Robert Pape is a political scientist at the University of Chicago and perhaps the leading authority on the motivations of suicide bombers (see his book, Dying to Succeed). He has a sobering op-ed in today's New York Times about Israel and Hezbollah. The key paragraphs:
In writing my book on suicide attackers, I had researchers scour Lebanese sources to collect martyr videos, pictures and testimonials and the biographies of the Hezbollah bombers. Of the 41, we identified the names, birth places and other personal data for 38. Shockingly, only eight were Islamic fundamentalists. Twenty-seven were from leftist political groups like the Lebanese Communist Party and the Arab Socialist Union. Three were Christians, including a female high-school teacher with a college degree. All were born in Lebanon.
What these suicide attackers — and their heirs today — shared was not a religious or political ideology but simply a commitment to resisting a foreign occupation. Nearly two decades of Israeli military presence did not root out Hezbollah. The only thing that has proven to end suicide attacks, in Lebanon and elsewhere, is withdrawal by the occupying force.
Thus the new Israeli land offensive may take ground and destroy weapons, but it has little chance of destroying the Hezbollah movement. In fact, in the wake of the bombings of civilians, the incursion will probably aid Hezbollah’s recruiting.
The claim that foreign occupation is the key driving force behind suicide bombings and other terrorist attacks is in contrast to the more widely held view that terrorists are motivated by religion or by hatred of the U.S. and Israel. If Pape's analysis is correct, a broad range of anti-terror actions by the U.S. and Israel are far more likely to generate terrorism than to prevent it.