When Yasser Arafat in January 2002 called on Palestinian women--his "army of roses"--to join in the struggle against Israeli occupation, even he was surprised by their swift and devastating response. Later that same day, Wafa Idris would become the first female suicide bomber of the Intifada. Tragically, she wasn't the last. In Army of Roses, Pulitzer Prize-nominated author Barbara Victor profiles Wafa Idris and the other young women who have followed her violent lead toward a martyr's Paradise paved with personal desperation and deadly political maneuvering.
In this astonishing exposé of the political and cultural forces now pressing Palestinian women into martyrdom, investigative journalist Victor identifies what she calls "a new level of cynicism" that has destroyed normal, everyday existence in the Middle East, along with the possibility for lasting peace. Tracing the roots of the women's resistance movement back to so-called personal initiative attacks and a brief period of empowerment in the 1980s before religious leaders clamped down, Victor shows how the current generation of Palestinian women has been courted and cajoled into committing these self-destructive and murderous acts.
By presenting the intimate personal histories of the first five female bombers who have succeeded in blowing themselves up, as well as the troubling stories of some of those who've tried and failed, the author reveals not only the crushing poverty and religious zealotry that one might suspect as motivating factors in their fall, but also a startling emotional component to their death wishes: their broken dreams and blighted inner lives. Victor shows, without dismissing or diminishing the horror of their actions, how far a person can be pushed when she is convinced she has nothing to lose.
About Barbara Victor
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Published October 10, 2003
by Rodale Books.
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