Boris Johnson

The beginning of hope in the Middle East

Boris Johnson says that the end of Yasser Arafat — the man who brought so much suffering to his own people — could be the opportunity for lasting peace

Boris Johnson says that the end of Yasser Arafat — the man who brought so much suffering to his own people — could be the opportunity for lasting peace

But why did he do it? I asked the dark and bony young man in the yarmulka, still clearing up the scene of the murders. We were standing at the blackened steel counter of Shimmi’s cheese and olive shop, where three people had yesterday been killed by a suicide bomber and 13 seriously injured. It is a testimony to the vibrancy of the Carmel market, Tel Aviv, that business had resumed at the neighbouring stalls within minutes of the detonation, as though an act of self-destruction and murder by a 16-year-old was as banal as a traffic accident. Shimmi’s cheese shop still had ripped awnings and bust fluorescent lights, but fewer than 24 hours later the shop boy was getting ready to open again, and he didn’t seem disposed to ponder on my question. ‘I cannot imagine why anyone would do that,’ he said. So I turned to Ran, my affable minder from the Israeli foreign office. Why did he do it? I repeated, looking at the sinister fatty globules still adhering to the counter.

A Jewish religious organisation called Zaka had been fossicking away for hours, in obedience to the code that says all body parts must be interred; but it was impossible not to speculate about the stains. Amar al-Far was just a kid, one of the youngest suicide bombers ever. What made him leave the Askar refugee camp near Nablus, pass through the Hawara checkpoint, and kill himself and three blameless Israelis, including Leah Levine, 67, a holocaust survivor? How could anyone persuade a child to do something like that?

‘He was expecting the 72 Virgins,’ said Ran, ‘like you have written in your novel.’

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