Who are the bigger terrorists?

Who are the bigger terrorists? Featured

Third of a series

THE last two parts of this column depicted the many faces of terrorism, highlighting both Israel and Hamas. Both sides are currently hogging the headlines claiming the high ground, preaching to their own choirs, and appealing to the better angels of partisanship. And social media are in a frenzy, churning up all sorts of facts, boosting arguments for each side — including alternative facts — metaphors for prevarications and distortions.

Our conclusions arrived at are that both Israel and Hamas and their Palestinian enablers are terrorists. The two past columns apparently disturbed the sensibilities of partisan readers, as they were intended to further generate public conversation and dialogue. The pro-Israel with their Western allies, particularly America, have put forward the arguments that Hamas and the Palestinian enablers started the cycle of terrorist acts and thus are the bigger terrorists. And vice-versa. In any case, whoever did the first acts or whatever acts constituted the bigger and lesser terrorism is a matter of conjecture and degree. They are terrorists!

Democracy and degrees of terrorism

To frame the arguments of both sides on their gradations of terrorism, we offer an unsophisticated contrast in perspective for those advocating liberal democracy versus those leaning toward Islamic autocracy.

Israel, America, their Western allies, and those democratically oriented countries generally toe the line on this string of arguments. That terrorism must be condemned in all its forms, viewing it as a threat to the principles of democracy, human rights and the rule of law. But peaceful means of resolving conflicts typically given credence by Western allies are merely being paid lip service to. Promoting an inclusive society is a central tenet of democracy — yet this fails miserably in the case of Israel for engendering divisiveness, reducing the Palestinians to inferior status in a Jewish version of apartheid. Israel invariably emphasizes their deeds as being counter-terrorism efforts responding to the other side — a tit-for-tat, as it were.

Non-redress of political grievance, pervasive social inequalities and lack of opportunities, which are some of the root causes of terrorism, are not addressed appropriately but are subsumed and merely ancillary to Israel's archaic craving to exist as a state providing a home for the diaspora. Acts by Jews emanating from these premises are justified as payback for the centuries of global discrimination and the extermination of millions of their people.

Jihad, a misinterpretation

From the point of view of Islamic autocracy, jihad has been exploited as a battle cry against Israel. Rooted in Islamic teachings, jihad refers to a broad concept encompassing various forms of struggle, principally in defense of Islam against oppression, injustice or aggression. Its religious edicts have been transliterated into a nationalistic and political context, misinterpreting Islamic teachings. Acts of protecting the weak, fighting against tyranny and self-defense have been employed to justify terrorism. Hamas, in response to a Feb. 25, 1994 massacre of Muslim worshipers at the Mosque of the Patriarch in Hebron, introduced suicide bombing with lethal effect, particularly during the second intifada in 2000.

Although no universally recognized authority and official religious declaration of jihad was promulgated against Israel, Hamas used the language of jihad in their rhetoric and charters to justify their acts. The Hamas charter states, "The Islamic Resistance Movement is a distinguished Palestinian movement, whose allegiance is to Allah, and whose way of life is Islam. It strives to raise the banner of Allah over every inch of Palestine ... and raise the banner of jihad..." (Covenant of the Islamic Resistance Movement, Wikipedia).

Hamas, PLO, PFLP and other militant Palestinian groups frame their struggle against Israel as a form of jihad. But these interpretations are not universally accepted within the greater Islamic community.

The liberation of Palestine and the re-establishment of a Palestinian homeland is, unfortunately, a construct coated in pseudo-religious terms with the cry of Allahu Akbar accompanying any and all aberrant acts, in essence debauching Islam as a religion of peace!

Where we are today

The question of who the bigger terrorist is or who did it first is irrelevant and inconsequential. What should be germane to the Israel-Palestine conflict is how this is resolved before it spreads and engulfs the region, threatening global partisan conflagration. My two previous columns dealt more with terrorism, its genesis and its many faces in an attempt to shed light on the recent conflict that started Oct. 7, 2023. To explain what terrorism is and its impact on the actors and the partisans is obviously not enough and is just a part of the narrative of conflict. A cursory review of the immediate apparent causes started with the Balfour Declaration of 1917, establishing a national home for the Jewish people in Palestine is somehow incomplete.

For our purposes, this column will describe the deeper historical roots segueing to the realities of the last two centuries, telescoping the causes in bite-size arguments that may lead toward dispassionate discussions with the hope of transferring the conflicts from the bloody fields spurring instead of verbal joust — shaping a debate.

This millennial conflict traces its origin to biblical times when historical claims were seasoned with religious significance. Both are ancient peoples with ties to lands centering on Jerusalem and their desire to control their respective religious sites: the Western Wall and the Al-Aqsa Mosque. Palestine and the Middle East are birthplaces of three great religions: the Jewish faith, Christianity, its offshoot, and Islam. The return of the Jewish diaspora to these homelands abetted by the global socio-political structures dominated by Christianity in the two preceding centuries, following WW1, was the embryo upon which this discord had its gestation. The Zionist movement accelerating the Jewish immigration founded the State of Israel. The British Mandate granted by the Christian-oriented League of Nations made conflicting promises to both Jews and Arabs, pledging support for a Jewish homeland while also recognizing Arab rights. These conflicting commitments laid the groundwork for future tensions.

The Israeli-Arab war that followed the declaration of the State of Israel in 1948 resulted in the displacement of hundreds of thousands of Palestinians, creating a refugee crisis that remains unresolved up to the present day. Subsequent wars, the 1967 Six Day War and the 1973 Yom Kippur War, which, by virtue of Jewish victories, more territories were annexed, further humiliated the majority of Arabs and deepened this conflict.

But the festering wound was Israel's occupation of Palestinian lands, the West Bank and Gaza, which went beyond the territory granted Israel by the partition mandate and, to present a fait accompli, established Jewish settlements on the lands where the Palestinians were expelled from. This created a Palestinian version of its own diaspora, funneling them to refugee camps within Arab countries that have not exactly accepted them. Pariahs!

And to rub salt in the wounds, barriers were erected restricting Palestinian movement, further fragmenting their territories and allowing the confiscation of lands by Jewish carpetbaggers.

These are the prevalent conditions in Palestine and Israel spanning decades, unresolved and worsening with the tacit patronage of dominant guarantors who are themselves locked in a surrogate engagement for geopolitical gains.

This is a tinderbox for the next world conflagration if not mitigated.000
Read 294 times Last modified on Wednesday, 01 November 2023 11:46
Rate this item
(0 votes)