by Manzoor Cheema
I have been talking to many Muslim and Arab friends about how they view the suicide bombers and almost in all cases there is justification for their act, and that Israel left no option for Palestinians. Many people say that were it not for the recent highly efficient suicide bombings, that reduced Palestinian to Israeli death ratio (before recent Israeli offecsive in West Bank) from 13:1 to 3:1, Western media would have continuously ignored plight of Palestinians. Through the Muslim world suicide bombers are hailed as martyrs and no sympathy is visible for Israeli victims, it is even a matter of taboo to mention sympathy for Israeli victims as seen in recent Bahraini incident.
I think Palestinian intifada based on suicide bombings is fraught with dangers. Despite the effective suicide bombings who will still suffer the most will be Palsteinians, since the 17 months that new wave of violence started Israel has massacred about 1500 people, and it will just increase after each suicide attack. Most of the targets of suicide bombings are urban Israelis, many even pro peace individuals. This has reduced the good will from liberal/ leftist Israelis in favor of Palestinian state and increased resolve in war against them. The way suicide bombers are lauded in Muslim countries, there is a danger it may be replicated in other countries where Muslims are under oppression. It will give a message that violence is the only means to achieve one's rights.
Of all the recent articles and rhetoric about Plaestinian/ Israeli conflict, I found Edward Said's essay 'After survival, what happens' a fresh and creative point of view. The best way to defeat Sharon's racist tactics is to do exactly the opposite, to embrace coexistence, and to build solidarity with people on both divides of religion as well as around the world, that way Sharon and his right wing politics could be isolated. Hatred for Jews or USA will not lead to healthy outcome. In words of Edward Said, 'America is not monolithic. We have friends and we have possible friends. We can cultivate, mobilise, and use our communities and their affiliated communities here as an integral part of our politics of liberation, just as the South Africans did, or as the Algerians did in France during their struggle for liberation'. I have often heard the criticism from Muslims in USA that American media and politics are controlled by Jewish lobby so Muslims have no chance of being fairly treated, it is partially true, but part of the blame lies with Muslims in USA too for not making use of democratic system effectively and the media to protect their interests. Back in many Arab countries the situation is even worse, most of countries are ruled by monarchies who despite enormous resources haven't built strong human resource. Without democracy Muslim countries have difficult time in building free media, intelligenstia that could engage with Western public opinion makers. In the end I just want to reiterate that hatred is not a positive value, Israeli regime could be defeated by using the tools of democracy and public opinion.