Saturday, January 24, 2004

Desperate situations ...

apparently excuse all and any violence. According to Jenny Tonge, that is. Consider these pearls of wisdom on Palestinian suicide bombers: "I think if I had to live in that situation, and I say this advisedly, I might just consider becoming one myself." Read more at The Guardian website.

Interesting. Where does Dr Tonge stand on the issue of Israeli desperation?

Because if my child/mother/father/sister/brother/husband/wife/friend and so on had been blown into tiny pieces while engaged in the deeply offensive and provocative act of taking a bus to school or work, I'd be pretty desperate. If my family or friends had been shot down in cold blood carrying out such oppressive actions as lighting their Shabbat candles, or reading a bedtime story to their kids, I'd be pretty desperate too. If most of the world said my country (and therefore I) had no right to exist, and the UN, who had voted for my country's creation did little or nothing to stem the tide of hatred, I'd be pretty desperate. Yet Israel's every act of self-defence is decried as oppression by such 'liberals' as Dr Tonge (and I vote for her party. Hooray for CK for showing her the door). Individual Israelis have resorted to violence. And Israel punishes them with the full force of the law. Israel doesn't believe that her citizens' desperation excuses violent or criminal acts.

I noticed that the 'they're-driven-to-it-by-brutal-Israeli-oppression' brigade were remarkably silent when the two British suicide bombers murdered Israelis in Mike's Place. Neither of these men was of Middle Eastern origin. What made them so 'desperate'? Could it ... could it possibly be ... [GASP], that Israel has occupied Hounslow and Derby? Or could it be that this whole desperation excuse is nothing more than smoke and mirrors?

Desperate people do commit suicide. And they may do it publicly and dramatically to draw world attention to their plight and that of their people. When their suicide takes the form of an act intended to kill and maim as many innocent people as possible, they become murderers. Let's not fudge the issue.

Blaming the Israelis for the evil deeds of an individual, or those of the men of violence that indoctrinate them does the Palestinian people no favours at all: it demeans them, belittles them, it prevents them from taking responsibility (not the same thing as claiming responsibility) for their own actions.

Of course the Palestinians live in an atmosphere of political hopelessness, because they're backed by forces that don't want them to enjoy democracy or a decent standard of living — they're far too useful as they are. And suicide bombing is sometimes not so much an individual's despairing response as a course of action forced upon them. Consider this:

Translation by IMRA

Sunday, January 18, 2004

How Hamas Turned Adulteress Into Suicide Bomber

Alex Fishman, Yediot Ahronot 18 January 2004

Military sources claim that the terrorist Reem Al-Reyashi, who blew up four
days ago at the Erez Crossing and killed four Israelis, was forced to carry
out the suicide attack — as punishment for cheating on her husband.

A few hours after the suicide attack the Hamas published the will of the 22
year old mother who became a terrorist. With a broad smile on her face and
a rifle in her hands Al-Reyashi read her shocking desire: "I always wanted
to be the first woman who sacrifices her life for Allah. My joy will be
complete when parts of my body fly in all directions."

But information that reached Israel regarding the situation that led
Al-Reyashi to carry out the attack raises a completely different picture.
According to this information this is not a cold blooded terrorist, steeped
in faith and madness, who chose out of free will to turn her two young
children into orphans — but instead a woman who was forced to carry out the

According to military sources, the terrorist paid a cruel price for being
involved in an illicit love affair and was forced to sacrifice herself in
order to clear her name and the honor of her family.

IDF sources said that already at the beginning of the investigation it
turned out that Al-Reyashi's husband, an activist in the Hamas organization,
not only knew about his wife's plans in advance — but even encouraged her to
carry out the suicide attack. This even though he knew that with his wife's
death he would be left to raise their two small children alone. Another
thing turned up from the investigation: the person who was chosen to recruit
the 22 year old Al-Reyashi to carry out the suicide attack and equipped her
with the explosive belt was none other than the lover with whom she cheated
on her husband. The British Sunday Times reports in this morning's edition
that the husband even drove his wife to the Erez Crossing [read it here

In contrast to previous female suicide bombers, Reem Al-Reyashi had no
family member who had been hurt in the course of the Intifada. She is the
daughter of one of the established families in Gaza. Her father was the
owner of a large factory for the production of batteries in Gaza that
markets most of its production in Israel. The IDF refuses to believe
reports that the family of the suicide bomber was shocked to discover what
she had done.

This morning the entrance of workers from the Gaza Strip to Israel will be
renewed — but the security demands will be stricter. From now on workers
will not be allowed to enter Israel with bags or satchels — including bags
containing food. Workers who wear shoes with heels will be barred entrance.
They will also be barred from bringing back things from Israel when they

The investigation of the attack over the weekend finds that the suicide
bomber tried to enter the Israeli side of the Erez Crossing twice. When
she passed the first time the metal detectors sounded an alarm and
Al-Reyashi was asked to leave. After a short time she joined a group of
female workers and returned, but the metal detector sounded an alarm again.
The terrorist was asked to remove her jewelry but even after she did that
the electronic detector continued to sound an alarm. The terrorist was only
allowed to enter after she burst into tears and begged to be allowed to pass.

Plus ça change ...

I'm sitting here timewasting, because if I go offline I have to face the mountain (probably a molehill to anyone else) of things that need doing and the sheer horror of my existence. In cyberspace I'm safe. Nothing to do but fiddle around with templates. No, that's not strictly true — I have a website in urgent need of updating. Others are affected by my failure to act. That comes into the category of 'things that need doing', though and is therefore off limits. I have to give myself permission to ignore all these things; then I find it easier to do them.

I sit at my desk all day with curtains drawn and use a light box to compensate. Crazy.

Forget the Golden Globes
You have until 31 January to vote for your favourites in [fanfare] The Bloggies. I couldn't be bothered to vote in all the categories, but I voted for the best Middle Eastern blog, and was glad to see that one of my favourites, Alison Kaplan Sommer's An Unsealed Room was in the running. I cast my vote for Alison's "window on life in Israel", but had she not been among the nominees, I would certainly have voted for Baghdad Burning.

Baghdad Burning is life in Iraq from the viewpoint of an intelligent, literate Iraqui woman. Her English is impeccable. What have we done to these people? I can say 'we', because although I was against the war, I didn't do anything: I didn't sign a petition, I didn't go on a march, I didn't write to the PM or the President or my MP. Yes, Saddam was a monster. So was Stalin. Did we topple him? All right, he had muscle. So does the government of China, so presumably we won't be going after them for the - what? hundreds? thousands? of Tibetans who have suffered under their rule. And what of the 'disappeared' in Argentina? Did anyone ever suggest a 'regime change' there?

I tire easily these days, and cannot sustain an argument for long, but, please, read Baghdad Burning to learn what you won't learn from the BBC, ITV, CNN, or Fox et al. The most recent posting concerns the decision to replace Family Law with Shari'a.

The White Dog revisited

I wasn't going to have another dog ever again. And here is the result of that decision:.

And if you think this blog is crap, you should have seen the state of her paws after her run this morning.

The White Dog

This was my black dog's successor . She died (i.e. the vet said it would be the kindest thing ...) last September, aged almost 17. Didn't do a great deal for my depressive state.

The Black Dog

Isn't that what Churchill called depression? My black dog was a great comfort to me.

I think I prefer to think of it (depression, that is) as running through water: a great deal of effort moves you on only a little way and the whole business is so tired and frustrating that in the end you give up. Maybe that's not such a good analogy: at least one is left with the cool water swirling round one's legs. All right then: running through water on a dark night in a thick fog.

Everything that mattered to me once seems pointless now.

Question: If I Blog regularly about my depression, does it in fact mean that I am coming out of it?

Question: Wouldn't this sort of misery be more appropriate to my Live Journal (no link — it's a secret. As if anyone cared)?

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