In Israeli Hospital, Bomber Tells of Trying to Kill Israelis (NYT)
June 8, 2002 9:25 AM   Subscribe

In Israeli Hospital, Bomber Tells of Trying to Kill Israelis (NYT) In a conversation that lasted more than two hours, the bomber gave a rare glimpse into the blend of religion, desperation, low technology and cruelty that can produce suicide bombers. He said he was "pushed" to make his attack not by Israeli action or a terrorist group, but by "the love of martyrdom." He added: "I didn't want revenge for anything. I just wanted to be a martyr." "I know Israel," he said, recalling his six years as a peddler here. "I know that the individual Israeli citizen is innocent like us. Unfortunately, we are victims of our leaders, sitting on their chairs."
posted by semmi (16 comments total)
When I saw the clip of him being dragged away by the Police Bot, I immediatly wished for a gang of Battlebots to swoop in and rip him limb from limb. That would rule.
posted by fahfooh at 11:25 AM on June 8, 2002

Exactly how does one stay ignorant enough to wish more violence in an already far too violent situation?

Is it all this American Beer?
posted by Mazelle at 12:02 PM on June 8, 2002

It's all the American movies and TV shows in which the actual medical consequences of getting shot [or having sex] are carefully censored from the scripts. It's quite a bit like the thinking of the Pakistanis and Indians who simply haven't grasped the consequences of nuclear war.

Village Voice article on Israeli and Palestinian casualties.
posted by sheauga at 2:10 PM on June 8, 2002

It's quite a bit like the thinking of the Pakistanis and Indians who simply haven't grasped the consequences of nuclear war.

That's a generalization that I think we can all do without, thanks sheauga. Talk about back-seat, 20/15 vision coming from folks who have probably never had to fight for their lives, freedoms, and thinking.

This is the same quote semmi used from the article:

He added: "I didn't want revenge for anything. I just wanted to be a martyr."

Sound familiar? Think Columbine. Even more recently, think of the kid who smashed his little plane into a building in Miami, I believe. Martyrdom. That's all any child (and even some adults) wants is their 15 minutes of fame. Now, do I think all of these bombers seek this fame? No.

Part of the problem here is that we try and simplify the situation into groups and categories to better understand and break it down. Unfortunately, we sometimes forget that we are creating groups to understand, not to discover reality. The reality is there are a countless number of reasons a suicide bomber is willing to kill him/herself and others. And if we continue to generalize and stereotype, we may never discover the solution.

I tire of the meme that India/Pakistan citizens don't understand the catastrophes of nuclear war. They've fought for independence only 55 years ago, and since then fought with each other 3 times. They know the reality of the situation better than Western journalists would like to think.
posted by BlueTrain at 3:02 PM on June 8, 2002

sheauga: That village voice article plays some interesting games with statistics. The basic thesis is that Israeli casualties are 75% non-combatant, whereas only 45% of the Palestinian dead were non-combatants.

However, using the article's suspiciously round figures (500 Israelis dead and 1500 Palestinians dead) you still end up with more dead Palestinian civilians. 45% of 1500 is 675. 75% of 500 is 375, that's still 1.8 times as many people.

Then she talks about women killed, which only matters if you believe women's lives are more valuable then men's lives, which I don't. Lets not forget that the Palestinians are using female suicide bombers, and the Israelis have women in the armed forces.

The rest of her article consists of a few anecdotes describing the horrors of a suicide bomber. Which is rather inane, since I'm sure most of the stories of dead Palestinians are just as horrific.

By the way, using the ridiculous "Number of Americans killed" metric, the number of dead Palestinian non-coms would be equal to 45,000, compared to just 17,500 non-com Israelis.
posted by delmoi at 3:37 PM on June 8, 2002

Mazelle, how does one post online and "stay ignorant enough" to take a flip post expressing someone's anger as a realistic desire for a horrible outcome? Go away with your cheap, and may I add condescending, moralizing.

sheauga, I believe you and I differ on this point. I do believe there is a difference in the perception of violence between Westerners and, say, Palestinians or Indians. I think we see that difference when we look at Israelis and Palestinians. It's simplistic to say "they don't value life like we do" but it's an almost unmistakable conclusion that they have a different scale by which to measure the risk and benefit of violence.

To many Western minds, for instance, my own, the use of suicide bombers speaks of a desperation borne by out-and-out genocide -- that which certain other groups experienced some decades ago. I think when some people see this desperation, they conclude that the cause must be just as horrible. I'm sorry, as much sympathy as I have for anyone who has been displaced, I do not believe it calls for this level of violence. (And I would ask why the millions of other displaced groups in the 20th century -- Poles, Germans, Ukrainians, Italians, Greeks, Armenians, Turks -- did not, themsleves, feel it necessary to resort to inhuman mass murder.) I see someone like this, examine the abyss between us, and I have no trouble believing in Bernard Lewis or Samuel Huntington's assessment of the real and perhaps insurmountable gulfs of perception between our societies. That saddens me, but I will not plaster over that gulf as if it doesn't exist.
posted by dhartung at 4:08 PM on June 8, 2002

using the article's suspiciously round figures ... you still end up with more dead Palestinian civilians

This is a very important point, for any of the "moralizers" who want to actually think about the morality of killing civilians, period. When somewhat reasonable people like dhartung can shriek "inhuman mass murder" and not include the Israeli state in the charge, I get really discouraged about the future. (Continued festering hostilities are not really in the interest of Israelis.)

Moreover, dhartung, in your catalogue of displaced persons who did not exchange their humanity for the murder impulse, something is peculiarly and spectacularly wrong with the analogy: The Palestinian violence is not part of a displacement. Sure, the Palestinian militants are descendants of refugees from the ethnic cleansing of 1948, but that is not the issue. They remain militants, today, because they do not have a functioning economy, prospect of coherent statehood, etc. It is as if the Prussian Germans, etc., in your analogy were being colonized and humiliated back in latter-day Germany by the same people who expelled them from their family lands. This is what is happening to the Palestinians, and it makes it a hell of a lot easier to understand why the Palestinians are not doing what would truly be unprecedented and impossible to understand—failing to resist a complete denial of any social space, dignity, etc., under a foreign regime of military occupation. What are your examples of peoples who dealt "gracefully" with this situation, steering clear of "inhuman mass murder"? I am desperately tempted by the possibility that there are truly parallel instances of a nonviolent solution to a problem like the Palestinians', but those analogies tend to break down under scrutiny. The unique ugliness and messiness of the situation in Palestine is not demonstrable from plain numbers about civilians—that must remain an argument about tactics. And both strategy and tactics on both sides are arguably disastrously wrongheaded.

Anyone "pro-Israel" tempted to dismiss me as a "Palestinian apologist": I beg you to think beyond the current fantasy of revenge attacks on Palestinians somehow magically turning into long-term strategically better "realities on the ground." Demographically and historically, Israel right now has a very limited window of opportunity to have a two-state, two-peoples-living-side-by-side-solution. The only course that will be certain national suicide for "Israel as a Jewish state" (which so many claim they want) is further entrenchment in the mire of settlement politics, Sharon tactics, and obliviousness to the just demands of historic reconciliation. It's really fair enough--unless Israel as a nation can appreciate its role in victimizing Palestinians, its society will eventually implode. Or it would be fair enough, if the scenario didn't probably involve the detonation of somebody's present or future nuclear arsenal in the region. Israel needs to grow a conscience fast (on a larger scale), and for its own sake. It's just like individual psychology--progress from working on yourself, not projecting all your demands on the other.

P.S. Given the vagueness and obvious bias of the Voice article, it is hard to believe the question of who is a "combatant" has been posed in an adequately critical fashion.
posted by Zurishaddai at 5:14 PM on June 8, 2002

And for those despairing that "historic reconciliation" is impossible with the Palestinians (as is all the rage to believe), the most current and balanced exchange is available at the New York Review of Books: Benny Morris & Ehud Barak, response by Malley and Agha, Part III. (Cf. the original August 2001 Agha/Malley article that started this debate about what Camp David really meant.)

It is discouraging to see Benny Morris turn so reactionary, but at least this is a balanced discussion (with an element of spin-production) to read.
posted by Zurishaddai at 5:24 PM on June 8, 2002

An interesting exploration of Huntington and Fukuyamas ideas in The Clash of Civilizations and The End of History germane to this discussion.
posted by semmi at 7:24 PM on June 8, 2002

Terrorists are criminals. Accordingly, they should be arrested, and if that's not possible, killed asap. Including Yasser.
posted by ParisParamus at 12:27 PM on June 9, 2002

Martial law, eh Paris? I appreciate the fact that shmucks like yourself can sink to further levels of rhetoric. Really, peace will occur...but only after you and your fanatical cronies are silenced, by political or forcible means. Congrats; you were able to bring me down to your depths of trollish idiocy.
posted by BlueTrain at 1:08 PM on June 9, 2002

There's nothing fantatical about desiring to terminate murderers. On the other hand, there's something quite fantatical about people too blind pacifist/leftist to see reality. Also, shame on you for labeling every position you disagree with as a "troll": how creative and clever of you!

I suggest you unbrainwash yourself. Or hope someone intervenes in your life to save you from your myopia. The world would be a better place if Yasser, Hafez, Saddam, Osama and half the Iranian government had a run-in with an American Daisy Cutter. People who murder, or facilitate murder merit death themselves. Wake up.
posted by ParisParamus at 1:21 PM on June 9, 2002

"... attachment is to be overcome and non-attachment cultivated; ill-will towards others is to be exchanged for feelings of love and compassion; and incorrect beliefs are to be eliminated and realistic attitudes cultivated ... These ten fundamental disciplines are to be followed by every buddhist." - the Dalai Lama
posted by sheauga at 2:18 PM on June 9, 2002

Without an argument, or ill will to the spirit behind the text of the Dalai Lama, I want to call your attention to the inherent ambiguity in the expression of the Zen mindset as you compare, "...ill-will towards others is to be exchanged for feelings of love and compassion," with the following, "incorrect beliefs are to be eliminated and realistic attitudes cultivated." (my emphasis). This is the crux of the matter for the Israelis, I believe.
posted by semmi at 6:39 PM on June 9, 2002

It's easy to advocate peace and non-violence when you're, by and large, cloistered away from the real world. I think such pacificism is, in the final analysis, arrogance, since it implies those who view legitimate just wars and police actions are not open to peace when it's possible. Notice how Tibet is still run by China.
posted by ParisParamus at 8:37 PM on June 9, 2002

Interesting article on the delusional nature of the Arab "conquest" of Israel.
posted by ParisParamus at 8:18 PM on June 11, 2002

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