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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.

Six Days & Fifty Years

Ready to Embark

This Monday evening, June 5th, we at the Mosaic Law Congregation of Sacramento, and its KOH Library and Cultural Center, will be commemorating—with a special program and an excellent film—the 50-year anniversary to the Six-Day War of 1967. A war in which I fought as a young soldier, both at the Egyptian front and at the Syrian front (see the picture above of young paratroopers about to embark on a plane; I’m second from the left). I will take an active role in the program by recalling my experience during that war (to hear my story you’ll have to come to the event itself). I’m mentioning this upfront because many of you, who have been following my political writings here, and events throughout our community, and know my political views regarding the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, may raise an eyebrow or two, to say the least, in wondering how someone with my opinions and inclinations, is so readily participating and organizing such a program.

Well… here’s my explanation. To begin with, our event is not a ‘celebration’ per se, nor it is a ‘mourning’ of sorts. (Most certainly it is not a political event.) Rather—though both elements would be present—it is a commemoration. We will be observing and reflecting on the days leading to the war. Days that began with an act of aggression by Egypt and its leader Camal Abdel Nasser, being pushed from behind by the Russians, which led to a joint effort by all the Arab countries surrounding Israel, aiming to annihilate the young nation and its Jewish people from the face of the earth. Days that plunged Israel into a collective state of anxiety, great worry for its survival, and preparation for the upcoming war. Days of mobilization of all the country’s resources, human and machine, dedicated to the defense of the Jewish state. Days of no school; of no theater; of no street cafes and normal life. Culminating in six days of war that would prove to be decisive, destructive to our enemies, and glorious in term of modern history warfare.

What we will not be observing, reflecting on or discussing, would be the aftermath of that war. The day after. Fifty long years of wars, battles, and yes, some peace. In those years Israel, which at the end of the war—a war of survival per excellence, make no mistake about it—not only secured its long-term existence, but was also began a downfall of sort. At the time, it was situated at its modern zenith as a country, at the highest point on top of the ‘wheel of history.’ But unfortunately, thereafter, it began a downward spiral, continuing to this day. This disastrous descent included, among its many casualties, two warrior leaders turned peacemakers: an Egyptian President and an Israeli Prime Minister, assassinated on the altar of peace. But true: not everything has been bad since then. Far from it: The country, its army, its economy, its high-tech industry—not only its agricultural marvel as before the war—grew into a global leading proportions. After the terrible blunder of the Yom Kippur War, the country had made peace with two of its strongest enemies: Egypt and Jordan. A peace that is lasting, so far. A country of two million people is now a country of more than eight million people. Despite some challenges, it’s still a democracy. Not bad at all.

What went wrong was, still is, the occupation. I’m talking, of course, of the colonial grabbing of the West Bank (the Golan Heights too, to a degree), and the continuation of the conflict with the Palestinian people; which, in historical terms, had begun in 1948 and before. This occupation has led to a situation on the ground where the only solution available; the only solution acceptable on the majorly of both peoples; the only solution accepted on the international community—which regard, and rightly so, the Israeli settlement movement and activity as illegal—has brought us to the dying bed of that Two-State solution. It can still be resurrected and brought to life, I very much want to believe so. But in truth: I don’t see how. Again, I believe the majority of the people on both sides—more even than the politicians—are resigned now to the fact that it’s over and done with.

So what’s wrong with it, you ask? I tell you what. It can bring, potentially, not only the demise, but the end of Israel as a free society, and as a Jewish and democratic state. Maybe still in our lifetime, and maybe not. With it, it would also kill the Zionist dream. Here’s why: It cannot be both. Israel cannot be Jewish and also democratic state, while at the same time continuing to rule over millions of Palestinian people. If Israel would grant them citizenship, it soon won’t be a Jewish state anymore. If it would deprive them of these rights, while continuing to control their lives and treat them as second-class citizens, then it’s no longer a democratic state. It’s an Apartheid state. We did not—I repeat, did not—go to war for that!

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

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