The recent horrendous massacre of thousands of innocent victims, on Sept. 11 Sept. in New York and Washington, brought a great deal of attention to the subject of terrorism, Osama bin Laden and his group, al-Qaida.
There has also been some insinuation, by the media and politicians, towards Arabs and Muslims, with reference to the Middle East and the Palestine conflict.
But nowhere is there any mention of Israeli terrorism in relation to this conflict.
Terrorism is defined in a variety of ways. An interesting definition is put forward by the noted intellectual Noam Chomsky, who wrote: “There is another defining property of ‘terrorism’ in contemporary (Orwellian) newspeak: it refers to violent acts by Them, not Us.”
Another definition is when the men, women and children who are killed are Palestinians and the gunmen or pilots who murder them are Israelis. This form of terrorism is not terrorism, we are told, but mere retaliation, self defence or what they may call ‘civilized terrorism.’
The late professor Israel Shahak, a Holocaust survivor, and then chairman of the Israeli League for Human and Civil Rights, wrote: “There is nothing new in the fact that Israel is a terrorist state, which, almost from its inception, has used its intelligence service (the Mossad) to assassinate people on foreign soil with any violence or terror it considers necessary for its ends.”
The actions of the state of Israel since its creation, and those of the terrorist gangs (the Stern, Irgun Zwei Leumi and the Haganah) that brought it about, testify to Israel’s long-established record in terrorism, not only in the Middle East but on the international scene. This record is massive and would take volumes to relate but I will refer only to a few examples:
Assassination of Palestinian leaders and intellectuals, in Europe and the Middle East has gone on for years. This includes the 1972 Lillehammer affair in Norway, where an innocent Moroccan waiter was killed in error, instead of a targeted Palestinian; the murder of the Palestinian diplomat and scholar Naim Khader in 1985 in Brussels, and many others.
Fathi Shikaki was assassinated in Malta in 1995 on the orders of Yitzhak Rabin. The role of Ehud Barak, dressed as an Arab woman, in the assassination of three Palestinian leaders, including the poet Kemal Nasser, in 1973 in Beirut, must not be forgotten.
Israeli-targeted assassination of Palestinians described as activists, as well as bystanders, continues to this day. Israeli assassination is not limited to Palestinians but includes the 1944 assassination of the British minister Lord Moyne in Cairo as planned by Yitzhak Shamir.
A horrible crime was committed in the assassination of the Swedish nobleman, Count Folke Bernadotte, a UN mediator, on Sept. 17, 1948, in Jerusalem, on the orders of Yitzhak Shamir, who later became prime minister of Israel. Count Bernadotte’s sin was his recommendation, as the UN mediator, that Palestinian refugees who were driven out from their homes by Israel should be allowed to return to their homes. This recommendation was the substance of the UN resolution 194, on Dec. 11, 1948, stipulating the right of return for the Palestinian refugees as soon as possible.
Israeli use of chemical weapons is also on record in the botched attempt to assassinate Khalid Meshal in Amman in 1997, on the orders of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
Incredible as it may seem, Israel also indulged in the development of bioterrorism.
Some readers may recall Daniel Paul’s column in The Chronicle-Herald titled Where is the outrage over Israel’s work on biological weapon? (Jan. 15, 1999). His column referred to a report in The Sunday Herald – The Ethnic Bomb: Israeli weapon would kill Arabs, spare Jews, (Nov. 15, 1998), from The Sunday Times of London, quoting Israeli scientists and politicians.
The first act of air piracy in the history of civil aviation was carried out by Israel in 1954, when a civilian Syrian airliner was forced down in Tel Aviv and its passengers and crew held hostage, despite international condemnation.
The first act of shooting down a civilian airliner was deliberately carried out by Israel when a Libyan airliner was shot down by Israeli jet fighters over Sinai in February 1973, on the orders of Israeli prime minister Golda Meir, killing 107 of its passengers and its entire French crew.
Israeli terror was not restricted to Palestinians, Arabs and Europeans but included its own closest supporter and ally, the United States. In 1954, Israeli secret agents bombed the U.S. diplomatic centres in Cairo and Alexandria (known as the Lavon Affair), in an attempt to put the blame on the Egyptians. Israel later honoured the perpetrator, Marcello Ninio.
In June 1967, Israeli forces attacked and sank the U.S. spy ship USS Liberty, and strafed rescue boats, killing 35 and injuring 170 U.S. servicemen, in an attempt to conceal its own secret communications, and again tried to blame it on the Egyptians. To this day, incredible as it may seem, the U.S. Congress refuses to hold an inquiry into this crime, as requested by the surviving crew. Needless to say, no sanctions were imposed or calls to extradite the perpetrators were made.
Zionist terror did not spare Jews. In 1940, Menachem Begin’s Irgun Zwei Leumi terrorist gang bombed the ship Patria in Haifa harbor, killing 240 Jewish refugees, so as to put the blame on the British for political gain.
In 1950-1951, Israeli agents were dispatched to Iraq where they tossed hand grenades into the crowded Massauda Shem-Tov synagogue, causing numerous deaths, in order to blame it on the Iraqis and encourage reluctant Iraqi Jews to emigrate to Israel.
Israeli terrorism against Palestinians continues, including murder, torture, expropriation of their land, for the creation of illegal settlements and demolition of thousands of their homes as well as entire towns and villages, not to mention numerous massacres, including those of Deir Yassin, Qibya and Sabra and Shatilla.
The Palestinians of the West Bank have remained under illegal occupation for over 34 years, in defiance of international law and UN Security Council resolutions. Their acts of resistance are described by Israel as terrorism, yet international law entitles all peoples, including even the Palestinian people, to resist foreign occupation.
Occupation is violence, and to bring an end to violence and bring peace and security for Israelis and Palestinians, Israel must comply with international law and withdraw completely from all territories occupied in 1967, including East Jerusalem.
Israeli acts of belligerency extend beyond its defiance of international law and Security Council resolutions to violation of its own agreements with the Palestinian Authority.
Its recent re-occupation, of seven cities and towns in the Palestinian autonomous areas is illegal. The pretext for this is the recent assassination of the Israeli Minister of Tourism, Rehavam Zeevi, by members of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine in retaliation for Israel’s assassination of their leader Mustafa Zibri two months earlier.
Mr. Zibri’s assassination was one of over 50 Palestinian leaders assassinated over the last year. The invasion of these towns, including Bethlehem and Beit Jala, using tanks and Apache warships, has resulted in the demolition of scores of homes and the killing of over 50 Palestinians, mostly women and children.
The invasion of these towns and cities continues in defiance of international condemnation and the call for immediate withdrawal by the U.S., Israel’s ally, benefactor and unquestioning supporter. But, alas, Israel remains above international law.
The late Canadian historian Frank Epp, then president of Grebel college of the University of Waterloo, wrote: “It is true that terrorist acts have been perpetrated by people identified as Palestinians. But there is another terrorism which is more vicious and brutal, that of dispossession and displacement forced upon the Palestinians.
However, terrorism meted out by the Palestinians, regrettable as it is, is minute by comparison with that which has been inflicted on them. The mass media have failed to make this point adequately.”
The tragedy for the Jewish people of Israel, in the crimes that are committed in their name, is highlighted in the statement made by the noted British historian Arnold Toynbee, who stated in a 1961 lecture at McGill University to a largely Jewish audience: “The Jewish treatment of the Arabs in 1948 was as morally indefensible as the slaughter by the Nazis of six million Jews . . . The most tragic thing in human life is when people who have suffered impose suffering in their turn.”
The Palestinian people today are calling for a modicum of justice. For without this, there will be no peace for Arab or Jew in the Middle East.
Dr. Ismail Zayid was born and grew up in Beit Nuba, Palestine. He is the author of two books: Palestine: A Stolen Heritage, and Zionism: The Myth and the Reality.
Mr. Ismail Zayid is President of Canada Palestine Association in Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada.