• First published in 2004 as Bartholomew’s Notes on Religion (BNOR).

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Gaza: Shoebat Speaks

As conflict continues in Gaza, OneNewsNow inevitably turns to Walid Shoebat for commentary. And Shoebat, inevitably, says something stupid:

“The core issue is not an issue of land whatsoever. It’s an issue of wiping the state of Israel out. If you look at even suicide bombing — historically, if you look from 1980 until 2003, let’s say — 224 suicide bombings out of 300 existed in Islamic countries with no occupation whatsoever,” he notes. “So it’s not simply the desire to create a Palestinian state. It is the desire to destroy the Jewish state, and that’s what we see.”

The statistics are OK, but the rest of this verges on incoherence – how exactly do suicide bombings “in Islamic countries with no occupation whatsoever” help us to understand suicide bombings arranged by Hamas? And what does “no occupation whatsoever” mean? Jihadists usually regard the rulers of the various Islamic countries as corrupt and illegitimate – that amounts to a kind of “occupation”, from their perspective.

The point is not to dispute that Hamas is sanguinary and disastrous for the Palestinians – but we can work that out without Shoebat’s ramblings, which offer no illumination whatsoever. Once again, this man, who has no special insight and is of dubious credibility, is held up as some kind of expert despite having nothing sensible to contribute.

Any serious discussion of suicide bombing has to begin with Dying to Win: The Strategic Logic of Suicide Terrorism, by Robert Anthony Pape. But then, Pape is just a scholar, while Shoebat dines out on the conspiratorial notion that as an ex-Muslim he knows stuff which the Muslim world (not just Palestine, but everywhere) otherwise hides from outsiders. OneNewsNow relies heavily on this kind of pseudo-authority.

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