Jenny Tonge in Israel

February 17, 2004 16:29 by

British MP Jenny Tonge was asked to leave Parliament last month after she said of Palestinian suicide bombers: “If I had to live in that situation – and I say that advisedly – I might just consider becoming one myself.”

The enterprising BBC saw a great opportunity for a hire, so they sent Tonge to visit and report from Israel and the Palestinian areas. In her journalistic debut, Tonge files a choppy, strange and disturbing column today in BBC Online. In Bethlehem, Tonge goes to meet “some al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigade terrorists” and visits the home of a suicide bomber, where she remarks:

The stories of indoctrination of little children right through their schooldays didn’t seem to apply here.

Did Tonge honestly believe that during her five minutes in a Palestinian living room she would hear an Arabic sermon calling for jihad against the Zionist entity?

Then there’s the kicker:

It is certainly true that suicide bombers are regarded as national heroes here, but what else do they have – born out of despair and the desire to resist occupation, laced with religious belief.

Civilian targets are chosen because there is no way of getting at military targets.

Regarding the first point, we encourage Tonge to read Itamar Marcus and Barbara Crook’s recent article, Aspiration, Not Desperation, which debunks the myth of suicide bombers being motivated by economic or political “desperation.”

And we’re baffled by Tonge’s second point — that Palestinian suicide bombers choose civilian targets because they “can’t reach” military targets. In fact, in order to reach Israeli civilian targets, the terrorists must somehow bypass the considerably easier military targets. Just last month in Gaza, a mother terrorist demonstrated how relatively easy it is to blow up a military checkpoint, when the IDF lowers its guard for humanitarian reasons.

Tonge is missing — willfully or otherwise — the most fundamental moral outrage of terrorism: the choice of innocent civilians as intentional targets for murder.

Does Tonge fail to understand just why her statement of “understanding” for suicide terror caused such a backlash — and the loss of her own job?

UPDATE: Here are Tonge’s BBC radio reports.

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