Calling all mothers to join against suicide bombers

Dear Mothers,

This week, families in this country will join together in celebration of Mother's Day. But for the mothers whose children — old and young alike — were torn away from them by the senseless acts of terrorism that occurred on Sept. 11, we can only imagine the emotions that this day will bring. Yet, in spite of the pain inflicted, these acts of terror show no signs of abating.

In recent months and days, nowhere has the stunning blow of terrorism been felt more deeply than in Israel. While the people of Israel have faced terror in all its forms for decades, a horrible new strategy is now being employed that strikes fear in the heart of every Israeli — suicide bombings, also called homicide bombings.

Since September 2000, nearly 200 Israelis have been killed by suicide bombers and hundreds more have been injured, causing anyone who boards a bus or strolls in a marketplace to fear for his or her life.

Equally alarming is the rise in women suicide bombers — there have been four female suicide bombings in the last four months. One such strike was carried out by an 18-year-old Palestinian girl named Ayat. This tragic, misguided act killed not only the bomber, it also killed a 17-year-old Israeli girl named Rachel.

According to a leader of the radical al-Aqsa faction, "we have 200 young women from the Bethlehem area alone ready to sacrifice themselves for the homeland." How tragic that these are the people these impressionable women look to for guidance and direction. Recently, there was a story about a high-ranking Muslim leader in Lebanon who gave his blessings to female suicide bombers, calling them part of a "new glorious history for Arab and Muslim women." Parents, too, are providing false and chilling encouragement.

Clearly, that is not what we meant when we say we seek equality for women. Clearly, it is time for the people of the world to hear a different message. Last year, the Senate passed my resolution that condemned incidents of suicide bombing as acts of terror. My resolution urges the international community to speak with one voice in condemning this horrifying practice. This year, the 13 women of the Senate — from both parties — worked together to pass a resolution that speaks specifically against women suicide bombers — sending the message that women undermine their role as peacemakers when they commit these hideous acts.

On Mother's Day, I hope every mother will join with me and the members of the Senate in condemning suicide bombings. Mother's Day is a day for love, a day for laughter and a day for hope. A day to dream about the future for our children and with our children. Let us celebrate this day's precious meaning by joining together to make our voices heard. By sharing the message that suicide bombings must end, we can lead the world away from this tragic and brutal turn it has taken.


Barbara Boxer, United States Senator