Nizar Rayyan: Courtly, Humorous, and a Little Bit Evil

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James Bennet writes of his encounters with Rayyan, one of my all-time favorite Hamas theologians and advocates of murder-suicide: "Rayyan said that he missed the son who had died attacking the settlement (he was 16), but that he planned to push another son to conduct an attack of his own. 'It's our home,' he said. 'It's more dear to me than my kids.' He was then looking to add a fourth wife--'I love women,' he told me with a smile--with a goal of eventually having 50 children."

James brought his lovely, and pregnant, wife with him to Gaza, and the following hilarity ensued:

When I mentioned that my wife had come with me to Gaza, where I was reporting for The New York Times, he insisted I call her down from our room. She was then almost eight months pregnant with our first child. To demonstrate how cosmopolitan he was, he made a point of shaking her hand, though in theory, Islam prohibits a man from touching a woman to whom he isn't related.

It's not that I'm competitive with James, but I just want everyone to know that Khaled Meshaal is coming to my daughter's Bat Mitzvah.

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Jeffrey Goldberg is a national correspondent for The Atlantic and a recipient of the National Magazine Award for Reporting. He is the author of Prisoners: A Story of Friendship and Terror. More

Before joining The Atlantic in 2007, Goldberg was a Middle East correspondent, and the Washington correspondent, for The New Yorker. He was previouslly a correspondent for The New York Times Magazine and New York magazine. He has also written for the Jewish Daily Forward and was a columnist for The Jerusalem Post.

Goldberg's book Prisoners was hailed as one of the best books of 2006 by the Los Angeles Times, The New York Times, The Washington Post, Slate, The Progressive, Washingtonian magazine, and Playboy. He received the 2003 National Magazine Award for Reporting for his coverage of Islamic terrorism and the 2005 Anti-Defamation League Daniel Pearl Prize. He is also the winner of the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists prize for best international investigative journalist; the Overseas Press Club award for best human-rights reporting; and the Abraham Cahan Prize in Journalism.

In 2001, Goldberg was appointed the Syrkin Fellow in Letters of the Jerusalem Foundation, and in 2002 he became a public-policy scholar at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars in Washington, D.C.

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