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OpEdNews Op Eds    H3'ed 3/21/16

My Terrorist, Your Terrorist

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The Shiites did not like the Palestinians and the trouble they caused. When the Israeli army invaded Lebanon in 1982 with the unspoken aim of pushing the Palestinians out and installing a Maronite dictatorship, the Shiites were happy. The pictures of Shiite villagers receiving Israeli soldiers with bread and salt were not staged.

I crossed the border on the fourth day of the fighting to see for myself. A Yemenite soldier, who vaguely remembered seeing my face on TV and assumed I was somebody high up in government, opened the gate for me. I traveled with two female colleagues in my private car with the yellow Israeli license plate through the Shiite villages and was received everywhere with great joy. Everybody wanted us to visit their home and have coffee.

The reason for this spontaneous friendship was obvious. The Shiites assumed that the Israelis would rid them of the arrogant Palestinians, say goodbye and leave. But Israelis are not good at leaving. After some months, the Shiites realized that instead of a Palestinian occupation they now had an Israeli occupation. So they started a classical guerrilla war. The docile, downtrodden Shiite farmers turned overnight into fierce fighters.

The moderate Shiite party which had represented the Shiites for so long was replaced by the very militant new Hezbollah -- the Party of God. The Israeli troops were ambushed by an invisible enemy. Soldiers moved in convoys. I once joined such an army convoy. Some soldiers were literally shaking with fear.

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After 18 years of this, the Israeli troops left for good, almost in a panic. They left behind a mini-state ruled by Hezbollah. Its leader was assassinated by Israel, and the vastly more able Hassan Nasrallah took his place.

Today the Shiites are by far the strongest community in Lebanon. They are an important part of the powerful "Shiite arc" -- Iran, Iraq, Bashar al-Assad's Syria and Hezbollah.

Binyamin Netanyahu believes that this arc constitutes a mortal menace to Israel. He has secretly allied himself with Saudi Arabia, which has created a Sunni counter-force with Egypt and the Gulf monarchies and is loosely connected with Daesh, the Islamic "Caliphate."

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Hezbollah our most dangerous enemy? I beg to differ. I believe that our most dangerous enemy is Daesh -- not because of its military prowess, but because it is a powerful idea, and is inflaming hundreds of millions of Muslims throughout the world. Ideas can be more dangerous than guns -- a fact alien to Israeli thinking.

Hezbollah now has regular troops and is fighting in Syria against Daesh and others.

Be that as it may, one thing Hezbollah definitely is not: it is not a terrorist organization.

WHAT IS "terrorism"? By now, it has become a cuss-word without real content.

Originally, terrorism just meant a strategy of striking fear to achieve a political end. In this sense, every war is terrorism. But the term is more precisely applied to individual acts of violence, the aim of which is to strike terror into the hearts of the enemy population.

By now, every country and every party calls its enemies "terrorists." It is the fashionable expletive. It has no real meaning.

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If at all, every army is an instrument of terrorism. In times of war, armies always try to frighten the enemy into accepting their demands. Dropping the atom bomb on Hiroshima was a terrorist act, and so was the incineration of Dresden.

In the past, the term terrorism was used to describe the acts of Russian revolutionaries who killed Russian ministers (acts condemned by Lenin) or the Austrian heir to the throne (the act which ignited World War I, which itself was not called "terrorism" because it killed millions, not just a few).

Terrorists do not achieve their goals owing to the magnitude of their deeds but rather by their psychological effect. The killing of a hundred may be forgotten the next day, the killing of one may be remembered for centuries. Samson, the arch-terrorist, has been immortalized in the Bible as the great hero of Israel.

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Uri Avnery is a longtime Israeli peace activist. Since 1948 has advocated the setting up of a Palestinian state alongside Israel. In 1974, Uri Avnery was the first Israeli to establish contact with PLO leadership. In 1982 he was the first Israeli ever to meet Yassir Arafat, after crossing the lines in besieged Beirut. He served three terms in the (more...)

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