demonisers like Thomas Friedman work hard to persuade us
of suicidal lies
like the one claiming suicide bombers are "a whole new form of warfare"
unique to Palestinians. I truly doubt whether the term "Kamikaze"
is of Palestinian origin. There were no Palestinian suicide bombers
around back in 1991, when Rajib Ghandi was assassinated by a suicide
bomber; in fact, the person accused of launching more suicide attacks
than anyone else is not Yassir Arafat (his direct involvement in
such attacks may be an outright Israeli fabrication)
Prabhakaran, who heads the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam.
Talmud reminds us that people often accuse others of their own faults.
Is this the case with Israel as well? Can Israel be seen as a suicide
bomber? Well, the latter part of the term obviously holds true:
reports of Israeli bulldozers digging mass graves in Jenin have not been
confirmed yet, but the enormous scale of Israeli bombing in occupied
territories hardly needs this evidence. During the British Mandate
in Palestine (1917-1948), the Royal Army considered bombing Jenin
from the air, but dropped the idea for humanitarian reasons; the
Israeli army has now used F-16 jets, helicopters and airborne missiles
against this city, while destroying dozens of houses as well as
the entire water, sewage and electricity infrastructure by tanks
has Israel itself suicidal elements? We'll have to take a short
survey of Palestinian suicide bombing to get to that.
successfully coats the suicide bombers with a satanic aura of ultimate
evil, disabling any rational discussion of the subject. Suicide
bombers are represented as a doomsday weapon, as a threat to world
security, to civilisation itself (see, again, Thomas
Friedman's column). It's high time to lift this aura.
column I argued that suicide itself is
not considered a crime by most people. The major ideology of modern
times, Nationalism, often praises sacrificing one's life for one's
nation. Israel loves to praise itself for everything positive in
Palestinian society ("we brought them prosperity" etc.) and to blame
some "Arab spirit" for everything negative. But Palestinians' suicidal
tendencies maybe have their roots not only in Islamic fundamentalism
but also in Zionism. Israeli school children are raised on the myth
of the Zionist officer Joseph
Trumpeldor, whose last words were: "It is good to die for our
country". Similarly, the
first association Israeli soldiers had in mind for the Palestinians
fighting to death in Jenin was the Zionist Masada myth, where besieged
ancient Jews swore to die rather than surrender to the Romans.
bombers, as I argued before,
are not different from any other weapon. They can be used against
three kinds of targets: soldiers, settlers, and civilians inside
Israel. Let's consider each of these cases.
Occupation Soldiers is LAWFUL
acting against soldiers, the suicide bomber has international law
on his side. Yes: international legislation acknowledges the right
of occupied people to use force against their oppressors, both inside
the occupied territories and outside them. Based upon the principles
of the Hague International
Convention of 1907 and confirmed in the Nuremberg Tribunal after
World War II, this determination was essential to forestall Nazi
claims that partisans, Ghetto fighters, and other underground resistance
forces in the territories occupied by Germany had allegedly been
"terrorists". In the Nuremberg Tribunal it was unequivocally set
down that resistance fighters, including those who had struggled
within Germany itself, acted in accordance with the regulations
of international law.
fact actually unheard of in the media.
Settlers in the Occupied Territories
civilians, however, is a crime. If Palestinians do it inside the
occupied territories, the great question is what those civilians,
also known as settlers, are doing there. Their presence in the occupied
territories may not justify killing them, but it raises serious
doubts as for who is responsible for it. Is it the Palestinians
legitimately fighting occupation – or is it rather Israel, that
moves civilians into occupied territory contrary to international
law, exposing them to Palestinian attacks? Israel now claims to
be deporting Palestinian civilians from battle zones in order to
protect them. Why does it let its own civilians live in these territories,
which are one big battlefield?
fact, extremist settlers like those in Hebron – 500 settlers among
120.000 Palestinians in the heart of the city – often refuse to
be protected. When the army offers to install bullet-proof glass
in their windows, they reject it, claiming the army should ensure
their houses are not shot at instead of stopping the bullets at
their windows. Is this not suicidal?
Civilians Inside Israel
this of course is totally illegal and immoral. But have you ever
wondered how suicide bombers get into Israel? Not in a satanic rain
like the frogs in Magnolia. In fact, they walk into Israel.
Yes. They cross the imaginary Green Line between Israel and
the occupied West Bank simply on foot, and then they take a lift,
or a bus, or a taxi, to wherever they want to explode.
may sound incredible, but it is true. There is no visible border
between Israel and the West Bank.
the problem of intruders has been bothering humanity for quite a
few millennia, from China to Berlin; the usual solution is expressed
by the English term "fence". If Israel had wanted to stop suicide
bombers, all it had to do is put a fence. This is Israel's weak
spot the Palestinians have found. It's a very revealing weak spot.
does Israel not put up a fence? The construction itself is not a
problem. There are quite sophisticated hi-tech fences nowadays.
The Gaza Strip is surrounded by one, reducing intrusions to a zero
level. A few weeks after the Israeli withdrawal from South Lebanon,
a fence along the border was completed there too. So why not in
the West Bank?
are three reasons why Israel does not put a fence along the Green
First and foremost, as even Israeli politicians admit, it's "a political
problem". A fence might be interpreted as a border. Israel is unwilling
to give up the West Bank. Therefore, it rather lets its citizens
die in suicide attacks. It's as simple as that.
More specifically, the numerous Israeli settlements spread throughout
the entire West Bank are a problem for such a fence. If the settlements
are taken in, you have to take the surrounding Palestinian population
too, and then what's the point. If you leave the settlements out,
you solve only part of the problem.
smaller part of the problem, actually. Israel cares much more about
its 200.000 settlers in the West Bank than about its 6 million citizens
inside the Green Line (indeed, most settlements are surrounded by
a fence). Take this financial evidence: in the 1990s,
the Israeli Government spent on every settler an average of 5,428
NIS a year. The national average per citizen was just 3,807 NIS.
Israeli Arab citizens were worth much less: 2,402 NIS. The cheaper
the citizen, the cheaper his life.
One cannot ignore the propaganda profits. Israel uses terror attack
on its citizens, especially on civilians inside the Green Line,
to justify its ever more violent occupation and to endlessly expand
its illegal settlements. Why build a simple fence, if you can occasionally
sacrifice a few civilians in return for a huge propaganda benefit
for the occupation and the settlements?
printable version of this article
was born in the Netherlands in 1964 and grew up in Israel. He has
a B.A. in Computer Science, an M.A. in Comparative Literature and
is currently working on his PhD thesis. He teaches in the Tel-Aviv
University's Department of Comparative Literature. He also works
as a literary translator (from German, English and Dutch), and as
a literary critic for the Israeli daily Yedioth Achronoth.
Mr. HaCohen's work has been published widely in Israel. "Letter
from Israel" appears occasionally at Antiwar.com.
A Suicide Bomber?
Now?! Well, Maybe Later
Horowitz Rewrites the Past
Say No to
a Palestinian 'State'
Cares About the Palestinians?
in the Streets
Ideology of Occupation
War – Really Imminent?
State of the Army, Part Two
Settlements, Killing Peace
State of the Army, Part 1
Left Sells Out Peace