(Captain's log): You've had a baby girl. To begin with, she doesn't do much except eat, sleep and poop, but sometimes she looks at you and grins, in that way that only babies can grin. And she's warm in your arms, and you carry her and hold her. Her hair begins to grow, and after a while she starts spending more time awake and aware; she starts to babble and tries to have conversations with you without words. You talk to her; you tickle her; you hold her hand and you sing to her. She gets sick at night and cries and all you can do is hold her and walk up and down and try to make her feel better.
She begins to crawl, then takes her first steps, and you are proud. And soon the stumbling steps turn into running, and you find yourself chasing her everywhere as she sees things she wants to get into. She starts to talk. Her first words are names for you and your spouse, and then she learns the power of "No!" Soon she starts putting together sentences. The world is a great adventure for her, and you see it through her eyes and rediscover things that had become mundane for you. And she starts asking questions.
Then it's time for her first day of school, that aching day when she'll spend longer away from you than she ever has before. Maybe she's eager, maybe she cries, and inside you are both eager and crying a bit, too. But she comes back, and soon school is a normal part of life. She makes friends; she does her homework; she starts to learn to read and works on her letters and numbers. She doesn't want to do homework; she'd rather go outside and play. But you force her, and sometimes there's a "meeting of the minds", for she is developing will and ego of her own. She's her own girl and you better not forget it.
Then that day you've been dreading when she discovers boys. She comes home and tells you about the marvelous boy she's met and how she "loves him". Of course, she's too little to really know yet what that means, but it's the sign of things to come. Your girl is becoming a woman.
Sometimes she comes home from school crying because other kids were mean to her. Sometimes she comes home all smiles because she got a good grade, or because she made a score in a soccer game. Each day is a gift.
She grows; she shoots upwards. The spindly little girl becomes a willowy and graceful young woman, with long dark hair and captivating eyes. She is the center of your life. She is ready to go off to a life of her own; perhaps to a career, perhaps to make a family of her own. She is the most important thing you have.
And then she straps on a belt full of explosives and in an instant she's gone, expended like an artillery shell in a great war. How do you react?
You cry, of course. You mourn. Your family and friends come to grieve with you; you may have a funeral service of some kind. The local man of God comes and tries to comfort you by telling you she's gone to a better place. You listen, but deep down what you really want is for her to walk through the door one last time so you can hug her and tell her how much you love her. But that can never be. She's gone. She's gone.
She's gone forever. Something important and precious has been destroyed.
There are two ways to react to this. One way is to hate those who sent her on her mission; to condemn them for using up something so valuable as if it were a brass cartridge casing, one of thousands expended in a war.
The other way is to believe that the sacrifice was worth it. She is infinitely valuable, but the struggle is, too, and she didn't die for nothing. As great as the sacrifice was, the cause is so important that it was worth losing her for it.
It is a psychological fact that the second response is by far the most common. It's a fact that people value something more if they have to make a sacrifice for it. That's why fraternities have initiation ceremonies where the members have to do something unpleasant or embarrassing; it's been determined that people who go through that are far more loyal than those who do not.
But it's not just the parents who will go through that transformation and become dedicated to the struggle. Almost everyone who knows the martyr and grieves for her loss will, too. And those who know of her will feel as if they have to live up to her example.
You feel it; if you were on a jet and there was a hijacking, the first thing you'd think is, "I owe it to the people on Flight 93 to be as brave as they were and to resist this." And then you'd fight.
And each time a young Palestinian sacrifices himself or herself, the hundreds who know him or her and the thousands who live nearby will go through that: the feeling that the sacrifice, however, great, must be for something and thus the something, whatever it is, must be worth further sacrifice. Otherwise it would all be in vain, and that cannot be tolerated.
The dirty little secret of the bombing campaign against Israel is that it serves two purposes. First and most obvious is to take the war to Israel, to terrorize the Israelis, to apply pressure on them to force them to make concessions.
But the other reason for it is to steel the will of the Palestinians themselves. For the effects of this fade with time, and if the bombings stop, the dedication of the Palestinians will begin to lessen.
Update: It's worse than that. If the bombing campaign stops without victory, the passion will boomerang. Those who suffered the losses will be forced to accept that it really was al