Terror vs. Terror

“‘In order for the violence to stop, Hamas must stop firing rockets into Israel and agree to respect a sustainable and durable cease-fire,’ a White House spokesman, Gordon D. Johndroe, told reporters in Texas. ‘Hamas has once again shown its true colors as a terrorist organization.’” From “Gaza Toll Passes 350 in 3rd Day of Israel Strikes” in the New York Times.

Again and again we see states try to justify murder with murder, torture with torture, barbarism with barbarism, genocide with genocide.

The words “terror,” “terrorism” and “terrorist” obscure this hypocrisy. What is it that states want to counter by “countering terrorism?” The killing, injuring and frightening of civilians. How are states going to do it? By killing, injuring and frightening civilians? Come on.

The human rights community should drop the “terror” framework. There are individuals, armed groups, unarmed groups, companies, states and groups of states. Some of these terrorize civilians. Some don’t. Let’s stop confusing “who” with “what.”

Or at least let’s insist on using the word “terrorist” to describe all who qualify.

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17 thoughts on “Terror vs. Terror

  1. Now? You want movement now? Where has A.I. been in the last two years? Israel gave up land they didn't have to give up. What the prize for that?? Hate, war, murder. Gaza sent something like 5,000 to 6,000 missles over to Israel, day in and day out. No other country would stand for that treatment vrom another country. Yet, it's Israel and groups like A.I. over look this. Over, and over and over again. Hamas has been suppied by Iran and Syria through the Bath Party. Hamas keeps killing men, women, and children, yet A.I. says that Israel is the terrorists, and Hamas is the victim. Shame on you A.I. Seems like A.I. is pro-Hamas and doesn't want to change. A.I. wants the U.N. to step in, and do what? Send in U.N. troops?? They have become a joke. And everyday more die. If A.I. wants to stop terrorism in that area start putting presurre on Iran, and Syria to stop their terrorism. And every year A.I. takes money so they can spred their ideas are better then that of the victims of the terrorists. A.I. is a large part of the problem, just get out of the way. Let those who are being targeted for death to defend themselfs. Hamas would kill anyone in their way. Unless it's Iran and or Syria. thanks

  2. Now? You want movement now? Where has A.I. been in the last two years? Israel gave up land they didn’t have to give up. What the prize for that?? Hate, war, murder. Gaza sent something like 5,000 to 6,000 missles over to Israel, day in and day out. No other country would stand for that treatment vrom another country. Yet, it’s Israel and groups like A.I. over look this. Over, and over and over again. Hamas has been suppied by Iran and Syria through the Bath Party. Hamas keeps killing men, women, and children, yet A.I. says that Israel is the terrorists, and Hamas is the victim. Shame on you A.I. Seems like A.I. is pro-Hamas and doesn’t want to change. A.I. wants the U.N. to step in, and do what? Send in U.N. troops?? They have become a joke. And everyday more die. If A.I. wants to stop terrorism in that area start putting presurre on Iran, and Syria to stop their terrorism. And every year A.I. takes money so they can spred their ideas are better then that of the victims of the terrorists. A.I. is a large part of the problem, just get out of the way. Let those who are being targeted for death to defend themselfs. Hamas would kill anyone in their way. Unless it’s Iran and or Syria. thanks

  3. Now? You want movement now? Where has A.I. been in the last two years? Israel gave up land they didn’t have to give up. What the prize for that?? Hate, war, murder. Gaza sent something like 5,000 to 6,000 missles over to Israel, day in and day out. No other country would stand for that treatment vrom another country. Yet, it’s Israel and groups like A.I. over look this. Over, and over and over again. Hamas has been suppied by Iran and Syria through the Bath Party. Hamas keeps killing men, women, and children, yet A.I. says that Israel is the terrorists, and Hamas is the victim. Shame on you A.I. Seems like A.I. is pro-Hamas and doesn’t want to change. A.I. wants the U.N. to step in, and do what? Send in U.N. troops?? They have become a joke. And everyday more die. If A.I. wants to stop terrorism in that area start putting presurre on Iran, and Syria to stop their terrorism. And every year A.I. takes money so they can spred their ideas are better then that of the victims of the terrorists. A.I. is a large part of the problem, just get out of the way. Let those who are being targeted for death to defend themselfs. Hamas would kill anyone in their way. Unless it’s Iran and or Syria. thanks

  4. Now? You want movement now? Where has A.I. been in the last two years? Israel gave up land they didn’t have to give up. What the prize for that?? Hate, war, murder. Gaza sent something like 5,000 to 6,000 missles over to Israel, day in and day out. No other country would stand for that treatment vrom another country. Yet, it’s Israel and groups like A.I. over look this. Over, and over and over again. Hamas has been suppied by Iran and Syria through the Bath Party. Hamas keeps killing men, women, and children, yet A.I. says that Israel is the terrorists, and Hamas is the victim. Shame on you A.I. Seems like A.I. is pro-Hamas and doesn’t want to change. A.I. wants the U.N. to step in, and do what? Send in U.N. troops?? They have become a joke. And everyday more die. If A.I. wants to stop terrorism in that area start putting presurre on Iran, and Syria to stop their terrorism. And every year A.I. takes money so they can spred their ideas are better then that of the victims of the terrorists. A.I. is a large part of the problem, just get out of the way. Let those who are being targeted for death to defend themselfs. Hamas would kill anyone in their way. Unless it’s Iran and or Syria. thanks

  5. Now? You want movement now? Where has A.I. been in the last two years? Israel gave up land they didn’t have to give up. What the prize for that?? Hate, war, murder. Gaza sent something like 5,000 to 6,000 missles over to Israel, day in and day out. No other country would stand for that treatment vrom another country. Yet, it’s Israel and groups like A.I. over look this. Over, and over and over again. Hamas has been suppied by Iran and Syria through the Bath Party. Hamas keeps killing men, women, and children, yet A.I. says that Israel is the terrorists, and Hamas is the victim. Shame on you A.I. Seems like A.I. is pro-Hamas and doesn’t want to change. A.I. wants the U.N. to step in, and do what? Send in U.N. troops?? They have become a joke. And everyday more die. If A.I. wants to stop terrorism in that area start putting presurre on Iran, and Syria to stop their terrorism. And every year A.I. takes money so they can spred their ideas are better then that of the victims of the terrorists. A.I. is a large part of the problem, just get out of the way. Let those who are being targeted for death to defend themselfs. Hamas would kill anyone in their way. Unless it’s Iran and or Syria. thanks

  6. Darrell,
    Thank you for your response! I am just as enraged as you are at the simplistic views A.I. and bloggers are demonstrating. Before the international community insists that Israel stop its plan to defend and protect its citizens from enemies who are proactively trying to destroy her, they need to offer it an alternative. Where is the int'l community's outrage at the attacks on Israel? Are they less important because the death tolls are less (largely because Israel seeks to protect people, not use them as human shields placing them in the center of battle as do many of the Palestinian resistant movements)?

    It is important to understand the definition of terrorists: those who target (to kill) civilians. I don't agree that it is such a blurred line as some bloggers suggest. Unfortunately, in war, there often is civilian casualty. But there is a HUGE difference when that is the goal and when that is a regrettable outcome. If A.I. really cares about humanitarian relief than it should be more proactive in its voice against terrorists – who have little value for human life – and not allow the terrorists to flourish and provoke the situation we have today.

    Israel has been through this many times before. They have tried diplomacy, they have tried just pulling out, they have tried more restrained battle. None of it worked. I don't blame Israel for taking the actions they are taking today. They are not monsters. Israelis, too, are humanitarian and try to minimize civilian casualities in an almost impossible situation that they have on their hands.

    What we need is for the world to care enough to speak against terrorists like Hamas who help keep their people in poverty because their priority is destruction of a country which, by the way, was established by what later became the U.N.

  7. Darrell,
    Thank you for your response! I am just as enraged as you are at the simplistic views A.I. and bloggers are demonstrating. Before the international community insists that Israel stop its plan to defend and protect its citizens from enemies who are proactively trying to destroy her, they need to offer it an alternative. Where is the int’l community’s outrage at the attacks on Israel? Are they less important because the death tolls are less (largely because Israel seeks to protect people, not use them as human shields placing them in the center of battle as do many of the Palestinian resistant movements)?

    It is important to understand the definition of terrorists: those who target (to kill) civilians. I don’t agree that it is such a blurred line as some bloggers suggest. Unfortunately, in war, there often is civilian casualty. But there is a HUGE difference when that is the goal and when that is a regrettable outcome. If A.I. really cares about humanitarian relief than it should be more proactive in its voice against terrorists – who have little value for human life – and not allow the terrorists to flourish and provoke the situation we have today.

    Israel has been through this many times before. They have tried diplomacy, they have tried just pulling out, they have tried more restrained battle. None of it worked. I don’t blame Israel for taking the actions they are taking today. They are not monsters. Israelis, too, are humanitarian and try to minimize civilian casualities in an almost impossible situation that they have on their hands.

    What we need is for the world to care enough to speak against terrorists like Hamas who help keep their people in poverty because their priority is destruction of a country which, by the way, was established by what later became the U.N.

  8. My post had two simple points: "terror" doesn't justify "terror" and we should either use the word "terror" whenever it applies or stop using it. If someone posts a reasoned argument against either or both of these points, I'd be happy to offer a reasoned response.

    - Zeke

  9. My post had two simple points: “terror” doesn’t justify “terror” and we should either use the word “terror” whenever it applies or stop using it. If someone posts a reasoned argument against either or both of these points, I’d be happy to offer a reasoned response.

    - Zeke

  10. Thanks for your reply. Are you defining "terrorists" as those who inflict "terror"? Yes, that definition broadens the universe of terrorists to many more groups who "terrorize" (intentionally or unintentionally).

    But that is not the U.S. Government's definition which specifies that terrorism targets civilians: "premeditated, politically motivated violence perpetrated against noncombatant". Although the U.N. has no official definition of terrorism, they have also used a definition on several occasions highlighting terrorism as an act "intended to cause death or serious bodily harm to civilians or non-combatants".

    Your definition belittles a crucial distinction. Rules in war exist to mitigate the effects of it. Top on that list is that you target militants that are in uniform, NOT the general public. Does that eliminate civilian casualties? Of course not. But not enforcing some structure, framework on what is "acceptable war conduct" would result in a lot more chaos and destruction in this world.

    Was the U.S. ever involved in terrorism? I don't know and I don't care. What is important is that the U.S. doesn't do so now and that it speaks out strongly against those, like Hamas, that clearly engage in it. Countries like Israel share U.S. values in trying to put out terrorist behavior while MINIMIZING civilian casualties. If you don't believe Israel is doing just that, let me know. I will defend my opinion.

    Your other point – "terror doesn't justify terror" – I agree with. But, again, I reiterate that this is a superficial depiction of the current conflict. Israel as a country has debated at great length how NOT to inflict the same terror on civilians that Hamas has done (to not only Israeli but to its Palestinian civilians, as well). Israelis are very aware that if they become insensitive to the suffering of others than they are no better than the terrorists. Israel is compelled to take the actions it has taken recently because all else has failed. Most of the int'l community passively allows terrorist behavior. Please, if you can offer Israel an alternative to a solution, we would all love to hear it!

  11. Thanks for your reply. Are you defining “terrorists” as those who inflict “terror”? Yes, that definition broadens the universe of terrorists to many more groups who “terrorize” (intentionally or unintentionally).

    But that is not the U.S. Government’s definition which specifies that terrorism targets civilians: “premeditated, politically motivated violence perpetrated against noncombatant”. Although the U.N. has no official definition of terrorism, they have also used a definition on several occasions highlighting terrorism as an act “intended to cause death or serious bodily harm to civilians or non-combatants”.

    Your definition belittles a crucial distinction. Rules in war exist to mitigate the effects of it. Top on that list is that you target militants that are in uniform, NOT the general public. Does that eliminate civilian casualties? Of course not. But not enforcing some structure, framework on what is “acceptable war conduct” would result in a lot more chaos and destruction in this world.

    Was the U.S. ever involved in terrorism? I don’t know and I don’t care. What is important is that the U.S. doesn’t do so now and that it speaks out strongly against those, like Hamas, that clearly engage in it. Countries like Israel share U.S. values in trying to put out terrorist behavior while MINIMIZING civilian casualties. If you don’t believe Israel is doing just that, let me know. I will defend my opinion.

    Your other point – “terror doesn’t justify terror” – I agree with. But, again, I reiterate that this is a superficial depiction of the current conflict. Israel as a country has debated at great length how NOT to inflict the same terror on civilians that Hamas has done (to not only Israeli but to its Palestinian civilians, as well). Israelis are very aware that if they become insensitive to the suffering of others than they are no better than the terrorists. Israel is compelled to take the actions it has taken recently because all else has failed. Most of the int’l community passively allows terrorist behavior. Please, if you can offer Israel an alternative to a solution, we would all love to hear it!

  12. I think it's a huge problem that you think a) the U.S. does not engage in torture, despite reams of documentation proving otherwise, and that b) you don't actually care whether the U.S. has ever tortured. I wonder why you care about one group engaging in what you view as terrorism but not another? I think that was Zeke's original point — the selective use of the term embeds a judgement call that is probably political, social and/or economic in nature.

  13. I think it’s a huge problem that you think a) the U.S. does not engage in torture, despite reams of documentation proving otherwise, and that b) you don’t actually care whether the U.S. has ever tortured. I wonder why you care about one group engaging in what you view as terrorism but not another? I think that was Zeke’s original point — the selective use of the term embeds a judgement call that is probably political, social and/or economic in nature.

  14. Thanks for your response. I did not write that I don't think the U.S. does not engage in torture or terrorism which, by the way, are very different. I actually mention the U.S. to make the point that no country, including the U.S., has a history free of mistakes. The past is relevant as a lesson for us to learn from.
    Regrettable acts may have happened but what's most important is who we are today and the message we are sending today. I am distinguishing from past versus present, not a particular group. All countries should be held to the same standard. I would hope that the U.S. is not speaking out against acts of terrorism and, at the same time, hypocritically trying to kill civilians.

    There are international rules of warfare. Like any law, there are sometimes gray areas of interpretation. But there is a very well defined line drawn to single out terrorists – those whose objective is to harm civilians. It is intentional harm, not incidental. If terrorists simply equals those who inflict terror, than the definition is so broad it becomes meaningless. And can then be used selectively to manipulate.

    The U.S. is very clear on who/what behavior constitutes a terrorist and what behavior is within the rules of warfare. That is why they condemn Hamas' behavior and support Israel. Much of the int'l community simply sizes up the conflict by counting civilian casualties, playing up the nonsense argument that, as a result, Israel is "disproportionate" in its response, and assume Israel's actions are in violation of something.

  15. Thanks for your response. I did not write that I don’t think the U.S. does not engage in torture or terrorism which, by the way, are very different. I actually mention the U.S. to make the point that no country, including the U.S., has a history free of mistakes. The past is relevant as a lesson for us to learn from.
    Regrettable acts may have happened but what’s most important is who we are today and the message we are sending today. I am distinguishing from past versus present, not a particular group. All countries should be held to the same standard. I would hope that the U.S. is not speaking out against acts of terrorism and, at the same time, hypocritically trying to kill civilians.

    There are international rules of warfare. Like any law, there are sometimes gray areas of interpretation. But there is a very well defined line drawn to single out terrorists – those whose objective is to harm civilians. It is intentional harm, not incidental. If terrorists simply equals those who inflict terror, than the definition is so broad it becomes meaningless. And can then be used selectively to manipulate.

    The U.S. is very clear on who/what behavior constitutes a terrorist and what behavior is within the rules of warfare. That is why they condemn Hamas’ behavior and support Israel. Much of the int’l community simply sizes up the conflict by counting civilian casualties, playing up the nonsense argument that, as a result, Israel is “disproportionate” in its response, and assume Israel’s actions are in violation of something.