Two things in particular about Monday night's Q&A panel discussion on religion got on my goat.
1) In the context of a discussion of 'Heaven', compere Tony Jones raised the old canard of "radical imams offering sexually repressed young men the prospect of 72 virgins in Heaven if they become a martyr."
This little fable reminds me of the quaint idea that Australia is such a fabulous place that Sri Lankans, Afghans, Iraqis etc are falling all over themselves to climb into leaky boats and risk life and limb on the high seas in the hope of eventually washing up on its heavenly shores.
So too the nonsense that the Palestinian suicide bombers of yore (I presume these are what Jones had in mind) were so entranced by the thought of all those tits and bums upstairs that they were prepared to blow themselves up (and any hapless Israelis within reach) just to get a piece of the action.
Needless to say, neither idea comes anywhere close to explaining asylum seekers or Palestinian suicide bombers.
Just as the murder, mayhem, pillage and plunder in Sri Lanka, Afghanistan and Iraq are sufficient to explain the asylum seeker phenomenon, so too the murder, mayhem, pillage and plunder, introduced by the Zionist settler-colonial project into Palestine, are sufficient to explain the phenomenon of Palestinian suicide bombers.
In the memorable words of Israeli politician-turned-prophet, Avraham Burg: "Israel, having ceased to care about the children of the Palestinians, should not be surprised when they come washed in hatred and blow themselves up in the centres of Israeli escapism. They consign themselves to Allah in our places of recreation, because their own lives are torture. They spill their own blood in our restaurants in order to ruin our appetites, because they have children and parents at home who are hungry and humiliated. We could kill a thousand ringleaders a day and nothing will be solved, because the leaders come up from below - from the wells of hatred and anger, from the 'infrastructures' of injustice and moral corruption." (The end of Zionism, The Guardian, 15/9/03)
Now what was that about 72 virgins, Tony?
2) The other thing that got me going was the exchange between Imam Mohamad Abdalla and 'Jewish-atheist' singer Deborah Conway when the latter opined:
"It is really refreshing to hear you talk that way and I suppose I wish that more Muslim leaders had come out and talked more openly and vigorously by criticising the proponents of people [who perpetrated 9/11]."
"But they have," replied the Imam, "but people are not listening. There has been so many fatwas, legal opinions, issued against terrorism, and I get asked this question again and again: why don't Muslim leaders speak. They have spoken. The fact that you didn't hear about it is perhaps the problem of the media."
Had I been Abdalla I might also have turned the allegation around thus: 'Ms Conway, who among Jewish community leaders in Australia has ever come out in opposition to Zionist terrorism in Palestine or to the Zionist warmongers in the Bush-Cheney administration who led the charge to 'cauldronize' Iraq?'