What is Terrorism

we are all terrorists
Cold day to protest
Flickr-User: sideshow_nyc.

The school system of this country is failing our students. In a college course on Middle Eastern government and politics about 30 percent of the students can not name a single country. The United States ranks 18 out of 24 industrialized nations in terms of relative effectiveness of its education system. Knowledge in history, geography, grammar, civics and literature are all in decline in terms of academic understanding and achievement.

Let me give you an example. Here are two simple definitions:

  • terrorism is "the use of violence and intimidation".

  • Lemons are fruits.

Well, nothing to disagree with there. Both are absolutely true. But suppose I do something illogical such as switching the predicate nominative and subject:
So I say, "Every fruit is a lemon."

Pretty silly, eh?

How about this: "Every use of violence and intimidation is terrorism."

As silly as this statement is, there are people who believe it because they are not thinking clearly. To make the fruit=lemon true we need to add qualifiers. Fruits that are acid, many-seeded, pale yellow, oblong and produced by a small thorny citrus tree are lemons.

We also need to do the same for terrorism: Every use of violence and intimidation purposely targeting civilians for political or other ideological goals is terrorism.

If we do not include political or other ideological goals in the definition then every husband beating his wife, every bully threatening a schoolmate, every loan shark demanding his money, every woman kicking a rapist in the groin is a terrorist.

If we do not include the purposeful targeting of civilians in the definition then any army attacking another army is terrorism. George Washington fighting for Liberty against the British is a terrorist.

In June of 1981 Israel bombed a Baghdad nuclear reactor. The purpose was self-defense. But what about the innocent French civilians who were running the plant? As always since Israel alone in the Middle East highly values all life, they were deeply concerned about collateral damage: The attack took place on a Sunday, the Israelis said, to prevent harming the French workers at the site who would have taken the day off. Indeed, there were no reported casualties. Have you ever heard of a Muslim attack that did not purposely target innocent civilians, especially women and children? Have you ever heard of Muslims warning their enemies? Israel drops leaflets to warn innocent civilians when they are targeting terrorists in an area to avoid civilian deaths.

Yet there are those that would lump the actions of Israel with those who rarely attack military targets.

Israel Purposely Avoids Civilian Casualties

Israel has a right to defend itself when attacked by rockets. To stop the attacks it targets only those firing the rockets, and has no desire to inflict harm on innocents. Israel's enemies purposely hide among their own civilian population for the express purpose of gaining maximum casualties of their own people knowing full well that there are complete idiots in the Western world who will then condemn Israel for any civilian deaths that do occur even though Israel tried all it could to avoid them.

Here's the logic that Hezbollah and Hamas rely on: Civilians died - therefore Israel is engaged in terrorism, doesn't matter if there were warnings or the warnings were ignored or that the civilians weren't targeted to begin with.

World Trade Center Attack
If we merely say that all violence and intimidation is terrorism then everything is terrorism and we are all terrorists and deserve whatever happens to us.

There exist websites that describe the King David Hotel Bombing as a terrorist act because they merely observed that civilians died and assume that the sole purpose was the killing of civilians in order to terrify the populace. But the civilian populace was not threatened. The rest of life went on in Jerusalem with only the British forces eventually leaving the country. No one today asserts that the purpose of the explosion was the death of civilians in the hotel. In fact, the Irgun did not want anyone to be injured, not even the military personnel. They sent a warning for everyone to get out including the soldiers. Imagine the humanity of these freedom fighters that they wanted to avoid bloodshed even of their hated enemy!

Would anyone call the Islamic resistance who fought against the Soviets in Afghanistan as terrorists? Obviously not. But weren't they taking actions of violence and intimidation against Soviet fighters? Weren't there thousands of Afghan civilians who died as a result of collateral damage by Mujahideen bombs? Weren't they called terrorists by the Soviets? Of course the Soviets were careless in their use of the word terrorist just as were the British in regard to the Jews. Civilians did die but not because the Mujahideen purposely targeted them. The deaths were always unavoidable circumstances of battle. Had those same Muslim fighters actually gone to Moscow and blown up a school bus the Soviets could have then rightly called them terrorists.

Hamas Does Not Fight for Freedom

If we are not careful how we use words then there can be no distinction between those who terrify the civilian population and those who fight for their freedom. In the case of Hezbollah, they terrify their own population by forcing them to remain in combat zones to act as human fodder. Hardly Freedom fighters. In the case of Palestinians, they will send out their own people to shoot at Israelis hoping to draw fire into civilian areas and if the Israeli army doesn't take the bait, then they will shoot their own people anyway for photographic effect to obtain world outrage.

But it is in the interest of Muslim apologists to obfuscate the exact meaning of the word terrorist. If everything is terrorism, then one can justify Islamic brutality and barbarism by saying "So what? The Israelis engage in terrorism too." Even the WTC massacre can be justified by saying it was payback for our terrorism when we stationed our troops in Saudi Arabia for the defense of the kingdom against Saddam Hussein, despite the fact that we were invited to do so by the king.

I can imagine how difficult it must be for a Muslim to have no excuse for the primitive barbarity and inhumane callousness of his fellow Muslims toward innocent women and children. But if they can equate everything as terrorism, I suppose it helps them sleep at night.

### End of my article ###

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