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The Israeli media’s hit job on MK Haneen Zoabi

In a now-infamous radio interview, the nation’s Public Enemy No. 1 made it clear she disagreed with the kidnapping of the three Israeli boys. But that part has been edited out of the story by every major news medium except ‘Haaretz.’

MK Hanin Zoabi (photo: Oren Ziv/ Activestills.org)

MK Hanin Zoabi (photo: Oren Ziv/ Activestills.org)

Once again, Knesset member Haneen Zoabi, a Palestinian from Nazareth, is Public Enemy No. 1 in Israel. The Knesset just gave her a bodyguard because of all the death threats she’s been getting, and she’s being investigated for incitement. Everyone is convinced she endorsed the kidnappings of the three Israeli teenagers.

I was convinced, too, after I heard the news reports on Tuesday about her radio interview. It was only this morning, Wednesday, when I saw a translation of the interview and read the story in Haaretz about the whole uproar that I saw Zoabi had made it clear she disagreed with the kidnappings.

“Even if I do not agree with them …” is the phrase she used – and that phrase has been edited out of the reporting of this latest “Zoabi affair” by Israel’s most popular TV news show, Channel 2; its second-most popular one, Channel 10; its most popular newspaper, Yedioth Ahronoth; its most widely-distributed newspaper, the freebie Israel Hayom; by the once-influential Ma’ariv newspaper; and by two of the three leading English-language news sites, the Jerusalem Post and Times of Israel (the latter did, however, report that “Zoabi later clarified in an interview on Israel Radio that she does ‘not support the kidnappers, but [kidnapping] is the result of frustration.’”)

Only in Haaretz did anyone read that Zoabi said from the beginning that she disagreed with the kidnappers and their deed. (Full disclosure: I work on the desk at Haaretz in English, but I was off Tuesday.)

Here’s the key passage from Zoabi’s remarks Tuesday morning on Radio Tel Aviv:

Is it strange that people living under occupation and living impossible lives, in a situation where Israel kidnaps new prisoners every day, is it strange that they act this way? They are not terrorists. Even if I do not agree with them, they are people who do not see any way open to change their reality, and they are compelled to use means like these until Israel wakes up and sees the suffering, feels the suffering of the other.”

Myself, I don’t think the occupation or anything else compels people to kidnap 16-year-old boys – though it clearly provokes them to. And the kidnappers do fit the common definition of “terrorists” – militants who target civilians – but the term “terrorists” also implies that they act purely out of evil intent, without any legitimate political cause, and in that sense the term does not fit the kidnappers.

But if you take Zoabi’s statement – and leave in her words “even if I do not agree with them” – you get a wholly different picture of what she said than what is being reported by the Israeli media, let alone what is being said by the crazy politicians. (The most deranged of all is Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman, who effectively called for Zoabi’s execution, saying, “The fate of the kidnappers and the fate of Zoabi, who incites and encourages the terrorists, ought to be the same.”) But everyone except Haaretz left out her all-important caveat and focused on her words “they are not terrorists” to brand Zoabi as a champion of the kidnapping, which is a lie.

Some of these media hit jobs are really crude. The introduction to the Channel 2 story on Tuesday night went, “Knesset member Haneen Zoabi keeps attacking Israel – first by sea, now by land.” The so-called sea attack was a reference to Zoabi’s presence on the Mavi Marmara aid flotilla to Gaza in 2010, when Israeli commandos killed 10 activists aboard after being beaten with clubs. Yet Zoabi, who stayed below during the clash, was part of the “attack,” according to Channel 2.

Ynetnews, the English-language website of Yedioth Ahronoth, went one better than its competitors by not editing out Zoabi’s disagreement with the kidnapping, but rather mistranslating and twisting what she said. Instead of quoting her correctly as having told the interviewer, “They are not terrorists. Even if I do not agree with them, they are people who do not see any way open …” Ynetnews quoted her as saying, “They are not terrorists. I don’t agree with you, they are people …” That is a gross mistranslation, so much so that I can’t assume it was an innocent mistake.

Some of this stuff was comic. The Times of Israel reported that on Wednesday morning, “Zoabi clarified that if the teens were killed by their captors, that would qualify as terrorism. ‘Murder is terrorism,’ she said. ‘It is illegitimate and should never be repeated, but the State of Israel is the one that led us to this event.’”

That actually sounds like something she might have said. Now here’s the same morning-after clarification by Zoabi as reported by nrg, Ma’ariv’s website: “MK Haneen Zoabi refuses to apologize. In an interview broadcast on Army Radio, Zoabi said of the statements she made yesterday about the kidnapped boys: ‘I don’t agree with acts like these, but even if the youths are murdered, that’s not terror.’”

Bit of a difference there. And what was nrg’s headline? Once again, it left out the “I don’t agree with acts like these,” and ran only: “Zoabi: Even if the youths are murdered, that’s not terror.”

This is the shit Israelis read and hear every day; this is how they form their opinions not only of Haneen Zoabi, but of pretty much every Arab to the left of Zoabi’s 17-year-old relative who went on YouTube wrapped in an Israeli flag, demanding the release of the three boys and calling on Netanyahu to “wake up and stop cooperating with … the Palestinian Authority [which] is the biggest terrorist.”

And the Israeli media have an international reputation for being “vibrant” and “independent”; in Israel they’re commonly thought to be “leftist.” Maybe in an Israel on some other planet, but in the Israel on Earth, the media, with the exception of Haaretz, are politically dull, obedient and nationalistic as hell. And when the national mood demands it, which is often, they’re deceitful too.

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    1. Shaun

      Keep listening: When she is asked if she justifies the kidnapping, she ignores the question and goes on to say that she is not happy being being put in an uncomfortable situation.. then she hangs up…

      Reply to Comment
      • NJgirl

        “Even if I do not agree with them” is conditional. She does NOT declare she is against the kidnapping. As she states this, she leaves things up in the air.

        Reply to Comment
    2. Michael

      The fact is that she ignores the question of whether she justifies the kidnapping or not, and refuses to answer the interviewer’s question, “If the kidnappers aren’t terrorists in your opinion, then what are they?”

      Ms. Zoabi has shown by her actions since her election to the Knesset that she has no loyalty at all to the country she lives in, and is willing to lie to further her aims.

      The description she gives of her own relative, whose opinions differ from hers is scandalous.

      Maybe she needs additional education on the principles of democracy, especially the principle of free speech.

      Reply to Comment
      • Bryan

        You accuse her of disloyalty and then suggest she has lessons in free speech. Thus one is free to say whatever one wants provided one backs Israel right or wrong. Sorry that is not liberal democracy which demands that we are often very critical of our leaders, our institutions and our very societies.

        Reply to Comment
    3. Vladimir

      Ask Mohamed Zoabi – he’ll explain.

      Reply to Comment
    4. Bar

      This article is false and inaccurate. Here is a Ynet article in Hebrew with a full video of the interview, including the part where she disses a cousin, who spoke against the terrorists, in part for attending “a Jewish school,” meaning an Israeli public school (she also disses the boy’s mother for being divorced even though she herself is unmarried).


      Anybody who listens to this interview and walks away a Zoabi supporter truly has a skewed understanding of the world. She unequivocally expresses sympathy for the terrorists and, more importantly, for their actions which she claims should take place so as to “sober up” the Israeli public.

      Reply to Comment
      • Felix Reichert

        If “She unequivocally expresses sympathy for the terrorists”, than I’m sure you can accurately translate her statements, with context of course and not just single sentences, into English, for our better understanding?

        Reply to Comment
        • Bar

          First she says, “Let’s first ask a naive question: Is it strange that people who live under occupation and do not have a normal life and live in a situation where [Israel] kidnaps prisoners, that they would kidnap somebody?”

          So right there you have unqualified support. This isn’t just a question for her, it’s a “naive” question. The question also labels IDF and Israeli security arrests as kidnappings.

          She is then asked, “Are they terrorists?” She answers, “They are definitely not terrorists.” “So what are they?” “They are people who do not see an opening to change their reality and they are forced to use these methods, until Israel sobers up a little and the civilians and society of Israel sober up and feel the suffering of the other. “So you justify the action?” “I am not surprised by it.”

          In other words, what should be expected from these people who kidnap? They’re not terrorists. Just people who have no other options. Of course, to lie like this takes some serious moxie. To remind you, there were negotiations recently and the Palestinians left the table. There have been Israeli offers of peace that included a Palestinian state over about 98% of 1949 land outside of Green Line. It’s not as if Israel didn’t agree to have the Palestinians govern themselves.

          But to Zoabi, none of this matters. If the IDF arrests people, it’s the same as some oppressed Palestinians grabbing three teens. This is an elected and sitting Member of Israel’s Knesset. Astounding.

          You know, Israel should be extremely proud of its democracy.

          Reply to Comment
          • Felix Reichert

            IDF and Israeli security arrests often (not always) ARE kidnappings, by any western standard of law.
            You may have heard of Administrative Detention?

            Also, judging by YOUR translation, she is not actually saying that the kidnappers didn’t have a choice.

            What she is saying (and in which she is totally correct), is that people under brutal occupation will sometimes resort to immoral means.
            You will always have people overreacting, on both sides, like when an (or two) IDF soldier executed two non-violent Palestinian protesters two weeks ago.

            Reply to Comment
          • Bar

            “IDF and Israeli security arrests often (not always) ARE kidnappings, by any western standard of law.”

            Hahahaha. Don’t be ridiculous.

            “You may have heard of Administrative Detention?”

            Yes, I have. I’ve also heard of Israel’s armies of lawyers who challenge anything that smacks of illegality in Israel’s High Court.

            “Also, judging by YOUR translation, she is not actually saying that the kidnappers didn’t have a choice.”

            Of course they had a choice. How do they not have a choice? She concludes that this is appropriate behavior under the circumstances but let me show you how wrong both she and you are: the kidnappers could have targeted soldiers. Then we could talk about their crimes of not letting their hostages have the rights afforded to POWs according to international law. But in this case, they targeted civilians. Kids, actually. Sure they had a choice.

            Reply to Comment
          • hmp49

            “Maybe you’ve heard of Administrative Detention”

            Yes I have. Did you look into your statement to see whether other Western countries have such laws? The US uses administrative detention to deal with illegal immigration, as do many deomcracies. And the UK uses administrative detention to deal with terrorism, applying it even to their own citizens.

            BTW you do know that Palestinians are not Israeli citizens?

            “Israel refers its use of administrative detention in the occupied territories to Article 78 of the Fourth Geneva Convention 1949, which states that “If the Occupying Power considers it necessary, for imperative reasons of security, to take safety measures concerning protected persons, it may, at the most, subject them to assigned residence or to internment.”

            Reply to Comment
      • Y-Man

        Bar, there’s a life outside of trolling this website, you know?

        Reply to Comment
        • JG

          Not if you never learned to do anything else than trolling. She’d die outside.

          Reply to Comment
        • Bar

          Very substantive comment, although you keep repeating yourself.

          Reply to Comment
      • Peter Hindrup

        ‘(she also disses the boy’s mother for being divorced even though she herself is unmarried).’
        First, what has this got to do with anything?

        Second, what has being ‘unmarried’ got to do with a person being divorced?

        There is no equation between the two.

        Reply to Comment
    5. Tujays

      “This incident is a result of [Israeli] war crimes.” — Haneen Zoabi

      Absolutely true. Anyone who chooses to ignore the validity of her statement or pretend it isn’t true is enabling the continued pain and suffering in Palestine/Israel.

      Reply to Comment
      • Bar

        The incident is the result of Palestinians almost always targeting Israeli civilians. This is called terrorism.

        Reply to Comment
          • Bar

            I don’t subscribe to Ha’aretz. sorry.

            If your article’s headline represents the piece, then I hate to inform you that Israel’s military has a ration of combatants to civilians killed that is between a tenth to a thirtieth of other Western armies, including the US. That’s precisely because they don’t target civilians, even if civilians do get killed in operations.

            Reply to Comment
          • Tujays

            You’re lying and/or uniformed.

            “B’Tselem: More than 50% of Palestinians killed in Israel’s last Gaza operation were civilian”

            Reply to Comment
          • Bar

            I’m not lying or uninformed, but you are one or the other. You are confusing two different operations, Pillar of Defense and Cast Lead.

            In Cast Lead, even if you go by B’Tzelem’s stats, the ratio of combatants to civilians killed is about 1:1. About 700 out of 1400 Actually, B’Tzelem was proven wrong on this because they initially tried to hedge the count by saying that Hamas police officers were not combatants. Hamas’ military wing’s chief, Mahmoud al Zahar, however, disabused them of that error when he announced in a media interview that Hamas lost over 700 fighters in Cast Lead. So even if you go by B’Tzelem stats, which claim that 1400+ Palestinians were killed in Cast Lead, you still have approximately a 1:1 ratio.

            Of course, B’Tzelem’s count is almost certainly wrong. How do we know? Because from the start the IDF stated that 1250 died in Cast Lead and of those about 750 were combatants. B’tzelem disputed this number. When Mahmoud Al Zahar confirmed that more than 700 Hamas men died, this proved the IDF numbers were accurate because Hamas men weren’t the only ones killed, there were also other terror group operatives who were killed. Since the IDF turned out to be accurate about this number, and B’Tzelem was wrong, it is not unreasonable to assume that the IDF’s 1250 is correct and B’Tzelem’s 1450 is false.

            The IDF improved its ratio according even to B’Tzelem in 2012’s Pillar of Defense. According to them, 102 Palestinians were killed of which 40 were civilians (the IDF claims 175 killed of which 120 were combatants).


            Anything else?

            Reply to Comment
          • Tujays

            I didn’t “confuse” anything. I cited a recent example (Pillar of Defense) where the Israeli military inflicted high civilian causalities demonstrating your claim to be false. From the Haaretz article:

            “B’Tselem: More than 50% of Palestinians killed in Israel’s last Gaza operation were civilians. Israeli rights group’s report finds that 35 percent of the non-combatants killed in Operation Pillar of Defense were under 18, also cites violations of international law by both Palestinian militant groups and IDF.”

            In response, you cited an outdated B’Tselem report which was subsequently revised to include the full extent of the civilian causalities which the initial report didn’t take into account due to it covering only the first couple of days. The new report is consistent with my original assertion proving your claim to be false.

            “B’Tselem’s findings: Harm to civilians significantly higher in second half of Operation Pillar of Defense”


            Reply to Comment
          • Bar

            Fair enough. I did not see the updated B’Tzelem report. But I have now.

            First of all, the 1:1 ratio is still fairly close even if you believe their numbers. Their report, available on Scribd, lists 167 Palestinian dead and 87 of those were not involved in hostilities. Not exactly 1:1, but extremely close.

            Second, as I point out with respect to their Cast Lead numbers, B’Tzelem gets it wrong with their counts. They under-counted combatant deaths in that operation and it took Hamas’s head of the military wing’s statement to acknowledge that the IDF’s numbers were accurate all along. Why do you give B’Tzelem the benefit of the doubt in this instance and not the IDF who were right in Cast Lead?

            Third, they conducted their “research” by making phone calls (http://www.ngo-monitor.org/article/b_tselem_acknowledges_inability_to_assess_palestinian_allegations). Imagine that some Israeli researcher calls you and asks whether your family member who was killed worked for Islamic Jihad or was a civilian who wasn’t involved in the fighting…what do you expect the response to be?

            To conclude, even if we go by your source and not the proven source, the combatant to civilian ratio is STILL a tenth to a thirtieth of what Western armies are achieving in their recent wars, particularly in urban areas. Even B’Tzelem acknowledges that the IDF’s performance in this regard was superior to Cast Lead. What this means as far as your claims are concerned, is that not only is Israel outperforming every other army when it comes to avoiding civilian casualties, but that it continuously learns and improves. That tells you quite a bit about their ethics and morality.

            And now that we have that out of the way, let’s note that the side being attacked continuously committed double war crimes: the first in launching rockets at civilians in Israel and the second by doing so from within Palestinian civilian areas.

            Reply to Comment
        • JG

          The incident is the result of IDF almost always targeting Palestinian civilians. This is called terrorism.

          Reply to Comment
          • Bar

            Is that why, in another article on this site, written by a professional Palestinian propagandist, he couldn’t find anything to complain about in the recent days’ raids by the IDF other than about 200 arrests? Surely an army that kills indiscriminately would have made sure to kill a bunch of Palestinians along the way? Right?

            Reply to Comment
    6. Danny

      Poor, propaganda-drunk Israelis – don’t like to hear dissenting views, especially from an educated, soft-spoken Arab woman. Here we have all rolled into one a perfect example of the racist and misogynistic tendencies of the average Israeli. If Zoabi was a Jewish man saying these things, would there be even 1% of the backlash she receives? We all know the answer to that.

      Haneen Zoabi deserves much respect and admiration for her courage in the face of the national hate-fest on display against her.

      Reply to Comment
    7. sh

      “And the Israeli media have an international reputation for being “vibrant” and “independent”; in Israel they’re commonly thought to be “leftist.” Maybe in an Israel on some other planet, but in the Israel on Earth, the media, with the exception of Haaretz, are politically dull, obedient and nationalistic as hell. And when the national mood demands it, which is often, they’re deceitful too.”

      Absolutely. During Lebanon II and Cast Lead it was like that too. But the way they’re doing it now is so incredibly infantile (the poor things have had to rabbit on about the same thing without any evidence or developments to liven up the story, for almost a week now) that it’s hard to understand how the public can miss it. Radio anchors like Aryeh Golan or Israel Prize-winner Yaakov Ahimeir are no exception either.

      Hanin Zoabi had to have police protection after Mavi Marmara as well if a public event at which I saw her not long afterwards was anything to go by. If anything happens to her journalists and her Dishonorable Colleagues in the Knesset will have a lot to answer for.

      A word about her nephew. He’s obviously brilliant at languages, with flawless pronunciation for each, and should go far whatever his opinions (which are likely to evolve anyway as he matures).

      Reply to Comment
    8. Adam

      You say ” but the term “terrorists” also implies that they act purely out of evil intent, without any legitimate political cause, and in that sense the term does not fit the kidnappers.”

      This is not correct in your assessment of the term terrorist or terrorism. A terrorist or terrorist organization might have a very just and good cause. However, the moment an organization resorts to targeting and using violence against a civilian population to achieve a political goal, then they become terrorists. The most widely used definition of terrorism is the use or threat of violence against a civilian population to achieve a political goal.

      That said definition though makes no mention of the legitimacy of their political goals. So these kidnappers absolutely are terrorists and should be dealt accordingly.

      Reply to Comment
      • You say “the moment an organization resorts to targeting and using violence against a civilian population to achieve a political goal, then they become terrorists,” and they should be dealt with accordingly. By that definition, Truman’s America was one of the great terrorist organizations of all time (Hiroshima, Nagasaki), and so was Churchill’s Britain (Dresden). But they are not thought of as “terrorists” because they’re believed to have targeted civilians for a good, not evil, cause – and people think of “terrorists” as people who not only target civilians, but do so for an evil cause. In fact, the operative definition of terrorist is someone who attacks your side, civilian or military. In Israel, Palestinians who target soldiers are called terrorists. The 9/11 crash into the Pentagon is considered an act of terror no less than the crashes into the WTC. The old cliche “one man’s terrorist is another man’s freedom fighter” is more true than not.

        Reply to Comment
        • Bar

          Actually, Hiroshima and Nagasaki were attempts to put an end to the war that had gone on for years and which the Japanese refused to relinquish until these attacks. And Hiroshima wasn’t enough to get them to give up.

          Dresden’s case is also complex, and at the very least, even if you claim they targeted civilians (they did not), there was regret on the part of the British almost immediately and a resulting shift in policy regarding bombings. Let me know when this happens to Hamas.


          Reply to Comment
          • Lisa Goldman

            Bar. The British most certainly did NOT express regret “immediately after” the bombings of Dresden. At the time and for decades afterward, they either justified the bombing or were silent about it. In 2005, *60 years* after the Dresden bombings, the British historian Frederik Taylor said, in an interview for Der Spiegel, that while he did think the bombings were excessive and regrettable, they were not irrational. When asked whether the bombing was a war crime, he said that it fell into a ‘gray area’ and he wouldn’t commit to defining it as a war crime. None of this has anything to do with Haneen Zoabi’s right to freedom of speech in a democracy, of course, but I really do think that you should give the trolling a rest, stick to the facts and stick to the point.

            Reply to Comment
          • Bar

            Lisa, please point me to “trolling” that I do. I mean, I realize some anonymous commenters don’t like me, and neither do you, but where precisely have I been trolling?

            Regarding remorse over Dresden, here is Churchill afterward:


            “It seems to me that the moment has come when the question of bombing of German cities simply for the sake of increasing the terror, though under other pretexts, should be reviewed. Otherwise we shall come into control of an utterly ruined land… The destruction of Dresden remains a serious query against the conduct of Allied bombing. I am of the opinion that military objectives must henceforward be more strictly studied in our own interests than that of the enemy. The Foreign Secretary has spoken to me on this subject, and I feel the need for more precise concentration upon military objectives such as oil and communications behind the immediate battle-zone, rather than on mere acts of terror and wanton destruction, however impressive.”

            Am I misreading this or do you have a different take on what seems to be a fairly clear statement made by the head of England’s war effort to his underlings?

            Reply to Comment
          • It is refreshing to read the comments of a poster like Bar who is not anti-Israel on 972mag.

            It would appear that Lisa Goldman is stalking Bar on these boards. If anyone is trolling it is her. She should stick to the facts and attempt to write a balanced column instead of falsely attacking someone who does not fall in line with the thinking of the writers of 972mag.

            Reply to Comment
          • You are misreading Churchill. But there’s no point in explaining the point, because you are incapable of engaging intelligently. As in the past, when proven wrong you just raise a new point, dodge and deflect. You and your friends must have very dull lives. I hope someone is at least paying you for spending all your waking hours trolling (look up the definition) the comments on this site.

            Reply to Comment
          • GilGamesh

            the urban dictionary definition in no way describes Bar’s comments. Lisa if you guys at 972 don’t want dissenting opinions than just be upfront and honest about it. Ad-hominem attacks are just another way of admitting you can’t defend opinion with logic or facts.

            Reply to Comment
          • Dissent is more than welcome, if it is factual and intelligent. Stupidity, argumentativeness and trollish behavior are most unwelcome.

            Reply to Comment
          • Ah, forgot. Re. Churchill & Dresden (again, I know this won’t cause you to pause for even a nanosecond in order to, perhaps, think instead of react. But what the hell):

            “When forcefully challenged by the General Staff for his harsh appraisal of the Dresden raid, Churchill withdrew his ill-considered comment.”

            Source: http://www.nytimes.com/2004/05/02/books/firebombing.html

            Reply to Comment
          • Bar

            First of all, Lisa, your response proves that I’m not trolling. You wouldn’t have gone to the obvious trouble of researching Churchill’s quote if I hadn’t contributed to the discussion meaningfully. However, my comment about Dresden, Nagasaki and Hiroshima clearly needed a response because it effectively challenged Larry’s comment.

            Second, your earlier comment about my misreading of Churchill’s remark is obviously wrong, as you demonstrate with your NY Times book review.

            Third, this book review only underscores my point that this attack on Dresden is not terrorism by England or the Allies. The review points out that Dresden was a hotbed of Nazi activism and was active in the war effort.

            Fourth, I’m sure there are a number of deceased Jews turning over in their graves as they watch you and Derfner actually try to use the logic of the force used by the Allies to end the war to both undermine the Allies claim to the right fight as well as seeking to explain away Palestinian terror against Israelis (mostly Jewish Israelis, of course).

            Fifth, you pointed me to a definition of trolling. It reads: “Being a prick on the internet because you can. Typically unleashing one or more cynical or sarcastic remarks on an innocent by-stander, because it’s the internet and, hey, you can.”
            Perhaps you view this definition seriously, but if you do, then you’ll be hard-pressed to apply it to my remarks. I comment on the topic at hand. For example, my first comment in this discussion is the fifth one from the top. I challenge you to demonstrate that it somehow meets the definition you provided.

            Finally, I find your constant attacks on me to be interesting. Nobody else here seems to be subject to them, including and especially the anti-Semitic posters. The other day you attacked me for correctly calling out one of your writers who used the word “collaboration” when referring to possible Israeli Arab IDF service. After I called it out, he changed the title and key elements of the piece that dealt with collaboration but you accused me of not being on point. You don’t need to like me or what I write, but it might behoove you, as an editor of this magazine, to read what intelligent, informed readers of yours who disagree with the prevailing viewpoints on this site have to say about what you publish.

            Reply to Comment
          • Reza Lustig

            It’s just as likely that the bombings were to prevent Japan from brokering a separate peace with the Soviets, who had just mopped the floor with them in Manchuria.

            Reply to Comment
        • Richard Lightbown

          Spot on, the word ‘terrorist’ is principally a part of the propaganda lexicon and usually best avoided entirely in serious discussion. (However it is an effective tool when used against colonial regimes in precisely the sort of context they themselves use it.)

          What bothers me is that nobody knows what has happened to these three teenagers, yet IDF terrorists (!) are kicking shit out of Palestinians while senior Israeli politicians are uttering rabid claims and threats without a shread of evidence. These latest attacks on MK Zoabi are only the latest incidents in a week of deranged behaviour in which the Israeli media generally has thoroughly disgraced itself in a hate filled feeding frenzy.

          Reply to Comment
        • Adam

          Larry, I cannot defend the use or misuse of how people decide to use the word terrorist or terrorism. I am merely explaining how terrorism is commonly accepted among academics and to a large extent international organizations – the UN unofficially as well. Part of the major problem, I will concede, in combatting terrorism is there is no universal accepted definition. But the one I gave is the most official unofficial definition.

          What you bring up with America’s attacks on Japan or even Palestinian attacking soldiers makes the situation a lot more complex. I will agree wholeheartedly that attacking soldiers is not terrorism because soldiers are not civilians – plain and simple. However, there is also something called Just War Theory and Ethics of War. Here things are more straight forward. You can attack a soldier but if it is not done under the guidelines of Just War Theory than attacking a soldier is just as illegal as a civilian. This is where combatant and non combatant soldiers come into play. E.g. Can an unarmed cook in the army be considered the same as a combatant. Also Hiroshima actually was a place of major military significance to the Japanese. Major enemy installations and headquarters were stationed there. There were also major military industrialization going on there. Whether that legitimizes the damage, killings, and destruction is an entirely different question – another topic for Ethics of War.

          All in all I dont think we should change the definition of terrorism because most people or a lot of people misuse it or misuse it for populist reasons. I think academics and journalists alike have a responsibility to enforce its true usage. With your logic of changing the definition to fit how it is most used, means the amount of Nazis in the world would climb astronomically because today everyone on the other side is called a Nazi.

          Reply to Comment
          • Adam, I’m not changing the definition of “terrorist,” I’m describing how people everywhere, I think, define it. In popular use, the word is basically a synonym for “my enemies,” and the issue of the target, military or civilian, is almost irrelevant.

            Reply to Comment
          • Mr. Derfner by the use of the old cliche “one man’s terrorist is another man’s freedom fighter” you abdicate any moral responsibility for actions by groups using all forms of violence to attain their objectives. Whether the Americans were justified in the nuking of Japanese cities, or of the allies bombing Dresden, or the Israelis exercising self defense beyond what you approve, none of these justify Palestinians to kidnap Israeli children. Such actions are morally reprehensible. They are done not for monetary gain of an individual but to terrorize the Israeli people. This is terrorism whether you or Ms. Zoabi have the moral backbone to say so.

            Reply to Comment
          • Richard Lightbown

            A few facts would not go amiss here Centre Left. Two Israeli children, one Israeli adult. If they were Palestinians up before one of the occupation’s kangaroo courts they would all three be classed as adults. What am I getting at? That the actions of Israel’s military gangsters in routinely carting off children (sometimes less than ten years old), often in the middle of the night, violently and psychologically abusing them, hauling them before a ‘court’ unrepresented, charging them of crimes on no submitted evidence and then illegally incarcerating them is, to use your words ‘morally reprehensible’. I would appreciate it if you would indicate whether you agree or disagree with that statement. Regardless, it is this sort of criminal behaviour, fully sanctioned by the Israeli government, which is in part to blame for attacks on Israelis. IF, because I repeat, nobody has put up a shred of evidence to support these charges yet, IF Palestinians have indeed kidnapped the three Israeli teenagers, MK Zoabi has made a legitimate point in that it is a response to Israeli actions. I would agree with you that it would be morally reprehensible, but on sheer scale alone it would be a much lesser crime than those perpetuated by Israeli military officials during the course of any year. Crimes that are done very much to terrorize the Palestinian people. It is a pity that you did not see fit to include any acknowledgement of the everyday situation in your apparently bigoted post.

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          • CenterLeft, does this sound like I’m justifying the kidnapping of children? “Myself, I don’t think the occupation or anything else compels people to kidnap 16-year-old boys – though it clearly provokes them to. And the kidnappers do fit the common definition of “terrorists” – militants who target civilians – but the term “terrorists” also implies that they act purely out of evil intent, without any legitimate political cause, and in that sense the term does not fit the kidnappers.” So tell me – do you consider Truman and Churchill terrorists? What about Begin and Shamir? They all deliberately killed defenseless civilians en masse in the name of their political goals. Let’s see if you’ve got backbone.

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          • Begin and Shamir were terrorists. They were part of organizations which sometimes attacked Palestinian Arabs without any clear military purpose. They engaged in the same type of terrorism as some Arab Palestinians had and did at the time. Shamir and Begin personally left terrorism behind and became politicians and leaders of the state of Israel Begin won peace with Sadat of Israel. Begin offered the Palestinians autonomy which would have long ago evolved into a Palestinian state as Sadat had wanted.

            Were Truman and Churchill terrorists? I do not think so. The attacks they authorized had clear military objectives which were proportional to the military advantage gained and the harm overall done to the civilian population taking into consideration the 50 million or so civilians already killed in the war and the number of civilians who would be saved by the actions which directly led to the end of the war.

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          • Where do you get the idea that terrorists act purely out of evil intent. Terror is an attack by militants on civilians in order to achieve political means by spreading terror. Without the political (or religious) side of it you are talking of psychopaths. Until now, I rarely agreed with Zoabi, but was always sympathetic to her untenable position as an Israeli-Palestinian. Now that she slipped into excusing these actions, she’s gone way too far. The very act of not calling this terror is agreeing with it at least partially. All the reports that say she sides with the terrorists are basically right.

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      • Bryan

        So how are the Palestinians to pursue their “very just and good cause”? When they peacefully demonstrate they are met with tear-gas, skunk-water, rubber coated steel bullets and mass, arrests. Israel should either grant full civil rights to the local population in the OPT or end the occupation. The failure to do so – in nearly fifty years – inevitably provokes some to violent actions, which we may condemn, but are surely no worse than the violence (illegal assassinations, illegal house-demolitions, illegal theft of land and resources and mass-detention) which the state of Israel perpetrates.

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    9. Gaudi

      MK Zoabi should emulate Netanyahu who went on television and begged forgiveness from Palestinians for the murders of two teenagers committed by his army, whitewashed by his media and ignored by Israeli society.

      Given that MK Zoabi is a bloodthirsty Palestinian Arab, it is not surprising that she cannot rise to the levels of truth, compassion and modesty exemplified by Netanyahu.

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    10. Emily 72

      OK,Larry .
      But Iam sure you will agree she should have worded her opinion otherwise .
      Two wrongs don’t make one good…
      She expressed the opinion of many a Palestinian ,in fact . Nothing to agree with ,but nothing to be SO surprised about either .
      But ,as Yaron London said ,everybody speaks to his own electorate .

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