Thursday, August 07, 2003

Regarding "Jakarta bomb...", "Head of IRA splinter group...", and "Israel frees...", IHT, August 7, 2003: In one and the same issue of a respected international newspaper, edited in Paris and published by a leading American opinion-making medium, we read about three parts of the world where terrorists have tried and are still trying to achieve their goals. Not surprisingly, those who planned and carried out this week's attack at the Marriott hotel in Jakarta, which killed at least 16 people, are labeled 'terrorists'. When it comes to the activities of Michael McKevitt, who was convicted yesterday for leading the "real IRA", a republican splinter group that killed 29 people in a 1998 car-bomb attack in Omagh, the newspaper adopts the wording of the verdict by the Irish antiterrorism court, which found Mr McKevitt guilty of " directing terrorism ". Interestingly enough, the IHT calls the "real IRA" a "republican guerrilla group". Writing about the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, the newspaper goes one step further, by calling the different Palestinian groups that a little more than a month ago declared some sort of ceasefire " leading Palestinian militant factions ", even though this category includes groups such as Hamas and Islamic Jihad, the members of which have proudly killed and maimed scores of people in Israel and the territories. The vast majority of these factions' victims consists of civilians, which undoubtedly justifies calling these groups and their members - together with the different factions of Fatah, which interestingly enough has been responsible for most of the attacks that took place during the hudna - terrorists. Is it just ignorance, or naivety, or does the IHT really believe that only those who aim at American targets can be called terrorists? No matter how unjust an occupation or how just a nationalist or religious cause might be, nothing justifies explicitly and intentionally killing, wounding, kidnapping, hijacking or otherwise hurting and terrorizing innocent men, women and children in order to achieve one's goals. Providing some or all of these actions and their perpetrators with legitimate or pseudo-heroic labels not only furthers their cause, it makes fighting them much, much harder.

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