Bibi's Pick for Knesset 'Hugged Suicide Bombers'

Dr. Anat Berko reportedly blamed terror on Israel's lack of investment in Arabs, sees female terrorists as victims of patriarchy.

Gil Ronen,

Funeral of female suicide bomber, Gaza, 2006
Funeral of female suicide bomber, Gaza, 2006
Flash 90

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu selected social researcher Dr. Anat Berko for the reserved 23rd spot in Likud's Knesset list Thursday.

Berko, a Lieutenant Colonel in the IDF reserves, has made a name for herself in research on the subject of female Palestinian Arab suicide bombers. Her 2012 book, "The Smarter Bomb", is based on interviews she conducted with women and children who went out on unsuccessful suicide missions for the Palestinian terror organizations.

A criminologist and counter-terrorism consultant for the Institute for Counter-Terrorism, Berko presents that her analysis of the psychology behind female suicide bombers is a valuable tool for Israel's counter-terror efforts.

However, media interviews with Berko indicate that her approach to the bombers tended toward the sympathetic, and that she saw them as victims of “patriarchy.”

In an interview last month on Ozy.com, Berko is described as having “spent years gaining the trust of foiled suicide bombers who’ve landed in an Israeli prison, probing their life stories and providing the comfort of an ear, sometimes an embrace.”

The article says Berko sees these would-be mass murderers as “the most desperate women in society, driven to volunteer for their missions less by ideology than by years of abuse and exploitation.”

Berko told the interviewer about a woman whose father tried unsuccessfully to negotiate an arranged wedding for her. “It was the most natural thing in the world to embrace her,” Berko is quoted as saying.

According to the interviewer, Berko “understands the causes of the violence differently than most. Israel is partly at fault, says Berko... 'Israel should have invested more in the Arab population in order to provide equal opportunities - more schools and more infrastructure, especially in Jerusalem.'”

She also blames “the ongoing oppression of women” in Arab society and is quoted as saying “we are talking about archly conservative, patriarchal structures, which demand conformity.”

In an RT article, Berko is quoted as saying that some female suicide bombers are women suspected of sleeping with a man before marriage.

“The rumors don’t have to be true, but in such a society that kind of rumor can kill – this is the way to get rid of women and let them solve a problem with dignity and honor and without humiliating their families,” she says.

A review of the Hebrew version of her book in Haaretz, in 2010, quotes her as writing in the book that she empathized with her interviewees, and explaining: “In this context, empathy does not mean liking or agreeing to what is said, but to try and understand the emotion, although not necessarily agree with it.”

The Haaretz piece says Berko describes her meetings with the terrorists as warm ones, in which the convicts always greeted her “with a hug or a kiss, offered her coffee and opened their hearts to her.”

Some even “drew pictures for her, gave her small gifts of their own making or wrote her emotional personal notes.”

The most atrocious attack by a female suicide bomber was the 2003 massacre at the Maxim restaurant in Haifa, that murdered 21. 




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