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View Diary: Without Arafat, Whither Palestine? (264 comments)

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  •  Suicide bombers - a realistic view (none)
    My one bone to pic is when you state he is not the reason that Palestinian children have strapped on bombs. A very debatable point. Particularly when there were some very reasonable peace offers on the table and he chose to walk away rather than negotiate further.

    First, let's be perfectly clear. Suicide bombers are not -- maybe never -- children.

    Palestinian children have died in the conflict, but largely in conflicts with Israeli soldiers. Some -- perhaps a majority -- are innocent; others -- perhaps a majority -- are attacking with weapons ranging from rocks to AK-47s. The children who have died are not part of the class of suicide bombers, though.

    Suicide bombers are also not spontaneous, despite many years of Western media depictions as individuals driven to crazed jihad. Suicide bombings are complex affairs involving anywhere from half a dozen to scores of people, from recruiters, to trainers, to bomb-manufacturers, to scouts, to smugglers, to lookouts. The suicide bomber himself is, sadly, frequently a hapless chump who has been specifically chosen for this task by his or her manipulability and unsuitability for any other task.

    What I mean by this is that suicide bombers are not caused by the hopelessness of the peace process, or its setbacks, but are carefully coordinated military attacks run by one or the other Palestinian faction.

    At one point I believed that Arafat was genuinely seeking peace in his old age, seeking to establish a state in his lifetime; in those days I attributed the suicide bombings to "outs" in the Palestinian power structure. I've since concluded that Arafat and Fatah deliberately invoked a strategy of suicide bombings when they felt threatened by the power of Hamas and Hezbollah.

    Don't be suckered into thinking that having a peace plan, a bucket of unsifted hope as it were, sitting on a diplomatic table somewhere is a means of preventing suicide bombings. It isn't.

    With Arafat gone, Fatah will be desperate to retain its leadership role without its iconic figurehead; I foresee internecine warfare between factions, but I worry that Hamaa will have the upper hand from the beginning. I don't see them as being more pragmatic than Fatah, and I don't care to see an Islamist Palestine. I think that's what might happen, though.

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