When is a ‘terrorist’ simply a ‘radical?’


by Al-Hack
23rd September, 2005 at 10:47 pm    

So, a brother tries to blow up a holy place of worship and kill everyone in it, you might call him a ‘bloody terrorist’. So I’m a bit intrigued as to why the LA Times decided to simply call Earl Krugel a ‘Jewish radical‘ when he was sentenced to 20 years for trying to blow up a Los Angeles mosque and the office of a US congressman of Lebanese descent. Reuters goes as far as calling him a ‘militant Jewish activist‘. Don’t push it too far guys!

So the question is, when does he make the jump to being a terrorist? Or is that a term exclusively reserved for Muslims these days, just in case people get confused? Anyway, he got 20 years so its not all bad news.

But there is another comparison to make, as Brett Lock does. When Krugel and his comrade Irv Rubin were arrested in 2001, calling themselves the Jewish Defence League, the Anti-Defamation League of America condemned them unequivocally. They accused the two of promoting a “gross distortion of the position of Jews in America” and of fear-mongering.

They did not, like the MCB, or Sheikh Al-Qaradawi, or the monkey who runs the Birmingham Mosque (aka Mohammed Naseem), try to justify their actions by trying to make excuses for what might have motivated them. Point well made.


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  1. Rohin — on 24th September, 2005 at 5:10 am  

    Fascism and intolerance are the same wherever they rear their ugly head. I was outraged to hear the occasional Muslim commentator try to side-step the word terrorist post 7/7 and could barely believe my ears when a female panelist on an ITV programme suggested they might be freedom fighters!

    Likewise, this idiot in America is a Jewish terrorist. Why does anyone pussyfoot around? Call a spade a terrorist.

  2. Chris — on 24th September, 2005 at 9:18 am  

    Great post and comment.
    Why, though, do you think the media are so afraid to use the word ‘terrorist’??

  3. Sunny — on 24th September, 2005 at 1:10 pm  

    The media isn’t afraid to use the word terrorist, it crops up all the time. Except, as al-hack says, it applies almost always to Muslims. Having read those article, I am a bit annoyed the word ‘terrorist’ wasn’t used. Hmmm..

  4. Old Pickler — on 24th September, 2005 at 2:43 pm  

    Hmm. The BBC’s been calling Palestinian terrorists ‘activists’ and ‘militiants’ for years. Yassin, who had been inciting terrorism for years was called a ‘spiritual leader’, as if he was the Dalai Lama or something.

    Yes, call a spade a spade by all means. Tell that to Orla Goebbels.

  5. Steve M — on 24th September, 2005 at 3:21 pm  

    Krugel’s a terrorist. and I hope that he serves the full sentence.

    I don’t really understand why the press have such difficulty with the word ‘terrorist’ but the UN seem to have similar difficulties.

  6. Limerick — on 24th September, 2005 at 3:26 pm  

    I feel the comparison on the top is one sided. What about Israeli agression in Palestine? Why is that never termed as state terrorism? Young kids get shot in the head, peace activists from the west get killed, soldiers admit to indiscriminate killing, yet it is all justified by Palestinian terrorism. The Israeli state machine is no better in that sense.

    Recently they acquitted that guy who clearly should have been prosecuted as a ‘terrorist’ when he boarded a bus and started firing at Arabs. So its not just Muslims who engage in the double-standard.

  7. Limerick — on 24th September, 2005 at 3:27 pm  

    Steve – Probably because the UN and its members still haven’t gotten around to defining the word terrorist. They prefer to keep the term ambiguous so they can use it when it suits them.

  8. Steve M — on 24th September, 2005 at 7:46 pm  

    Yes, I think you’re right, Limerick.

    I’m not sure about What about Israeli agression in Palestine? Why is that never termed as state terrorism? I’ve often read or heard it described that way.

  9. Rahul Verma — on 24th September, 2005 at 8:19 pm  

    The ambiguous definition of what is a terrorist is deliberate, it allows the powers that be to use fear and paranoia to control their people, and world geopolitics. BBC’s excellent The Power Of Nightmares TV series analysed this.
    I mentor 13-21 year olds in South London, and we debated what they think when you said the word terrorist, the answer? Muslims. How can that be? The terrorists are a minority, yet the entire religion is tarred by the association. The subliminal and subconscious effect of hearing and reading the words muslim and terrorist side by side, incessantly since 9/11 is huge.
    I have right-minded friends, who are far from right wing, who believe that standing up to ‘muslim terrorists’, and preventing the spread of islam, is the equivalent of defeating Nazism and Hitler. That’s how warping this anti Muslim propaganda is. It’s a very scary and troubling time.

  10. Eric — on 24th September, 2005 at 8:45 pm  

    I mentor 13-21 year olds in South London, and we debated what they think when you said the word terrorist, the answer? Muslims. How can that be?

    Because they haven’t had the situation explained properly?

  11. Sunny — on 25th September, 2005 at 5:14 am  

    Nevertheless, those prejudices have formed and many of them may continue without better media reporting or at least a better acknowledge of its own bias.

  12. Steve M — on 25th September, 2005 at 8:12 am  

    Perhaps one problem here is the interpretation of ‘neutrality’ made by the BBC and other media. If those they interview who purport to represent Islam have views which are seen to be pro-terrorist or even anti-semitic then this is the brush with which Muslims will be tarred.

    I truly believe that the vast majority of British people are not predisposed to be prejudiced against Muslims, Jews, Blacks, Asians or any ethnic or religious group. If the Muslim community have a problem with public relations, particularly with regard to terrorism, then perhaps they should review the way that they are handling their relationships with the media. Perhaps more Muslims should stand up and say “this person doesn’t represent me or my views”.

  13. Steve M — on 25th September, 2005 at 8:16 am  

    Come to think of it, maybe we need more ‘Pickled Politics’.

  14. inders — on 25th September, 2005 at 2:06 pm  

    I’m going to try to be fair about this. I’d say a terrorist is a part of a wider organised movement. This jewish man seems correctly identified as a radical because it was a one off action by an individual.

  15. Sunny — on 25th September, 2005 at 3:08 pm  

    Many of the people who blew themselves up, or tried to, seem to be working by themselves too. The 21st July bombers for example… John Reid the shoe-bomber, and more lately the sock-bomber. Or atleast I haven’t read much to refute this.

    So by that understanding they should not be called terrorists either, just because they’re “inspired” by al-qaeda.

  16. inders — on 25th September, 2005 at 3:49 pm  

    But they themselves said that their aim was to persuade the government to leave Iraq and stop bothering muslim countries. A definate political aim attempted by the bomb not the ballot.

    What reason did this jewish man give ?

  17. Sunny — on 25th September, 2005 at 3:59 pm  

    A general conspiracy about how Muslims are out to kill all Jews and how their position in America is being undermined I think. Can’t remember now, but it wasn’t anything personal – definitely political.

  18. Iain — on 26th September, 2005 at 1:19 pm  

    Well ‘Limerick’ et al funny how I only saw this Jewish Defense League terrorist story described as a Jewish terrorist on the BBC and in the Gruniad. Not note an American -Jewish terrorist. It stressed his links to Kahanism yet and mentioned that terrorist organisations other notorious actions. By way of comparison Palestinian terrorists are usually called militants or radicals these days by the sickeningly overly- touchy-feely UK media.

    It is not by any means only the right-wing- as you should know- that equates muslim terrorism with the Nazis and Hitler. More specifically these fascist political parties that are the only employers of terrorism within Islam are fascist parties-period. There can be no excuses nor vomit-inducing justifications of terrorism by the now notorious double standards of the unelected ‘faith’ leadership whom still claim that attacks on islamic fascism are attacks on Islam.

    Islamism may reject Western ways like Socialism, democracy and Communism and/or Capitalism but it clearly has not rejected Fascism.

    The Islamic fascists main target is Islam and fellow muslims represent the majority of victims to date, even if we include attacks on ‘the West’.

    That said Arik Sharon (the well-known terrorist sympathiser and ‘war criminal’- not) said unequivocally that all such terrorism perpetrated by Jews (including ‘that guy’ who shot up the bus and was then killed by the arab mob, note- not let off!!!) as a ‘terrorist’.

    Israel is also now finally changing the law to allow compensation to be paid for any such future terrorist actions.

  19. Sunny — on 26th September, 2005 at 1:39 pm  

    By way of comparison Palestinian terrorists are usually called militants or radicals

    Not according to what I’ve seen. If you see any major examples of this, please post them.

    Sure Ariel Sharon may condemn Jews boarding buses and shooting Muslims indiscriminately, but he doesn’t seem tos ay much about the state’s own terror against innocent Palestinians and how they’ve done everything to squeeze the Palestinian economy to the point of complete collapse.

  20. Iain — on 26th September, 2005 at 2:29 pm  

    Sunny,

    I have long noted that the violence in Israel/ Palestine is on both sides- historically starting from the ‘muslim’ side long before there even was an Israel. The only reason that Palestinian terrorism cannot be called ‘state terrorism’ is that those perpetrating it have consistently never been interested in any state for the Palestinians but in destroying someone elses.

    That innocent Palestinians get killed and injured in the cross-fire between Israels security forces and the ‘militant’, ‘radical’ Palestinians is due in no small part to the terrorists using them as shields and building their bomb factories in resi-areas. But in large part due to the ‘policies’ of those ‘radicals’ whom have intimidated and murdered and robbed the Palestinian people far more than any Israeli policy has over the last few decades. That is, as part of the kleptocracy-in-favour-of-genocide that the Palestinian people have suffered under, or as an another example, as both sectarian populations of Northern Ireland still do under theirs.

    The whole truth of this conflict is not so simple as to allow such prejudged accusations of ‘state terrorism’ unless we wish to contextualise by comparison to some other ‘terrorist states’ in which we may easily cite Pakistan, Iran, Syria or pre-invasion Afghanistan as far worse examples.

    Israeli policy, for all its shortcomings at times, has consistently been to defend Israel and all of its citizens from intentionally indiscriminate violence by specifically targeting the men of violence. Palestinian violence has been to target Israeli citizens without discrimination.

    No one would say that this was some kind of egalitarianism on their part.

  21. Sunny — on 26th September, 2005 at 4:18 pm  

    Israeli policy, for all its shortcomings at times, has consistently been to defend Israel and all of its citizens from intentionally indiscriminate violence by specifically targeting the men of violence

    In that case, why the harassment of women and kids, why the destruction of their livelihoods, why the continuous killing and assassination of young kids? If the Israelis stuck to targetted killing of Hamas and Hezbollah leaders I’d understand. But they prefer to destroy houses in retaliation. I ask how exactly that means it is a measured way of retaliation?

    Are they too blind to see that such retaliation will only fuel more resentment and drive people to violence? Or is there an assumption that Israel’s policies should have no effect?

  22. Mary in LA — on 26th September, 2005 at 8:37 pm  

    I live in Los Angeles, and I must tell you that the LA Times is notorious for not calling anyone a “terrorist”. Terrorists of any sort are generally described as “resistance fighters”, “militants”, “insurgents”, etc.; getting the paper to print the dreaded T-word is nearly impossible.

    Apparently they have an editorial policy of extreme cowardice. These are the same clowns who buried Saddam’s confession to genocide on page 18 of the front section.

    It’s probably not a coincidence that the circulation figures of the LA Slimes are no longer printed on the masthead — rumor has it that in in greater Los Angeles, an area of over 10 million people, the paper’s circulation is down to 900,000 and dropping fast. I will be sad in principle when (not if) the LA Times goes out of business — that paper was great once, and its competition is pretty feeble — but they’ve brought it on themselves. Too much editorial slant, not enough news.

    Hello from the “Left Coast”! :-) I like your blog.

  23. Sunny — on 26th September, 2005 at 11:05 pm  

    Hi Mary, nice to have you here and commenting. I would like to point out that the London’s Evening Standard isn’t in any better shape despite being as much more right-wing and covering ‘terrorism’ issues all the time. In a city of over 7 million, it sells just over 360,000 copies a day.

    I think the problem in both cases might be that their audiences are changing too fast for them to adjust.

  24. Kulvinder — on 27th September, 2005 at 6:31 am  

    The whole truth of this conflict is not so simple as to allow such prejudged accusations of ’state terrorism’ unless we wish to contextualise by comparison to some other ‘terrorist states’ in which we may easily cite Pakistan, Iran, Syria or pre-invasion Afghanistan as far worse examples.

    You’d be contextualising a (in broad terms) ‘westernised demoracy’ with ‘non-democractic authoritarian regimes’ (in broad terms).

  25. Iain — on 27th September, 2005 at 12:25 pm  

    Sunny,

    If you think there are ‘continuous assasinations’ of children by the IDF and that they destroy houses or anything else just out of sheer malice then you are guilty of demonising the IDF. It is also a nonsense to accuse the IDF of a policy of human rights abuses when their enemy has no concept of ‘human rights’ at all. Indeed uses such merely as political fodder for a venomous and racist hate campaign against all Israelis. Their enemy has no qualms at all about forcing children into self-detonating.

    It is though, as you say, reaction-led in everyday terms Eye for an eye or reciprocal action has hurt the Palestinian population when their leaders frankly think their suffering is a price worth paying rather than putting much pressure on the men of violence. However the figures available from the Human RIghts Organisations monitoring the casualties show that nevertheless the IDF still kills far more fighters (3 to 1 approx) than civilians whereas the Palestinian (or rather fascist terror orgs) violence is targeted specifically at civilians.

    That the pagan cult of child sacrifice that the Palestinian men of violence have created is rather a more serious attack on the human rights of the Palestinians. That this cult goes un-remarked upon by the holy-rollers of wider Islamic fascism and even those less malicious unelected community leaders we are all complaining about is no surprise but should be given its heinous pagan nature. Never mind those on the UK Left who are in a state of self-serving self-delusion over the ‘apartheid, evilness’ of Israel.

    The IDF has its problems, of course. The main one as far as I can see is that the assumption that all Israelis are in support of the IDF and/or mainstream Israeli opinion is false. As the case of that kid from the IDF who absconded with the weapon and opened up on that bus mentioned above. Not all deserters are pacifists clearly.

    If you have been paying attention you will know that the IDF senior officers have been making many comments to the Israeli press and politicians with regard to too many rogue elements are getting into the service. The policy of using widespread conscription is at fault here. As there has been a false assumption of conformance to Israeli norms (such as the IDF’s long standing policy of avoiding civilian casualties, I know , I know) leaving little or no proper vetting and selection-out of politically motivated youngsters we may call either extremists or terrorists of the extreme right-wing in Israel.

    Whether Israeli politicians are too blind to see is an interesting point. It is clearly is not a policy that builds peace but then I do not think that Israeli politicians have claimed that it does. And their enemy here has no interest in Peace nor Land or Human rights. I can fully sympathise with the Israeli policy of eye for an eye, the security lock-downs on the West Bank and Gaza and assassination of Hamas, Islamic Jihad, or of whatever ‘Matryrs’ wish to die killing Israelis.

  26. Iain — on 27th September, 2005 at 12:29 pm  

    Kulvinder,

    I was hoping that the point I made asking for context on ‘state terrorism’ would show that it is an unworkable term or category. As well as those countries listed we could add to the list nearly every country on the planet as in some analogous to or actually engaged in state sponsered terrorism. If we are to accept Israel as a ‘terrorist state’ then who is not?

  27. Arif — on 28th September, 2005 at 7:27 pm  

    Terrorism is a useful word, whenever anyone uses it makes it easy to spot their bias. And when it comes out of my mouth I pause and think about how I have let myself cloud my thinking and become a propagandist.

    Avoiding the word consciously might just mean becoming a more sophisticated propagandist. I can’t escape my way of thinking, I just have to learn to develop it.

    We have to get used to the fact that at some levels we are all emotionally selective, and remember that the stronger our emotion, the greater the effort we need to make to humanise our opponents to avoid becoming self-righteously cruel… probably exactly what we fear about our opponents themselves.

    So when you feel the urge to condemn and label people terrorists, go for it, but then check yourself and remember this kind of emotion is probably exactly what drives people to do what you condemn.

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