Whoa, talk about opening a Pandora’s box.
Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni has decided to tell the world that those Palestinians who attack Israeli soldiers are NOT terrorists. In another interview, she added that attacks specifically against soldiers could be seen as “more legitimate” than attacks on Israeli civilians.
This is not a small issue. I recently watched the propaganda film, Paradise Now, wherein two suicide bombers are sent on a mission. The filmmakers lie to the poor, naive audience by having the recruiters tell the bombers that they should target soldiers. Of course, we know from years of watching civilians getting murdered and maimed by these pigs, not to mention prison interviews they give proudly, that they are not sent out to target soldiers but to target civilians. In another scene in the movie, the filmmakers show a city bus laden with soldiers, implying of course that this makes the bus a legitimate target.
One of the arguments that cynical pro-Palestinians out there use when defending (!!!) suicide bombings is that there are soldiers in the restaurants or buses being exploded. Alternatively they might say that just as Israel creates “collateral damage” when targeting Palestinian terrorists with missiles from aircraft, the suicide bombers are doing the same. Never mind that Israel really targets specific terrorists and then strives to minimize additional casualties, which is the opposite of the modus operandi of the suicide bombers, they will claim that if a bus has a single soldier on it, or a mother bearing a male baby who might become a soldier, then blowing it up is legitimate.
Some people will now claim that Livni has opened the door to treating Palestinian terrorists as combatants in a war instead of as terrorists. This is not a small matter and one that will probably be investigated by the powers-that-be, unless the Israeli government retracts her remarks or makes it clear they do not represent official policy.
But these are details. If one eliminates the cynical use of the soldier sitting on the bus as an excuse for blowing up all the other, civilian, bus-riders, one is left with an interesting question: is a terrorist not a terrorist if he targets soldiers?
My answer is, yes. In my mind, when the King David Hotel was blown up by Jews in 1948, it was a justifiable attack because it was a military headquarters and the bombers gave several advance warnings to those in the building. In a war, soldiers are fair game. Even civilian casualties around them are legitimate as I understand international law.
Soldiers are soldiers and their job is to fight when they are in a war or a battle. As such, they are also legitimate targets. Those who attack them are playing by the rules of war very often. What is unacceptable and in fact makes them into terrorists is that they take their war and target others who are not soldiers. Civilans are off limits, and exploding a bomb in an area where they may be, is unconscionable. In order to preserve the current model of who is perceived a terrorist, perhaps Ms. Livni needs to expand on her remarks and make sure to express that the presence of a soldier at an attack, does not open the door to any form of moral justification for the terrorist.