The meaning of the word ‘terrorist’ has been subject to a great deal of scrutiny on both normative and descriptive levels. Recently, the Israeli Ministry of Defense declared that Zada, murderer of 4 Israeli Arabs on a bus weeks ago, was not a terrorist. Israeli law demands that one is only a terrorist if one is part of “enemy forces”. Since Zada was Jewish, it i s hard to construe him a part of an enemy force. By Israeli law, therefore, he fails to qualify as a terrorist. It follows from there that his victims are not victims of terror and hence not subject to special compensation.

Sound fishy to you? It certainly does to MK Mohammad Barakeh. Barakeh (re) submitted a petition to make the definition more inclusive:

The decision raises a strong scent of racism, which distinguishes between a Jewish terrorist and an Arab terrorist.

It is noteworthy in this regard that Sharon was happy to use the T-word after Zada’s attack.

The amendment was first proposed in 1990 after Ami Popper shot 7 Palestinians at a bus stop in Rishon Letzion. Muffti thought this was sort of interesting since while the debate has traditionally focussed on the ‘freedom fighter’/’terrorist’ dichotomy. In this case, however, it is more of a ‘murderer’/’terrorist’ distinction that is at issue. But Muffti is happy to turn the floor to you guys as he is sure opinions will come fast and furious.

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  • In the good ‘ol U S of A we make do away with semantic and just call them “political detainees” until proven otherwise. In the meanwhile, we send them off to a tropical island, feed them, clothe them and put them in air-conditioned modern housing under the repectful & watchful eyes of gorgeous, hot, young, muscular, sexy soldiers wearing camoflage ….what were we talking about? …oh yeah, terrorists…by any other name they still are just fuckin’ crazy assholes.

  • Mufti, i think you made a mistake by italicizing the last two paragraphs of the article.

    that aside, he’s not a terrorist by Israeli law or by the universal defintiion:

    “Terrorism refers to the use of violence for the purpose of achieving a political, religious, or ideological goal.”

    there is no goal to the senseless murder of noncombatant Palestinians by a crazed Jew. he does not succeed in gaining land, support, or glorification as Palestinian murderer-terrorists do.

    he is merely a murderer, who does not do so out of religion (show me in Torah where it prophecises Ishmaelites of a false prophet (muslims) will steal the Promised Land, and that we are commanded to kill them for it. sure, it says we must drive out inhabitants that would act as thorns in our side, but expulsion and murder are two very different things), politics (show me what cause he strengthens? will the murder of those Palestinians give us Gaza back? their murder sure has gotten them a lot… but not us), and the only ideology he represents is flying somewhere over a coo-coo’s nest.

    put simply: Palestinian murder of innocent Israeli civilians stems from religion (a perversion of Islam, based on hadiths Muhammad probably never even said…), benifits their political cause (massacre = more land!), and builds the ideology of jihad, both spiritually (those 70 virgins… oy… if only) and politically.

    we don’t gain from our senseless spates of murder and rogue groups bent on destroying our half-brothers (Ishmaelites… tee-hee). we have nothing to gain from this, and it doesn’t incite terror.

    u think that a handful of crazy-ass Jews is what scares muslims world-wide? bah! they’re scared because they listen to radio stations that predict Jews bringing about the apocalypse, drinking their blood, raping their women, and stoning their children to death for fun.

    they’re scared of their own despots. they’re scared of saying “hey, maybe these hook-nosed Jews aren’t so bad!” (while sporting some of the most overtly semitic noses in the world…lol). they’re scared of accepting a peace treaty, or even acknowledging our state-hood, or humanity.

    they’re scared that if they speak up, or (Allah forbid) speak OUT, they might end up dead, or running from a fatwa.

    when some banana-boat nutso Jew unloads into innocent Palestinian flesh (which is limited, mind you, because if they’re not terrorist… they support terrorists… and if they don’t stupport terror at all… you can bet they grin when we fail. well, we don’t fail. we kick Arab a$$ everytime they sneak up on us in the middle of the night… on a High Holiday! oh, HaSHeM… you test us in the most ironic of ways!)… wait what was i saying? oh yea…. when some nut-Jew unloads into innocent Palestinian flesh, he’s not terrorising anyone. his victims are dead, and any Arabs who are scared of Jews were already scared, because they just finished watching:

    Nabil El Sheik-Ali al-Mansouri’s “Jews Eat Babies” on the Syiran Discovery Network (Peace Be Upon It)

    lol. oy… it’s like 1:30 in the morning here 😀

  • that comment is full of errors. sorry for complaining about the italics. i are not speak english too many.

  • To be a terrorist requires an organization or at least a loose affiliation with a paramilitary force that seeks to cause death among civilians. Since there are no such groups that openly or otherwise promote this as a tactic for Israel, it follows logically that an occassional perpetrator of a murderous act against Arab civilians cannot be considered to have acted as a terrorist. Even if the man intended his actions to be “terroristic”, he cannot be considered a terrorist under law. And baruch hashem we don’t promote pedophilia rape fantasies in this lifetime or the next.

  • I agree with David, it was murder, a hate crime: in any other country it would be classified as such; that’s my litmus test!

  • And I agree with wiggle – and I think it was mentioned in the original post, too: his actions didn’t come in the context of an organization making demands and threats. Hence, he’s a lone loony rather than a terrorist.

  • He’s a terrorist. Period.

    His goal was to make a political statement and as an added bonus to cause a response (by the Arab Israelis and other Arabs) that might forestall the Disengagement. He may have been a loonie but he was affiliated with one fringe corner of the loonie Right. He was just more loonie than most. His intent was political and based on religious convictions. Note that he is one of two Israeli Jewish attackers who acted around the time of the Disengagement in a similar fashion.

    He is no different than any Palestinian terrorist.

  • middle the mindreader.

    How do you know about Zada’s motives?

    Do you really think that he traveled several hours north to a Druze town in order to try and get a response from Israeli Arabs? The druze serve in the army, swear loyalty to the state, and HATE Palestinians. ‘On the other hand’, Israeli Arabs think the druze are merely Arab traitors, no sympathies are protests in the streets of Um-El-Fahm, and only half-hearted Arab MK efforts at recognition. The Druze vote Likud, not Balad.

    But you probably love the idea that you can now say ‘Jewish terrorism’. You’re so quick to say it. Sharon was so quick to say it and bask in the media spotlight, all the major outlets still say ‘the jewish terrorist’ this and ‘the jewish terrorist’ that with glee. This is pure self-hate.

    After the last attack by an Israeli against Arab workers, I posted on Jewschool somewhat uneloquently that this isn’t really the classic version of terrorism, though it has elements, and definitely needs to be condemned (why we have to continually repeat these condemnations as a ‘given’ is quite disturbing actually).

  • If he’s not a terrorist, then any Palestinian suicide bomber whose attack isn’t claimed by a terrorist group is also not a terrorist, because there is no organization involved. Unless he left a suicide note laying out his reasons for the attack, we can’t know them, so we have to look at the objective facts. I don’t know how many suicide bombs have not been claimed by Al Aqsa, Hamas, et al, but if they are all terrorist acts, then Zada’s murders, unexplained and not used as a cause celebre by any far-right Jewish group (as far as I know), must be considered a terrorist act as well.

    In the end, it’s splitting hairs, and not worth the additional acrimony it has caused. Israel has enough PR problems without trying to in some way whitewash Zada’s attack, which is effectively what the Ministry of Defense is doing by not labeling it terrorism.

  • today i was walking home from the central bus station — on the opposite side of the street from any bus stops, completely engrossed in my headphones and walking ahead diligently, minding my own business, when a bus security guard races up to me, pushes me in my chest and says, “where are you from?!” “here,” i respond. “are you jewish?” “uh, yeah, but what’s that got to do with anything?” before i had a chance to say “being jewish didn’t stop that asshole zada from getting on a bus and killing people,” he said “have a good shabbat,” and walked away.

  • First, Muffti appologizes for the italics. He keeps tyring to fix it and it keeps not saving properly.

    Second, Aaliyah and Josh, there at least seems to have been ideology invovled here. Killing innocents is looney, but it doesn’t follow that it was irrational, in the sense that it wasn’t aimed in a methodical reasoned way at a goal.

    This, of course, shores up the vacuity of the general definition, D Aaliyah: unless we have a good sense of what counts as an ideology. As far as knowing Zada’s motives, Muffti reckons Charles is right to an extent: we don’t usually require absolute proof, we merely require plausibility. And in Zada’s case, it is pretty plausible that he was ideologically motivated.

  • in nyc we have a relatively new bias crime law to deal with these sort of issues. not that i think that relatives of victims get any sort of lifetime pensions for their troubles, but the law kind of does prevent these semantic issues from arising.

  • Charles is right, except that the Ministry of Defense wasn’t whitewashing anything, merely following – as any government agency should – the guidelines of a law. It’s the law that is flawed and needs adjustment.

    Mobius, it might be that the diligent security guard (you do realize that two of these guys just saved dozens of lives the other day in Be’er Sheva?) knows that the vast majority of the terror incidents in Israel have been perpetrated by Palestinians, and not one of them was Jewish. He’s playing the odds.

  • Perhaps the statutory interpretation is correct (has Justice Scalia moved to Israel?), but one hopes that appropriate compensation could somehow be provided anyway. That’s really the point here, no?

  • I believe, on the basis of what I’ve read and Sharon’s comments about these attacks, that the Israeli authorities are trying in good faith to find a way to provide the appropriate compensation.

    I don’t think the discussion here is moot, however. We should use the word “terrorist” carefully, but not be afraid to apply it to any member of the Jewish community who stoops to this unconscionable behavior. As you can read, there are people who are denying that this terrorist was a terrorist.

  • Sharon’s forthrightness was highly admirable, I thought, but when it comes to one’s own kind, it can be all too easy to whitewash awful conduct. My longtime pet peeve here involves the Irish-American folks who embrace Gerry Adams as if he’s something other than a contemptable thug.

  • These is the definition according to the US.
    Note definition 1: foreign.

    Legal Criteria for Designation
    (Reflecting Amendments to Section 219 of the INA in the USA PATRIOT Act of 2001)

    1. It must be a foreign organization.
    2. The organization must engage in terrorist activity, as defined in section 212 (a)(3)(B) of the INA (8 U.S.C. § 1182(a)(3)(B)),* or terrorism, as defined in section 140(d)(2) of the Foreign Relations Authorization Act, Fiscal Years 1988 and 1989 (22 U.S.C. § 2656f(d)(2)),** or retain the capability and intent to engage in terrorist activity or terrorism.
    3. The organization’s terrorist activity or terrorism must threaten the security of U.S. nationals or the national security (national defense, foreign relations, or the economic interests) of the United States.

  • Truth is that all this discussion here and in Israel only serves to taek attention off the danger to Jewish lives both in Isreal and the world that we as the foolish people we are cause to ourselves.

    I understand why people act like this. They are pushed into the corner. i also understand the arabs. That is why the arabs must go – since it is either them or us.

    All this other diversion is like the musicians playing music while the titanic is sinking.

  • “All this other diversion is like the musicians playing music while the titanic is sinking.”

    good analogy.

    why must they go? Arab Israelis living in Israel-proper are not the threat. Because they’ll fully subjugated by Israeli law (as are we) and cannot be thugged around into terror like in the “palestinian” territories.

  • Wrong David they are a threat.

    I already gave so many links to Arab Knesset members’ (there are 13 of them!) actions and statements against Israel.

    Don’t kid yourself when possible they do what they could to hurt us. There are so many instances of ‘Israeli’ arabs caught…

    Get an education.

  • David Aaliyah one more thing before I take the weekend off from this 😉

    Why do you say “and cannot be thugged around into terror like in the “palestinian” territories.”
    -why do you look down on the arabs and suppose that they don’t mean what they say and do but are ‘thugged’ or pushed into their actions.

    I don’t have the contempt that many Jews have for them. You think that they have no brains and no motivation to do it on their own. – They must have been ‘thugged’… Come on!

    Have some respect. Believe people when they tell you why they do it. They really do believe that we are on their land- which ACCORDING TO THEM is all of Israel.

    Have respect for their position and don’t make like they are stupid and they don’t know what they are saying or doing.

  • lets see how the arab definition is on these ” terrorists”. their suicide bombers are called martyrs and freedom fighters. israeli soldiers are called murdering jewish pigs.
    zada is a murderer with no apparent links to any organization. simple and fair.

  • sharon is only playing a p.r. game with words.
    this is rich coming from a man who has been labelled as ” mass murderer” but would like to change this to “peace maker”. how about we make the arabs happy by changing the word “israel” to “palestine”. is this fair enough for you mufti?

  • all this word play and p.r. makes me wanna puke. i call them all “wordsmith wankers” & “piss poor poets”. potatoe..potato.. tomatoe..tomato lets call the whole thing off. lets see if the palis understand just one simple word….ISRAEL.

  • the fact that the guy immediately began talking to me in english meant he knew i wasn’t palestinian. what was he thinking? i was either european or american. and since i don’t look dati — what, i’m an ISMer plotting to blow something up? because, you know — that’s what the international activist community does; they blow shit up.

  • Hmmm…if terrorists have to be foreign, what was Oklahoma City?

    I consider him to be a terrorist–he was acting out of ideology and he was associated with far right wing etc– and believe that those who were injured and lost loved ones should receive the same compensation as those injured in attacks orchestrated by Hamas/Islamic Jihad/ Look at it from a slightly different angle. Hamas wants to kill Israeli citizens because we are Jews/Israelis. Jewish terrorists want to kill *Israeli* Arabs because they are Arabs, and perhaps because they are Israeli (demographic issues?)

    What about the guy who killed Palestineans a few weeks ago–how does one treat those victims?

    Does anyone have any information regarding how members of the Israeli public can offer support for Barakeh’s petition?