Feature

Are suicide bombings helping our cause?

The week's news at a glance.

Palestinians

“Martyrdom operations” are not working, said Palestinian writer Bassem Nabris in the pan-Arab Web magazine Elaph.com. When we kill civilians, we “give Israel the political and moral cover” to retaliate with all its firepower. Israelis, of course, “need no excuse” to murder Palestinians, but when we give them one, like “a gift from the sky,” they take full advantage. The most recent suicide bombing, in Tel Aviv, killed nine Israelis, but many more Palestinians died in the Israeli retaliations. Then there’s the moral dimension to consider. Many Palestinians argue that the enemy kills us every day and that we are simply responding in kind. That is backward logic. “We are the victims, not the persecutors.” The victim “is banned from imitating the savagery of the persecutor,” or he will lose the moral high ground. “This precious superiority” is our greatest asset. To squander it on suicide bombings that bring no strategic advantage is idiotic.

Don’t blame the bomber, said Talal Salman in Lebanon’s As Safir. Sami Samih Hamad, the young Islamic Jihad fighter who martyred himself in the Tel Aviv restaurant, knew, “by virtue of his deep faith, that killing people was a sin.” He knew, too, that blowing up a few Israelis here and there was not an effective way to wage war. But the “principled stand” against suicide attacks is “a luxury the Palestinians cannot afford.” Israelis imprison Palestinians, torture them, burn down their homes, and utterly humiliate them on a daily basis, with the unquestioning support of the Americans. The only freedom for a Palestinian today is the freedom to choose what kind of death he will die. “Will it be death through starvation, death in concentration camps and prisons, death in chases, death under the rubble of one’s blown-up house, death from bitterness?” Or the glorious death of a martyr? How can any Arab blame a young man who ultimately chooses the latter?

Killing Israelis is no worse than killing Palestinians, said the Palestinian newspaper Al Quds in an editorial. But it is also no better. Suicide bombing is “a kind of violence much like that perpetrated by the Israeli forces in their attacks against the Palestinians.” Both sides justify the killing as retaliation, or as a way to prevent more killing. Both sides must stop, mutually and simultaneously. But that won’t happen until the underlying cause of the violence—the occupation—ends. For four decades, this occupation has cruelly robbed the Palestinians of basic human rights, such as the right to live in security with one’s family and the right to travel freely. Until the Israelis recognize the right of Palestinians to choose their destiny, “blood will continue to be shed on both sides of the conflict and Palestinian and Israeli lives will perish for no reason.”

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