Israel as a Terrorist State
The settler state and the monopoly on language and terror
Look up the Irgun on Wikipedia and you’ll read that the outfit was a Zionist ‘paramilitary organisation’ that operated in the thirties and forties in the land of Palestine. A few lines later, the reader gets another angle, when the writer goes on to add that the Irgun ‘has been viewed as a terrorist organisation or an organisation which carries out terrorist acts’, cagey language that dances very prettily around the point at hand. This goes back to the question of semantics — who is it that holds the right to convey meaning (to words and language) in a political context or in the context of conflict? Whoever controls the narrative, of course. Today, for example, those who live in the West are likely to hear of Hamas referred to exclusively (and reductively) as ‘terrorists’, while Israel, on the other hand, is only exercising its ‘right to defend itself’.
Outside of the Arab world, Israel receives much positive press (and always has done) as the ‘only democracy in the Middle East’. In fact, it is almost criminal not to like Israel, and I am not saying that with any degree of facetiousness. Echoing its formidable defensive arsenal (and also that big ugly concrete wall), Israel is protected by a veritable wall of words, a ‘linguistic Iron Dome’, let’s call it, which shields it from all and any verbal affront. Subject Israel to the least criticism and you will be met head-on with that terrible slur ‘anti-Semite’, a badge which will mark you out as the worst kind of racist bigot.
Israel’s rhetorical defences are formidable, but chip away at that imposing edifice and you soon find that it serves as many walls do: it hides something you are not supposed to see.
The Irgun, Lehi and Hagana were terrorist organisations made up mostly of European Jewish settlers that oversaw and took part in the wholesale ethnic cleansing of what was then Palestine, in order to lay the ground for the modern State of Israel. There is no need to go into great detail here, only to say that these terrorist organisations were involved in the most savage acts of barbarity.
Later, many of the leaders of these organisations became leading political figures in the State of Israel. Menachem Begin, sixth president of Israel, was a leader of the Irgun. Yitzhak Shamir, seventh president of Israel, was also in the Irgun, and after they split went on to join the more militant Lehi (the Stern Gang). Yaakov Meridor, one of the founders of Herut (the political party that developed from the Irgun and that several decades later became Likud), started out as a commander in the Irgun, only to becomes a career politician after the establishment of the State of Israel in 1948. What’s more, the IDF (Israeli Defence Forces) was born out of the merger of these several terrorist organisations when Israel’s political foundations had been established.
So what is it, exactly, that distinguishes the former (‘paramilitary’ organisations which carry out terrorist acts) from the latter (a state managed in part by former terrorists with a military (IDF) comprised largely of terrorists)?
There is no difference other than nomenclature. The State of Israel was conceived of and brought about through terror, and to this day maintains its control over a captive and enslaved minority through the exercise of terror. The rage and barbarity that Israel has displayed since the tragic events of October 7th are perhaps explained by Hamas’s upset of Israel’s monopoly on the use of terror within the state of Israel.
Did Hamas commit terrorist atrocities on October 7th? Certainly. But Israel has been committing terrorist atrocities against the Palestinian Arab population for 75 years now, and it is only the formidable ‘wall of words’ protecting Israel which prevents people from seeing the country for what it really is: a terrorist state.
Operation Cast Lead was a campaign of terror. Operation Protective Edge was a campaign of terror. So was every other operation before and after, all affectionately referred to among the military establishment of Israel as the periodic ‘mowing of the lawn’. Shooting little kids is terrorism. Killing entire (civilian) families in missile attacks is terrorism. The targeted killing of journalists and medical professionals is terrorism. In short, Israel’s entire playbook of war, fundamentally, is terrorism.
What we are seeing now in Gaza is a move towards a ‘final solution’ of sorts, the ultimate ethnic cleansing of Gaza and the genocide of the Palestinian people. And why? So that the Zionist political establishment of Israel can finally realise its goal of a Jewish State of Israel built on foundations of racial purity and ethnic supremacy — somewhat reminiscent of another murderous genocidal regime of the 20th century to which the Jews fell foul, is it not?
Words matter. It is all too common for language to fall prey to fascistic manipulation. So the next time you’re forced to listen to another diatribe about Hamas terrorists and Israel’s right to defend itself, decide for yourself if the speaker has earned, and is using responsibly, the right of definition. One man’s terrorist may be another man’s freedom fighter, but killing women and children is the same no matter whose eye is peering down the barrel.