Be ever steadfast in upholding equity, bearing witness to the truth for the sake of God, even though it be against your own selves or your parents and kinsfolk.
Greater love has no one than this, that one lay down his life for his friends.
As the ratio of fatalities between Palestinians and Israelis has narrowed during the past few months, the media mills in the United States that have demonized Palestinians for the past 50 years have been going into higher gear.
One of the honored captains of this industry, the honorable Mr. Thomas Friedman, has now struck a high note in this campaign with his "Suicidal Lies," in New York Times of March 31, 2002. His objective is to raise the alarm for Americans. The Palestinians "are testing a whole new form of warfare, using suicide bombers," and if this "new strategy of liberation" is allowed to succeed- presumably in forcing the Israelis to end their occupation of West Bank and Gaza- the consequences will be cataclysmic for United States, and indeed, for all civilization. The imperative for United States is clear. In order to save Civilization, it must fight Israel's war as if it were a war for its own survival.
This indictment of Palestinians is built cleverly, but it is the kind of cleverness that substitutes for facts and logic. Mr. Friedman opens his indictment by wiping the slate of history clean of the daily, unremitting struggle that Palestinians- men, women and children- have waged over the years against Israeli terror, massacres, executions, expropriations, deportations, house demolitions, sieges, curfews, and myriad new forms of intimidation and humiliation. This long, hard, constant, unflagging and valiant struggle over more than 50 years is equated with the acts of 'suicide' bombers. In the words of Braveheart, this is history written by those who have hanged heroes.
After completing this demolition job - accomplished with a wave of his hand - Mr. Friedman proceeds to build his penitentiary for the Palestinians. His immediate objective is to prove that the Palestinians "have adopted suicide bombing as a strategic choice, not out of desperation." There are several steps in the argument that Mr. Friedman employs to arrive at this devastating conclusion. I have to admit that this charge ought be devastating - if it can be proved.
Mr. Friedman does not deny that the Israeli occupation has caused "desperation" (the quotes are not mine) amongst Palestinians; what he rejects is that there is a necessary link between their desperation and 'suicide' bombing. First, "there are a lot of people in the world who are desperate, yet they have not gone around strapping dynamite to themselves." Surely, Mr. Friedman must have heard of Samson, Guy Fawkes, the Kamikaze pilots, the Hizbullah and the Tamil Tigers: since almost everyone else has. The Palestinians can scarcely be credited with inventing this "new form of warfare."
But there is another way of posing the question that would shift the onus to the Israelis. A quick glance at the recent history of settler colonialism reveals that there have been many episodes, both long and short, of occupation and resistance to occupation, but it is not too often that the oppressed have employed 'suicide' bombing against their occupiers. Is it mere happenstance, then, that every time the Israelis occupy another people - whether it is Southern Lebanon, Gaza and West Bank - they have had to face 'suicide' bombers? Might the fault lie in the occupiers, and not the occupied?
Mr. Friedman presses on with his indictment. President Clinton "offered the Palestinians a peace plan that would have ended their "desperate" occupation, and Mr. Arafat walked away." We are back to the canard about the 'generous' peace plan, so perversely rejected by the Palestinian leadership. In return for municipal control over a few Bantustans, dominated by armed settler encampments, the Palestinians were asked to forego their sovereignty, their right of return, the right to defend themselves, control over their borders, and rights to their own water resources. A 'generous' peace plan it was indeed - generous to the Israelis. Is it surprising that the Palestinians are castigated ad infinitum for rejecting this plan?
The Palestinians must account for another sin of omission. They had the option of engaging in nonviolent resistance - a la Ghandhi - that would have won them an independent Palestine 30 years ago. But, instead, they chose the path of violent resistance. Oops! I mean, 'suicide' bombing. Mr. Friedman writes as if Israeli occupation had somehow earned the right to expect Gandhian nonviolence from its victims - as if this was part of the divine package which gave them exclusive rights to historic Palestine.
A presumption so brazen demands a response. One must ask if the Zionists too had chosen this Gandhian alternative to appropriating historic Palestine: if at any time their dreams embraced the Palestinians as associates, equal partners, in return for sanctuary in their country. Instead, all that the Zionist visionaries saw was "a people (themselves) without a land, and a land (Palestine) without a people." The Palestinians did not exist: and if they did, they would be "spirited across the borders" with some small inducement.
This was a dream of settler colonialism: quite commonplace amongst Europeans in the nineteenth century. But since the Zionists did not have their own gunboats, they would contract out the job to Britain, the arch imperialist power in those times. In 1917, even before it had acquired Palestine - in the Balfour Declaration - Britain generously offered to create a Jewish state in Palestine. A year later, when the British had occupied Palestine, the European Jews established their first settlements in Israel, their heads full of dreams of messianic colonialism. It is these dreams, resurrecting archaic and arcane prophecies, that would eventually create a new colonial settler state in 1948 - when, in other parts of the world, such states were being dismantled.
These are the mechanics of Mr. Friedman's argument. He does not reject some "desperation" amongst Palestinians, but this is not why they engage in 'suicide' bombings. They do this out of a perversity, "because they actually want to win their independence in blood and fire," and this has led them to adopt "suicide bombing as a strategic choice." Mr. Friedman forgets - I admit, it is hard to feel the enemy's pain - that while the first 'suicide' bombings against Israeli occupation began in 1993, the Palestinians have been going through "blood and fire" since at least the 1930s.
What this means is that Palestinians are now engaged in a most dangerous innovation in the strategy of liberation. "A big test is taking place of whether suicide terrorism can succeed as a strategy for liberation." It is truly extraordinary that Mr. Friedman, writing on the op-ed page of the New York Times, can assume that his readers have never heard of the Kamikaze, the Tamil Tigers, or the Hizbullah. There you have an index of the power of NYT.
It would appear that the deployment of 'suicide' bombers was a strategic choice made by Japan when the odds against them appeared to be mounting. It was a choice they implemented massively, mobilizing tens of thousands to launch 'suicide' missions using airplanes, torpedoes, mines and small boats. They were also quite effective. Warner and Warner, in The Sacred Warriors, show that the Allies lost 65 naval and merchant ships to these 'suicide' missions, and 370 more were damaged. By comparison, the recent 'suicide' bombings are minor league distractions. At least until February 2000, the Palestinians were not the biggest players even in this minor league. Hamas claimed only 22 'suicide' missions compared to 168 strikes by Tamil separatists.
So why does Mr. Friedman raise this alarm about Palestinians "testing" "a whole new form of warfare," "a new strategy of liberation?" Faced with a second intifada against their deepening control over the West Bank and Gaza - an intifada that was slowly replacing stone-throwing children with guerilla warfare - the Israelis made a strategic choice. On February 6, 2001, they let loose Ariel Sharon, convicted by his own courts of personal responsibility for the Sabra and Shatilla massacres, to crush the new intifada. But the Palestinian resolve, tested for 33 years under the occupation of the world's most efficient military machine, refuses to capitulate before yet another round of warfare. The people who should have been "spirited across the borders" by beads and baubles have shown yet again that their spirits will not be cowed: that they will rise to match and neutralize the power of Israeli military.
Mr. Friedman admits this. The Palestinian resistance - he calls it 'suicide' bombing - "is working." That is what alarms him. He thinks that Israel now "needs to deliver a military blow that clearly shows that terror will not pay." In other words, he wants United States to give Israel a free hand in dealing with the Palestinian resistance. This might mean more Palestinian deaths, more house demolitions, more incarcerations, and may be even deportations on some significant scale. Everything that is necessary to crush the resistance. Yes, the Europeans will make noises - and there will be some noise in the Arab streets. But with solid American backing, none of this should matter. At least, that is Mr. Friedman's fantasy.
I have been placing 'suicide' in 'suicide' bombings within quotes. This requires an explanation. The Oxford English dictionary defines a suicide as "one who dies by his own hand." This definition is clearly inadequate. In the absence of a motive, we cannot distinguish between (i) a person who takes his life because he wants to die and (ii) a person who takes his life because this will save her soul - or her honor, her family, her friends, her community, or her country. The first suggests suicide; the latter is ordinarily regarded as a martyr. Judge for yourself then whether the Palestinians are suicides or martyrs.
Although the Jewish tradition considers suicide reprehensible, it admits exceptions. According to the Talmud - Kaplan and Schwartz, A Psychology of Hope - "suicide can be permissible and even preferred" when the alternative is forced apostasy or torture that is beyond endurance. Imaginably, the Palestinians who choose to 'sacrifice' their lives might argue that the pain and indignity of life under Israeli occupation exceeded their capacity for endurance.
Use your imagination again. Consider a different history of Germany and Europe - one without the Second World War, without the Final Solution, without Auschwitz - all because a lone Jewish 'suicide' bomber in 1938 had penetrated the inner chambers of Nazi leadership and blown them to smithereens while also killing herself. Would this 'suicide' bomber - and her likes - also be regarded as a threat to all civilization? What would Mr. Friedman say about her?
M. Shahid Alam is professor of economics at Northeastern University, Boston. His recent book, Poverty from the Wealth of Nations was published by Palgrave (2000). Copyright: M. Shahid Alam
May Allah's Peace be with us all.
Bless you for work well done .. and we should email this article to every major news paper out there.
Remember the Word: "QHUL ZAA LIHAQUNG........"
"Use your imagination again. Consider a different history of Germany and Europe - one without the Second World War, without the Final Solution, without Auschwitz - all because a lone Jewish 'suicide' bomber in 1938 had penetrated the inner chambers of Nazi leadership and blown them to smithereens while also killing herself. Would this 'suicide' bomber - and her likes - also be regarded as a threat to all civilization? What would Mr. Friedman say about her?"
My imagination will not allow me to equate multiple suicide bombings of innocent civilians in restaurants, hotels, clubs, and markets with the hypothetical scenario of one suicide bombing that could have killed the Nazi leadership. What a stretch of imagination you have. Do you think the Palestinians are saving more lives now and accomplishing a greater good for the future by their suicide bombings, which is what you say would have been done if a Jewish suicide bomber had killed the Nazi leadership? Will the world praise the Palestinian suicide bombers decades from now?
The Muslims could not even agree at the conference in Malaysia that the suicide bombings were terrorism or even wrong. It showed me a scary face of Islam.
On another subject, why do the Muslims invade and desecrate our Christian holy site of the Church of the Nativity with their murderous rage against the Jews? Get out of our church! We would not dare attack Mecca or Medina or even set foot in those cities, yet the Muslims march into the holy shrine of our Prophet, who you say you also respect. You have stained our holy site with blood by using it to attack the Jews from it. The Muslims are not only seeking refuge they are firing from it at the Jews. I saw it clearly on TV. I thank God that the Jews have shown restraint and have not destroyed the church to get those Muslims.
Alhumdullilah. This is an excellent retort. Was it sent to all major US papers. We should insist it be published in response to Mr. Friedman's opinion. I hope insha Allah this will be posted on non-muslim sites as well.
We should take every opportunity to show the myriad similarities between Nazis and Sharon, occupation and Apartheid South Africa, Native Americans, Slavery, treatment of Australian aborigines etc. Israel is not an innocent victim and people must start to recognize that.
Assalaam u' alaikum
The author is a shame for the American University system that tolerates him. He should be fired and sent back in the intolerant world he came from. Yes, it is easy to use the right of free-speech in U.S. Let's see him doing it in his home-country.
Human beings have always been trapped in sectarianism, due to differences in our races, nationalities, political affiliations, religions, etc. Perhaps, only an alien or a huge meteor threat will make human race realize that we are of the same denomination, children of Adam (prophet Adam 'alayhissalam as I believe by Quranic proof).
Islamic view is for universalism, anti sectarianism. To me, Islam is Rahmatan Lil 'Alameen (a mercy to the whole worlds). The best of people is whose presence brings goods to others (if i'm not wrong, it is a hadith -khayrunnaas yanfa'unnnaas). When a muslim begins an activity, it must start with Bismillah (In the Name of God, the Most Compassionate, the Most Merciful). This is a powerful deterrent to wrongful acts, including indiscriminate killings. Allah loves not who makes mischief on earth.
Be just, be steadfast in holding the truth however bitter it is. Let's revive the true Islamic values based on Quran and prophetic tradition which have brought muslims to the glorious moments in history.
As for Israel, Muslims oppose only one thing, INJUSTICE. It is unjust to force the native people out and oppress the ones who remained. It would not have been tolerated if Muslims did this, but it is defended when Jews do it.
Jews lived among Palestinians peacefully, they were allowed to buy land and build synagogues before 1948. They did not want coexistence, they wanted a Jewish State, so they had to make room for the world Jewry and expel the Palestinians. This is wrong by anyones standards. I have a question for you. Do you think Israel would have had the support of the US and Europe if the majority of Palestinians where Christians? Surely not. So the misfortune of the Palestinians is that they were mostly Muslims and we as Muslims know that.
Contrary to what many naive American people believe, the US does not get involved in ANY part of the world where there are troubled nations without checking and weighting if it's in her own selfish interests before beating the drums of war.
Middle Eat=Oil and market. Africa=Oil, other natural resources and market. Asia=some Oil, other natural resources and a formidable market.
W. Europe=Technology and an immense market(the war against Germany and the Marshal plan were not executed out of compassion, the only smart people who understand it are the French , but they are labeled as the ingrates). South America=Resources and another formidable market.American businessmen are probably the best in the world and perhaps of all time, they run their country hand in hand with the Israelies who are also great businessmen. A clever or a bully businessman's first question is "what's in it for me?".
Conclusion: there is no such thing as justice in the american mind, there is only cupidity. So people, stop begging for justice from
is as guilty as their master Israel. America will never be able to condemn the illegal zionist state. ALL her branches of government are so deeply corrupted by their masters from Israel that should any elected high official happen to blow the trumpet, it is garanteed that there will be the worst political crisis the United States has ever experienced. So the Arab nations MUST use the same EXTREME reasoning GWB. uses, "Either you are with us or against us". America will have ALOT more to lose than the already messed up Arab countries. Arabs M U S T S T O P asking for America to show justice, she will not, the only thing she cares about is her interests, and God knows that she has alot more to lose with the Arab and Muslim countries than with any other part of the world. otherwise WHY would she spend trillions of dollars (other people's money, because in reality she doesn't have much to spend contrary to what the world thinks) waging wars, financing her muppets, etc.
But still as people and more importantly as muslim that believe Allah is the merciful and compassionate, that a whole humanity will be killed if an innocent victim slaughtered, there is no jsutification for killing the innocent bystander . So it is very wrong and great sin to kill other innocent for the sake our self liberation.
Furthermore we will have very difficult situation when this kind attack is conducted by any people by supposedly using the same kind of argument, that they are oppressed.
I am also more concern about the state palestinian people after all this conflict is over. Insya allah there will be a palestinian state. And then what's happen next? It is known that when you are used to live in violent climate, you have tendency having violent behaviour. What will paestinian people will become in their own homeland?
Allah knows best.
an act. If these people have lives so oppresed and horrble that they want to die, that is their choice. Don't choose to take other civilians with you.
In the real world, these Suicide actions tend to make people angry and feel horror towards the people who do these things. Not sympathy for their cause.
What reaction do yu think the Israelis will have?
How do you expect them to respond?
How would you respond if they copied the suicide bombers and each time innocent people in Israel were killed, the Isaelis purposly went after innocent Palestinians waiting for a bus?
I think that most Americans see Israel as a hard-line, surrounded, desperate nation that must rely on outside nations to keep it solvent. Most Americans don't even begin to understand the issues and think the whole region is a huge, violent, mess that we wish we had nothing to do with. Most Americans I know would rather withdraw from all of these trouble spots and let everybody fight it out themselves--we are damned if we get involved on anybody's side. And we are damned if we DON'T get involved! Ironically, I think Bush would have lessened the US involvement overseas had 9/11 not happened.
The sentiment among most Americans I know is that if we don't support Israel, it will be overrun and destroyed by its Arab neighbors. Though we do not support Israel humiliating, colonizing, violating, and killing Palestinians, we also cannot support suicide bombers and terrorists that are being encouraged by other nations that want Israel destroyed. Suicide bombing is not the same as Kamikazi soldiers attacking military targets like ships--it is terrorism.
As for John 15:13, take Jesus' words in context:
in verse 12, Jesus commands us to LOVE each other. He is not supporting blowing oneself up for a cause and killing others in the process. God forbid! Jesus commands us to love, not to kill. I believe that God cringes every time someone kills in his name. I believe a lot of suicide martyrs are very surprised when they see God and are judged: their last act in life murdering others in an act of hatred and destruction.
We humans think our political issues are so important to God when in reality we miss His "big picture": LOVE each other, HELP each other, CARE for each other as He cares for and loves us.
Many people miss this point, including most Americans.
When Palestinians send in their warriors to perpetrate acts of war on Israelis they must know and expect to have acts of war perpetrated on them in kind. That is how war has worked from the beginning of time and shows no sign of slackening. Complaining about it is like complaining about the weather, it is pathetic. If you go to war people will die and not just your enemies but your friends and families as well.
It is of great importance for Palestinians and Israelis both to recognize that they are the only people on earth who care enough to solve the problem and end the war. The arab and musilim world cares not a wit for the Palestinians. Remember, the west bank was in arab hands from 1947 to 1967. Why was there no independent state of Palestine created there? Because the arabs and muslims couldn't care less. Why were Palestinian refugees placed in camps surrounded by barbed wire? Because the arabs and muslims couldn't care less. The Palestinian cause is a convenience to the arab and muslim world.
The same is true of the Israelis. The west will pay lip service to them, honor their democratic values with more lip service and provide weapons to protect the west's interest in having stability in the region so as to insure its needed oil supply.
In the end if push comes to shove, the west will take a steady supply of oil over Israel and the arabs will take the money from a steady sale of oil over the Palestinians.
So Israelis and Palestinians must sit together without the incendiary speeches of know nothing morons on all sides and accept the fact that they can either prove their courage by choosing to live in peace as true neighbors or they can continue t
We in the UK can not belive how these zionists have hijaked and hoodwinked the good people of the US.
Oslo Accords died when Jews assasinated their own leader Rabin.
Then comes Barak, with the most "generous" offer:
Municipal control over a few Bantustans, dominated by armed settler encampments, the Palestinians were asked to forego their sovereignty, their right of return, the right to defend themselves, control over their borders, and rights to their own water resources. A 'generous' peace plan it was indeed - generous to the Israelis.
Even my dog will not accept such an offer
Then comes Sharon "The butcher of Sabra and Shatila" still remembering his old trade
What weaponery are you talking about, rifles that fail beyond 100 metres, Palestine made sling shots are better.
Suicide bombings will surely stop when Palestinians have Apache and F16s
Friedman is a one trick pony. Get over him.
With Americans like him, who needs Taliban.
yes they are martyrs not suicide bombers