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An Ridire Risteard
P280: In East Beirut, the Israeli army officers — even the Israeli journalists who now travelled regularly up from Tel Aviv — used the word ‘Terrorism’ loosely, giving the war a moral flavour which it did not in reality possess. Terrorism, Terrorism, Terrorism. Never before [this is 1982] had its use become so all-pervasive, so ominous and dangerous. In one sense, it was the most frightening aspect of the war. For who were the ‘terrorists’ in Beirut? The Palestinian guerrilla fighters who had slaughtered their Christian opponents in the civil war? The Phalangist gunmen who had slaughtered so many Palestinian civilians and who were now allied to the Israelis? The Israeli soldiers and pilots who killed thousands of innocent people while pursuing the ghost of ‘international terrorism’?— and how, importantly, labelling all Palestinians ‘terrorist’ in a strangely illegitimate way sanctions Isreal’s illegal occupation of the disputed territories, washing away the issue of land ownership and rights; that is, purest propaganda. A way of dehumanising people out of the debate for their own land.
P384: [Terrorism] had become not just an obsession but an amorphous military objective with neither end nor meaning.
P388: Like the Syrians, the Soviets, the Americans and the British, the Israelis drew a careful distinction between good terrorists and bad terrorists. In Israel’s case, the former were sympathetic to Israel and were graced with various, less harmful epithets — ‘militiamen’, ‘fighters’, ‘soldiers’ — while the latter opposed Israel and were therefore terrorists pure and simple, guilty of the most heinous crimes, blood-soaked and mindless, the sort of people who should be ‘cleansed’ from society.
[ibid] If the Palestinians could be portrayed as mindless barbarians, surely no sane individual would dare regard their political claims as serious. Anyone who expressed sympathy for the Palestinians was evidently anti-Semitic…Don’t worry, it’s not just the Israelis who come out looking hypocritical. Arafat’s PLO is just as brutal, as are the various militias of the Druze, the Maronites, the Phalange government. Of particularly urgent reading is the Fisker’s brief holiday in Ireland, where he realises a slaughter is about to unfold in the Beirut refugee camps; and his rush back to discover hastily-dug mass graves, fresh kills while stumbling over a mass of corpses and bodyparts, and the Israelis standing guard in the distance. The epicentre of the book and the war, the massacres are testimony to the absolute of ruthlessness and depravity which warring sides descend to, and the true obscenity of mass murder. Also of note is how pathetic the yanks (and Reagan) come across with their technologist mania-religion and firepower diplomacy. Also, the Israeli pursuit of critical voices in the Western media during the ‘82 invasion.
P407 The old terminology — of ‘pre-emptive strikes’ against ‘terrorists’, of ‘surgical precision’ bombing, of ‘pin-point accuracy’ bombardments, of ‘mopping up’ operations — was no longer accepted by reporters who could see for themselves what these phrases really meant.
P435 And yet… why was it that Western hostages were called ‘hostages’ — which they were — while Lebanese Shia Muslim prisoners held in an Israeli-controlled jail in Southern Lebanon were referred to by journalists simply as ‘prisoners’ [held for the good conduct of their brethren]?
…That one word ‘terrorist’ has been used to justify more political and military action than any defined policy in the Middle East in the past decade [the 80s].
P441 … ‘terrorism’ no longer means terrorism. It is not a definition; it is a political contrivance. ‘terrorists’ are those who use violence against the side that is using the word.
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Alternatively, read about it at: The Slow Review or the long blog. Or even Nurture Health