After the series of suicide bombings that struck the Israeli community so fiercely, I may safely conclude that Israel is no more the safest haven for Jews. The calls for immigration have been answered with an increase in emigration, and more Jews are going back to New York, Europe and Russia. There, at least, they know for sure that no man is going to explode all of a sudden!
These suicide bombers are actually making strong statements. And since a picture is worth a thousand words, we should consider what an image of an Israeli wrecked bus is telling us about the Palestinian desperation. Maybe we should look at more than a damaged bus. Everything around the bus, the well-paved streets, clean neighborhoods, restaurants with modern facilities and the pleasant atmosphere. Comparing that with a picture of a shelled house, in a Palestinian neighborhood, you may possibly think that rockets had hit an entire village. Destruction happens to be the dominant character in Palestinian society. Thanks to modern weapons used to level cities and villages.
I recently read an article that talks about an appeal signed by Palestinian public figures, such as Hanan Ashrawi, calling for the halt of suicide bombings. The appeal suggested that such attacks are ‘gifts’ to Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon and the extreme right ‘to continue their aggression against Palestinian people.’ I find it necessary to add that the majority of Palestinians support the suicide bombings, though.
Suicide bombings may as well be considered gifts to the Israelis, but they do not necessarily fuel the Israeli aggression, nor do they serve as ‘reasons’ for the continuous brutality of the Israelis. The occupation is there. That is a fact. Suicide bombings are just another reason to reaffirm the occupation.
It could also be considered a gift in this huge system of reciprocity and ‘gift’ exchange between Israelis and Palestinians. Each side wants to ‘retaliate’ for one thing or another, and thus the system of reciprocity continues to flourish. These are traditions, and must be kept! In the old days, people considered keeping the system of gift-exchange as something essential that has to do with one’s honor and dignity. This notion of rivalry has not changed, and people still want to exchange ‘gifts’ for honor, pride and human dignity. Of course, there is a philosophical and moral difference in both cases, but the system remains there.
This appeal to stop suicide bombings seem to have been started by a group of ‘intellectuals’, who supposedly know what is going on, and can foresee things getting better if such attacks cease to take place. The same ‘intellectuals’ were as certain that things are going to get better when they first signed the Oslo accords. I suppose the books they have studied and read so carefully must have promised something tangible that could only be achieved through Western means of problem solving; negotiations. It is an irony, that while the West encourages constructive discourse and peaceful negotiations, its history, present and I would assume, if not believe, its future would continue to prove the use of excessive force, sometimes needlessly, and almost never the resort to peaceful solutions.
Those lucky individuals are fortunate enough not to be enduring the real aggression, themselves, but merely hearing about it from those unlucky ones down there. An ordinary Palestinian, or perhaps one of those who carry out the suicidal operations, would simply think, ‘If suicide bombings are so terrifying for those Israelis, then I would surely give them more of that!’
The angry Palestinian youth have learned that they now own a weapon that frightens the unyielding aggressors, and they have learned how to make use of it really well. Similarly, the Americans armed the Israelis and gave them weapons, which they now use to intimidate the Palestinians with. The Israelis; however, have forgotten that they can never fight someone, who in sought of death, wants life for many generations to come. The Israeli army, like all modern-world armies, is geared to fight another army, but not a vengeful youth, with a body that explodes when least expected. They think it is the bomb, which is hidden underneath the suicide bomber’s clothes that causes the explosion. I believe it is anger suddenly erupting.
Mira Al-Hussein is a student of International Studies at Zayed University, in Dubai.