British MP Jenny Tonge, who ran into trouble last month for her remarks in “empathy” with suicide bombing, has done it again. She was sent by BBC Radio 4’s Today show to meet families and victims of suicide bombers, and filed this report (thanks to Andy Bannister for the link).
My remarks last month, expressing empathy with suicide bombers, had been misinterpreted by the tabloids as meaning sympathy and approval.
It was, therefore, with some trepidation that I travelled from Jerusalem to the checkpoint out to Bethlehem and the Occupied Territories. . . .
In Israel, the armed forces have F16 fighter planes, helicopter gun-ships, tanks, even nuclear weapons.
The disparity was pointed out to me by a civil society group in Bethlehem, when I asked why Palestinians used suicide bombers.
“Tell the US to give us the arms that Israel has and we will stop such attacks,” was the response.
What then is the explanation for suicide bombings against civilians in Chechnya, Kashmir, Bali, etc.?
We met up with some al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigade terrorists after lurking guiltily in Manger Square waiting for them to arrive.
We were taken to a safe Christian house, where two bearded, shaded, skull-capped men, one with a black Kalashnikov, sat on a sofa near a huge wall hanging of Jesus the Good Shepherd.
They had heard about my remarks and were pleased that I understood the reasons why they were terrorists, even “proud” of me. This was spine-chilling.
More re-assuring was the statement that they now accepted that Israel had a right to exist and their campaign would stop when Israel withdrew to its 1967 borders, removed settlements and returned Jerusalem to the Palestinians.
It is a different message from the one we have been used to.
Yet one to be taken at face value, Ms. Tonge?
We visited the family of a suicide bomber. The stories of indoctrination of little children right through their schooldays didn’t seem to apply here.
The brothers of Mohamed showed no signs of this and his mother claimed she had no idea her son was planning this until the al-Aqsa Brigade delivered his “memorial” picture taken before the mission.
It is certainly true that suicide bombers are regarded as national heroes here, but what else do they have – born out of despair and the desire to resist occupation, laced with religious belief.
Civilian targets are chosen because there is no way of getting at military targets.
That may be the most credulity-straining phrase in this whole piece. It also blissfully ignores the many justifications issued by Islamic spokesmen for attacks against civilians, proclaiming that “there are no civilians in Israel.”
We visited the spot where the Angel Gabriel “came down” to the shepherds in their fields and drove back to Jerusalem as a rainbow formed over the golden city – surely one of the most beautiful places on earth.
The next day back in Israel, I couldn’t find anyone who was willing to see why the Palestinians resorted to suicide attacks.
You don’t say!
Some of the Israeli arguments had truth in them, but it was all so negative.
Well then, how could they be true? The truth is always positive, of course!
Until, late in the day, we met a single mother whose 15-year-old daughter had been killed in the local supermarket by an 18-year-old female suicide bomber.
Grief-stricken, she had tried to contact the bomber’s family, only to find they were “proud” of their daughter.
The idea that anyone could see this kind of thing justified in any way is barbaric.
But then she received a letter from a Palestinian mother expressing her condolences and asking for a meeting. Her young, civilian son had been killed by an Israeli soldier. They were going to meet.
I left this woman feeling that there was the first sign of reconciliation; we know there are many such people in Israel and Palestine, fed up with the stupidity of their leaders.
I hope these people win out in the end. But Tonge isn’t helping.