I have often heard the utterly obtuse slogan- "One man's terrorist is another man's freedom fighter."
This is so dumb it's breathtaking.
A true freedom fighter seeks to MINIMIZE civilian casualties. A terrorist seeks to MAXIMIZE civilian casualties. Also, Terrorists are defined by using aggression to get an oppressive political outcome. Freedom fighters use self defense to stop aggression and/or achieve a non-oppressive political outcome.
That is how you tell the difference between them, anytime, anywhere.
However, I've heard a statement that is even dumber than the above which is- "All war is terrorism." If that were true, then there would be no such thing as Self Defense. Both freedom fighters and terrorists use bombs and guns. With the exception of who they are targeting, their methods and tactics are the same. What is different about them is their INTENT. Intent defines a freedom fighter as well as defines a terrorist.
Also, an attack should never be defined as terrorism unless it includes unarmed civilians as the target. If a Jihadist attacks American soldiers without intending to kill unarmed civilians, that is NOT a terrorist attack. When the U.S. uses drones to kill Jihadists in the wilderness of Pakistan, do we in the U.S. call ourselves terrorists, even if we accidentally kill civilians in the process? Of course not, and therefore there should not be any double standard when a Jihadist targets our soldiers in any way, shape or form. We are at war, and the enemy is doing exactly what we would do. When Nazis killed our soldiers, we called them the enemy, Germans, whatever, but we did not call them terrorists. It may be true that all Jihadists are terrorists if they all would like to attack unarmed civilians. But we should not define a person as a terrorist unless that person intends to attack unarmed civilians or actually did.
Violence against civilians is such a demented act it deserves a category purely its own, and the category is called "Terrorism". Military attacks should never be confused or equated with Terrorism.
If a Jihadist attacks unarmed civilians he is a terrorist. If he attacks just our soldiers alone (no matter if they are off duty), he is just a Jihadist enemy.
Some far left nut job might say Hamas is fighting to free the Palestinians and get their land back. Forget about land rights for a moment. Lets say Hamas succeeds. They would then establish their form of Sharia law. Would the Palestinians have civil rights? Would they have free elections? Would they have freedom of speech? Would they have freedom of assembly? Hell no. Forget about European Jews. What about the millions of Middle Eastern Jews that have roots in that land thousands of years before Islam existed? Would they be free? Definitely not, because Hamas members are not freedom fighters. They are not interested in freedom.
Now, our hypothetical far left nut might say its okay that the Palestinians are not free because that's their culture, their religion, that's how they like it, and who are we to judge them (this is the point where I have to refrain from strangling the nut job). The nut job is implying that it is the population's choice to be under the heel of the latest strongmen that rule that area, because they are of the same religion and culture. Moreover, the fact that this has been going on for so long somehow makes it right or even a sacred way of existence that westerners would be criminal to interfere with it.
Former Palestinian terrorist Wallid Shoebat (who is now pro-Israel) said it best-
"Can I go to Ramallah, stand on a street corner, and have a pamphlet saying suicide bombing is wrong? I will be executed within seconds."
The only reason the Palestinians are not free is because of their terrorist leaders.
The only reason there are Israeli checkpoints and walls is because of violent Arabs.
There are many Palestinian Arabs that are citizens of Israel with representation in the Parliament that live far better in Israel than they would anywhere in the Muslim world. Why? Because they aren't attacking Israel.
Former Israeli Prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu said-
"When Arabs put down the weapons, there will be no more war.
When Israel puts down the weapons, there will be no more Israel."
The common Arab's problem is not with Israelis or the west. Their problem is that they are not allowed by their rulers to think for themselves, research their own information and come to their own conclusions on what is fair or right. Should they dare think outside the paradigm that their clerics and strongmen have established for them, they face prison or death. Just like a thought contagion spread across Nazi Germany, the Arabs have their own thought contagion drilled into them since birth.
Throughout history, Arabs never had a choice who their leaders would be, except once, when Bush ousted Saddam and liberated millions of Iraqi Arabs. The Islamic death cult, like the Jim Jones cult or Heaven's Gate cult here in America, or like Nazism, cannot exist without heavy indoctrination. The real humanitarian crisis is the programming of Arabs who are so afraid to resist it that it becomes the only reality they know and must except, in order to survive their ruler's wrath. This is true terrorism. Not to mention the fact that young men and women are segregated, and in many areas they cannot drink alcohol. Can you think of a better recipe to create terrorists than that?
Former Prime Minister of Israel, Golda Meir said “We will have peace with the Arabs when they love their children more than they hate us.”
There are some people that actually believe that the Palestinians have no other option but to teach their children to become suicide bombers. The British occupied India. Did Gandhi use suicide bombers? Before Palestinian terrorists started strapping bombs onto kids, did they ever once try Gandhi's method? No, because they are terrorists. If the Jews were faced with choice of turning their kids into suicide bombers or leaving the Middle East, the Jews would leave in a heartbeat. This is the difference of intent and psychology between Israelis and Palestinians. A free culture versus an imprisoned culture.
A majority of Palestinians have been imported to the West bank from other Arab countries over the past 60 years and have built twice as many settlements as the Jews. Would the Palestinian Authority agree to stop importing Arabs if the Jews stopped their settlements on the West Bank? Of course not. In fact, the settlements provide work for Palestinians, and Arabs come to Palestine because they can make a better living there than in other Arab countries. The Jews are not trying to rid the West Bank of Arabs. Yet, Arab leaders have been trying to rid the entire area of Jews since the 1800's when the Turks invited European Jews to live there.
The world standard for defining what entity is or is not terroristic should be based not on how much violence an entity uses, but by the entity's intent and rationale for using violence. Self Defense or Aggression. For example: Some say Israel's 2006 retaliation against Hezbollah was disproportionate and therefore terroristic. But almost every war throughout history has been won because one side applied greater force against the other and forced a submission. In World War II, the Allies used a greater force against the Nazis and Japan, and won the war. Does that make the Allies ethically equivalent or morally inferior to the Nazis or imperialist Japan? If 10 guys attack your house and kill one of your family, but in the battle you kill 6 of them, are you an unethical person because you killed 5 more of them than they killed on your side? According to the Muslim world and far left nut jobs, YES, when it comes to Israelis defending themselves against terrorists who almost always hide behind human shields.
Hezbollah's Charter unequivocally states it's purpose is to dominate the Middle East region and beyond, which means the destruction of the state of Israel and absorption of it's territory. This is aggression, and actions based on this intent and rationale clearly qualify as terrorism. Conversely, Israel has no such stated purpose towards it neighbors. Israel uses violence to protect itself from it's hostile neighbors when threatened and attacked. This is pure self defense. The goal of self defense is to preserve not subjugate. Self defense does not qualify as terrorism as defined in any dictionary. When defining who is terroristic or not, how much force is used to preserve or defend is irrelevant, and how much force is used to dominate or terrorize irrelevant. Force is either used for self defense or aggression, depending on intent. Intent is the root of all ethical or unethical actions. Intent defines the issue, not the amount of force. The ethical fighter always tries to avoid excessive force. The unethical fighter does not.
The Oxford dictionary defines a terrorist as the following: A person who uses or favors violent or intimidating methods of coercing a government or community.
The problem with that is one could say that about George Bush and America's war against the Taliban. Which would hardly be fair since it seems to be a clear cut case of self defense in our best understanding of the concept of self defense. People that argue, "all war is terrorism" will say: What was Hiroshima and Nagasaki? What was the bombing of Berlin in WW2? To terrify the Germans no doubt. So what is terrorism, what is self defense, and is there such a thing as a noble, ethical, violent act? Yes.
A clear definition of terrorism is as follows: Self defense is when one is in threat of death, injury or loss of liberty and has no other options but to use force to spare oneself. Terrorism is when one is not in mortal peril, threat of injury or loss of liberty, and/or has options to rectify one's problem without force but uses force anyway. This one uses force as a method to resolve their issue or uses force to achieve an objective not as self defense. Very simply put, Terrorism is any violent or intimidating act that is not Self Defense. Example: Palestinians are not in mortal peril, threat of injury or loss of liberty when they decide to send suicide bombers to kill Israeli civilians. Palestinians will not die if they don't send their suicide bombers. Palestinians also have other options to resolve their problems. Moreover, their liberty is in the hands of their leaders, not the Israelis.
However, it is certainly true that Israelis will die if terrorists are not dispatched with force. Israelis are in constant mortal peril, and force has been the only deterrence, not only of Palestinian aggression, but the only thing that has kept the entire Arab world from pushing the Jews into the sea. One might argue that the Israelis do have an option. That is to remove the settlements and and return to the 67 borders. This would stop the Arab violence. However, everyone knows that terrorist groups such as Hamas and Hezbollah have declared openly and often that their goal is the total destruction of the state of Israel. So even if Israel were to fall back to the 67 borders, Israelis would still be targets of Arab violence. Since the Israeli pull out of Gaza, they have received unrelenting rocket attacks from the area they pulled out of.
Also, people seem to forget three other important things.
1. Israel was attacked by its Arab neighbors before, and in 1967. Therefore Israel has put settlements up in the West Bank to minimize the strangulation of itself by attackers. A non-violent self defense measure. Without the settlements, the middle of Israel is only 9 miles wide from the sea to the West Bank. They could be cut in half by an invading Arab force. Settlements are a non-violent way to create a buffer zone between her and her enemies. As well as a way to create room for the hundreds of thousands of Middle Eastern Jews that were expunged from Muslim territories over the years along with European immigrants.
2. Arafat founded the Palestine liberation organization in 1964. This is before Israeli occupation of Palestinian territories in 1967. So what did Arafat want to liberate? All of Israel.
3. Before 1967, the Palestinian territories were under Arab control so why didn't the Arabs give the Palestinians their statehood? Because the Palestinians are used as pawns to destroy Israel.
These actions of the Arabs or lack thereof, demonstrate an attitude of aggression toward Israel. Yet Israel has negotiated throughout all of this, and it was Israel herself, who was first to suggest the Palestinians have a state of their own (not the Arabs) and initiated talks at Oslo. Still, the all the talks could not stop the Arabs including Arafat from conducting violence against Israel, even though the Palestinians would not be in mortal peril if they didn't attack Israelis. Of course, they always put themselves in mortal peril when they do attack Israel.
So what was Hiroshima? Was that terrorism or self defense?
Well in 1945, tens of thousands of American troops where poised to storm the beaches of Japanese controlled areas in order to end the war. America knew that tens of thousands of her troops could lose their lives, and many had already died since Japan started the war in the first place.
However, America got the bomb, and now didn't have to lose thousands more on top of the ones she already lost. America had to fight, or be attacked again. So the bomb would be a self defense measure. Although, did she have to use the bomb twice, and on highly populated civilian targets where the loss of life might be disproportionate to the potential American loss? At that time Japan was starting to put jets into production that could have wiped out the U.S. Air Force. They had already killed hundreds of thousands of Chinese with weaponized plague, and had a nuclear dirty bomb program. The Japanese were actively planning to strike western U.S. cities. The U.S. was compelled to strike decisively. If the U.S. had not, more people may have died than in Hiroshima and Nagasaki. One might argue that Hiroshima and Nagasaki may be a case where self defense and terrorism overlap. However, the outcome is the desired outcome of a freedom fighter, a free Japan for over 60 years and counting. The goal was to stop a war, not to indefinitely control or completely destroy Japan. That, of course, would be the intent of a terrorist.