News flashes alerting the United States of more suicide violence in the Middle East took on an extra level of eeriness for me on Good Friday, when I realized who the perpetrator of the attack was. She was two years younger than I am ? an 18 year-old Palestinian girl who took along with her other women and children outside a supermarket in Jerusalem.

Moving the agent of violence from traditional perpetrators of violence ? lone, middle-aged, religiously zealot men ? and putting it into the hands of seemingly normal young women is a step towards escalating the cycle of violence. As things stood prior to the widespread use of women as bombs, the men who sacrificed their lives to further their causes were seen as warriors.

Men’s role as warrior and protector of the home fit well with their position as instruments of war. However, using those who have traditionally held a domestic role brings the war out of the battlefield and into the living rooms of everyone. Instead of having someone whose duty it is to fight killing, it is as if the girl next door could now be a time bomb.

The line between innocent bystanders and soldiers using terrorist tactics to fight is past blurred ? it has been obliterated. No longer is anyone safe to trust and anyone is able to kill. The kindly young woman with a basket who you see at the market everyday could now kill you, as could the old man meandering down the street.

Following the same logic, the conflict loses any sense of form it may have once exhibited and is left with a bloodbath. If anyone is able to kill, everyone is now able to be a justifiable victim. Regardless of sex, age or religion ? anyone can be a viable target.

Not only does this change in tactics on the part of the Palestinians escalate the violence it also changes the nature of the conflict. When religious zeal is no longer a requirement for sacrificing your life, religion leaves the center stage and becomes only a pawn in a political public relations game.

A clear message is being given to the world by this shift in strategy ? the actions of Palestinian terrorists are no longer a religiously motivated fringe phenomenon. Instead, the terrorists are a politically motivated group who will be forceful in the evasions of private life in order to have their point heard.

By crossing these barriers, the Palestinians have wandered into the realm of warfare. They have also made it clear that their actions are meant to either scare the world into submission, or provoke a costly war. They know exactly what they are doing politically and their threat needs to be viewed in that context.

Miller can be reached at

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