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Pedahzur-perliger-weinberg - Deviant Behavior An...

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altruism and fatalism: the characteristics of palestinian suicide terrorists Ami Pedahzur and Arie Perliger University of Haifa, Mount Carmel, Haifa, Israel Leonard Weinberg University of Nevada, Reno, Reno, USA Over the last decade, the suicide method became one of the most prevalent tactics of Palestinian Terrorism in Israel. Who are these people, willing to sacrifice their lives in such an act, and what drives them to do such things? In our present analysis, we answer these questions, while relying on the concepts of altruistic and fatalistic suicide from Durkheim’s typology of suicide behavior. Based on a newly established database compiled for this purpose À which includes information based on suicide, as well as non-suicide—Palestinian suicide terrorists from 1993 until the beginning of 2002, fit the ‘‘altruistic’’ type as well as some elements from the ‘‘fatalistic’’ and represent a combination of both types; thus they can be labeled under a new category of ‘‘fatalistic altruistic’’ suicide. On the afternoon of Friday, April 16, 1993, Israeli radio reported a terrorist attack at a restaurant near Mechola in the Jordan Valley. In contrast to previous incidents, this time the terrorist, a member of the Hamas organization, parked a car loaded with explosives in between two buses next to the Received 2 October 2002; accepted 16 January 2003. Address correspondence to Arie Perliger, Department of Political Science, University of Haifa, Mount Carmel, 31905, Haifa, Israel. E-mail: [email protected] Deviant Behavior: An Interdisciplinary Journal , 24:405–423, 2003 Copyright # Taylor & Francis Inc. ISSN: 0163-9625 print/1521-0456 online DOI: 10.1080/01639620390195240 405
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restaurant and then, rather than leave the car behind, he chose to detonate the explosive device with himself inside. Despite the fact that, in terms of the number of casualties, the attack did not differ much from previous acts of terror per- petrated by Palestinian organizations, it was nevertheless unprecedented. This was the first time a Palestinian organi- zation had initiated a suicide bombing against an Israeli target (Schweitzer 2001). The event in Mechola signaled the beginning of a long chain of suicide attacks executed by Palestinians against Israeli targets and, in effect, over the last decade, the suicide method became one of the most pre- valent tactics of the Palestinian struggle. Whoarethesepeople,willingtosacrificetheirlivesinsuchan act, and what drives them to do these things? Some of the scholars and journalists who addressed these questions depic- ted the suicide bombers (also known as religious martyrs— Shahids ) as people whose motivation is a composite of religious beliefs and economic poverty (Dickey et al. 2001). They are often unmarried religious men who are unemployed and who believed they would be rewarded for these attacks with a glor- ious afterlife and an eternal place in heaven (Rubin 2002).
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