When a Jordanian soldier shot and killed Israeli third-graders who had come from their school to visit a “Peace Garden” planted on both sides of the Israel-Jordan border, he was described as “insane.” When an Egyptian soldier, on the other side of Israel, opened fire on a group of Israeli tourists and killed men, women, and children, he was described as “insane.”
Now if you do not know what texts the killers had read, what they believed, and the atmospherics of their existence, then you would of course describe both men as “insane.” And you might also think them “insane” if you did not know about Islam, and had been very careful not ever to find out it, because then you might have to warn your people, and in warning them you might feel you were not so much arming them as depressing them, lowering their morale. For they would have to come to grips with the awful truth: that the Lesser Jihad against Israel is permanent, that it is rooted in Islam, immutable Islam, and that nothing Israel does, no further surrenders of territory, will assuage the Muslim Arabs. A state of permanent war (though not always of open warfare, as long as deterrence can be made to work) will simply have to be endured.
Abdul Aziz Yahya al-Abdi, murderer of an innocent man, a Jew, in Yemen, is clearly an upset man. Something has gone wrong with his life. He murdered his wife two years ago. Of course he wasn’t punished for that. Perhaps he murdered her because he had lost his pilot’s job and he had to take it out on someone. Or perhaps he lost his pilot’s job after he murdered his wife because, even though he suffered no other punishment, the air transportation company that had employed him became a little alarmed about his reaction to stress. But is Abdi, was Abdi when he killed that completely innocent Yemenite Jew, “insane”?
Was Abdi, that is, who killed a Jew because that Jew insisted on remaining a Jew, and even on remaining in Yemen, really someone whom the Yemenis in their own milieu consider “insane”? Or do they prefer to characterize him as “insane” only for the world’s outside Infidels, so as to protect the faith of Islam, so as not to have to make clear that he was behaving as Muslims can, with such impunity, because of the Shari’a? Was not the government of Yemen merely acting in the same way as the Jordanians do when they described that Jordanian soldier who murdered the Israeli schoolgirls “insane” and the same as the Egyptian officials who called that Egyptian soldier who murdered the Israeli families on a holiday in the Sinai “insane”? No, the Jordanian soldier, the Egyptian soldier, and Abdi the Yemenite were not insane. They were, possibly, simply unable to hold in their natural impulses, impulses which, you can be sure, on many occasions, over 1350 years, many Muslims have freely indulged in – killing Jews, or Christians, or Hindus, or Zoroastrians, with impunity, with no fear of being punished and no punishment, save that which fellow Muslims might mete out if, as in the case of the Jews of Yemen, they were considered chattel, property whose loss was felt and could, therefore, be avenged by destroying the property of the tribe of the killer.
And because in the fastnesses of the Yemen the pressure of European power, the presence of Europeans, never had much influence, the old ways continued right up to the last few decades. To understand just how unimportant the life of a Jew in the Yemen has been, right up to the middle of the twentieth century, the excerpt by the British scholar R. S. Serjeant may be instructive:
…Judging by Arabic sources, the Jews of South Arabia were…dealt with…in fairly strict accordance with the shariah relating to the protected faiths…[for example] Outside the centralized Yemenite administration the Jew was protected by the Sultan, or even by the individual tribe; such was the case on the Habbanis. The protector would of course, be of the arms-bearing classes or perhaps of the religious aristocracy. In South Arabia it is shameful to kill a Jew, as it would be to kill a woman. An excellent example (emphasis added) of this form of protection …is to be found in a passage from the Fakhir of al-Mufaddal b. Salamah. A protected Jew of al-Husain, the Sayid of the Banu Sahm, was murdered by the Banu Sirmah, so the Sahm in turn slew a protected Jew of the Sirmah…the Sirmah came to al-Husain to discuss the matter. Al-Husain replied, “You killed our Jew, so we killed your Jew,” adding that it would be a pity if two tribes closely related should actually engage each other in war.
And that is the end of the matter, even today, for most Muslims. Where do you think that Jordanian soldier or that Egyptian soldier are today, the ones who murdered the Israeli schoolgirls and families on holiday? Do you think they are still in prison? How long do you think they stayed in prison? Do you think they were ever seriously treated as if they were “insane”?
Don’t be crazy.