Friday, July 14, 2006

Taking Terrorism Head On

So I finally saw the World Cup Head-butt. I don't see what the big deal is. Italian guy pinches French guy's nipple (an action which, even for those Euro men who occasionally kiss each other, is a bit much), swears at him, gets head butted by the French guy. If it were hockey and you head butted a guy in the face, or while still wearing a helmet, it would be pretty bad. But since it was just a head butt to the chest, in response to some obvious provocation... hmph... five minutes, or maybe a double minor. But I don't see a game misconduct over that.

Now, seriously, the rights to retaliation and self defence are very, very important. When attacked, you have the right to defend yourself. When attacked repeatedly, you have the right to take further action, especially when authority is utterly failing you. I take this as an axiom. Hell ... even Gandhi took it as an axiom that there could be just wars. He'd just never seen one.

And so I turn, with all hopes that I can avoid being called an anti-Semite, to the situation in Israel and Palestine. Israel has been occupying Palestine for almost forty years. Israel has been placing Israeli-only settlements inside those occupied territories, pushing out Palestinians, pretty much ceaselessly for those forty years. Most Israelis realize the settlements are a foolish, provocative idea that does nothing to improve the prospects for peace with any of their neighbours. Most realize the settlements will eventually have to be dismantled, but the government goes on building and expanding them anyway.

Israel and Palestine have been killing each other's people for those forty years. When the Israel military kills a civilian, our media calls it "regrettable collateral damage". When the Palestinian militias kill a civilian, or sometimes even a soldier, it is called "terrorism". The difference is a matter of point of view. One stands assured that it plays differently in Syria and Iran.

To get this straightened out and truly understand what's going on, an easy check is to count dead people. In 2006, the Palestinian dead number almost 300. The Israeli number, much more accurately, at 20 (at the time of this writing). Yet our media go on pretending that the sole guilt and blame lies with the Palestinians because they "support terrorism" and "refuse to recognize Israel", when in actuality "terrorism" is being committed on both sides, though Palestinians are dying in greater numbers and both of the major organizations in Palestine (Hamas and Fatah) have already agreed to recognize Israel.

Terrorism is the killing of civilians for political purposes. It doesn't matter which side you agree with. Right now, the term "terrorism" is being used to mean "violence of which we disapprove" or maybe "violence done by people we don't like."

And so we come back to Zidane and the infamous Head Butt. The question is this: how much is a guy supposed to accept before he fights back? How many nipple pinches and ethnic slurs before we declare the Head Butt appropriate?

On the other side, how many years of occupation should the Palestinians have to endure before we graciously permit them the right to fight back without being called terrorists? What is the expected reaction of the Palestinians? What would you do if all you knew for your entire life was an occupation by an authority that blockaded your roads, blew up your power sources and cut your water at will? If you had a tiny fraction of the military power of your occupier? The original justification for the occupation was that the Palestinians were dangerous terrorists, but all that the occupation has done is to create more danger, more fear and more terror.

Yes, it would be wonderful if one hundred percent of the Palestinians chose utterly peaceful methods of protest, but it's simply not a realistic expectation of large numbers of human beings. As unjustifiable as it is, it is just as predictable as a World Cup Head Butt, when you get right down to it.

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