On Kidnappings

I never know what to call them sometimes. I don’t agree with the term suicide bomber at all but then again the word martyr calls on religion and that is something left to God in my opinion. Moreover I don’t believe someone blowing themselves up on a public bus can be considered a martyr and many of the arguments justifying it are at best on shaky grounds. However the same act done at a military outpost is more black and white. I think taking one’s life has always been unsettling for the western world and it has baffled me for some time. Most people have no problem with Israeli missiles launching in to refugee camps in the middle of the night, but will become uneasy when someone blows themselves up. That being said I know there are better methods of resistance that are more efficient. That being said I know if Palestinians had something more than their bodies in terms of arsenal then they wouldn’t need to do this. Nevertheless I just don’t agree with the policy.

Now a worse policy seems to be taking shape: kidnappings. And I find myself feeling the same way. I can understand the kidnapping of an Israeli soldier but not a journalist. These recent FOX journalists are a testament of that I suppose. And I don’t even think the kidnappers have ever watched FOX news, they just looked for the first foreign looking person. In any case while I can empathize with one kidnapping and see major fault in the other I feel it is a policy that is overall counter-productive for the Palestinian cause and Israel’s operation Summer Rain has been evidence of that. The action is only as good as it’s reaction.

That being said, I admit that I stand in the middle on these specific issues but I don’t mind it. I’m in no position to say how people should resist but the problem is when they involve one’s religion it begs one to at least attempt to analyze it. This is not a black and white issue; it’s not a fully-condemn or fully-support type scenario and I donâ??t believe it should be. You cannot completely discard it or entirely accept it as it depends on the circumstances. Looking back at Islamic history I see the Prophet pbuh criticizing and condemning his own soldiers after the dust had settled from a battle and in doing so teaching them some of the strictest rules of engagement in military history to date, which I feel are not being applied today at all. And if this is one of those â??What Would Prophet Mohammad Doâ?? type deals then I don’t think he’d agree with someone blowing themselves up on say a bus full of women and children or civilians in general when his own Muslim army wasn’t allowed to even touch them over 1400 years ago.

It’s kind of strange how the Islamic world consistently looks up to the models of Islamic resistance such as the Prophet pbuh or even Salah Il-Dein, yet focus only on the victory and never on the way the war was won, the manner in which it was conducted. I always hear people telling me that we need another Salah Il-Dein to free Jerusalem but I find myself wondering if they’re as concerned with the outcome as much as the conduct of the battle as he was. He was so famous for it that even his enemies in Europe couldn’t help but document it and this is what history remembers him for.

I know that just mentioning this issue or the fact that I feel I’m somewhere in the middle or simply disagreeing with the policy, opens a whole can of worms. Both sides will disagree with me (or worse) but I generally do not care. I’m not saying I’m right or wrong on the issue; this is just my current worldview. I have what is in the best interests of Palestine and Palestinians at heart, which is why I feel that policies need to be scrutinized and evaluated and if they fail then they have to be abandoned.

That being said, I hope this kidnapping policy does not become a popular one and I hope it starts and ends with the release of these FOX reporters.


American Steve Centanni and New Zealander Olaf Wiig of US organisation Fox News were dropped off at a Gaza City beach-front hotel.

Mr Centanni said they were forced at gunpoint to convert to Islam. They stated their conversion in a video released before they were set free…Speaking after their release, Mr Centanni told Fox News they had been forced to convert to Islam at gunpoint.

“I have the highest respect for Islam… but it was something we felt we had to do because they had the guns and we didn’t know what the hell was going on,” he said by telephone from Gaza City. [BBC]

Whatever happened to verse 2:256 of the Quran? You know, the one that prohibits forcing people in to Islam?


  • We don’t live the daily life of the average Palestinian who is constantly humiliated by the occupier so it is very easy for us – living outside Palestine – to voice our disagreement …I, wholeheartedly, am against this form of resistance. I don’t agree with the young, brainswashed men blowing themselves up and killing innocent civilians in the process! Indeed, there are other means of resisting…and the latest, the kidnapping of journalists – regardless of how biased their reports are is ridiculous and does not serve the best interest of Palestinians what-so ever! incomprehensible!! at least to me. I somewhat started failing to fathom what is going on in Palestine – particularly Gaza! have we, Palestinians, started adopting ‘Al-Qaeda’ tactics?!! It is beyond outrageous!

  • Nas, I’m interested in your disagreement with the term suicide bombing. What do you object in that? To me as a Westerner, that’s a correct and (relatively) neutral term which exactly tells what it’s all about without adding an aura to the perpetrator (like the martyr you also object to would).

  • Well man, you forgot one thing, that we are facing a barbaric enemy.
    When you feel that the whole world is fighting against you, then whatever you do is legal.

    Kindnapping the journalists was covered in a wrong way by all media. Why none of us spoke about Tayseer Alouni, why none of us said anything about Sami El Haj, well at least the west should feel the same way we do.

    Iman, what innocent civilians are you talking about??!!!
    In what means are they innocent??
    Those people are occupying our country, and you are saying innocent??
    They are humilatin our brothers, destroying everthing, arresting thousands of people, killing kids and women.

  • non-blogging: the word suicide is the antithesis of the word martyr, it implies hell the same way the word martyr implies heaven. both terms have religious connotations to them. suicide is something someone does because they dont want to go on living, these people have a cause. the method may be wrong but they have a cause. a more neutral term would be to call them sacrafical voulenteers (if we want to be technical about it)

    ABOUD, i didnt forget that and as i said Israel in my opinion is much much worse than any of these bombers. theres no comparison. nevertheless, you are wrong to say that whatever you do is legal, especially when they fight under the viel of Islam or claim to be Islamic. The Islamic world has faced worse enemies than Israel. When Salah il-deen entered jerusalem his top military people asked him why he wanted to let the crusaders leave to syria and lebanon and not kill them all, so he said “they commit atrocities in their name but we have our religion”.

    in other words just because they did something bad doesn’t mean we do something worse. it doesnt work that way. the media is bias, thats nothing new. we dont fight based on the whims of the media, the very thought of kidnapping journalists or any other civilians is just plain wrong. and when we say innocent, as iman is implying, we are saying those who are not coming at you with a gun. what they’re country is doing is no doubt an atrocity and they obviously support it but still, there are rules of engagement and we can’t just pause them. theres a difference between blowing oneself up at a military checkpoint in ramallah or a pizza parlor in tel viv.


  • Aboud, suicide bombings targetting ‘civilian’ areas tend to generate more world-wide support for israel…If one must blow himself up, do it at a military post!

  • Nas, I somewhat disagree with you. Where the term suicide bombers is actually used is in the West where I don’t see we have any religious connotation to the word suicide and where suicide itself is far less a taboo than in the Islamic world (correct me if you think I’m wrong). Whether somebody kills himself because he’s just tired of living or intentionally blows himself and others up because of a cause, the act is a suicide anyway. Knowing that sacrificing oneself for example at war is actually valued in the West as well, in my opinion the rightfully negative attitude Westerners have against suicide bombers is not so much because of killing oneself for a cause but the sheer disgust at people who harm innocent bystanders just because they, for example, happen to board the same bus as the perpetrator.

  • I care less about what the world think of us, for whatever we do; we will always be the terrorists and they will always be the victims.

    If someone is occupying my country then he is my enemy, no matter what he is doing over there, he is an enemy.

    I think that after 58 years of occupation, people care less about what so called the “international community”, the UN or about the scum coming out for the american media.

  • Non-Blogging, I have to disagree. I think the west does embed the same religious connotations that the eastern world does. It makes me wonder why they didnt call them suicide pilots as opposed to kamakaze pilots.

  • There is one quite old song which says
    “You don`t know how it feels to be me…”

    The truth is it is not easy to look at the situation from both sides and uderstand what moves them. And another truth is it is not absolutely impossible

    ——- Non-Bloging ———
    in my opinion the rightfully negative attitude Westerners have against suicide bombers is not so much because of killing oneself for a cause but the sheer disgust at people who harm innocent bystanders just because they, for example, happen to board the same bus as the perpetrator.

    as westerner i square. This is so. We can`t comprehend why the lives of those who had nothing to do with wrongs commited to a third party have to be taken.

    but on the other hand, on the other hand…

    ——- ABOUD ——–
    I think that after 58 years of occupation, people care less about what so called the “international community”, the UN or about the scum coming out for the american media.

    One more sad truth is that if all the Palestinians will blow themselves up on their land, inside their houses, the world hardly will notice it and not even “in a while” even faster it will go on living like nothing happend. And, perhaps, will sigh in relief. Your outcry heard only when it directly concerns the owners of deaf ears.

    I am trying to learn more about the causes which led to the current mid east situation. And have to admit that the more i read the more it seems to me that with present attitudes of all sides there is no any solution. (Well, there is one, but no one will like it…)
    How to change it i don`t know.

    Pesonally, i agree with what Nas said. Kidnapping will not lead to solution of the problem.

    ——- ABOUD ———-
    I care less about what the world think of us, for whatever we do;
    we will always be the terrorists and they will always be the victims.

    sorry to “disappoint” you but this is not so. Maybe it is not really humble to talk about myself, but I don`t consider as terrorists
    all of you, and don`t think that west or Israel is always a victim.
    Many of my friends think the same. Many people in various blogs and articles express same ideas. And lots of other people i`ve never met don`t consider you just terrorists.
    I perfectly uderstand that it doesn`t ease your life, but, perhaps, this is something to consider

  • Non-Blogging, I have to disagree. I think the west does embed the same religious connotations that the eastern world does. It makes me wonder why they didnt call them suicide pilots as opposed to kamakaze pilots.

    Nas, anyway, what do you mean by the religious connotations of suicide? Suicide isn’t actually a religious topic apart from alla major religions condemning it. Besides, seriously, killing oneself is killing oneself and that’s a suicide, so why should we try to deny that? “Sacrificial volunteer” is a term which would make all everybody who loves politically correct terms smile ;-).

    Kamikaze pilots were suicide pilots. That we usually use the Japanese term is akin to using Arab terms in other issues (Jihad etc.) or German terms in other World War II -related topics (Blitzkrieg, Anschluss, The Third Reich etc.). The point, however, is that when we talk about World War II and kamikaze pilots, everybody who’s even a bit aware of war history knows they took part in suicide missions.

  • Non-B, suicide is a term that is entrenched with religious conotations in my opinion, but that’s just me. it implies hell but moreover it strips it of the actual intention, the cause. when someone says suicide we conjure images of someone taking their life because they could not go on living anymore. these bombers make a choice to turn their bodies into a weapons. the line might be thin but it’s there and it should be acknowledged.

    im not looking for political correctness, to say that would imply there is something politically incorrect with saying suicide. i was looking for a technical and more accurate definition.

    this is all besides the point anyway, you can call it apples or oranges for all i care, i still dont agree with it as a policy.

  • the term suicide would seem to be far more ‘technical’ and ‘neutral’ than some other term with ‘sacrificial’ in it which would imply deeper religious connotations. ‘Martyr’ and ‘sacrifice’ are no doubt from the same league. The fact that you associate ‘hell’ with suicide is an indication that you yourself are viewing ending one’s own life through a religious prism (which I do not think you are denying, and you obviously have every right to do so), still it does ‘distort’ your perception of the implications of the term when it is being used by others for whom this traditional religious ‘hell’ does not even exist, let alone it being in anyway related to the act of ending one’s own life. (By the way, a few years ago, even the highest authority in the catholic church, the late pope John Paul II, proclaimed ‘hell’ as a ‘metaphor’)(that’s not to prove or refute anything, but it would indicate a certain evolution regarding this kind of religious terminology).. So how about ‘suicide volunteers’? lol

  • i love it when people focus on the first sentence and ignore the rest of the post.

    of course i view suicide in a religious prism, so do the majority of people in my opinion. the fact that everyone is arguing this point is indicative of that. it’s not just about hell, but if we are to use hell for the sake of metaphor, then hell becomes allegorical with someone simply taking their own life for no just cause in the sense that there is no higher purpose or cause when the term martyr implies one who sacrafices his life for a that higher cause. what i am suggesting is that suicide is associated with no just cause. and the media feeds on this to the extent that when people hear about a palestinian taking his own life they find it horrible but they have no idea why they do it, their minds are engrained with the term “suicide” they figure the person was simply crazy.

  • Nas, still back to the first sentence ;-).

    Although I condemn suicide bombings exactly like you do, I don’t see that connection between a suicide and just cause you do. One can commit a suicide for a just cause or for a million other reasons. Using the term suicide here doesn’t negate the cause as such, what negates the action is randomly killing civilians who happen to be in the wrong place. For example, in my humble opinion, no cause can justify deliberately killing innocents.

    Sacrificing oneself for a cause one thinks is just or fighting despite a situation seeming hopeless is not alien to Western/Christian culture either. If you ever come to Finland, I can give you a tour of war heroes’ graves if you want some proof ;-). Or just think about the respect Americans have for people like the United 93 passengers.

  • if i would decide to commit a suicide (without any religious connotation) i`d make it in a quiet way, without drawing any attention…

    But any public action brings up more hews, and in this case semantics of word “suicide” doesn`t fit it perfectly. Well, of course killing of innocents istself destroys any religious cause behind it, but there is something else to it.

    Kamikaze were suicide pilots, but there also was a “Dai Nippon” mantra behind their actions, russian revolutionaries had their idealistic goals, IRA members theirs… as long as “hell” turned into metaphor, “religious fervour” nowdays is being applied to many other cases beside those of world religions

    Term “suicide bomber” doesn`t embrace all the constituents of a picture. But this is a term we are used to. If we`d have any analogy to “divine wind”, we probably, would be using it for such matters

  • Non-Blogging, I think DR put it in a nice way. That being said, I suppose it’s all a matter of perception. To me, I feel the perception of suicide used in the media or the west is the antithesis of the word martyr. But that’s just me.

  • personally, i was not commenting on the actual act of the ‘suicide bomber’, nor its justification (or lack of), nor on its effectiveness as a tactic, rather on your disagreement with the use of the term (yes, in your first sentence). I feel that Arabs (and Moslems) have become jittery regarding any reference to their religion, culture, politics, tactics, actions, etc. (understandably, one must add in the tense atmosphere and polarizing events that engulf us today)- nevertheless, no one diagreed with the term being applied to the assassination of an Indian PM by a ‘suicide’ mission, for example. All differences aside, there is a danger to feeling threatened and offended by every reference to one’s religion, culture, politics, tactics, actions, etc. (cartoon protests!) it feeds a malicious paranoia, and it is this paranoia that ends up obscuring the real issues where the energy ,analysis, and protest are badly needed- It is perfectly understandable to be offended by a term like ‘islamo-fascism’ on various grounds, but in my mind the term ‘suicide bomber’ does not have the same kind of judgemental, negative associations (unless one views suicide as particularly abhorrant (which you seem to do- hence the ‘hell’ connection) and one is certain that the ‘majority’ agrees with that view!)

  • Enkidu, I second your words! Where are you from if I may ask..?

    Nas, my last comment on this matter now that we both seem to stick to our viewpoints and are not going to change them (which we of course don’t need to as long as we’re able to listen to the other side). To me, suicide is a neutral though sad word in the way death, divorce, sorrow, disaster etc. are. Which is actually quite strange. Suicide is the only voluntary way to die there is, so technically it should be the happiest death around. Which of course it isn’t.

  • non-blog i am an iraqi living in canada
    and BTW the perception of a lot of people have changed dramatically regarding suicide. last winter, the parents of one of my best friends, decided to take their own lives together and die in ‘dignity’. I live in a small town, so word gets around pretty quickly. I guarantee you no one called them ‘crazy’ (some called them ‘selfish’ for depriving their grand children of love and guidance). My friend told me (and she works in hospitals so she has seen her share) that it was the most serene and ‘happy’ death. This is not to say that it is analogous to a teen-ager blowing him-herself up for ‘A’ cause, but it may indicate that the ‘stigma’ attached to a ‘suicide bomber’ has less to do with the ‘suicide’ and more with the ‘bombing’ of the defenceless target(s).

Your Two Piasters: