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Women of valor?

By Debbie Menon


Debbie Menon

Sami Moubayed is a Syrian Professor and Political analyst. In his article "Women of valor ", he refers to "young" Syrian, Lebanese and Palestinian women martyrs who blew themselves up fighting Israel. As a good "teacher" should, he has outlined the facts in the case as they stand, while being very careful to not give away what he, personally, thinks or feels about the hero-worship of these popularly recognized "Women of Valour."


So, what do we make of it?


I understand the foolishness, the conviction, and the immortality, of youth because I was young once myself and felt much the same as youth do today.  But, understanding does not signify belief, agreement, or acceptance. On the other hand, failure to agree or accept does not, necessarily imply condemnation, either.


It is simply that, having been there, I not only understand how they feel, but I understand the futility of attempting to persuade anyone that their personal convictions, concepts of honor and duty to whom or whatever, are misdirected and false... for, whatever they may be to me, that is not what they are to them.


General George Patten once told his troops that it was not their duty to die for their country.  It was their duty to see that the "other guy" died for his.  This presumes only two choices, only one of which can be right.  I disagree that it is such a limited problem, and both of those choices are entirely wrong. The only correct choice is to neither/nor die or kill for any thing, cause or country.  And, to not force anyone else into such a situation where they are limited to one of two such choices.


It was a US Army commander who yesterday told us that coalition forces are slowly winning the "war" in Afghanistan, and today they tell us that civilian casualties are rising to even new and greater heights than ever before.  Is killing even more civilians the stated mission of the Armed Forces in Afghanistan?  No one will persuade me that blowing up civilians with bombs is "heroic" or "warriorlike" on the part of any man or woman... or that it wins wars or solves problems.


I realize that the Christian cheek proverb is probably the fastest and surest way to get killed if someone attacks you.  Therefore, the pragmatist in me accepts the Islamic principle that, if an enemy is invading your home and threatening you, your family or your people, you must subdue or kill him.  But, in doing so I would advocate the tactic espoused in the homily, "He who fights and runs away, lives to fight another day."


I believe one of the greatest disservices human leadership has ever perpetrated on followers has been the glorification of war, combat, the raising up of heroes, and the high esteem awarded such vague ideals as "honor," "duty" "bravery," etc., which has turned most of the world into a culture of hero worshippers... just take a look at any history book and you will see them indexed.


I do not condone hero worship and the honoring of murderers, martyrs and self-sacrifices.  I have never held with the reasonableness of the practice in men, and I certainly do not agree with anyone who holds women aloft as similar heroes.  Women who think that the only way they can "succeed" in any "man's" endeavors is by emulating and out-doing the worst in man, and that includes suicidal martyrs? They are not admirable to me!


Getting on a bus with a bomb is not only foolish, it is murder! They are the tragic victims of a culture they really did not understand, dead before they had a chance to learn what it actually was they were dying for.


It is myths like these which inspire and keep the youth of the world lined up waiting to die for some "cause."


The women Sami mentions all "gave up" their lives years ago.  I doubt that the death of any one of these women, or all of them in total, has made much of a difference in the world.  You will note that, they are still killing others, being killed, and killing themselves and we do not seem to have made much progress with this method as a means for achieving peace.  I would call anything which has failed for so many years, and cost so many lives, a failure, and not worth the effort.


Please explain to me, if their "sacrifices" were so meaningful, how their deaths have changed or improved life for them, their families or their country. They have certainly done nothing to improve their own lives. 


From where I sit, and from what I see, their deaths have had no effect, since the situation seems to have grown even worse since then, despite of, perhaps because of, the many others who have joined them in their "heroic glory."


I ask, if it is such a glorious and heroic way to die, then why are not more of the cadre who advocate, encourage, train and send them off to do it, not right there alongside of them with their own bombs? 


It is a coward's and a fool's game.


The Prophet (pbuh) turned away young sons coming to him to volunteer for battle when they voiced a desire to go into battle and die avenging their father's deaths, or to die for God.  He sent them home with the admonition that he was not recruiting suicides bent on death, but soldiers who were willing and capable of fighting, and surviving the battles. 

About the author:
Debbie Menon is an independent writer based in Dubai. She can be reached at

... Payvand News - 09/21/08 ... --

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