Despite all we already knew about the so-called Islamic State terrorist organization, news of the murder of hostage Kayle Mueller was still shocking. And Mueller’s defiant declaration of faith, in a letter to her family, is both heartbreaking and uplifting.
Her death–which ISIS had the nerve to blame on Jordanian bombing–cries out for vengeance, not just “justice”–a term the president chose, one that may denote retribution but might also offer the undeserved dignity of a civilian trial.
Yet there was something odd about the press conference held Tuesday by Mueller’s bereaved relatives and friends: specifically, the eulogy offered by Minister Kathleen Day, who was Mueller’s friend and mentor at the United Christian Ministry at the University of Northern Arizona.
Day offered some poignant stories that testified to Mueller’s character. But she also smiled throughout, almost preening.
She said that Mueller was now “free,” and concluded (4:36 below): “Syria, we hear ya!”
The ISM’s clear intent was to use Mueller’s death to political advantage, and it recounted Mueller’s work alongside activists in the West Bank against what she had called Israeli “oppression.” She protested the Israeli security barrier, for instance–a barrier that has saved countless lives from terror.
The ISM reprinted some of Mueller’s writings. In one passage–chilling, given her later fate–she wrote: “…resistance is nestled in the cracks in the wall, resistance flows from the minaret 5 times a day and resistance sits quietly in jail knowing its time will come again…” (emphasis added).
The Islamic call to prayer, however enchanting, is about submission, not rebellion. Yet Mueller seems to have idealized Islam as a symbol of “resistance” in her experience with ISM.
Mueller met Israelis, too–but often, apparently, in the worst possible contexts: angry settlers in the West Bank, officials trying to deport African immigrants from the slums of Tel Aviv.
She may have been more circumspect about religiously-inspired “resistance” if she had known more people on the Israeli side of the divide–such as the families of innocents killed in the name of Palestinian liberation, like those at a Tel Aviv pub bombed in 2003 by terrorists with links to ISM.
Perhaps she did. And certainly Mueller seems capable of such empathy, from the little that is publicly known about her.
Yet she fell in with ISM–a group that sees only one side of the complex Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
Her mentor seems to be happy to reduce the Syrian war to a problem of empathy–“we hear ya!”–rather than seeing it for the gruesome proxy war it has become.
There were other places Mueller could also have made a difference. She was very brave.
It appears, like others, she was misled.
Senior Editor-at-Large Joel B. Pollak edits Breitbart California and is the author of the new ebook, Wacko Birds: The Fall (and Rise) of the Tea Party, available for Amazon Kindle.
Follow Joel on Twitter: @joelpollak