry out / Prepare the [explosive] mix / Take the axe / What’s the plan?” One of the well over 100 “likes” for her incitement came from Tamimi’s Facebook friend and relative Nariman Tamimi—a person whom readers of Ben Ehrenreich’s widely praised new book The Way to the Spring got to know as an admirable activist, a devoted mother, a loving wife, and a gracious host.
Nariman Tamimi and her husband, Bassem, are the first people Ehrenreich lists in his acknowledgements, thanking them profusely for their “abundant help, generosity, hospitality, kindness, laughter, encouragement, insights, and wise counsel.” A raft of highly positive reviews of the book attest to Ehrenreich’s ability to transmit his affection for the Tamimis:
The New York Times described Ehrenreich’s book as a moving “love letter to Palestine” that is full of “heartbreaking and eye-opening” stories; similarly, The Economist praised Ehrenreich’s “elegant and moving account” and emphasized that “[it] is in the author’s descriptions of the Tamimis that the hope, and the love, are to be found.”
For the families of the victims of the Sbarro bombing, it must be bitter to know that on the 15th anniversary of this atrocity a well-regarded American writer is successfully promoting a book that paints a glowing picture of the perpetrator’s relatives, who are to this day openly supportive of terror attacks, including the murders that Ahlam and other Tamimi family members were directly involved in.Do I smell a Pulitzer in the offing?
Why, yes; yes I do.
Update: Here's Ben "love letter" to Israel, penned back in '09.