Academic journal article Middle East Quarterly

The Making of a Human Bomb: An Ethnography of Palestinian Resistance (the Culture and Practice of Violence)

Academic journal article Middle East Quarterly

The Making of a Human Bomb: An Ethnography of Palestinian Resistance (the Culture and Practice of Violence)

Article excerpt

The Making of a Human Bomb: An Ethnography of Palestinian Resistance (The Culture and Practice of Violence). By Nasser Abufarha. Durham: Duke University Press, 2009. 277 pp. $84.95 ($23.95, paper).

The Making of a Human Bomb looks at suicide terrorism from the perspective of the perpetrator and the society from which the phenomenon emerges. The intersection of culture and violence is a significant marker of Palestinian society as evidenced by the brutal FatahHamas rivalry, the long tradition of blood feuds, and "honor killings" of women; an analysis of that society would make for a compelling and valuable contribution to the literature. As a product of Palestinian society, Abufarha could have brought a unique viewpoint to the table with an ability to offer an insider's view of a group of people so often discussed but so little studied.

Such hopes are misplaced: Abufarha has wasted this potential by normalizing violence in Palestinian society and repeating tired tropes about colonialist victimization to rationalize acts of mayhem. Despite his cultural, religious, territorial, and social accessibility to the region of Jenin, home of many a suicide bomber, the genuine insight of an academic is absent from the book. Whatever ethnographic research is present, it is filtered through a deeply subjective and selective outlook, riddled with holes and resulting in a series of historical and scientific inaccuracies that conform to a political agenda and create problems with validity and reliability. …

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