December 26, 2003 - Suicide bombing is no longer just a Jewish problem.
Indeed, the first targets of modern suicide bombing were not Jewish. These are the first recorded examples:
Modern suicide bombing was born in the Lebanese Civil War, pioneered by Hezbollah with the support of Iran. Nevertheless, since suicide bombing has mostly been used by Palestinians against Israelis, it has been easy to dismiss as lacking worldwide significance. It is only happening to one small, circumscribed group of people, so why worry about it?
There is plenty of reason to worry.
In a prophetic column Thomas Friedman wrote:
Let's be very clear: Palestinians have adopted suicide bombing as a strategic choice, not out of desperation. This threatens all civilization because if suicide bombing is allowed to work in Israel, then, like hijacking and airplane bombing, it will be copied and will eventually lead to a bomber strapped with a nuclear device threatening entire nations. That is why the whole world must see this Palestinian suicide strategy defeated.
We are reaching that point, little by little. On Christmas two suicide bombers tried to assassinate Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf by ramming explosive-filled cars into his motorcade. This was the second attempt on his life in 11 days. In this attack 14 died - including the bombers - and 46 were wounded.
It is virtually certain that those who planned the attacks are Islamic extremists, most likely Al Qaeda in cooperation with Pakistan's own extremist groups. Musharraf is too moderate for them, and these groups hate him for cooperating with President Bush in the war on terror and for being an obstacle to setting up an Islamic extremist state in Pakistan.
Islamic extremists controlling Pakistan with its nuclear weapons would be a nearly unthinkable disaster - but one that could very well happen. Even if Musharraf hangs on for now, he will not last forever. The extremists will certainly try to seize control, and these people who glorify suicide are easily capable of fulfilling Friedman's scenario of suicide bombers with nukes threatening entire nations.
Those countries uniting to condemn Israel are mistaking the real threat to world peace. Whatever one may think of Israel, it is a society that values life. The terrorists see this as a weakness. In the same article Friedman writes:
As Ismail Haniya, a Hamas leader, said in The Washington Post, Palestinians have Israelis on the run now because they have found their weak spot. Jews, he said, "love life more than any other people, and they prefer not to die." So Palestinian suicide bombers are ideal for dealing with them.
Whether or not its policies are always sound, Israel does not intentionally target civilians and Israeli society does not glorify death. But Palestinian society has descended into madness, preferring the deaths of its own children to a negotiated settlement of the conflict. If the evil this madness produces is not condemned by every civilized nation it will spread, as it has already begun to do. It is spreading to Iraq, to Pakistan, and to other places around the world that have suffered suicide attacks. But while condemnation of Israel outside the United States has been vigorous, criticism of suicide bombing has been lukewarm in comparison. Remarkably, the Palestinians often receive praise for their "noble resistance."
The question of suicide bombing has nothing to do with Israel's so-called "occupation." Musharraf was not attacked because of the occupation. Australian civilians in Bali, the British Consulate in Istanbul, and a housing complex in Riyadh were not attacked because of the occupation. Suicide bombing is taking on a new life that subordinates all immediate political concerns to the one overriding objective of asserting extremist Islam over the face of the globe.
If ending the occupation were really the issue, the cessation of terrorism would be the quickest way to do it, because without the need to defend against terrorism the holdout hardliners could not withstand the pressure both from inside and outside Israel for the creation of an independent Palestinian state. As Friedman puts it:
A nonviolent Palestinian movement appealing to the conscience of the Israeli silent majority would have delivered a Palestinian state 30 years ago, but they have rejected that strategy, too.
The reason the Palestinians have not adopted these alternatives is because they actually want to win their independence in blood and fire. All they can agree on as a community is what they want to destroy, not what they want to build. Have you ever heard Mr. Arafat talk about what sort of education system or economy he would prefer, what sort of constitution he wants? No, because Mr. Arafat is not interested in the content of a Palestinian state, only the contours.
Nonviolent confrontation and negotiation would give the Palestinians what they say they want. But glorified death - now called "martyrdom" - has become an end in itself, a social value, a mark of honor both to the martyr and the martyr's family. There is too much passion invested in it. Glorified death will not be satisfied with a liberated Palestine as long as there are other faithless lands still left to conquer.
The Palestinians are so blinded by their narcissistic rage that they have lost sight of the basic truth civilization is built on: the sacredness of every human life, starting with your own. If America, the only reality check left, doesn't use every ounce of energy to halt this madness and call it by its real name, then it will spread. The Devil is dancing in the Middle East, and he's dancing our way.
A society that worships death is not viable; it cannot survive, but will poison everything around it. The intoxication with death is self-sustaining. If every Jew in Israel were to be exterminated, the death rapture would not cease but would continue to grow in a futile search for satiation. No one would remain unaffected, no one safely beyond its reach.
The world is being tested. Can we recognize the real threat to world peace, and even to the fabric of human life itself?
CNN News Staff. "Iran Responsible for 1983 Marine Barracks Bombing, Judge Rules." cnn.com, May 30, 2003.
Friedman, Thomas. "Suicidal Lies." New York Times, March 31, 2002.
Masood, Salmon. "Pakistani Leader Escapes Second Attempt at Assassination." New York Times, December 26, 2003.
Pipes, Daniel. "The Scourge of Suicide Terrorism." National Interest, Summer 1986.
Peace with Realism