Terrorism is in the Eye of the Beholder

Let’s be very clear about the word “terrorist.”  It is assigned to people who revolt against invading or colonizing forces by those who have been invaded or colonized — AND, it is applied to the people who attempt to maintain a forceful hold on a land and its people, even when the people don’t wish to be held any longer.

In the American Revolution, as we like to call it, the “Americans” were the revolutionaries, fighting the oppressive rule from across the Atlantic by a little island full of colonial overlords.  The problem is, it wasn’t our soil — it belonged to the people who lived here before we bumped into their shore with our boats.  So technically, we were the invading terrorists who committed mass genocide in order to steal land and resources from an indigenous people, AND the terrorists who revolted against the very government and wealthy landowners who paid to get us and all those slaves on the ships in the first place.  The British were also, technically, terrorists who used force and outrageous economic embargos and restrictions to force their colonists to remain their colonists.

In other words, the other guy is ALWAYS committing acts of terrorism — whether to maintain or bust the status quo — while WE are always committing acts of patriotism and heroism.  If Joe-on-the-Street uses force, surprise, blackmail, coercion, peer pressure, Molotov cocktails, or pitbulls to get his own way — then he’s a terrorist.  It’s a big, wide, all-encompassing term.  And it sounds really good to say we are opposing the terrorists, we don’t negotiate with terrorists, and we are out to out-terrorize the terrorists.  Sounds butch.  Tough.  Independent.  Self-reliant.  And boy do we like sounding butch and tough and independent and self-reliant.

At the end of WWI, when Turkey lost control of the middle east — it was basically a lot of nomadic tribes with historical claim to various deserts and oases from Egypt and Syria to India.  The Brits moved in (again — they did that a lot) and by virtue of the Suez Canal, made almost all of the land into informal British colonies.  It was more of a handshake thing than an actual flag-hoisting, but the end result was the same.

Then came the Nazis, Hitler, and WWII.  It was long, hard, and economically devastating on the heels of an equally devastating decade of severe depression (both psychological and economic.)  By the end, the colonizing Brits were about out of spit, and the colonies were drifting off faster than clouds in the summertime.  When all the key allied players found out that they hadn’t just been fighting over chunks of land — but were actually fighting man’s inhumanity to man by defeating the Nazis — the whole allied world cried out for some kind of reparation to the Jews — or what was left of them.

So Winston and his cronies redrew the map.  They took all that desert with its little nomadic tribes and millennia of ancient world history and carved it up so that the Jews were given a homeland to call their own — and they called it Israel. It wasn’t given to them because they’d always lived there for the centuries leading up to WWI and WWII — it was given to them because it was a big empty place their ancestors lived centuries before and it provided a kind of conscience appeasement for the rest of the world for the six million jews to died while we made the long, slow march across Europe to persuade Hitler to commit suicide in a bunker under Berlin.

But in order to give the Jews a homeland — it meant that the people who were actually living on the land at the time had to be relocated  from their family homes, farms, communities, and tribes.  They got the bums rush so the rest of the world could feel better about itself.

And there hasn’t been a peaceful day since.

I’ve always wondered why we didn’t give Germany to the Jews when we took out the blue pencil to redraw the borders and booty-rights.  It was the Nazi’s fault.  Germany was where many of the Jews were living before Hitler.  In the same spirit of vigilante justice as the Southern Poverty Law Center getting the KKK headquarters awarded to the family of young black man they had lynched 30 years ago — there would have been a kind of luscious justice in turning Berlin over to the survivors of the Holocaust.

But instead, Churchill and the Allies went another direction.  They created 20th Century terrorism.

And as vile and bloodthirsty as Hamas appears from the Israeli perspective, at their core, they’re just fighting over a piece of land that was grabbed by colonialism’s greatest grabber — the British — and called Israel, even though it hadn’t been called Israel or occupied by Jews as a nation in modern history.

History, as they say, is written by the winners.  As a result — who finally gets called “terrorist” is decided after the fact.  Before all the bodies are buried and the globe are printed — all sides practice terrorist-like behavior from time to time because they are all trying to get what they want in the way and the time that they want it.  That’s  why they call it war.  It’s me getting what I want with no holds barred, and with extreme prejudice against you and what you want.

There are a lot of fundamental Christians who believe that we have to back the Israelis and their claim on their homeland because New Testament scripture prophesies it.  Jews have to live in Israel for the prophecies to come true.

Okay.  Aside from all the other things that are wrong with that position, imagine how insulting it must be the Judeo-Christian God for man (any man) to posit that God’s eternal plan can’t happen unless he (anyman) steps in and forces critical bits into place. If dropping the WWII surviving Jews into a land they haven’t held claim to in hundreds of years — at the expense of those who have held claim for hundreds of years — isn’t man (Churchill et al.) sticking his nose where it isn’t needed, wanted, or required, then I don’t know what is.

How outrageous for “Christians” to demand that the US always take the Israeli side in any disagreement, because to do otherwise might keep those Book of Revelation prophesies from coming to pass.  How small is this god, that people who worship and believe in Him with all their hearts can’t imagine that S/He could get the little ducks to line up in a row without help in order to fulfill a prophecy? I’m always disappointed when otherwise intelligent people think that their GOD can’t manage to get His own bits of history in order without human intervention.  What arrogance!

The Israelis have had 55 years to get their act together and to make peace with their neighbors. (Still, it would have been easy if they’d just gotten West Germany!)  But they didn’t.   Instead, the fight is still non-stop violence.  Israel and its neighbors kill each other and they kill each other’s children.  They embargo, they stand-off, and they cry “unfair and unjust!”  And it is.  It is uniquely unfair and unjust.  That’s what happens after wars.  But Hamas opened clinics, schools — provided medical care for its people — and has helped rebuild.  These are all signs of responsibility toward citizens.

The bottom line is, they – Hamas – are part of an elected government, now.  They are doing at least part of the work of a first-world government — as much as can be done in a war zone.  Because the non-Muslim world sees them through Churchill’s filters, which are both antiquated and dubious on many counts, they are seen as terrorists. Whether their claims are justifiable or winable — we don’t know yet.  But using them as the poster child for terrorist organizations is over-shooting a bit in a world where the Taliban and Al Qaeda both exist. Neither of those organizational pillars of good judgment are part of any elected body, and they certainly give no cultural, economic, or even minimally recognized benefit to any of the peoples they claim to represent.

So be careful where you point that finger.  It’s a Global Village out there, and we’re all neighbors, revolutionaries, victims, soldiers, and innocent bystanders at one time or another.  Be careful of the free-floating agendas that fall out of the mouths of otherwise reasonable people, because you have to know that perspective is everything where history is concerned. The winners assign the labels, write the books, and redraw the maps — regardless of who they have to boot or marginalize in the process.

The soundbite that says “we don’t negotiate with terrorists” ceased to apply to Hamas the day they were elected.  We DO negotiate with elected governments  (or at least we give it a good try) — even if we would never have elected them in a million years.  That’s the way it works if we want to attempt diplomatic relations (and therefore diplomatic solutions to problems.)  Disapproving of them doesn’t excuse us from attempting to work with them at some level — even if it makes their disapproving neighbors (and our neighborhood busybodies) uncomfortable.

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