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'The Mother of Martyrs' Leaves Bloody Legacy

With the death of the “Mother of Martyrs,” Mariam Farhat, who sent her sons to commit suicide attacks in Israel, Shlomi Eldar hopes that her legacy of bloodshed will not survive her.
Mariam Farhat, a Hamas woman candidate for the upcoming Palestinian parliament, is seen in front of a large mural of her three dead sons inside her house in Gaza December 8, 2005. The Islamic militant group Hamas has chosen the mother of three "martyrs" who died fighting Israel to run for Palestinian parliament in a race where Hamas will likely pose a tough challenge to President Mahmoud Abbas's Fatah party. REUTERS/Suhaib Salem Pictures of the Month December 2005 - RTR1AJ4O
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Mariam Farhat, “Mother of the Palestinian Martyrs,” who passed away on Sunday, March 17, received the “glorious” title of the "Palestinian al-Khansa” in tribute to the sixth-century poet Bint Amr from the pre-Islamic period. The original al-Khansa, who converted to Islam during the life of the Prophet Muhammad, lost her four sons at the Battle of Qadissiyyah, in which the Muslim armies defeated the Persians. According to tradition, she ordered her sons to go to battle, and when she was later informed that they had fallen, responded with the words, “Praise to the lord, who has honored me with their deaths.” 

Al-Khansa is considered the first “Mother of Martyrs.” She became a symbol in the narrative of Hamas, and almost certainly in that which Mariam Farhat, “the second Mother of Martyrs,” adopted for herself. Farhat, who was also called Umm Nidal, turned herself into a “terrorist factory.” She encouraged her sons to launch terrorist attacks against Israel, and like the ancient poet after whom she modeled her life, she expressed her gratitude at the news of their deaths. 

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