One of the most progressive Jewish principles of old is now being put to the test: "In those days they shall say no more, 'The fathers have eaten a sour grape, and the children's teeth are set on edge'. But every one shall die for his own iniquity: every man that eateth the sour grape, his teeth shall be set on edge." (Jeremia, 31.)
A suicide bomber kills himself. Should his orphan children be punished for that?
The Israeli army of occupation says: Yes, indeed! Furthermore, anyone who helps the children is a criminal, an accomplice, a supporter of terrorism. If the potential suicide bomber knows that his family will starve after his death, he might shrink from committing the deed. But if he knows that somebody will take care of his family, his readiness to become a martyr will be strengthened.
That is to say: "The fathers have eaten a sour grape and the children's teeth shall be set on edge. Every one shall die for his fathers iniquity, the teeth of his whole family shall be set on edge."
In recent times, this logic has frequently been acted upon. When Stalin's secret police arrested a man as an "imperialist spy", his family was dispersed, his wife sent to the Gulag and the children to the party's orphanage. The Nazis created the term "Sippenhaft", meaning that the whole family is responsible for the acts of any of its members. Until now, such methods were associated with totalitarian regimes.
Even if this method were effective, if starving the wives and children of suicide bombers deter others, we must still say: No. We cannot allow our state to behave like this, just as we do not take hostages and shoot them or wrap the corpses of suicide bombers in pigs' skins, as has been suggested by some (to prevent them from entering paradise). In the final analysis, that is not wise, either. The prophets of Israel were no fools.
And to the matter at hand: This week the leaders of the Islamic Movement in Israel ("Northern Branch") were arrested. The huge propaganda apparatus of the army and Security Service, which controls all our media, accused them of "helping Palestinian terrorism".
Two days later, the mountain gave birth to a mouse (as the Hebrew saying goes). The main accusation against the Islamists was that they are supporting the family members of suicide bombers and other "martyrs". The police officer in charge declared that, beyond that, there is no evidence of support of terrorism. All in all, the only offences allegedly discovered were of an economic nature, such as money laundering. "Economic offenses", and for that such a gigantic operation!
The arrests were conducted like a military operation against a dangerous enemy. In the middle of the night, a convoy of 800 police rolled into the township of Um-al-Fakhem, accompanied by a company of reporters and photographers. Policemen in bulletproof vests surrounded the homes of the "suspects", all of them respected public figures. Snipers were at the ready, as the policemen burst in and dragged the leaders out of their beds.
The climax of the operation was the arrest of the head of the movement, Sheikh Ra'ed Salah. His father was dying in hospital, the Sheikh was lying next to him to give him support in his last hours. The policemen woke him up and took him out in his underclothes to the waiting photographers, as we saw on TV. If they wanted to humiliate him, they failed. The dignified bearing of the Sheikh put the policemen to shame. His father died a few hours later, alone.
I must disclose here that I am not entirely objective where Sheikh Ra'ed is concerned. Ten years ago, in the winter of 1993, when Yitzhaq Rabin expelled 415 Islamic activists and left them in a deserted field on the Lebanese border, we set up protest tents opposite the Prime Minister's office. With us in the tent was Sheikh Ra'ed. For 45 days and nights in the fierce cold of snow-covered Jerusalem, we lived together the Sheikh and his followers, I and my spouse Rachel and a changing number of guests, Jews and Arabs. We spent hundreds of hours talking about everything under the sun, and the Sheikh taught us a lot about the Kor'an and Islam, especially its tolerant face.
I admit that the Sheikh, who was 34 years old at the time, charmed us. Unlike the stereotype of a religious extremist, he was full of humor. He is a wise person. In daily life he was pleasant, courteous and modest. I was impressed by his leadership style: early in the morning he got up and started to clean the area around the tents. His men were quick to join him. No orders, no requests.
This does not mean, of course, that I accepted his ideas. I reject any religious regime. I support the total separation of religion from politics, between church (or mosque or synagogue) and state. Religious fanaticism is completely alien to me. That did not prevent me from liking Ra'ed Salah. End of personal note.
The solidarity of the Arab citizens of Israel with their kin in the Palestinian territories in their struggle against the occupation seems to me quite natural. I understand their feelings and their desire to tender humanitarian aid. All the more so as Gush Shalom, the movement to which I belong, collects money and sends food to the beleaguered Palestinian villages and refugee camps, as an act of solidarity. This can also be construed as "aid to terrorists" after all, if the army wants to starve the population into surrender, who are we to alleviate their hunger?
Clearly, all these are pretexts. One does not send 800 policemen just to prevent children from getting bread or to arrest people laundering money. If so, what was the real aim?
The Sharon government is now engaged in an all-out struggle to destroy the Palestinian people as a national entity. The re-conquest of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, the enlargement of the settlements at a frantic pace, the building of the "separation walls" that will cut off about half of area of the West Bank, the daily assassinations and other killings, the starving of the population, the wholesale demolition of homes and the building of bypass roads all these are meant to beat the Palestinian people into submission and to break their will to resist.
Sharon is now opening a second front. The million and a quarter Palestinians who are Israeli citizens were not directly involved up till now. A lot of declarations of support for their compatriots beyond the Green Line, some humanitarian actions, here and there some individuals who actively helped bombers. All in all, very little, under the circumstances.
Sharon is going to change that. The attack on the Islamic Movement is the beginning of a concentrated onslaught that will drag the "Israeli Arabs" into the bloody fight. Breaking the back of this population is aimed at driving the Palestinians deeper into despair. It is, of course, convenient to start with the Northern Branch of the Islamic Movement, because it is the most distant from the Jewish public. It does not participate in the Knesset elections. It is easy to create suspicion and to attack it. But let there no doubt: if this operation succeeds, all the other sections of the Arab population, from Azmi Bishara to Hadash, will follow. The recent attempt to get them out of the Knesset was just the beginning. After that, it may be the turn of the Jewish peace forces which support the establishment of a viable Palestinian state in all the occupied territories.
Let there be no illusions: Sharon's final goal is turning the whole country, from the Mediterranean to the Jordan river, into an exclusively Jewish state. In this vision there is no place for Arabs, whether in the occupied territories or in Israel proper. Whoever opposes this vision is an enemy (if an Arab) or a traitor (if a Jew).
Therefore, paradoxically, the struggle over Sheikh Ra'ed, the religious extremist, is also a battle for the future of Israel as a democratic, secular and liberal state.
Uri Avnery is an Israeli journalist, peace activist and a former member of the Knesset
These "suicide bombings" that happened during the meeting between Abu Mazen and Sharon, I can't believe anythin anymore, simply b/c I find it very difficult to believe the story of the Palestinian dressed up as an "orthodox jew" as CNN dubbed it. What's his ID? Where's his pic?everything's either a complete lie, or half-truths, at least when it comes to reporting. Solution? Do not sit at the table with the butcher (Sharon), and try to negotiate, while they flaunt around international television with US officials dubbing Yasser Arafat to be a sponsorer of "extremist" groups while Sharon's actions are completely disregarded. This is not fair play, they will play the delay game with the Palestinians...they will delay, and delay, and delay...and they will cheat you in the end. Blame the delay as a result of "suicide bombings" or as Israel and the US say, Arafat's sponsor of terrorist groups is the reason....This is amazing how these singled out reasons can be given to the general public by these puppet heads just because they say so! Remember Israeli settlement expansion, remember hte reluctance of the Likud and Sharon the ringleader and their reluctance to negotiate...Sharon is the greatest sponsor of settlement building Israel has ever had. And with his track record in history, reflects even worse! Why are not his past sins (massacre at Sabra and Shatilla) portrayed on CNN, but they make a 1 hour show of Arafat's dictatorial overtaking in the creation of hte Palestinian authority. I laugh, but makes me sad that so many people can only see one side of the story, and believe it. that's why this is a great article :)
Oh I'm sorry, its all kosher to you. I'm so sick and tired of you hypocrites.
Either Warech is oblivious to these facts or chooses to engage in the same habit of deception which he accuses the author of doing.
Warech seems confused as to why Arabs loathe Israel...maybe the past century of land grabs, annexation, terrorism, and ethnic cleansing has left Arabs with a less then favorable picture of the invaders.
Warech lies yet again when he claims Arab jews were evicted from their native countries. It is has been widely documented that Israelis committed acts of terrorism against their own brethren in Arab countries in order to force them to leave and move to Israel eg. the attacks on Iraq's jews in the 1950s. Up until Zionist transgressions did the Arabs treat Jews well, centuries of peacefull co-existance down the drain due to the birth of Jewish fascism and terrorism.
So rabid are Zionists that they will attack and silence even jews who seek peace and reconciliation with the Arabs. Its not the Arabs who are dreaming Mr.Warech, it is you hateful Zionist zealots who wont be satisfied until the goyim are either conquered or exterminated. Keep dreaming Mr.Warech, you're not fooling anyone.
I respect the author for his honesty.
But make no mistake the answer to this problem lies not in today but in the past. For years the Jews have been prosecuted. Starting with the time of Moses (PBUH) and ending with the Germans.
But the question I pose to every Jew is what have they learned from their own history? Looking at the Jewish state today of Israel, I see a people who has perfected not being prosecuted but prosecution. One would think they would know how it feels to be on the short end of the stick but because they have broken their covenant with GOD (as mentioned many times in the Qur'an) I see how the current Jews have gone astray.
I completely disagree with author when he says we must separate religion from politics. If one looks at America for an example, you can see the results of that separation (legal prostitution, legal gambling, legal distribution of alcohol, legal misuse of military power, legal persecution, etc.).
What we are defines who we are. If I am a Muslim, then I must be a Muslim. That means before I make a decision, as a politician, teacher, doctor, etc. I must ask myself how does this decision fit into the laws of Islam and being a good Muslim (according to our beloved Prophet Muhammad (SAW)).
Sharon's final goal is turning the whole country, from the
Mediterranean to the Jordan river, into an exclusively Jewish
is ridiculous. Ask any Arab (Wahabbi) school child what the
Arab dream is- he will answer river to the sea, meaning the
ejection or slaughter of all Jews in Israel. They are taught
that by the state. To project that on Jews is self hatred of
the vilest sort.
Also, not once did you mention terrorists or the ejection of
Jews from Arab territories. Perhaps you think that the
millenia old Arab speaking Jewish populations of North
Africa and the middle east are still living there basking in
the peacefullness and tolerance of their Moslem neighbors.
That expulsion as well as the Judenrein actions of Jordan
when they occupied the West Bank are the true racial and
Peace be unto you despite your hatred of yourself and other
A muslim friend told me 2 days ago: "There is nothing a man can do on earth that earns his place in heaven." I said "Oh yeah? What about blowing himself up on a bus?".
That's the bottom line. Suicide bombers are "forcing" God to let them enter heaven by killing themselves. God is not a vending machine that spits out paridise by inserting a suicide bombing. God isn't that stupid, or that subject to demands and simple equations.
Never mind that the women and children are on the bus, minding their own business.
I can see a suicide bomber at the gates of heaven right now, pleading his case:
"I killed your enemies, o Allah, and gave my life in the process. My death glorified your name, and furthered the cause of Islam."
God would reply: "No, you killed an innocent women and a child. AND you presumed to set your own time of death, therefore abandoning any hope and trust in Me. What worth is the faith of a man if he uses hard times and military occupation as an excuse to disobey My prohibition against suicide? Get thee behind me, Satan. You are thinking not as God does, but as human beings do".