WHO ARE TERRORISTS?

rn

WHO ARE TERRORISTS?

rnrn

Current debate of whether Hezbollah should be de-listed as a terrorist organization reminds me of CBC’s Neil MacDonald’s refusal to use the term, "terrorism" when he was in Israel. "Blood thirsty killers." "Terrorists." "Killers of innocent women and children." I have heard those denunciations from both sides. And they lost meaning to me. It’s all depends which side you belong.

rn

My friend Peter Davies, an one time lay worker at First United Church in Downtown Eastside of Vancouver, was once talking about people in the Jewish guerrilla groups and called them "Blood thirsty killers". They blew up King David Hotel in Jerusalem before the creation of Israel in1948. It killed many British soldiers including many of Peter’s buddies; Peter was a teenage British soldier. There were ‘some collateral damage’ (meaning deaths among innocent civilians) too. A couple of those "guerrillas" later became Prime Ministers of Israel. One of the terrorists in Africa became the first democratically elected president of South Africa, Nelson Mandela. A few Canadians journalists called Mr. Mandela a terrorist thirty years ago. They are still being published in Canadian magazines and papers.

rn

Of course, I condemn indiscriminate killing of innocent civilians: IRA bombings, 9/11, rocket attacks by Hezbollah, and suicide bombing by Palestinians; those are terrorism. However, I remember in the beginning of armed guerrilla uprising by the ANC in South Africa, targetting human lives was prohibited. The targets were properties like hydro power stations. I think that such a rule of engagement separates terrorism from a legitimate fight against oppression. But blood-shed is often unavoidable in violent situations. What do you call a bombing of an apartment building full of civilians, because terrorists also live in it? What distinguishes collateral damage from deliberate killing of innocent civilians? I don’t know.

rn

That’s why I avoid using the term "terrorism or terrorist". What’s wrong with the word "criminal?"

rn

August 23, 2006

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