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Name: Antony Loewenstein
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Friday, April 01, 2005

"Terrorism" defined

Tim Dunlop is a blogging friend and runs Road to Surfdom. A few days ago he took me to task for placing quotation marks around the word "terrorism", when referring to Palestinian actions. My response follows:

Let me try and explain, briefly. Suicide bombing is terrorism, sure thing. But so are Israeli jet fighters dropping bombs on Gaza refugee camps. My point in placing terrorism in quotes was simply to suggest - and perhaps I should have explained this much better - the Israelis, Americans and indeed far too many "friends" of the US post 9/11 are classifying any behaviour they don't like as terrorism. There is such a thing as legitimate resistance to an illegal occupation, and many Palestinians are doing just that on a daily basis.

Besides, as I'm currently reading Robert Fisk's Pity the Nation, a fascinating insight into Lebanon at war since the 1970s, he explains the ways in which the Israelis use the word "terrorism" to describe any kind of Palestinian action they don't like. I'd rather exercise caution.

5 Comments:

Anonymous Grant said...

Hi Anthony,

Can you advise examples of where "Israeli fighterjets have dropped bombs on Gaza refugee camps" willy-nilly - ie not specifically targetting a military target (ie terrorist leader or production facility)?

A suicide bomber who targets civillians is not the equivalent of the defence force that aims to protect its civillians by targetting the terrorist organisation.

Yes, Israeli bombings targetting these terrorists have inadvertently killed civillians that were bystanders but this was not their specific target. Intent is relevant.


Come on Antony, you know better.

Friday, April 01, 2005 1:32:00 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi Anthony,
Sure suicide bombing is terrorism if the targets are innocent civilians, but, is it terrorism if the bomber strikes a purely military target of an occupying army?
Is that not a legit target?

Friday, April 01, 2005 2:29:00 pm  
Blogger Antony Loewenstein said...

This is one argument that many and most blind supporters of Israel continue to push. As ever, most of these individuals have never actually seen nor spoken to the victims of Israeli violence, preferring to somehow blame them for standing close by, or simply living near, a "terrorist".
Very few people thankfully accept anymore that Israeli military action is either proportionate or often justified. Is dropping bombs on refugee camps, as Israel does do, and causing civilian casualties, terrorism? Absolutely. International law says so, as does the UN. But then, Israel and its supporters would rather ignore these bodies...
"Inadvertently killed civilians?" Give me a break. There is now massive amounts of literature, some of which I'll be addressing in my book, about IDF policy in the territories, the deliberate targeting of civilians and collective punishment.
Both sides have committed hideous crimes, but let's never forget who is occupying whom, and why.

Finally, striking a purely military target. Is this terrorism? Again, probably not. It's not pretty, to be sure, but let's face it. Israel is illegally on Palestinian land and it is the legitimate right, again in the UN charter, to resist. For any occupied people, mind you. Targeting civilians is another matter entirely.

Friday, April 01, 2005 5:16:00 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Spot on Antony. War on terrorism.
War on drugs. War on anything you don't agree with. So tedious and stupid. I can see a war on single mother pregnancy coming on.

Friday, April 01, 2005 8:11:00 pm  
Anonymous Grant said...

"preferring to somehow blame them for standing close by, or simply living near, a "terrorist"."

- I don't "Blame" them, however, I do blame the terrorist for hiding out in a civillina population which is against international law (you never seem to mention this).

"Is dropping bombs on refugee camps, as Israel does do, and causing civilian casualties, terrorism? Absolutely. International law says so, as does the UN."

You are blatantly wrong. International law follows the same principal as common law in this regard. If a robber takes 20 hostages in a bank and threatens to kill them and a police sharpshooter accidently kills 2 of the hostages in the process of "taking out" the robber is the police officer a terrorist?

I conceed, however, that if the civillian risk is too high that military forces should err on the side of caution.


"about IDF policy in the territories, the deliberate targeting of civilians" - as opposed the the Hamas / Islamic Jihad / Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigade policy of killing civillians which apparently is not "terrorism".

You have a barrow to push, Antony, but you are not always right (quite the contrary) and you are not "holier".

Monday, April 04, 2005 6:03:00 pm  

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