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Who is a Terrorist?

thebrokenelbow.com

A week ago or so, in Jerusalem, an Israeli Border-Police office was stabbed to death by three Palestinian assailants in broad day light. She was a young woman of 23, her whole life ahead of her, whom relatives described as a “real-life Wonder Woman.” In my book, she is most certainly worthier of that title than the Israeli woman playing that Comic Book hero in cinema theaters, with all the fakery and shield-deflecting bullets. May she rest in peace, Hadas Malka, and may the memory of her bravery and dedication to defending her country be of blessing.

The Palestinians who killed her were shot and killed too by Israeli forces. They were declared by the Israeli Government and Media as terrorists. Indeed, Netanyahu demanded of Abbas to declare and denounce them as such, which Abba refused to do. The reason he refused to do so, whether stated or not, is that for the Palestinians these were not terrorists, but rather freedom fighters. They were part of the resistance, from Hamas and the ‘Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine.’ Which, together with other such forces, had been fighting and resisting—though without much success—what they consider to be the occupation and colonialization of their land for the last 50 years.

This difference of view regarding the assailants’ motives and actions, reflects a larger issue of disagreement as to the nature of not only the Palestinian struggle for independence, but also of terrorism at large. Since Israel and its army control their territory, control their every-day life, and keep building settlements on what they regard as their future-state; and yes, sometimes terrorizing them too—think Israeli settlers uprooting their olive trees and slaughtering their sheep—what are they to do? Peace, you say? But Israel’s interest in peace comes second to solidify their control over the occupied territories. It is why, when Netanyahu had demand that Abbas would stop the financial support for the families of Palestinian prisoners in Israeli, who are confined there on charges of murder and terrorism, Abbas had refused to do so. He reacted likewise even when President Trump and Secretary of State Tillerson had demand the same of him. You see: Abbas would lose whatever little credit and respect he still has with his people, who regard those prisoners as martyrs and freedom fighters.

Just a week prior to that, it so happened that four Arab Gulf States severed diplomatic ties, and boycotted a fifth state, Qatar, for supporting terrorist organizations such as Hamas and the Muslim Brotherhood, including objections to Qatar’s close ties with Turkey and Iran. Qatar reputed these accusations, pointing to its constant fight against terrorism. This effort and boycott is being led by Saudi Arabia, which just received a most generous promise of American weaponry from President Trump, in return for many sacks of gold. Yes, that Saudi Arabia, from where Bin Laden came, and most of the other terrorists who blew up the planes and the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center in New York on September 11, 2001, murdering close to 3000 innocent people. Killing citizens—and citizens only!—indiscriminately in the streets of peace-loving cities, that’s terrorism.

You might be surprised to learn that Nelson Mandela, one of the most revered politicians ever, whose funereal was the largest gathering of international diplomats, including the then American President Barack Obama, was labeled and regarded as a terrorist. First by the British, second by the racist South African white regime, and third by the Americans. As far as 2008, after he’d been already the liberator and president of South Africa—yes, after receiving the Nobel prize for peace, too—he was still on the American terror list. Imagine that!

And imagine also this: Both Menachem Begin and Yitzhak Shamir—who later would become Israel’s Prime Ministers—were labeled and regraded as terrorists. Not only for blowing up the King David Hotel (see picture above) in Jerusalem, killing scores of innocent people from different nationalities, including Jewish victims, together with British Army personnel, but for other acts of murder and atrocities. Even Ben-Gurion, and his Haganah military commanders, who fought so hard for Israel’s independence, had called them, and regarded them as terrorists. And so did the Zionist Congress and Jewish Agency. You can try to justify it by saying that they also fought for Israel’s independence, only sometimes using terrorism means. Just as the Palestinians are doing now. And anyhow, that’s always the case, isn’t it, when fighting for liberation and independence?

And so it goes. One way of looking at it is to say—and principally believe—that terrorism is when you attack and kill indiscriminately innocent people. Young and old, male and female, of all gender and races, who did you no wrong whatsoever, and who are not fighting against you (even if their governments are doing so). They are not occupying your land, your home, your people. Of course, does it really make a difference for this categorization, when your government, on the other hand, indiscriminately blowing up buildings, bombing civilians, ripping them to pieces, killing scores of them, as the Americans still do in Syria and Afghanistan, and as Israel did in Lebanon and Gaza?

Go figure. The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines terrorism as “the systematic use of terror especially as a means of coercion.” And ‘terror’ as “a state of intense fear;” and also as “violence (as bombing) committed by groups in order to intimidate a population or government into granting their demands.” Reign of terror is defined as “a state or a period of time marked by violence often committed by those in power that produces widespread terror.” So there you have it, my friends, no need to spell it out for you. At the end of the day, and argument, it seems clear that ‘who is a terrorist,’ may well be just in the eye of the beholder.

* The “Leave a Comment” link is the last tag below, in blue.

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The Train Has Left the Station

Pintrest.com

Pintrest.com

Or perhaps the plane has taken off. Either way, that vehicle – the Palestinian State vehicle – is on its way to New York, to the United Nations Security Council, and from there to the General Assembly. Should it not reach its destination there, and will not achieve the needed approval and legitimation of creating a state of its own for its people, that plane will head back home, but will sure to stop on the way in Europe, at the Hague specifically, where it will ask to join the International Criminal Court in order, through that court, of enforcing sanctions on Israel that would bring about that same result: a Palestinian state. Should that attempt fail – and it might – the train will head back to the station, and the plane back to the airport. And then, instead of a state living in relative freedom and security side by side with Israel, all hell will break loose.

Here’s why: Israel, its leaders and people – every people deserve their leaders, the old saying goes – are not going to give the Palestinian people a state of their own. This phantom is gone, as far as they are concerned. And, from the look of it, no force exists – at least not in the Israeli political arena – that can force a different outcome any time soon. An autonomy in Gaza and the West Bank – yes; financial and economical aid – yes; meaningless rhetoric about human rights and equality under the law here and there – yes. A state – no way!

Will Europe stand for it – no. Through its courts, through its economical power, through its human rights bodies, its countries, separately and jointly, they will all condemn Israel as a de facto apartheid state. It may judge its leaders and army generals in the aforementioned I.C.C., will issue sanctions, and may make it very difficult for some of Israel’s leaders, and maybe for its people as well, to visit European countries. Cultural and sports ties will suffer greatly as result, and would threaten Israel with complete isolation. At the same time, unfortunately so, anti-Semitic forces in Europe might grow in strength, and would put the lives of the Jewish population in jeopardy. How long will Israel be able to sustain this kind of pressure remains to be seen, and will partly be influenced by how much pressure America will put to bear.

So will America, finally, put real pressure on Israel? Fifty-fifty chance, I’d say. Currently, and in the near future when the Palestinian delegation will be in New York, it’s not out of the realm of possibilities that President Obama will say enough is enough and that, at last, he will see the need – and obligation! – to save Israel from itself, and will side with the “yes” vote, or maybe abstain in the UN Security Council, therefore he will enable the Palestinian vehicle to return home carrying the goods: a much needed legitimization to force Israel to finally see the light and act accordingly. Fat chance, but still a thin possibility. If not, the next president might, or might not, do the same. But the pressure from Europe and the rest of the world upon America will only grow. So much so that, sooner or later, it will crack down and join the moving caravan.

And what about American Jewry? There are some indications that the ranks of the closed-minded loyalists – Israel can do no wrong, no matter the crime – is getting older and is dwindling in numbers. At the same time, those same indications suggest that the ranks of the open-minded supporters – Israel is doing some wrong, and we need to help it recognize that – are getting younger and larger. Many liberal Jews, of all ages and generations, have begun to question Israel’s actions and therefore its survivability. Some of them work to change it. But among the young in particular, among the Jewish students in the universities throughout the land, the apathy on the one hand, and the rage against the machine on the other – the machine being the Jewish establishment, and/or the Israeli government – is growing and, ultimately, bound to influence public opinion in Jewish America and in America as a whole.

Which bring me back to Israel and to the Middle East, with its turmoil and legions of Muslim extremists. Here we have the Palestinian people in Gaza, the West Bank and East Jerusalem – and the Israeli Arabs to boot – who surely will not stand for it; i.e. Netanyahu’s status quo while the settlement endeavor continues. And so, even if Israel maintains its upper, iron-fisted hand over the Arab population successfully, the bloodshed will not come easy – as we sadly have experienced and witnessed lately – and might have a longer effect on Israel’s Jewish population and society. Because, you see, desperate people are much better equipped for desperate acts, and are much more willing to sacrifice themselves for the cause and die for it. Regular folks, who want to live in peace, want to prosper economically, who need art and sports and entertainment and technology – not only religion and fanaticism – to enlighten and enrich their lives, are in much worse position to sacrifice their lives. They might pack up and leave, as some are already doing.

The war is sure to come. And the hell, too. Maybe a “United Kingdom of the Holy Land,” based on the formula of the United Kingdom of Britain – i.e. Israel, Palestine and Gaza as separate autonomies, but united as one country, with a shared capital in Jerusalem – is the way to go. But that, perhaps, is a topic for a future article.

* Published originally on “The Times of Israel.”
** The “Leave a comment” link is the last tag below, in blue.

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