Of Israeli Terror
By John Pilger
11 September, 2003
the news we get, only the Palestinians are described as terrorists,
and yet the Israelis have a long history of terrorism - both before
and since the founding of the Jewish state.
At least three Israeli
Prime Ministers have been involved in campaigns of terror.
Menachem Begin was
the commander of the terrorist group that blew up the King David Hotel
in Jerusalem in 1946, killing 96 people. He was Israeli Prime Minister
in the '70s and '80s. He once described a massacre as "a splendid
act of conquest".
Yitzak Shamir was
Prime Minister until 1992. He had been a leader of a Jewish group called
the Stern Gang which carried out a string of assassinations.
The present Israeli
Prime Minister, Ariel Sharon, has long been involved in terror. In 1983,
he was found indirectly, but personally, responsible for a civilian
massacre by Lebanese militia in two Palestinian refugee camps. At least
800 innocent men, women and children were murdered in cold blood, most
of them Palestinians, after Sharon ordered his men to allow the militiamen
access to the camps.
John Pilger interviewed Dori Gold, Senior Adviser to the Israeli Prime
Minister, and asked why Israel fails to condemn its own leaders for
their terrorist acts in the same way as they condemn anti-Israeli terrorist
acts. Here is a transcript of this conversation:
John Pilger: When
those Israelis, who are now famous names, committed act of terrorism
just before the birth of Israel, you could have said to them, nothing
justifies what you've done, ripping apart all those lives. And they
would say it did justify it. What's the difference?
Dori Gold: I think
we have now, as an international community, come to a new understanding.
I think after September 11th the world got a wake-up call. Because terrorism
today is no longer the mad bomber, the anarchist who throws in an explosive
device into a crowd to make a point. Terrorism is going to move from
the present situation to non-conventional terrorism, to nuclear terrorism.
And before we reach that point, we have to remove this scourge from
the Earth. And therefore, whether you're talking about the struggle
here between Israelis and Palestinians, the struggle in Northern Ireland,
the struggle in Sri Lanka, or any of the places where terrorism has
been used, we must make a global commitment of all free democracies
to eliminate this threat from the world. Period.
JP: Does that include
DG: No country has
the right to deliberately target civilians. As no organisation has a
right to deliberately target civilians.
JP: What about Israeli
DG: The language
of terrorism, you have to be very careful with. Terrorism means deliberately
targeting civilians, in a kind of warfare. That's what the terrorism
against Israeli schools, coffee shops, malls, has been all about. Israel
specifically targets, to the best of its ability, Palestinian terrorist
JP: All right, when
an Israeli sniper shoots an old lady with a cane, trying to get into
a hospital for her chemotherapy treatment, in front of a lot of the
world's press for one, and frankly we'd be here all day with other examples,
isn't that terrorism?
DG: I don't know
the case you're speaking about, but I can be convinced of one thing.
An Israeli who takes aim - even an Israeli sniper - is taking aim at
those engaged in terrorism. Unfortunately, in every kind of warfare,
there are cases of civilians who are accidentally killed. Terrorism
means putting the crosshairs of the sniper's rifle on a civilian deliberately.
JP: Well that's
- that's what I've just described.
DG: That is what
- no. I can tell you that did not happen.
JP: It did happen.
And - and I think that's where some people have problem with the argument
that terrorism exists on - on one side. Your definition is absolutely
correct, about civilians. And those suicide bombers are terrorists.
DG: If you mix terrorism
and counter-terrorism, if you create some kind of moral obfuscation,
you will bring about not just a problem for Israel, but you will bring
ab - bring about a problem for the entire western alliance. Because
we are all facing this threat.
It's hard to see
the difference between what the Israelis call 'counter-terrorism' and
terrorism. Whatever the target, both involve the killing of innocent
people. This is what happened when Prime Minister Sharon sent tanks
into Bethlehem earlier this year.
Amjad Abu Laban,
a Palestinian resident of Bethlehem, describes one such incident:
"We had, a
private hospital director who was going from the hospital in Al Hadr
to Bethlehem to get supplies for his hospital. His plate number was
known to the soldiers, his name was known to the soldiers and they knew
that he is the director of a hospital. But he was shot. By a high velocity
of Israeli terror
Israel's occupation of Palestine would not be possible without the backing
of America. In the oil-rich Middle East, Israel is America's deputy
sheriff, receiving billions of dollars along with the latest weapons:
F-16 aircraft, bombs, missiles, Apache helicopters. Today Israel is
the fourth largest military power in the world, and it has nuclear weapons.
is Israel's main arms supplier, it's not widely recognised that Britain
also fuels the conflict here, even though it condemns Israel for its
illegal occupation. During the first 14 months of the Palestinian uprising,
the Blair government approved 230 export licences for weapons and military
equipment to Israel.
The categories these
covered included large calibre weapons; ammunition; bombs; and vital
parts for military aircraft that almost certainly included American-supplied
combat helicopters. You may have seen these Apache gunships on the news,
firing missiles at densely populated areas. Tony Blair has said, 'we
are doing everything we can to bring peace and stability to the Middle
is a Palestinian who is all too familiar with the violence facilitated
by the Israel's American-supplied weapons. He described the scene when
Apache helicopters attacked the area in which he lives:
"We saw Apache
helicopters circling in the sky above our heads. Then shooting a missile.
The rockets fell just 200 metres from our house. All our windows were
shuttered. I had a child in front of me, my daughter, who was 11 years
old, shivering from fear. Worried, frightened to death. And I could
do nothing to protect her.
"And you don't
know whether in the second minute you or your daughter would be dead.
That feeling of impotence is indescribable and I will never forget it."