My attention was attracted to an item near the bottom of the front page of today’s Jerusalem Post, “Grandson of Munich terrorist wins Democratic nod for Congress“. This tells the story of Ammar Campa-Najjar, who is a US citizen living in California, who is the grandson of Muhhamed Yussuf al-Najjar, the master-mind of the attack on the Israeli athletes at the Munich Olympic games in 1972 that killed 11 athletes. Ammar claims that he has renounced his grandfather’s extremism and indeed has been having positive interactions with the Jewish community. He says he is committed to Israel’s security and wants peace for both sides so that they can find an end to the conflict. His grandfather was among those terrorists assassinated by Israeli security agents. If he knew what his grandson is doing he would be spinning in his grave.
Such reversals of extreme ideology by younger generations is not unheard of. One example that always gave me pleasure was that the grandson of Leon Trotsky (Lev Davidovich Bronstein), who was a leading Communist and founder of the Red Army (although he was assassinated by an agent of Stalin in Mexico), returned to Judaism and made aliyah to Israel.
Another example in the Middle East was Mosab Hassan Yousef, the son of the founder of the Hamas terrorist organization, Sheikh Hassan Yousef, who was an invalid and the spiritual leader of Hamas. Mosab was recruited by Israeli intelligence and persuaded that he would be saving lives by giving information to them. His story was dramatized in his own book and in a movie entitled “The Green Prince,” his code name used by the Mossad. He now lives in the US where he is hopefully safe from Hamas retribution.
The children and grand-children of many leading Nazis have also renounced the views and actions of their forbears. What do these examples prove? Maybe that future generations will see the error involved in extremist ideologies that require the killing of large numbers of supposed enemies. If anything they point the way to future reconciliation and give hope for future generations.