Security in a Time of Hatred

In the wake of the Palestinian suicide bombers and the mass murder and collective suicide that took place last September 11th the world is still trying to redefine what it means by security. We know about mass suicides of religious sects and about individual suicides in military operations. Never before, however, were the two combined on so devastating a scale. Never before have we witnessed a military operation whose participants accept their own death not as a mere possibility, but as an inevitable and, indeed, desired outcome.

Suicidal mass murder results from organized hatred-the unconditional craving to harm an enemy not for what it has (as with envy) or for what it does (as with anger), but for what it is. What a person or group has or does can be changed by redistribution or sanctions, but what it is can only be eliminated.

As an expressive act of religious mania, organized hatred is rooted in a collective revelation of divine order and the duties arising from it, along with the promise of eternal reward for those who are unconditionally committed to fulfilling God's plan. Envy, anger, and sadness hurt. But hatred may be accompanied by the self-pleasures of an heroic mission.

There have been countless attempts to pin the hatred of the September 11th attackers on something else: surely, America's global economic power and political hegemony at least nurtured the conditions in which such hatred could develop. Hasn't the US administration implied as much, speaking of its "vision of a Palestinian state" and sometimes criticizing Israeli policy with hitherto unseen severity?