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Evil Gets What Evil Gives
If you got your news only from the television, you would have no idea of the roots of the Middle East conflict, or that the Palestinians are victims of an illegal military occupation – John Pilger
Anthony McIntyre • 4 February 2004

Last week, near the official residence of war criminal Ariel Sharon in West Jerusalem, a member of the Palestinian police force, Ali Jaara, used his own body as a weapon of human destruction. The term 'suicide bomber' rapidly congested the reports of those correspondents seeking to convey the vast human misery caused by the attack - ten Israeli citizens dead, their bodily parts scattered over the street, and fifty injured. Only the day previous Israel killed eight Palestinians. But the Irish Times, graphic in its depiction of the effects of the attack on Israeli civilians, spared us any detail about the state of the Palestinian bodies. Nothing about scattered limbs, no comments from the horrified bystanders that rushed to their aid – the gore, perhaps, might have helped us deconstruct the racism that underlies much of the Western perspective on Palestine and allowed the readership to see Palestinian dead as flesh and blood ripped asunder - just like, and on a par with Israeli dead - by other human beings.

But some in the world of media have no intention of reporting fairly and accurately. As Professor Greg Philo of the Glasgow University Media Group, asserts:

The extent to which some journalism assumes the Israeli perspective can be seen …(We) … did not find any reports stating that 'The Palestinian attacks were in retaliation for the murder of those resisting the illegal Israeli occupation'.

Having attended a panel discussion in Belfast last week, organised by the Ireland Palestine Solidarity Campaign, and listened to an audience debate with the panellists the use of the term 'suicide bomber', it struck me that it is as loaded a use of language as 'suicide by starvation' was when its application to the Irish hunger strikes of 1981 was an act of calculated disparagement. Besides, the media never seem to refer to Israeli F16 pilots as 'mass murder bombers.'

‘Suicide bomb’, it was pointed out during the Belfast discussion, is a term viewed by many in the Islamic world as being deliberately constructed with a view to causing offence to Islam, with its strict code against taking one’s own life. Not that people should be compelled to desist from offending Islam or any religion if the need arises. Too often in the human war of position, the right not to be offended is cynically employed as a means to outmanoeuvre an opponent, restrict debate and set the terms of the agenda. Salman Rushdie’s freedom to criticise ought to be protected against any religious privilege aimed at evading scrutiny. Nevertheless, when somebody from the floor suggested 'human bomb', it rang as being possessed of a more technically accurate character. It exudes a certain ambience, which is more value-free while conveying neither legitimacy nor approval on the method employed by the carrier of the bomb, which seems to happen if too much linguistic slippage occurs and the perpetrator is approvingly referred to as a 'martyrdom bomber.' The term ‘human bomb', since its insertion into common Irish usage as a result of IRA operations in Derry in 1990, is hardly one that denotes or implies chivalry.

The argument that such Palestinian bomb attacks are the result of desperation, otherwise the bombers would not go to such lengths, seems every bit the ideological construct that the term 'suicide bomb', itself is. It aims to replace a myriad of cultural and ideological factors and strategy-induced tactics with a monocausal explanation that transfers human agency and externalises moral responsibility. There is little that would lead us to conclude that the Kamikaze pilots in the service of Japanese imperialism during World War 2 were inspired by desperation. Rather, the ability of Japanese admirals to create new discourses by tapping into rich veins in Japanese military and cultural history, proved a malignantly fertile source of motivation for those considering hurling themselves into US troop and plane carriers in the Pacific. Other regions, considerably more repressive and desperation-inducing than the appalling situation that prevails in Palestine today, produced acquiescence, not human bombers. To reduce wider cultural and societal matters to desperation depicts Palestinians as mere automatons, not subject to the same influences as other human beings - one of which is that human beings alone die and kill in pursuit of ideas. And one powerful idea is that of vengeance.

The deliberate targeting of civilians, Israeli and Palestinian alike, is a crime against humanity, regardless of the context that apologists seek to construct. The human right of all civilians not to be slaughtered at the altar of another’s cause applies to all human beings, otherwise we are left to presume that some people are more human than others, taking us right back to the malevolent Nazi concept of Untermensch and its hierarchy of humanity.

Israel, if it is not forced by its own citizens to take such things into consideration before it sets out on murderous missions against Palestinians will again and again find itself trumped by the immortal words of W. H. Auden who wrote, ‘those to whom evil is done do evil in return.’

Before he set out on his brutal mission Ali Jaara left a note in which he said he wanted to avenge the eight Palestinians slaughtered the previous day by Israel.






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The Blanket - A Journal of Protest & Dissent



All censorships exist to prevent any one from challenging current conceptions and existing institutions. All progress is initiated by challenging current conceptions, and executed by supplanting existing institutions. Consequently the first condition of progress is the removal of censorships.
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Index: Current Articles

4 February 2004


Other Articles From This Issue:


Language Belongs to All the People
Sean Flemin


Back to the Future? Prison Moves: From Segregation to Transportation
Fionnbarra Ó Dochartaigh


Evil Gets What Evil Gives

Anthony McIntyre


31 January 2004


Partitionists and Non Truth Tellers
George Young


Politically Correct: PC Orde
Anthony McIntyre


Statement of Liam O Comain to the Bloody Sunday Tribunal

Liam O Comain


An Aging Population
Liam O Ruairc


INLA Statement on unveiling of Neil McMonagle Monument


Inspiration at Budrus
Mary La Rosa




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