Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Celebrating one's own terrorists

A few weeks ago the Arab terrorist Sami Kuntar was released by Israel in exchange for the remains of Eldad Regev and Ehud Goldwasser, two Israeli soldiers kidnapped and killed by Hizbullah. There has been much rage in Israel about the hero's welcome that Kuntar (who killed a 4-year-old girl by crushing her skull with his rifle's butt) received in Lebanon (although it must be noted that in Lebanon it is denied that he murdered the girl).

And all would be OK if it were not for the accompanying assertion that while the Arabs honor their terrorists, Israel doesn't. "Where are the official honors for Baruch Goldstein?," the reasoning goes.

In the first place we must observe that Israel is a country with an army. When you're a people without planes or tanks, it's quite hard to make a murder look like collateral damage. When you've got an army it's much easier. To put it crudely, any Israeli pilot, or soldier on a tank, can intentionally kill civilians and then claim he was targetting something else. It's his word against the Palestinians', and it is quite possible --I'm not saying certain, but possible-- that some of the soldiers who get military honors in Israel (who knows, maybe even Eldad Regev and Ehud Goldwasser) are actually cold-blooded murderers.

But of course the point can be made that, in any event, Israeli soldiers are not honored in the knowledge that they willingly killed someone innocent.

However, before the creation of the State, certain Jews were involved in serious terroristic activity, willingly killing civilians. The Palestine Post archives can help us in finding a few examples. There, you can access scanned versions of all issues of what now is the Jerusalem Post.

For instance, on 19 Feb 1948 we find on the first page:



The bomb at the marketplace on the weekly market day was later claimed by the Irgun, a Jewish terrorist group.

On 1 Apr 1948, also on the first page, we can read:



As can be seen, the Stern gang, another Jewish terrorist group, was responsible for the mining of this train.

On 14 Dec 1947, among many stories of attacks against Arab civilians reported on the first page, we read:



This attack on a crowded lane between a movie theater and a café was perpetrated by the Irgun (in the article called IZL, Irgun Zvai Leumi).

But of course, we know that both the Irgun and the Stern gang were repudiated by the Israeli society, weren't they?

Nope.

In 1980, the State of Israel honored the terrorists that killed 40 Arabs on a train and 6 Arabs in a marketplace and another 6 Arabs in the street (among countless other atrocities) by awarding them State ribbons. Here's the Lehi (Stern gang) ribbon:



And here is the Irgun ribbon:



So that Israel honors its own terrorists, just like the Palestinians do; it only hopes people won't notice. But in the Internet world, with all that scanned evidence scattered all over the web, relying on the people's bad memory may not be so good an idea.

10 comments:

Yitzchak Goodman said...

I've seen references to these ribbons before. You seem to think they mean that Israelis really think Deir Yassin was glorious, etc. It could be that these ribbons were meant to commemorate regular military actions, which the LHI and IZL also engaged in. It could be that someone pushed them through and a lot of Israelis also didn't notice. They don't suggest to me that Israel in general celebrates terrorist acts, but I would be interested to see what debate or reaction they did generate in Israel, if any. That's what we call a subject for further research or tzarich iyun.

Ibrahim Ibn Yusuf said...

As you know, Hizbullah also engages in regular military actions, in addition to their terroristic activities.

In any event, all the context you bring in in connection with the Irgun and Lehi ribbons is also valid for Samir Kuntar and other Palestinian terrorists. When they're celebrated, it's because they were able to strike back at an overwhelmingly powerful enemy, not because they killed Jewish civilians.

Yitzchak Goodman said...

When they're celebrated, it's because they were able to strike back at an overwhelmingly powerful enemy, not because they killed Jewish civilians.

Prove it.

Ibrahim Ibn Yusuf said...

I can't, but you can't prove that the Israelis don't celebrate the IZL and LHI acts of terrorism either.

So let's stick to the facts: the Israeli and the Lebanese celebrate people who are terrorists. Why they celebrate them is a question that would require a deeper level of analysis in both cases.

Yitzchak Goodman said...

you can't prove that the Israelis don't celebrate the IZL and LHI acts of terrorism either

I can point to passages, such as the ones in Lozowick's book, which deplore those acts. His opinions are fairly mainstream. We can both survey and compare references to these acts among Israeli writers and compare them to comparable references among Palestinians. There are some Palestinian statements condemning individual acts of terror or stating that acts of Palestinian terror are counterproductive, but it is certainly much more widepsread in Palestinian culture to unambiguously celebrate terror.

Margaret said...

Wow! ...it could be that people were being burned in those big ovens over there, but we didn't know, we were at war, it was a part of the war effort. When the camp directors received honors, it didn't mean that we were celebrating genocide. We didn't know. Just finished reading Chris Dodd's publication of his father's letters, written while participating in the first of the Nuremberg trials. It all sounds so familiar. You know, yitzchak, that "some deplore those acts" does not disprove Israel's celebration, or it's commitment as a government, to terrorism. There is no way to eliminate terrorist acts by others when one refuses to refrain from terrorists acts.

Yitzchak Goodman said...

You know, yitzchak, that "some deplore those acts" does not disprove Israel's celebration, or it's commitment as a government, to terrorism. There is no way to eliminate terrorist acts by others when one refuses to refrain from terrorists acts.

The point is that the mainstream Isreli attitude, and countless examples are available of it, is that the bombings and so forth of the IZL were at least regrettable. I think there is strong contrast there to what you might read in one of the more repectable forums for the Palestinian point of view. Palestinian Chronicles? Take your pick. I don't think many Israelis think that IZL bombings were glorious acts of steadfastness and resistance promoting the dignity of the Jewish Ummah and I need more than an uninformative citation of the mere existence of those ribbons to convince me otherwise. I don't know what "commitment, as a government, to terrorism" you are referring to. The era of IZL-style bombings ended half a century ago. Or it did on the Israeli side, anyway.

andrew r said...

I can point to passages, such as the ones in Lozowick's book, which deplore those acts. His opinions are fairly mainstream.

Are you referring to 'Right To Exist', the one where Lozowick starts off explaining how he hated Sharon, how he seemed so brutal, needlessly sacrificed Jews in the October war, and then voted for him because those Arabs fighting occupation needed to be taught a lesson?

Lozowick's book is classic liberal Zionism. Sure we do bad things to non-Jews, but we need a state, so we get to pick what's justified and what's immoral.

Also, if the IZL and Lehi bombings are so deplorable, why were Begin and Shamir elected?

Yitzchak Goodman said...

if the IZL and Lei bombings were so deplorable, why were Begin and Shamir elected?

For some strange inexplicable reason, the Jews from Arab lands wanted more right-wing policies. Go figure.

Medicine said...

So let's stick to the facts: the Israeli and the Lebanese celebrate people who are terrorists. To put it crudely, any Israeli pilot, or soldier on a tank, can intentionally kill civilians and then claim he was targetting something else.