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Palestinian Terrorists

by Jock Falkson
February 25, 2002



One of the festering sores between Israel and many media communicators, especially TV and newspaper folk, lies in their obstinate refusal to call those they champion, "terrorists." Why call Palestinian suicide bombers "militants"?

CNN, BBC, Sky, The New York Times and many others continue to call Palestinian suicide bombers "militants", "gunmen", "activists" - anything but what they really are - terrorists. What can be more obscene than protecting these misbegotten killers from the truth and punishment of their calling, by labeling them "gunmen, militants" etc.?

Why isn't it acceptable to call a suicide bomber a terrorist? In some instances the reason is obvious: the writers are Muslims, and members of the faith must stand together. In others, opinion makers prefer to see them as "freedom fighters." Still others believe the principle of impartiality does not permit them to be seen as judgmental. They are not comfortable about calling a suicide bomber a terrorist - even if it's the truth.

A sea change has come...

Now who do you think might be the author of the memorable quote that follows? President Bush? Secretary Powell? Tony Blair? Jacques Chirac? Vladimir Putin? Javier Solana? Kofi Annan?

          "But first, let me be very clear. I condemn the attacks carried out by terrorist groups
           against Israeli civilians. These groups do not represent the Palestinian people or their
           legitimate aspirations for freedom. They are terrorist organizations, and I am determined
           to put an end to their activities."

I guess Chirac would not have signed off on such an anti-Palestinian attitude. The French after all have never forgiven the Jews for Dreyfuss' innocence. Nor would Solana underwrite this. He thinks the height of diplomatic sophistication is not to upset the Arabs by calling a spade a terrorist. Certainly not Kofi Annan who would need the vote of the 53 Muslim nations to be reelected.

You won't believe who said it

It wasn't Bush, Blair or Powell either, though they have said the same thing in their own words. No, the author of this remarkably frank admission is none other than Yasser Arafat himself, Chairman of the Palestinian Authority. You can read his statement in his recent op-ed letter to the New York Times, published February 3, 2002. It's the second paragraph.

Arafat's Declaration define a Palestinian terrorist anew.

What makes Arafat's declaration singularly important is the fact that he did not write this letter himself. It was a cooperative effort of his top people. Media pundits suggest Hannan Ashrawi, Saeb Erakat, Nabil Shaath and and Yasser Abd Rabbo made up the writing team. Such leadership support underlines the importance of Arafat's new definition of a terrorist group.

Suicide bombers are terrorists.

The pivotal words are "I condemn the attacks carried out by terrorist groups against Israeli civilians. . . . they are terrorist organizations . . ." Arafat thus condemns suicide bombers and denounces them as terrorists for blowing up Israeli civilians.

Included in Arafat's definition are the drive-by terrorists who shoot up people in buses and cars. Or kill people just hanging out or going about their business at shopping malls and other busy places. Or shoot at them from Beit Jalla into Gilo. Or knife or gun down innocent men, women and children, including those living outside the 'green line'.

Does it depend on the clothes you wear?

Arafat emphasizes civilians because he and his leadership see uniformed Israelis as fair game. So that the brutal, bloody lynching of the two soldiers who strayed into Ramallah, October 2000, gets his benign approval. Even though this barbaric episode shocked decent people the world over.

Whether those who ambush the next car or bus that comes along are terrorists, seemingly depends on the clothes the victims wear. For if there are only civilians in the car, Arafat will denounce the ambushers as terrorists. But if the victims are in uniform, the killers would be magically transformed, according to Arafat's definition, into honored freedom fighters.

What if there are some soldiers, and some civilians in the same vehicle - what then? We need to keep a clear head and remember that the motivation of the Palestinian killers is abundantly clear: to kill the maximum number of Israelis.

Arafat's killers cannot select their victims based upon the kind of clothing their victims wear. Nor, by and large, do they. Therefore, in this writer's opinion, the moment they shoot at people in cars and buses they define themselves as terrorists.

Arafat gives media the green light to call a spade a spade.

Arafat and his leadership have given the media the green light to call a spade a terrorist. There is no need for the media to defy his will. Arafat has exposed his truth to the world - he will not be surprised to find the media following suit. He does not expect the media to lie for him. That would be unprofessional.

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