By Robert Fulford, April 27, 2002
The cult of death spreading among Palestinians remains mysterious to much of
the world outside the Middle East, and no doubt to many Arabs as well. As a
pathology that threatens world peace, it needs investigation by the UN.
Palestinians drive their children mad with rage, send them off to die,
then celebrate. The comparison with sexual abuse is impossible to avoid. We
now know that adolescents and young adults around the world have suffered
terribly from sexual abuse; but as a crime, is that as vile as persuading young
people to kill themselves and others for politics?
A UN ‘fact-finding’ team (its facts confidently anticipated by the
Secretary-General, Kofi Annan) is about to investigate the motions of Israeli
soldiers who attacked Jenin in pursuit of terrorists. A well-known source of
human bombs, Jenin became briefly notorious last August when the people
celebrated in the streets the accomplishment of the 22-year-old Hamas suicide
bomber who murdered 15 Israelis in a Jerusalem pizzeria.
Israeli soldiers went to Jenin to root out those who have tried to shatter the
nerves of the Israelis and destroy their society. It follows that civilians in Jenin
suffered. If Palestinian terrorists hide among civilians, as they consistently do,
then the casualties will include civilians.
If the Jenin attack deserves an inquiry, suicide bombing is a more pressing
subject. It has apparently become not only heroic but almost normal, the way
that more old-fashioned forms of terrorists became broadly acceptable a
Over five decades, the Palestinians have failed at every project they have
undertaken, lurching from crisis to crisis, always under incompetent leadership.
They succeed only in their own eyes – and strangely, in the media of the West.
At the moment they are regarded with great sympathy by many journalists,
while the Israelis are depicted as bullies. Melanie Phillips of the London Daily
Mail wrote last week that newspapers in Europe have directed “a torrent of lies,
distortions, libels” toward Israel.
Journalists, like all writers, reveal their thoughts in their choice of words. They
often speak of ‘the collapse of peace talks at Camp David’ in the summer of
2000. But the peace talks didn’t collapse. They were knocked down, by Yasser
The Israelis, the Americans and the Palestinian negotiators were sure
they had an arrangement that would deliver just about all of the disputed land
to the Palestinians. At the last moment, after having been given every possible
concession (including the partition of Jerusalem, something Israelis often swore
they would never grant), Chairman Arafat turned it all down. He made it clear
he didn’t want peace. The current Intifada began shortly after.
A recent article in The New York Times said, “even people of good will argue
for the morality of suicide bombings, saying that suicide bombers are a natural
product of humiliation and despair.”
Time magazine recently published an article by a Palestinian
psychiatrist…who also depicted the killers as victims of humiliation: “Shame is
the most painful emotion in the Arab culture, producing the feeling that one is
unworthy to live. The honourable Arab is the one who refuses to suffer shame
and dies in dignity.”
As even a superficial study by the UN would show, suicide bombing is no ‘act
of desperation’. It needs organization and encouragement. Each successful
murder occurs at the end of a long line of agents who select and train the killer
and plan the atrocity in detail. They recruit their living bombs from among
extreme patriots, those who fell themselves to be victims, those who are
consumed by hate – and, of course, the ultra-religious.
And behind the participants stand organizers who provide money, a
rationale, and posthumous honour, often including large cheques to compensate
the killers’ families.
Religion has a place in all this, but no one knows what it means anymore.
Certainly the Palestinians have become uncoupled from religious tradition. How
else could they violate any conceivable Koranic teaching by using women and
girls as bombs? Muslims should in theory consider that idea blasphemous, and
no doubt many do, in private. One would expect a wave of revulsion, but it
hasn’t been expressed.
When Ayat al-Akhras, a teenager from the girls’ division of Fatah’s
al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigade, killed herself and two Israelis while injuring 28 others
in a Jerusalem supermarket, the Saudi Arabian ambassador to London wrote a
poem calling her “the bride of heaven.”
Apparently Palestinian terrorism has become so popular that it transcends even
the rules of Islam. All this deserves, as much as any event in recent years, a
detailed inquiry. The UN, of course, has few shreds of credibility left, but in
matters of this kind the UN, sad to say, is all that we have.