Palestinians must denounce suicide bombings in unified voice

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(Ray Hanania, a member of Scholars for Peace in the Middle East, is a national syndicated columnist and former national president of the Palestinian American Congress. His columns are archived on the web at He can be reached at )

The events of the past week have been terrible for everyone who hopes for peace in the Middle East. The carnage from the suicide bombings and the Israeli military reprisals have made hope for peace seem so futile.

While I do blame current Israeli government policies for helping to bring us to this point, the responsibility to take the first steps to stop it rest on the shoulders of the Palestinians.

Suicide bombings are the most egregious, immoral, unjustified and horrific acts of violence ever imagined by mankind. The fact that a people, who are oppressed and who have justifiable and moral claims against an oppressor, would turn to such an unjustified and immoral act of violence only speaks to how relations between Palestinians and Israelis have deteriorated so terribly and irreparably.

I understand the suffering the Palestinians are going through. The Israeli military occupation not only causes physical despair, it causes mental despair by undermining hope. But, by attempting to make your “oppressors” suffer “more” is a worse crime.

Suicide bombings are not only criminal on the part of the individual’s committing the homicide and on the part of the cowardly accomplices who exploit the suicide bomber’s faith and despair, but they are criminal on a national level, too. The attacks undermine the very justice that is the foundation of the Palestinian claim to a national homeland.

Despite all of its oppressive measures, Israel has failed to extinguish the inevitability of a Palestinian State. It will happen, one day. But suicide bombings threaten to destroy the moral foundation that would make the creation of a Palestinian State an act of justice.

This isn’t a political issue any longer. It is a moral issue. It is about salvaging the just cause of the Palestinian people that has inspired people to stand up in the face of oppression and survive.

The Palestinians now need to stand up and declare in a unified, national voice that suicide bombings are wrong. They must stop. Suicide bombings take the right of an individual to resist oppression beyond legal justification, and even undermine the legal basis of the cause the bombers themselves claim to be defending.

This must be done on a national level. Across the board. It must involve Palestinian leaders from every organization and on every leadership level. In one national voice, the Palestinians must speak out against suicide bombings.

The Israelis don’t make it easy for the moderates to do that. The Israeli policies are so oppressive that even a moderate might scream in anger.

But that kind of knee-jerk emotion is one that can be dealt with. It’s the hardcore hate that exists on both sides that has to be overcome. And we have to distinguish between the hardcore hate and the knee-jerk anger if we want to get back to a place where we can one day live together. I believe that’s possible. I hate being where I am at, today. I don’t want to write columns criticizing Israeli government policy. I’d rather write about the good things that we share rather than the differences that plague us. But there isn’t a mainstream Jewish journalist or writer who seems concerned about this conflict the way I am. In their eyes, they seem eager to destroy the Palestinians. They view the current turmoil as an opportunity to finally do away with the Palestinian national movement. But they’re blind. If the Palestinians fail, so too will Israel.

The Palestinian fanatics don’st care if they bring the whole house down on everyone. That’they’re goal. They would rather kill the baby than let it live in some shared environment. But that’s the same as many Israeli fanatics, too. Are there not any real voices for peace who can help fight against this rising tide of hatred, and see through the fanaticism? We can disagree on policy and issues, but we can do it with a shared vision of mutual existence, compromise and sharing that is the only solution.

To me, that is the most frustrating aspect of this conflict. The feeling that all hope is lost when it isn’t lost is terrible. Has everyone given up on hope?

The suicide bombings feed on the despair, not cure it. These unspeakable acts of cruelty and violence make the despair worse. Every time a suicide bomber strikes, and every time the Palestinians as a people remain silent, they are helping to undermine their own future.

The price of this macabre form of vengeance is the destruction of those who seek it.

Palestinians must denounce suicide bombings in unified voice

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