Letter to NPR's All Things Considered
in response to story of May 10, 2002
Real Audio of the story here The segment in question is at 7:00
By Stefan Sharkansky
I was horrified by your interview with the Palestinian-American Ali family of Falls Church, VA. 18-year-old Jihad Ali proudly announced that he wants to go to Israel to be a suicide bomber so that he can kill any Israelis, he doesn't care whom. His mother blamed Israel for causing her son to think those thoughts, and his father declared how proud he would be if his son died in such a fashion. The fact that this middle-class American immigrant family, thousands of miles away from the conflict in the Middle East, can make such appalling statements should dispel forever the cynical lie that people become suicide bombers "only when they have no other options"
As far as I can tell, this family is similar to other American families that have an emotionally troubled teenage son, intent on ending his own life while committing mass murder. The difference here is that the boy's callous and manipulative father actually encourages his son to act on his sick fantasies in order to make a political statement. We've seen too many tragedies in this country where young people commit murder-suicide. Anybody who makes such threats needs to be taken seriously. Jihad's parents might not care enough about their own son's life, but the same probably cannot be said about the parents of this young man's potential victims. I, for one, would not feel safe going to any place near Falls Church where Israelis and other Jewish people congregate, knowing that this walking timebomb lived in the neighborhood. I hope that responsible people in the community intervene with this family before Jihad hurts himself or others.