A Comparative Study of Lebanese and Palestinian Perceptions of Suicide Bombings: The Role of Militant Islam and Socio-Economic Status

By Haddad, Simon | International Journal of Comparative Sociology, October 2004 | Go to article overview

A Comparative Study of Lebanese and Palestinian Perceptions of Suicide Bombings: The Role of Militant Islam and Socio-Economic Status


Haddad, Simon, International Journal of Comparative Sociology


Introduction

Martyrdom operations represent an odd and abnormal type of violent behavior. The regularity with which they occur signals the perpetrators' rejection of compromise and their recourse to unconventional warfare. They point to the level of agitation and disruption in the social order within which they operate. The failure of the Oslo accords to provide a just and peaceful settlement for the Palestinian-Israeli conflict triggered an unprecedented wave of suicide bombings by Palestinian Islamic militants. Sixteen attacks between 1994 and 1998 killed 167 Israelis, of whom 132 were civilians. The beginning of the second Palestinian Intifada on 28 September 2000 led to a new wave of suicide bombings that dwarfed its predecessor in terms of number of attacks and human deaths. This ferocious and unremitting round of terror has caused a surge of conflicting interpretations of the motives of suicide bombers and the role of Islam as a facilitator of terrorism against the West in general and Israel in particular.

The era of religiously motivated suicide missions against western targets was inaugurated during the Lebanese civil war (1975-90), especially in the 1980s. Taking inspiration from Iran's Islamic revolution during the 1980s and supported by Syria, suicidal Hezbollah militants, claiming legitimacy in their nationalist struggle, led a carefully planned suicide attack against the US Embassy in Beirut in December 1981, killing 69. In 1983, Hezbollah fanatics embracing martyrdom were particularly effective in staging a devastating blow to western military presence within the multinational force in Lebanon killing 241 US marines and 58 French parachutists. The suicide bombings were spectacularly successful in forcing the eventual withdrawal of all US and French troops from Beirut. By extension, they employed suicide tactics against the Israeli military presence to force them to pull out all their troops between 1983 and 2000. The new rules of combat in the Jewish state's low intensity Lebanon war seemed utterly incomprehensible to the western-minded Israeli politico-military establishment. Using the concept of self-sacrifice or istishhad--in which the attacker faces certain death in the cause of Islamic struggle--Hezbollah not only succeeded in achieving a balance of terror with a powerful enemy, but was able to force Israel to abandon Lebanon by May 2000. The effective and decisive results of this lethal and retaliatory tactic have had repercussions, even if subtle and belated, on Islamists operating within Palestinian territories. (1) Therefore, it is no accident that Hamas and Islamic Jihads' suicidal campaign began in September 2000, only a few months after the IDF definitive pullout from Lebanon. (2)

Statement of Objective and Significance

Fadlallah (2003: 81) stresses that jihad does not pertain solely to the Islamic faith; he perceives it as a 'preventive and defensive action applicable as well to non-Muslim combatants serving their cause beyond the call of duty'. Basing his inquiry on the details of 188 suicide operations around the globe, Pape (2003) observes that there is no link between suicide attacks and religious motives. Several prominent scholars, however, highlight the Islamic character of suicide operations. Haber insists that the 'suicide bombers ... were brainwashed into seeking "martyrdom" via self-immolation for a political cause with promises of heavenly rewards' (2001: 2). Taylor and Horgan (2001: 46) conclude that the suicide bombers displayed unmistakably millennial thinking, which they 'clothed in Islamic terms'. Hassan (2001: 38), admits that 'all (suicide bombers) were deeply religious, believing their actions sanctioned by the divinely revealed religion of Islam'. Using data from Lebanese and Palestinian samples collected in Lebanon during summers 2002 and 2003, the major goal of this article's study is to contribute to a better understanding of the social determinants of attitudes toward suicide terrorism within a comparative context. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

A Comparative Study of Lebanese and Palestinian Perceptions of Suicide Bombings: The Role of Militant Islam and Socio-Economic Status
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.