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Suicide Bombers

Israel has suffered from many gruesome terrorist attacks. What I cannot understand is that a suicide bomber is a human being, born in the image of God. So what makes a person do such a thing? I am trying to understand this behavior.

The Aish Rabbi Replies:

First of all, I would like to dispel a myth which ascribes suicide bombing to poverty and despair. The New York Times claimed that suicide recruits are "commonly young men raised in poverty," and Associated Press said that "grinding poverty could breed more such attackers." And yet, a research study of 250 aspiring Palestinian suicide bombers and their recruiters showed that "none were uneducated, desperately poor, simple-minded or depressed." In fact the opposite may be true. According to the London-based Arab daily, Asharq Alawsat, a study of Palestinian suicide bombers showed that many bombers come from the most intelligent, accomplished, idealistic and motivated strata of society.

No, the common denominator of these terrorists is not poverty or lack of education. Rather it is blind hatred instilled by militant Islam. Far from being depressed, suicide bombers are the smartest of smart bombs, idealists who want to change the world. Their motivation comes from aspiration, not desperation.

One thing that makes the security situation so difficult in Israel is that many people have been indoctrinated into a reality that, for the rest of us, doesn't exist. Therefore they're operating outside the normal rules of humanity.

Rabbi Noah Weinberg explains it like this:

Nobody wakes up in the morning and says: "I'm going to do evil today." Everyone considers themselves good, based on their own definition. A terrorist believes he is doing the highest holy act.

That’s why a proper definition of "good" is the starting point of everything you do in life. Obviously you can't just invent your own definition of what "good" is. You have to investigate reliable sources, and then analyze which one best describes the human condition and reality.

Be careful! If you don't work out the definition accurately, you'll end up with a warped idea of good.

In Gaza, the definition of "good" may be someone whose willing to strap a bomb to his belly and detonate it in a crowded Israeli market.

In America, the definition of "good" is financial success. People become pulverized by depression because they're not wealthy. "I can't get a job. What's wrong with me? Get me a therapist!"

Always ask yourself: Am I defining "good" as that which looks good to the prevailing forces of society, or am I defining "good" as that which has true meaning, and makes a valuable contribution to society?

In Judaism, the definition of good is found in the Torah. It spells out how a person should act toward his friends, family, and society as a whole.

So keep your definitions straight. And be careful. The wrong definition could bring a lot of death and destruction.

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