chapter  3
23 Pages

The ‘Ulama’ and the Cult of Death in Palestine

Islam is a multi-faceted culture encompassing the sacred and the profane, religion and politics, moderation and radicalism. During the final quarter of the twentieth century, the radical dimension appeared to have overshadowed that of moderation and became the showcase of Islam to foreign observers. This type of radicalism was identified particularly with Islamic movements that called for jihad (holy war) against the perceived 'new paganism' of Arab regimes, or against the 'new crusade' of the West and its ally in the Middle East, Israel. The ultimate embodiment of this ideology was provided by the phenomenon of suicide attacks, or human bombs, which caused multiple casualties and public demoralization, an optimal combination in any strategy for violence.