Death of the world’s most deluded woman: Umm Nidal, mother of “martyrs”

March 20, 2013 • 4:58 am

What kind of mother would send her young son off to die in a suicide bombing of children—knowing he would die—and then rejoice and pass out candy after his death and the deaths of other innocents he took with him? What kind of mother would lobby her other sons to become “martyrs,” too?

A religious mother, of course. And you know what religion we’re talking about.

Umm Nidal (“mother of the struggle”: real name Maryam Farhat), who died three days ago at the age of 64, is a hero to Palestinians. That’s because three of her six sons were “martyrs”. The youngest, Muhammed, was only 17 when he died in a  suicide attack against an Israeli military academy (the mother had encouraged him to engage in this “jihad”), another made explosives targeting civilians and was blown up by one of his drones, and the third was killed by Israeli intelligence.

After Muhammed died (taking with him five Israeli students and wounding 23), she thanked Allah and handed out boxes of chocolates and halvah. She was later elected to the Palestinian parliament.

Nidal’s funeral was attended by thousands of Palestinians and many dignitaries, including the Palestinian prime minister.

On the eve of Obama’s visit, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas paid homage to Nidal and gave her a special award, the “Order of Sacrifice.”

Watch this video of Nidal being interviewed in 2005, after Muhammed’s death, and tell me if it’s not the most chilling interview you’ve ever seen: the pure poison of religion in action. The interview was aired by Dream2 TV, and you can read excerpts here:

In the first part of the next video, Nidal is shown praising Muhammed, who stands next to her as she sends him off to die:

And a transcript of her statement from the Hamas website, rejoicing at “the best day of [her] life”:

“How do I feel, as I promise my son Paradise, and as I offer something (my son) for Allah? By Allah, today is the best day of my life. I feel that our Lord is pleased with me, because I am offering something (my son) to His sake. I wish to offer more [sons] for Allah’s forgiveness, and for the flag [of Islam], “There is no god but Allah,” to fly over Palestine. That’s what we want. We want the rule of Islam. I’m not parting from him [as he goes] to his death, but rather I’m parting from him as he goes to a better life, the Afterlife, which our Lord has promised us. By Allah, if I had 100 children like [my son] Muhammad, I would offer them with sincerity and willingly. It’s true that there’s nothing more precious than children, but for the sake of Allah, what is precious becomes cheap.” [Hamas website, Jan. 1, 2006]

No normal mother is glad to send her sons off to war, and any normal mother hopes that they’ll come back alive.  For a mother to send her son off at the age of 17 to kill civilians, to actually hope that he (and his brothers) will die, to rejoice at his death, and to lobby her other sons to follow in those footsteps—well, that takes religion.

It’s a mercy that this monstrous woman died before she had the chance to turn her grandsons into martyrs as well.

Um Nidal, photograph published in Palestine Today
Um Nidal, photograph published in Palestine Today

66 thoughts on “Death of the world’s most deluded woman: Umm Nidal, mother of “martyrs”

    1. I can’t understand how you think either of your scenarios would be connected to this. Mind explaining?

    2. Almost certainly the former. It’s what Yahweh’s misogyny was really all about. Reduce the mother to a low enough grade and her children will be emotionally degraded as well.

      Then it’s a matter of splashing some acid around on young girls to keep The Big Lie going and women just exploit themselves from that point, imagining they’re advantaging from credulous men only to find themselves requiring a husband and children when no one wants to treat them ‘Right’ any more.

      1. Similar dynamics exist right here in the States, only to a less violent degree. FLDS mothers routinely reject sons who need to leave the fold so that remaining males can have their harems…

    1. I would contend that, yes, she was a victim herself; as were her sons. She never understood it of course. Four lives used up purely for someone else’s real-life game of thrones.

      We’ve discussed ‘free-will’ a lot here. How much ‘free-will’ did Umm Nidal have in this matter? Or did her environment and genetics make this almost inevitable?

      It doesn’t decrease the inhumanity of what she did, but if we are to have any hope of resolving the situation I think we need to recognize the inhumanity of what was done to her by (as Jerry says) religion.


      1. Someone else’s Game of Thrones? She was elected to Parliament – it was her Game of Thrones.

        I am impressed by how many comments there have been, on these two postings about the Palestinians here these past two days, which have encouraged the idea that the people on the ground – the Palestinians themselves – are not to blame for their actions and predicament.

        We have been told they have been misrepresented, they have been duped, they have no free will, they had no choice but to act as they did. They couldn’t just “roll over”, what else could they have done? This woman’s actions, you tell us here were “inevitable” because she was manipulated by the state.

        I am calling bull on this idea. Palestinians, just like every other people on the planet, are responsible for their actions. They are not automatons. They are not manipulated by the state – they themselves manufacture their own state.

        Their government truly represents their beliefs and desires. (Poll after poll demonstrates this.) They have a broken culture – but make no mistake about it – they own their culture. They own their actions.

        Their culture glorifies hatred. It glorifies revenge. It glorifies violence. It is reprehensible, and it should be condemned, not excused.

        Frankly, I don’t think this idea that the Palestinians are victims needing understanding is of any ultimate long-term benefit to them as a people. Their only opportunity for a successful future depends on them being able to change – not rationalize – the hideous problems of their culture.

        1. Does it not thus follow that we are responsible for the reprehensible deaths of at least l79 Pakistani children via drone strikes, of approximately 5 children killed per day in Afghanistan, and over 100,000 civilians killed in Iraq?

          1. Exactly. We’re all products of the culture we grew up in. In our turn we get to *influence* that culture.


        2. Lord knows, there are problems aplenty in Palestine, some of which you put your finger on. But there is danger in conflating Palestinian people with Palestinian culture, and then in treating the former as though they were monolithically indistinguishable from the latter. It can be a long slide down a short slope from condemning collective guilt to justifying the imposition of collective punishment, on the guilty and innocent alike.

    2. Perhaps the man who had sex with her considered it a privilege and a small sacrifice for Allah.

      Apparently Allah is unable to perform the virgin-birth trick.

      1. Problem might simply be a shortage of eligible virgins, if they’re stacked-up like cordwood, six dozen a throw, awaiting deflowering by post-mortem males.

    1. My (fundamentalist Christian) mother wouldn’t permit learning / school / sports / friends.

      She was terrified of losing Control. Her vice-like love very nearly killed us on numerous occasions. She’d have sacrificed a few of us too, if it pleased her Controllers or permitted her forwarding us again as her “best foot” to make a “good first impression” (of her, apparently). I never really got my head around that logic. I guess she couldn’t make an impression on her own.

      Kinda pathetic; having children because you no longer have reason to exist when men no longer wish to treat you Right in exchange for withheld ‘favors’. Still, I wonder if there’s another motive mothers have when they decide to start having children?

      Islam > Christianity > Judaism. Muslims kids have it pretty bad. #Basiji

    1. Abraham…

      Wasn’t there a bona fide Anglo-Saxon chap who said:
      “I am so satisfied with the cause in which I have engaged that my only regret is that I have not more lives than one to offer in its service.
      Which is usually abbreviated to:
      “I only regret that I have but one life to lose for my country.”

      Granted, with only one life to lose, the pledge of subsequent self-sacrifices is virtual. (Except, perhaps, in a kamikaze multiverse.)
      Still, our Occidental cultures have hardly been immune to the rhetoric of glorified self-butchery.
      Dulce et decorum est pro patria mori.

      Or, as the grand-nephew of the hero quoted above declared at the dedication of his grand-uncle’s monument:
      “And because that boy said those words, and because he died, thousands of other young men have given their lives to his country.”

  1. It is monstrous, of course, an example of the perversity arising from religion… and yet… and yet… there is an elephant in the room, studiously ignored at least from Lord Balfour onwards: There were people there already! In the 1930s, one could buy oranges from Palestine in London.

    1. Jews and Arabs worked together in the citrus export business in the 1930s in Palestine. There was a thriving export trade from Jaffa (“Jaffa oranges”) and later Tel Aviv.

  2. Seriously, with all her sons martyrs at a young age, can we celebrate removing those genes from the pool? Things probably didn’t work out that way, but I was looking for a bright side to this story… damn.

    When this is the opposition, what should you consider as reasonable action? I don’t know.

    1. “When this is the opposition, what should you consider as reasonable action? I don’t know.”

      It really doesn’t matter. How much one despises one’s enemy does not in any way change the moral question. It just, you know, makes it a whole lot easier to ignore the moral question entirely.

      Presumably that’s what happened to her.

  3. Creepy and disgusting. How anyone could admire someone like this is beyond me; yet, clearly (and sadly so) more than a few people do.

    Still, it would be more accurate and less offensive to say that she is “a hero to many Palestinians” rather than “a hero to Palestinians.” I suspect Paul Jennings Hill was a hero to many Americans but I hope most would be rather offended to be told that he was a hero to Americans.

    1. There surely are Palestinians for whom she is not a hero. The tragic thing is that not only many Palestinians admire her but that the authorities (both Hamas and Palestinian Authority) approve of the cult of her. Mahmoud Abbas opened for her a “tent of condolences” outside his headquarter in Ramallah and gave her a medal. Sari Nussibeh, the president of Quds University in Jerusalem, said about her: “When I hear the words of Umm Nidal, I recall the hadith stating that ‘Paradise lies under the feet of mothers.'”

  4. What kind of mother would send her young son off to die… knowing he would die – and then rejoice and pass out candy after his death and the deaths of other innocents he took with him?

    A mother who actually believed in Heaven. So why don’t most theist mothers we know act like this? Do they not really believe in Heaven like they proclaim?

    1. Well, their belief in heaven goes only to the point where they are willing to send somebody else to die… they don’t assume this role themselves, oddly enough.

    2. That is the problem, she really does believe that he is in paradise. Any religion that can truly make you believe such nonsense is truly appalling.

  5. She and those like her are rooted in a mindset which is not only pre Enlightenment but pre medieval: indeed, one might say predating the Law of the Innocents allegedly promulgated in the late 7th. century by the Celtic missionary Adonman, Abbot of Iona and biographer of St Columba.

  6. This is a tentative opinion so I’m open to correction on this, but I don’t know that this requires religion so much as some form of tribalism. I think of this quote from Sam Harris (who I like very much, by the way, so this is not meant as a criticism, just pointing it out):

    …the reality is, whenever you put Navy Seals on the ground and let them shoot…or drop bombs from predator drones…You’re gonna be killing some number of innocent people and that’s terrible truth is there’s no alternative to that. I mean, unless you’re gonna be a pacifist, you’re gonna run the risk of killing innocent people when you have to fight certain conflicts

    I have friends and a close family member who have been overseas in direct combat. I’ve hugged them and sent them away with my blessing. I don’t want them to be killed, but if they were, I would likely tell myself how proud I could be that my loved one died a hero, in service of our country and what is good. So that seems like a shallow victory of semantics, to me.

    So I can’t necessarily agree that such thinking takes religion. I think it takes conviction that the way of life your group represents is ultimately good for mankind and should prevail. And heck, beyond that, it probably takes nothing more than our genetic makeup of territorial animals who have historically tried to defeat those competing for our resources. Shrouded, of course, in the language of our more modern frontal lobes.

    I think religion certainly gives people one way to frame this cognitive dissonance, that may or may not result in more military enthusiasm than say, patriotism or simply “sometimes you have to sacrifice for the greater good”. But I don’t see it as having exclusive power in that area.

    1. I find the suggestion that Nidal’s sacrificial offering of a 17 year old son is “not really” about religion to be profoundly bizarre. If you don’t recognized the religious motivation in this context then I have a hard time imagining any context in which you could recognize it.

      1. I was responding more to the implied sentiment that such human responses (the mother described above) can only take place when religion is involved. As a few other have noted below, I can envision other scenarios that would lead to similar actions on the part of a mother. Framed differently for different cultures, but possibly with similar underlying emotional, psychological and perhaps even biological origins.

        That said, yes, I do have a hard time envisioning many, if any, human responses that occur entirely because of religion. Specifics are one thing – no, I do not think we are born programmed to walk around with candles every Palm Sunday. I’m talking in general terms, though – I do think we’re born primed for a certain degree of ritual, perhaps tribalism, a desire to police others, and so on. So no, you and I probably have a core difference on whether we agree with the idea that “For good people to do evil, that takes religion”. I do disagree with that. I disagree that there are “good people”, actually, I think there are “human-y” people who, barring mental illness, are born with very similar drives and tendencies. Many of those drives are terribly outdated, unfortunately. But I see no evil in religion that doesn’t exist elsewhere in the world and human nature, even taking context into account (seemingly “nice” and “decent” people doing “evil” things).

        Of course, I don’t believe in encouraging or cultivating any conditions that lead to suffering for humans. So to some degree it’s neither here nor there. It doesn’t matter to me if something is the only possible source of a particular ill or one of many possible sources – I’m still upset that a reproductive health law was recently suspended in the Philippines due, in large part, to pressure from the Catholic Church. I’m not going to say “Ah, well, some secular societies have oppressed women as well, so let’s leave it be.”

        I suppose the reason I felt any need to comment at all was that I worry about religious criticism becoming an easy route to dehumanizing others. “They” do those crazy things because of that weird religious voodoo that “They” believe in. “I” would never do that. In this scenario religion practically becomes a mental illness that has rendered the person in question almost insane, so we only have to empathize as much as we would with, say, someone with schizophrenia. I don’t like that. I believe that humans are humans. Religion may well be a causal factor in some very problematic situations – but I think it’s important not to fall into waving away self-examination in the name of “Oh, that’s ok, they’re a crazy religious person, that explains everything!” Maybe it does, maybe it doesn’t.

        1. I think your point is valid, Roo: For good people to do evil takes ideology – religion being such an ideology in its most potentially pernicious form, because the stakes are supposedly so high (the fate of the believer’s immortal soul and immortal souls of his or her loved ones), and because the believer is taking direction from (or, more accurately, taking direction from someone claiming to be acting on behalf of) an all-knowing, all-powerful, all-good supernatural being.

        2. Well, yes, religion is a form of mental illness that has rendered the person in question almost insane, similar to, say, schizophrenia. Recognizing this does not reduce one’s capacity for empathy.

          And I think you are straw-manning a bit here and suggesting that those of us who rail against religion think that it is the only motivator of bad conduct. But it is a giant, deeply rooted, cause of all sorts of misery all over the planet. “Maybe it does, maybe it doesn’t” false equivalence doesn’t change this.

        3. Ken, thanks – yes, I think ideology and dogmatic paradigms are more what I think of in such scenarios. Piggybacked, often, on to already problematic situations where people are looking for leadership, an answer, or someone to lead the way with absolute certitude.

          james – I think you and I just have a fundamental disagreement here, and neither one of us will change the other’s mind. I don’t think religion is equivalent to a mental illness, and I think it’s dangerous to operate on this assumption. To my mind, it blinds us to examining other factors within terrible situations like this one – factors that may be significant and causal in actions that lead to terrible suffering. Again, in my opinion, we can’t address additional factors (in situations like Umm Nidal’s) if we’re not looking for them, satisfied with the idea that “religion explains it all”. If that’s not what you intended to convey I do apologize, just going on my interpretation here.

          1. Ok james. Obviously that’s not how I perceive my position, but if you do, then you do. So we’ve reached an impasse – listen, thanks for the exchange, and I hope you have a good weekend and…um… a happy World Puppetry Day? Drat, yesterday was the first day of spring and Big Bang Day, sorry, couldn’t pull up anything catchy for today.

  7. While this particular instance involves religion, the Tamil Tigers are historically the first group to prominently use suicide bombing as a major tactic, and they are purely secular. The root issue really is tribalism — no promise of an afterlife reward is required.

    1. True, but religions do a really good job of enabling, encouraging, even instigating, that type of behavior. Strong religious belief melds together political views and world views to the point that it becomes pretty much impossible to separate them out.

      It seems to me that in a very real sense religion is just another form of tribalism. Tribalism 2.0 with even more built in features to keep people from straying and to justify hate / fear of outsiders.

        1. I apologize, but I don’t understand your comment.

          If by Kamikaze you mean the Japanese suicide pilots of WWII, I think tribalism, religion and nationalism, all interrelated, where undoubtedly the major contributors to that behavior.

          1. Yes. You have understood correctly. So all of the same elements. Elements used to exploit people throughout history and pre-history.

            I agree religion is certainly not an illness but a form of conditioning. It is used by powerful and influential individuals as a form of mind control to extract both money and obedience from followers. There is also a useful moral code that can be extracted but this will vary.

    2. “Tribalism” in the sense of small [military] unit cohesion may be the largest factor. I think the *Suicide Murderers* were effectively brainwashed which is an old technique common to many organisations [RCC, commando units, Nazi party etc.]

      1] Munasinghe, Major General Sarath Quote:-

      Once inside the suicide division, the Black Tigers, “individuals go through specialized training for a minimum of one year, during which
      they are indoctrinated by training
      specialists, videos of LTTE suicide bombings, isolation from other Tigers, and Prabhakaran himself.”
      “Black Tigers emerge brainwashed to believe an alternate reality,
      evidenced by a female cadre who, when apprehended by Sri Lankan forces, explained that her country, Eelam, was being attacked by Sinhalese terrorist groups.

      2] Joshi, Manoj. “On the Razor’s Edge quote:-

      The LTTE has been highly successful in shaping reality for the Tigers and motivating them to blow themselves up; only one has ever reneged on his mission

    3. Yeah I was just going to say that while religion is often at the heart of parents being less troubled (or even in extreme cases, encouraged) at the prospect of their children dying in a war, good old fashioned tribalism/nationalism will often get parents into the same ballpark. I’m sure plenty of parents wanted their children to serve in wars and make them and their country proud and if needed make the ultimate sacrifice, rather than shame the family with cowardice. As Darelle points out below, religion just makes it even easier for people to get into that twisted mentality (and makes it even harder to shake.)

    4. I think the root issue is mothers raising their children to be emotionally manipulable without a healthy sense of Self. In a sane world, children would be acting in their own – selfish – interests not long after they’d learned how to communicate with their parents.

      In a Selfish world, there would be no war or violence (they’re inherently Self-less pursuits). Pursuing one’s own interests would not be possible if one was seeking to ‘advantage’ at the expense of others; only intelligent mutual interests serve one’s Self.

      Mothers raising their children to feel love for them when in nature, I’m pretty sure it’s the other way around and this vile mother would be protecting her young from predators.

  8. Or as Country Joe sarcastically sang:-
    “Be the first ones on your block
    To have your boy sent home in a box.”

    1. I do not doubt that, should our species survive, future generations will look back in horror — a horror akin to what we look back in at certain practices dating to the medieval ages and earlier — that we sent people in the prime of life off to kill and die using the most advanced technology our scientific knowledge could muster to maximize the mechanized carnage, not because the combatants held any personal animosity toward one another, but in service of what was deemed to be in each side’s “national interests.”

  9. A vile, (no longer) living example of Erik Hoffer’s “True Believer”. I can only hope that she is receiving the rudest-possible of all `surprises’ in whatever after-life that her pathetic excuse for a `soul’ may experience.

  10. A truly excellent spokesperson for the “Religion of Peace”. Fantastic news that this pile of pig manure is no longer consuming our precious oxygen. I almost finished the video, but my nausea got the better of me after about 10 minutes.

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