What's Wrong with Suicide Bombing?


This was an interesting read from an old post that appeared in The Wisdom Fund

What's wrong with "suicide" bombing? Like tanks, gunships, bunker-busting bombs, F-16s, and cruise missiles, it kills people. That's what's wrong.

The reported fatalities between December 1987–the first Palestinian intifada–and January 2002 were 2,166 Palestinians, and 454 Israelis. During this same period, the number of Palestinians seriously injured by live ammunition, rubber bullets, shrapnel, etc. were 18,761; the number of Israelis seriously injured 427. This from statistics reportedly endorsed by the Israeli human rights group, B'Tselem.

According to University of California professor Huston Smith, author of The World's Religions:

"The Koran's definition of a Holy War is virtually identical with that of a Just War in the Canon Law of Catholicism. It must either be defensive or to right an horrendous wrong."

Islam forbids killing except in certain circumstances such as in self defense, or in response to another killing. Even then Islam counsels forgiveness, or compensation for the victim's family. What else is wrong with "suicide" bombing? Legally, less than what one might believe. While it may or may not be good strategy, it appears to be permissable under international law. Most Israelis over the age of 18, aren't exactly civilians. All eligible men and women are drafted into the Israel Defense Force at age 18. Men serve for three years, women for 21 months. Upon completion of compulsory service each soldier is assigned to a reserve unit. We Hold These Truths, a Christian organization, reports:

– All Israeli busses are owned and operated by the state, and each one serves as a military transport vehicle. Civilian passengers often find themselves riding next to an on-duty, rifle-carrying soldier being ferried to a duty station.

– Israeli pizzerias and McDonalds fast-food restaurants are teeming with off-duty and on-duty Israeli military men and women, many of both sexes carrying rifles.

Palestine is occupied land, and under international law, the Palestinians have the legal right to resist this occupation by any and all means. This may make busses, restaurants, discos–where Israeli military congregate, lawful targets. But there's no excuse for killing children. And there's no excuse for either Israelis or Palestinians knowingly putting children in harm's way. And what fuels the intifada, and the Palestinian "suicide" bombings, is Israeli destruction of Palestinian homes and orchards, Israeli settlements–a violation of international law, and President Sharon's desire to scuttle the peace process, and drive Arabs out of Palestine, permanently.

Suicide–the deliberate termination of one's life–for a greater cause is not an Arab monopoly. The Japanese used kamikaze or "suicide" attacks in World War II; a woman belonging to the Tamil Tigers blew up herself, several others, and India's prime minister Rajiv Gandhi; and those who protect the U.S. president are taught to sacrifice their lives if necessary. And what Western media call "suicide" bombings are generally viewed as martyrdom by Arabs. Islamic scholars say Islam forbids suicide, but accepts martyrdom–suicide being a selfish act contrary to God's will, martyrdom being an act of courage, sacrifice, and faith.

In the end, whether it's "suicide" bombers, or tanks, gunships, bunker-busting bombs, F-16s, and cruise missiles, the end result is the same: people die. And Palestinians are the overwhelming victims. So why does the media focus on "suicide" bombing?

Because it sets up Palestinian Arabs, Christian and Muslim, as the "other," therefore, a more legitimate target in the eyes of the American public, and it helps legitimize Israel's criminal conduct against the Palestinians, which, according to Francis A. Boyle, professor of international law, "has been financed, armed, equipped, supplied, and politically supported by the United States."