Published in abridged form on 2/26/03 at the Duke Chronicle
Glamorizing suicide bombing by Islamic fundamentalists and fringe leftists perverts freedom struggle’s meaning. History demonstrates self-determination doesn’t require mass murder. Besides Gandhi & Mandela, every region has heroes: Havel (Czechoslovakia), Walesa (Poland), Chammorro (Nicaragua), Aquino (Phillipines), the Dalai Lama (Tibet), Suu Kyi (Burma), Sakharov & Solzhenitsyn (Russia), Ramos-Horta (East Timor), Landsbergis (Lithuania), Alberdi (Argentina), Aylwin (Chile), the anonymous Chinese man who blocked a tank in 1989, and many others show nonviolence’s power against oppression.
Desire to destroy others by one’s own destruction is fueled by craven clerics selling murder for sex by peddling depraved fantasies of 72 celestial virgins for “martyrdom”. Modern suicide bombing is bereft of honor: even kamikazes attacked battleships and carriers, targets that could shoot back, unlike today’s suicide-bombers who hurl themselves not at tanks but buses, towers, discos, and restaurants.
Squeaky wheels don’t deserve grease, especially when suffering that seduces is needless or self-inflicted. Why are groups employing suicide-bombing deserving of sympathy/intervention? Why are Palestinians worthier than Kurds, Iraqi Shiites, Tibetans, or southern Sudanese who have suffered more? Won’t political success of suicide-bombing inspire others? Justifying suicide bombers anywhere by any grievance bestows Mohammad Atta justification by his grievances.
The inhuman brutality of Muslim to fellow Muslim (800,000 Pakistanis killed by Pakistan in 8 months in 1971, 20,000 Syrians killed in a week by Syria in 1982, 1.5 million Afghans killed by the Taliban in 5 years, 200,000 Iraqis killed by Saddam in 1988, 5,000 Palestinians killed by Jordan in one month in 1970, 300,000 Palestinians ethnically cleansed by Kuwait in 1991) dwarfs anything done by Israel (3,000 Palestinians killed in 8 years of both intifadas) or the US; those ceaselessly blaming Israel & America forget these, revealing their indignation as hollow. Suicide bombing is not due to occupation, for then Kurds would be blasting pizza-parlors in Baghdad, Lebanese blowing up buses in Damascus, Western Saharans blowing up resorts in Rabat, Tibetans leveling discos in Beijing, and Palestinians would have practiced it for the first 29 years of occupation and on their Jordanian and Kuwaiti tormentors. Suicide bombing is due to brainwashing in media, madrassahs, and mosques by “clerics” and “leaders” drunk with lust for power and happy to barter their followers’ children’s blood. We must stop being seduced by Palestinians claiming monopolies on suffering or occupation. Many have grievances, yet only Islamic fundamentalists glorify and practice suicide-bombing on a mass scale. While every community has terrorists, only Islamic fundamentalists have global reach & aspirations of conquest, oil money, esteem of multitudes, and men with fantasies of celestial virgins.
Palestinians must acknowledge there was a good deal 3 years ago (removal of settlements, an independent demilitarized Palestine with 98% of the West Bank & Gaza (and further compensatory land from Israel proper), right of refugee return to Palestine (and aid for those who don’t), sovereignty over East Jerusalem, free access to all holy sites for all faiths; this was rejected by Arafat who demanded right of return for refugees to Israel itself and total control over the Temple Mount/Haram-al-Sharif, which constitute forfeiture of Israel’s political and religious reasons for existence. Palestinians must recognize that Israel has a right to exist and will not go away, there is a political price to pay for starting 3 wars & losing, and it was galactically stupid to spurn good-faith offers from Clinton-Barak to pursue idiotic violence with Sharon & Bush. Proponents for Palestinian self-determination should realize no one will care about that more than Palestinians—Arab countries who never offered Palestinians independence pre-1967 and keep refugees in hell-holes while bankrolling teenagers blowing themselves up are happy to fight Israel to the last Palestinian, Europeans will feign sympathy to keep trade concessions, and in the US, goodwill of many Americans sympathetic to self-determination was irreparably destroyed by Palestinian celebrations of 9/11 which were unforgivable (even Vietnamese did not celebrate 9/11). Suicide-bombing conveys that self-determination is secondary to destroying Israel, which is unacceptable and unattainable. If Palestinians don’t care about self-determination (blowing oneself up rejects life, requisite for self-determination), why should anyone else?
Ultimately, moral judgment must be rendered on suicide bombing and Islamic fundamentalism by Muslims themselves. Due to church-pedophilia scandals, Catholics felt shame as Catholics, and forced out a cardinal; it is incumbent upon Muslims to defrock imams sanctioning mass murder. Ideals which Muslims proclaim are belied by revolting realities practiced in their name – love dies where hatred is preached, freedom wilts under despotry, wisdom withers when all problems are blamed on Jews, Hindus, & America, learning is unattainable when free scholarship is banned, tolerance flees where dissent earns death, equality is a sham when women and minorities are enslaved, justice is mocked by shari’a with a travestic set of rules for believers and another for women and “disbelievers”, and peace is a veiled fraud when the peace of the grave is pursued by killers with Hitler’s enthusiasm. Silent indifference equals complicit assent.