Power Grandmas

The recent November 23, 06 edition of the New York Times ran an article titled “Grandmother Carries Out Gaza Suicide Bombing.” ( Link, below.) That’s way too good a title not to blog about.

The article, of course, describes how a woman, identified as Fatima Omar Mahmud al-Najar, well, blew herself up.

The article says she’s the mother of nine, grandmother of over 40, and her age was either 57 or 64. This confusion, one assumes, is either a product of poor birth record keeping or one of those vanity things where people intentionally keep their ages vague to appear young. My guess is it’s the former. With over 40 grandchildren and a hobby like blowing yourself up, I find it hard to believe Fatima, we’ll call her Fat for short, would want to blur her age.

In this blog, I want to do two things. Shut some people up who have been bothering me to comment on current events and complain about another grandmother I happen to know personally.

First, the grandmother thing. She’s actually my mother. But she’s also the grandmother to like… it doesn’t matter.

It’s not a quantity issue I’m mad about—Fat’s had over forty, compared to my mom’s, okay it’s eighteen. It’s a quality issue—what Fat, and her riveting Gazan friends, did with her life compared to my mom and her insipid New York friends.

Which brings me to this Jamaican gentleman I met last year.

On the way from JFK Airport, my cab driver, who had this enchanting way of pronouncing “r”s as “d”s, hearing that I’d just returned from a visit to Israel, repeatedly enthused, “Isdaelis vedy industdial people!” Which, of course, translates as, “Israelis, very industrial people!”

Two things convinced me of my new-found friend’s sincerity.

One, the fact that since arriving alone in Brooklyn, seven years earlier, he not only completed his B.A. in accounting, but managed to bring his mother over to join him building a better life in the U.S.A. That’s the story I heard from him —and chose to believe, in no small part because he did slow down at yellow lights. Second, from the arrival gate to my destination in Manhattan, he must have repeated his “Vedy industdial!” effusion two dozen times. This enthusiasm was fueled by some vague childhood memories about Israeli agronomists sent by their government to teach his people how to farm their land better. I never got to taste the tomatoes, though—his narrative got interrupted by a toll booth, and then the subject changed to the New York Yankees.

Back to my complaints.

My mother is boring. Yours probably is as well.

I mean, compared to Fat.

I believe complaining about this publicly is justified. After all, I’ve never seen any of my mom’s accomplishments mentioned even in the regional news section of any New York paper.

Look at any of the photos of my mom in family albums. One photo I like shows my sister receiving her PhD in psychology from New York University. She’s wearing that funny flat hat with that draping ribbon thing, which I’d, begrudgingly, grant only a two on a ten-scale of catchy attire.

Mom? Just a dress.

Compare that with the N.Y. Times’ description of Fat, where she was shown on TV in one of those martyr’s videos, wearing a white veil, a bright green Hamas bandana and holding an M-16 automatic rifle.

Am I making my point?

As a matter of fact, most of those photos show Mom in boring settings.

In another photo she’s standing with my brother who is building some more “Homes-for-Sale” on family owned land in Vermont. In another, she’s visiting my cousin in Florida, who continues to disappoint by working hard and creating a successful awning production company. Another photo, I’m coming to believe, is meant as a direct attack against my sense of lack of family flambouyance, shows her hosting guests at our home. It is really—disgustingly civil !

Culture. Culture. Culture. Boring. Boring. Boring.

I’ve personally known many Islamic terrorists. We held hundreds in the Israeli prison where I was an officer for over thirteen years.

Now, they, their mothers—and grandmothers, the subject of this blog—have exciting lives.

It’s not just this fascinating explosives pastime. It’s much more.

That boom stuff, you know where they blow up and get their names in the papers, is just the frosting, the stuff which catches the public’s eye. What’s less known, and the media fusses less about, is that most of these highly entertaining people have other really interesting talents.

Most have long criminal records.

That’s interesting.

I’ve spoken about this in private for years. Now that I’m retired I don’t mind sharing it publicly.

I was amazed discovering this. Why does a common car thief or drug dealer become a Hamas employee?

First, there’s money. They, and their families, get great compensation: money, housing. A lot of it can be traced to our U.S. taxpayers dollars, something my Mom would never even dream of accomplishing.

It’s also pragmatic. If you’re already arraigned for weapons smuggling, recategorization as a security prisoner is very prudent. This automatically guarantees your name is included in lists of prisoners who will be negotiated in peace-deal prisoner exchanges.

Of course, security prisoner listing places you on a much higher social status than any one of a dozen other crimes which are all under the category of criminal.

All I’m saying is that we should reconsider where our lives are going… and what we’re doing with it.

It’s a matter of glamor versus mundane. It’s a matter of flamboyance versus lackluster. Contemporary West versus archaic East. Let’s face it, there are more articles written today about people blowing themselves up than about people working hard, building lives and contributing to the world.

It boils down to a matter of priorities. Do we want to blandly waste our entire lives studying, building, creating, contributing to the world? Or getting our names into the headlines of major papers?

Before I sign off, I’d like to refer to the end of that article. It says that Fat’s daughter, whose name is Fathiya al-Najar, we’ll call her Fat 2 for short, complained that Israeli security forces had destroyed her mother’s home. If I’m not mistaken, that’s usually the outcome of doing something else which is absolutely spell-binding: Concealing hiding terrorists.

I hope my Jamaican driver, who may be reading this, isn’t offended. He should keep working hard to build a new life for himself, even if there is a war going on out there.

What about shutting up my friends who want me to comment more on current events? They mistakenly think it’s a battle of ideologies, religion, philosophy.


It’s about two different world views. One which aspires to die and kill in the name of taking over the world for a sick idea of religion. The other seeks to make the world a better place by good old hard work, helping people, spreading good will.

It’s a war between darkness and light.

I’m sure there’ll be other exciting articles in the future about Fat 3s, and Fat 4s. Until it “blows” over, we’ll just have to keep searching the local papers for the not so newsworthy stuff.

On second thought, maybe I’m too harsh on the back-burner stuff. Maybe, when it’s all said and done, there is some charm to the good little sparks of humanitarian acts in our lives. I have to think about it. Uhm. Helping someone in distress? Giving an encouraging word?

It might not make it to the headlines, but it does feel good.


  1. Virgina Amsden July 18, 2011
  2. Hallie Mangum July 19, 2011
  3. Thomasena Stracquatanio July 19, 2011

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