August 15, 1997
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Isn't "terrorist" a relative term? What sort of values do terrorists teach their children? How much popular support exists for terrorists in their homelands? What's the difference between American and Middle Eastern terrorism? Could anyone be capable of a terrorist act? Viewer comments on Middle Eastern terrorism.
August 1, 1997:
A report on the attempted bombing of a Brooklyn subway.
July 30, 1997:
Clinton reacts to the Jerusalem bombing my militant Islamic group Hamas.
March 13, 1996:
A report on the international summit on terrorism.
March 12, 1996:
A report on terrorism and how to prevent it.
An Online backgrounder on terrorism.
Ellen Golub of Marblehead, MA asks:
From what I understand of "middle eastern" terrorism, as it takes place in Israel, the bombers are young people who have been raised to believe they will ascend to heaven by killing Jews. Clearly, there is a great despair in the Palestinian community over the politics of the region, but is it possible that a community—a culture? A religion?-- raises its young to these values?
Hala Jaber responds:
We should be very careful from falling into the trap of stereotyping an entire religion and millions of Muslim as a result of the behaviour of a minority. First, I would like to clarify, to those people who are being wrongly led to believe that Islam encourages its followers to kill Jews, that this is not the case. Islam does not call on Muslims-- be they Arabs or others-- to kill Jews in return for rewards in heaven or a guarantee for a place there. To begin to believe this is to trivialize an entire religion and people. The Palestinian community, culture or Islamic faith do not raise their children with these values. This is a grave error and generalization, albeit as a result of a lack of understanding and perhaps too much of the false propaganda that is being portrayed by the general media.
Islam does stipulate that every Muslim is duty bound to fight against an enemy that occupies his territories, directly oppresses his people, family or self or merely wages war against them. Muslims being subjugated to any one of these forms of injustice or war become duty bound by their religion to fight back, be the enemy or aggressor a Jew, a Christian, an atheist or even another fellow Muslim. Whole communities are exempt from this, so long as a group or part of that community is undertaking the task itself. The Koran promises (to reward) those who die in battle while defending their Islamic rights/honour with heaven. While it encourages fighting or the waging of Jihad as a retaliation to war or aggression itself, it however prohibits Muslims from starting or initiating wars or invasions for territorial gains.
Obviously these laws or Islamic sharia'as are exaggerated and abused by some groups, but one should never forget that the great despair in the Palestinian community over the policies of the regions and Israel's harsh and extreme measures against the Palestinian people can only serve to increase the level of violence.The practice of extremism be it by the Israelis or the Muslims can only breed further radicalism and violence in a region already tarnished with bloodshed.Violence is very rarely spontaneous. Mostly it is a slowly brewed outcome of circumstance. If the causes are allowed to grow and fester untreated for long then the outcome is most certainly a cycle of violence that can sometimes reach unacceptable and unjustified proportions.
Prof. Martha Crenshaw responds:
It is important to avoid stereotyping an entire community because of the behavior of a minority. So to say that a combination of Palestinian culture and Islamic faith creates an environment in which all children are taught to believe that salvation requires killing Jews is a vast generalization, to say the least. Never mind the fact that some Palestinians are Christian, and that the majority of Palestinians have never committed an act of violence!
It would be more accurate to say that the Palestinian community lives under conditions of extreme political frustration and economic hardship, particularly in the Gaza Strip. Under these conditions, some young people (young men, mostly) join organizations that promise a better future, such as Hamas. They are then socialized into a set of values that justifies violence against the enemy--an enemy that is stereotyped and dehumanized, so that any Jew is an acceptable target. Religion is used to provide a foundation of belief. The cause of violence, however, is political, not religious. Terrorism is not spontaneous; it is deliberate and premeditated, directed by leaders with a political agenda.
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