The Origins of Terror

Arutz Sheva reports,

A Saudi Arabia cleric recently told Americans at a counterterrorism conference that Jews were the first people in the world to use terrorism.
Jewish Democrats have roundly criticized the Bush administration for having sent representatives to the conference in Saudi Arabia. New Jersey Senator Frank Lautenberg said the president should admit he made a “serious mistake.”

But did he?
Wikipedia attributes the first act of terrorism to 1st century zealots in ancient Israel who were combatting Roman occupation. From that point in time, it surfaces time-and-again throughout history as a tactic employed by various revolutionary forces against repressive regimes, notably the monarchy of Louis XVI.
Arguably modern terrorism was born of Russian anarchism (specifically by the anarchist intellectual Mikhail Bakunin, an antisemite) and the philosophy of Propaganda by Deed, an ideology which grew out of Tsarist repression and which culminated in the assassination of Alexander II. This philosophy, when it breached into the realm of harming innocent civilians, however, was deemed “unmotivated terror” and was disavowed by the majority of anarchist thinkers.
In terms of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, the chronology makes it quite clear who first employed terrorism as their tactic of choice: It is well known and hardly disputed that The Irgun, Zev Jabotinsky’s paramilitary force, utilized terrorism to combat the colonial occupation of Palestine and the anti-Jewish policies enacted by the British — their most reputable action being the bombing of the King David Hotel, which was used as a British military installation. The Irgun later (or perhaps even simultaneously) turned their focus to the civilian Arab population as well, attacking villages and civil infrastructure.
However, The Irgun was not formed until 1931. It was over a full decade earlier, in 1920, that the Arab population first attacked the Jewish community in Jerusalem in a full-scale riot, with two similar incidents following in Yaffo in 1921 and all throughout Mandate Palestine in 1929, most notably in Hebron where the vast majority of the Jewish population (which was not comprised of new emigrés) was slaughtered senselessly. These acts would not qualify as what we consider conventional terrorism, but their intention was no less the same as those who continue in their agression against the Israeli populace today.
Suicide bombing, on the other hand (at least in the context of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict), well… That was sort of our idea. A famous story of two Irgun militants sentenced to death by the colonial British reveals the following:

In the death cell in the central prison in Jerusalem, Feinstein and Barazani resolved to blow themselves and their executioners up. They wrote to their comrades in adjacent cells: “Brethren, greetings. You have not done well in failing to send [a grenade] to us. Who knows if by morning it will not be too late. Do not allow time to lapse. Send it to us as soon as possible. All you have been told was merely an emotional storm which passed swiftly. We are fully resolved. Our greetings to all. Be strong and so will we.”

While the plot failed and the men were left to take their own lives without those of their executioners (in order to preserve the safety of the rabbi whom was to perform their last rites), this incident seems to be the origins of a phenomenon which has come back to bite Israel on the ass in a serious way.
Of course, beyond that, the first suicide attack of repute hails from Tanakh itself, in which a Jew kills a group of “Palestinians” while shouting, essentially, “Allah hu akbar!” Judges 16:25-30 reads:

When they stood him among the pillars, Samson said to the servant who held his hand, “Put me where I can feel the pillars that support the temple, so that I may lean against them.” Now the temple was crowded with men and women; all the rulers of the Philistines were there, and on the roof were about three thousand men and women watching Samson perform. Then Samson prayed to the LORD, “O Sovereign LORD, remember me. O God, please strengthen me just once more, and let me with one blow get revenge on the Philistines for my two eyes.” Then Samson reached toward the two central pillars on which the temple stood. Bracing himself against them, his right hand on the one and his left hand on the other, Samson said, “Let me die with the Philistines!” Then he pushed with all his might, and down came the temple on the rulers and all the people in it. Thus he killed many more when he died than while he lived.

This passage may very well be the place from which Feinstein and Barazani derived their “inspiration.”
But I digress. Rather than engaging in a debate over who drew “first blood” (be it the Zionist colonizers or the Arab rejectionists) or assigning blame for the advent of terrorism in the region, perhaps it might be more productive to flatly reject all forms of terrorism as unjust and counterproductive. But try convincing radical Zionists and anti-Zionists of this position and see how far it gets you. Among both groups you will find those who will argue that terrorism is justifiable — but only when that terror is in favor of their own agenda.
Personally, I’d rather say either way, that position is fucking nutty and call it a day.
More on the cleric’s remarks in The Forward.

12 thoughts on “The Origins of Terror

  1. Mobius you are nuts. Simply nuts.Are yoU telling me Arab suicide bombers who deliberately blow themselvrs up among CHILDREN to receive 72 virgins drew their inspiration from the two Irgun members who wanted to kill their EXECUTIONERS? Maybe the Kamikaze did so too?

  2. Mobius, you didn’t even talk about Izzadine al-Qassam. Anyone ever wonder who Hamas named their *military* wing after?

  3. Rather than engaging in a debate over who drew “first blood” (be it the Zionist colonizers or the Arab rejectionists) or assigning blame for the advent of terrorism in the region…
    This IS an interesting question – the lefties never do exactly pinpoint where in history the Jews went from being the victims of pogroms, and started being ruthless colonial overlords… so, Mobius, why isn’t the slaughter of Jews in Hebron already counted as part of the “cycle of violence” – in which case it is those poor colonialized Arabs we should pity?
    Like the Wash *cycle* in a laundromat – the “cycle of violence” neatly erases the dirty traces of Arab blame for their own actions…
    perhaps it might be more productive to flatly reject all forms of terrorism as unjust and counterproductive.
    Counterproductive? The attacks on the British “occupiers” helped liberate Israel – and the Palestinians have gained international prominence unlike any other ethnic sliver, and reaped over a decade of Israeli concesssions from their policy of terror.
    Whether it’s Jews or Arabs – the fancy pieces of paper are not enough by the schoolyard rules of geopolitics – if you want a state, a place on earth, you must fight for it.
    Israeli dove are not more enlightened than the hawks, or more sincere in their desire for peace – they are just tired. And many American Jewish doves just want a faraway situation to jibe with their political preconceptions.
    The hawks are not crazy, nor have they been insulated from the violent fallout of war and terror. But they understand that the battle is still on. That there is no real acceptance of Israel as a permanent sovereign presence – not among our neighbors in the Middle East, and not even in Europe any more.
    Nobody WANTS to fight. The “bloodthirsty hawk” is a self-serving conceit of those who are too tired to defend themselves, or don’t really care – or are unwilling to pry themselves away from identifying with a Left that negates Israel’s very right to exist.

  4. alex — can you show me where i made that statement? because i don’t see it anywhere in my text.
    sausage — what about him? he was a douchebag who led raids on jewish villages during the years of the riots i mentioned. and he was killed by the british.

  5. Counterproductive? The attacks on the British “occupiers” helped liberate Israel – and the Palestinians have gained international prominence unlike any other ethnic sliver, and reaped over a decade of Israeli concesssions from their policy of terror.
    the attacks on the british occupiers were responsible for the white paper which terminated britain’s commitment to creating a jewish state in palestine.
    and the palestinians still don’t have a state, and won’t, until they eliminate all the terror groups.

  6. Guerilla warfare is the targeting of military and government facilities/personnel using covert means. Terrorism is the targeting of civilians and civilian facilities using covert means. The two are morally very different, and this post, as well as other sources do the difference injustice by co-mingling the two. In the 9/11 context there is a significant difference in the attack on the Pentagon and the attacks on the WTC. similarly there is a difference between attacking IDF soldiers who are raiding/demolishing Palestinian homes and attacking children on a school bus. By classifying all of these as terror, we abuse the word and ignore the moral differences. Even when guerilla warfare is wrongful, it is still morally superior to terror as I have defined the words here.

  7. Qassam’s Black Hand band was arguably one of the first Palestinian terror organizations in the early ’30’s. A douchebag yes, notable for his leadership in the art of organized terror. Worthy of a mention in the same breath when you point to the Irgun as the fathers of terror in the Israeli-Arab conflict.

  8. White papers, what a joke, U can’t seriously look me in the eye and tell me the British had any real intentions of letting Jews immigrate in any real numbers

  9. The British were responsible for the death of thousands of Jews. They turned away shiploads of boats fleeing Europe. Imagine that, they colonize our land and turn us away when we are fleeing from the Nazi’s-all this to soothe the arabs.
    If our booting the British was terrorism…
    I support it.

  10. We know this is really late, but we’re totally floored by this crap. Coming from an anarchist, a Jew or someone with any sense of history, this is unforgivable. Coming from all three, suffice it to say that once we explain this emotion you will see what we mean.
    Assuming that by terrorism we mean “the use or threat of violence for some religious, political or ideological objective” as the USDOD says, terror was originated by who? It sure as hell ain’t kind of anarchists. In fact, it wasn’t any kind of terrorist.
    Hint: Clearly, because the records of the British Establishment say so and we must go with what a book says, all books being categorically unbiased and truthful, John Ball was the originator of violence as a proof of power and General Ludd was solely responsible for economic /industrial unrest in their respective periods in English history.
    Second hint, because we’re jerks and cannot resist: starts with an always capitalized “S” and you’d never think in a million years you’d have to explain this to an anarchist, even an Orthodox one.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.

The reCAPTCHA verification period has expired. Please reload the page.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.