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Just Terrorism?

Just Terrorism?

For centuries, Christians have supported “Just War” theory. But what about “Just Terrorism?” Giles Fraser explores this question in his weekly column from the London Guardian:

I am eating aubergines and flatbread with Dr Samah Jabr in a cool Palestinian cafe in Stoke Newington. A psychiatrist and psychotherapist who works out of East Jerusalem, Dr Jabr is quietly spoken, modest, and perhaps just a little bit shocked by my lapses into overly colourful language. She is an educated, middle-class Palestinian (in no way a rabble-rouser) but she insists that the word terrorist has become a powerful – though often un-thought-through – political pejorative employed to discredit legitimate resistance to the violence of occupation.

What some would call terrorism, she would call a moral duty. She gives me her paper on the subject. “Why is the word ‘terrorist’ so readily applied to individuals or groups who use homemade bombs, but not to states using nuclear and other internationally proscribed weapons to ensure submission to the oppressor?” she asks. She insists that violent resistance must be used in defence and as a last resort. And that it is important to distinguish between civilian and military targets. “The American media call our search for freedom ‘terrorism’,” she complains, “despite the fact that the right to self-determination by armed struggle is permissible under the UN charter’s article 51, concerning self-defence.”…

Indeed, so much of our modern political theory about the role and limits of the state was established by the political theology of the 16th and 17th centuries – and by those who would be branded terrorists under this country’s current terrorist legislation. Oliver Cromwell, for instance, would almost certainly be a terrorist. Come to think of it, so too would Moses and his famous (and very violent) run-in with the Egyptian state. And both of these were “religiously inspired”. If we can have just war, why not just terrorism?

For Fraser’s full column please visit the London Guardian here.


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Rod Gillis

@ Paul Woodrum, have you read Paul Revere’s Ride by David Hackett Fischer? Great stuff, especially the sections dealing with Lexington and Concord.

Paul Woodrum

And let’s not forget those ragtag, backwoods sharpshooters who hid behind trees and shot at neat columns of Redcoats.

The blockaded, oppressed and poor Palestinians use the means at their disposal — tunnels, stones, and their own bodies as weapons against the sophisticated, USA supported, Israeli weapons and miltary. Who knows? Maybe someday they too will be transformed from terrorists to patriots.

Rod Gillis

Giles Fraser’s columns are usually always thought provoking, no more so than this one, read in its entirety. The definition of terrorism is of course problematic. I’ve attached a link to an article from The Dept. of Justice, titled Memorializing the Victims of Terrorism. The article begins with an acknowledgement of the problem inherent in definitions.

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