The Suicide Bomb Morality

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“The purpose of morality is to teach you, not to suffer and die, but to enjoy yourself and live,” Ayn Rand

The worship of suffering is the world’s disease… self-sacrifice is the essence of moral virtue.

The Palestinians show us a society based on sacrifice in its purest, most fanatical form. It is a society built around a single moral model: the suicide bomber, who is lionized on billboards, on television, in popular songs. And this is not just the propaganda of the corrupt Palestinian rulers. One of the delegates elected to the Palestinian parliament in the populist upsurge for Hamas was Umm Nidal, the “mother of martyrs,” who has sent three of her sons to kill themselves in terrorist attacks on Israel, proclaiming that their “sacrifice…makes me happy.”

For the great mass of Palestinians this worship of sacrifice is sincere. By rejecting every chance at peace and coexistence with Israel–breaking every truce and turning down every peace offer–they have lost everything and gained nothing. Taking the suicide bomber as their moral model, the Palestinians seek to emulate his fate: in their lust to destroy Israel, they are willing to accept the utter destruction and collapse of their own society.

Look to the other side of the security barrier and you see a very different society. While the Palestinians raise their children on visions of blood and murder, the Israelis are largely preoccupied by the business of producing, creating, making a living. Consider, for example, the vast Gaza greenhouses handed over from the departing Israelis to the Palestinians. In the hands of the society that “made the desert bloom,” these greenhouses produced millions of dollars worth of produce. Under Palestinian control, they were looted and their products have literally been left to rot. As with the Cold War examples of East and West Berlin, Gaza and Israel offer side-by-side laboratories for opposing moralities.

The contrast to America–a nation founded on the right to “the pursuit of happiness”–is even more vivid. When Alexis de Tocqueville visited America in 1832, he reported that the moral doctrine of “self-interest properly understood”–not hedonism, but a version of rational, benevolent self-interest–was “universally accepted”: “You hear it as much from the poor as from the rich.”

The distinctive model for American culture is not the suicide bomber but the “self-made man”: the entrepreneur who achieves prosperity by hard work and ingenuity. Implicitly, we recognize that the proper business of life is not sacrifice but achievement. This is the actual code by which most Americans live.

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