The Reign of Absurdiocy
To declare war on “international terrorism” is nonsense. Politicians who do so are either fools or cynics, and probably both.
Terrorism is a weapon. Like cannon. We would laugh at somebody who
declares war on “international artillery”. A cannon belongs to an army,
and serves the aims of that army. The cannon of one side fire against
the cannon of the other.
Terrorism is a method of operation. It is often used by oppressed
peoples, including the French Resistance to the Nazis in WW II. We
would laugh at anyone who declared war on “international resistance”.
Carl von Clausewitz, the Prussian military thinker, famously said
that “war is the continuation of politics by other means”. If he had
lived with us today, he might have said: “Terrorism is a continuation of
policy by other means.”
Terrorism means, literally, to frighten the victims into surrendering to the will of the terrorist.
Terrorism is a weapon. Generally it is the weapon of the weak. Of
those who have no atom bombs, like the ones which were dropped on
Hiroshima and Nagasaki, which terrorized the Japanese into surrender. Or
the aircraft which destroyed Dresden in the (vain) attempt to frighten
the Germans into giving up.
Since most of the groups and countries using terrorism have different
aims, often contradicting each other, there is nothing “international”
about it. Each terrorist campaign has a character of its own. Not to
mention the fact that nobody considers himself (or herself) a terrorist,
but rather a fighter for God, Freedom or Whatever.
(I cannot restrain myself from boasting that long ago I invented the
formula: “One man’s terrorist is the other man’s freedom fighter”.)
MANY ORDINARY Israelis felt deep satisfaction after the Paris events.
“Now those bloody Europeans feel for once what we feel all the time!”
Binyamin Netanyahu, a diminutive thinker but a brilliant salesman,
has hit on the idea of inventing a direct link between jihadist
terrorism in Europe and Palestinian terrorism in Israel and the occupied
It is a stroke of genius: if they are one and the same,
knife-wielding Palestinian teenagers and Belgian devotees of ISIS, then
there is no Israeli-Palestinian problem, no occupation, no settlements.
Just Muslim fanaticism. (Ignoring, by the way, the many Christian
Arabs in the secular Palestinian “terrorist” organizations.)
This has nothing to do with reality. Palestinians who want to fight
and die for Allah go to Syria. Palestinians – both religious and secular
– who shoot, knife or run over Israeli soldiers and civilians these
days want freedom from the occupation and a state of their own.
This is such an obvious fact that even a person with the limited IQ
of our present cabinet ministers could grasp it. But if they did, they
would have to face very unpleasant choices concerning the
So let’s stick to the comfortable conclusion: they kill us because
they are born terrorists, because they want to meet the promised 72
virgins in paradise, because they are anti-Semites. So, as Netanyahu
happily forecasts, we shall “live forever by our sword”.