In Resolution 49/60, adopted in 1994, the United Nations describes terrorism as the following:
“Criminal acts intended or calculated to provoke a state of terror in the general public, a group of persons or particular persons for political purposes are in any circumstance unjustifiable, whatever the considerations of a political, philosophical, ideological, racial, ethnic, religious or any other nature that may be invoked to justify them.”
To reiterate: terrorism is “in any circumstance unjustifiable.”
Resolution 1566, adopted in 2004, describes terrorism as the following:
“Criminal acts, including against civilians, committed with the intent to cause death or serious bodily injury, or taking of hostages, with the purpose to provoke a state of terror in the general public or in a group of persons or particular persons, intimidate a population or compel a government or an international organization to do or to abstain from doing any act.”
HOW HAMAS DESCRIBES ITS OWN TERRORISM
In Article 13 of its own covenant, Hamas states the following:
“Initiatives, and so-called peaceful solutions and international conferences, are in contradiction to the principles of the Islamic Resistance Movement. Abusing any part of Palestine is abuse directed against part of religion. Nationalism of the Islamic Resistance Movement is part of its religion. Its members have been fed on that. For the sake of hoisting the banner of Allah over their homeland they fight. ‘Allah will be prominent, but most people do not know.’”
Article 13 then further states:
“There is no solution for the Palestinian question except through Jihad. Initiatives, proposals and international conferences are all a waste of time and vain endeavors.”
Violent resistance is acceptable in the event that there is no other option. But Hamas here makes it clear as day: violent resistance is not the last resort; it’s the only resort.
IRAN'S TERROR PROXIES
Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad are both proxies of the Islamic Republic of Iran. They are not grassroots resistance groups working on behalf of their people. They are militias run by billionaires known for diverting millions in foreign aid to work on the behalf of a third country.
According to Iranian-American policy analyst Karim Sadjapour, the three ideological pillars of the Iranian regime are “compulsory hijab, death to America, and death to Israel.”
Iran has its claws in just about every conflict in the Middle East, via the use of proxy militias, and the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict is no exception. Though Iran does not directly fight Israel, it provides funding, training, and weapons to Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad, with the objective that they carry out attacks against the Israeli population. Iran sends its Palestinian proxies, Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad, upwards of $100 million yearly.
Hamas leadership is exceedingly wealthy, which is in sharp contrast to the image that of impoverished freedom fighters that is portrayed in the media. Mousa Mohammed Abu Marzook, a senior Hamas member and former Deputy Chairman of the Hamas Political Bureau, is worth some $2-3 billion. Hamas Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh is worth at least $4 million.
THE THIN (?) LINE BETWEEN RESISTANCE AND TERRORISM
George Galloway once wrote, “One man’s terrorist is another man’s freedom fighter.” Is that true? Well, no, not exactly.
While there is not a singular consensus on a definition for “terrorism,” “resistance,” and/or “freedom fighting,” virtually all international legal bodies agree: willfully attacking civilian targets crosses the line into terrorism.
As L.F.E. Goldie wrote in the study “Profile of a Terrorist: Distinguishing Freedom Fighters From Terrorists,” “Above all, we should not allow talk about wars of national liberation and the events in the Middle East to distort our vision. Indiscriminate violence, whether by way of war crimes, attacks on diplomats, seizure of aircraft, or the killing of civilians in third states, is and remains unlawful.”
In studying the methods of Hamas, Palestinian Islamic Jihad, the Palestine Liberation Organization, the Haganah, the Irgun, Lehi, and the Jewish resistance during the Holocaust, I’ve further made some observations of my own.
Terrorism, as the word suggests, hopes to invoke terror to coerce an entity, such as a government, to behave in a particular way. In the case of a group such as Hamas, for example, the explicit goal is to provoke such a state of terror among Israelis that they will flee the country. The goal of terrorism is political coercion. It is to provoke a response.
In my view, while resistance is oftentimes, if not always, political, unlike terrorism, resistance is not about provoking a response but rather about the preservation of human life.
It’s hard to argue that Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad, for example, prioritize the human lives of their own, when they store weaponry in schools and mosques, fire from densely populated civilian areas, and recruit children as child soldiers.
THE OFFENSIVE COMPARISON TO THE JEWISH RESISTANCE DURING THE HOLOCAUST
Even if the Holocaust and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict were remotely comparable, which they are not, the claim that Palestinian terror groups behave in a manner similar to how the Jewish resistance did during the Holocaust is not only incredibly inaccurate, but also deeply offensive.
During the Holocaust, the Jewish resistance employed several methods, such as:
(1) the spread of information, such as publishing underground, illegal newspapers in the ghettos
(2) smuggling of food and other resources
(3) smuggling and hiding children
(4) direct confrontations with the Nazi and collaborator forces (e.g. the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising)
(5) sabotage, such as by destroying (or attempting to destroy) the gas chambers and crematoria
(6) escaping and helping others escape from death camps and ghettos
(7) battles with the Nazi and collaborator forces, such as in the forests, where much of the partisan fighting took place
The Jewish resistance during the Holocaust did not aim at civilian targets. The most important objective for the Jewish resistance was the preservation of Jewish life, so much so that they oftentimes suspended operations which they deemed would have taken too many Jewish lives and reaped minimal benefits against the Nazis. By contrast, Palestinian terror groups go through no lengths to protect the lives of their own civilians; in fact, they frequently endanger them in their methods.
Resistance is about preservation of life. Terrorism is about the destruction of life to coerce an enemy for a political goal.
COMPARISONS TO THE ZIONIST RESISTANCE UNDER THE BRITISH MANDATE
Comparing the Zionist resistance during the period of the British Mandate for Palestine to groups such as Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad is, once again, an erroneous comparison — even taking into consideration that two Zionist paramilitaries, the Irgun and the much smaller and more fringe Lehi, did engage in terrorism.
From the outset, the Zionist movement aimed to achieve independence through political means, so much so that it was decided at the First Zionist Congress: “Zionism seeks to establish a home for the Jewish people in Eretz Israel [the Land of Israel] secured under public law.”
Similarly other Indigenous minorities across the Middle East and elsewhere have long tried to fight for independence through diplomatic avenues (e.g. the San Remo Conference). Violent resistance is never meant to be the first choice; it’s meant to be a last resort.
Contrast this with the Hamas Covenant, which clearly states: “There is no solution for the Palestinian question except through Jihad. Initiatives, proposals and international conferences are all a waste of time and vain endeavors.”
Similarly, the Palestine Liberation Organization rejected all diplomatic solutions until 1993. Time and time again, the Palestine Liberation Organization has walked away from political resolutions to the conflict. It’s National Covenant even states: “Armed struggle is the only way to liberate Palestine. This it is the overall strategy, not merely a tactical phase.”
For the Zionists, independence was a matter of urgency as Jews were mercilessly slaughtered by the hundreds of thousands, particularly in Europe. This urgency only increased with the Holocaust. The Haganah, the main Jewish paramilitary organization during the British Mandate period, exercised its resistance through putting political pressure on the British, as well as through smuggling hundreds of thousands of Jewish refugees into British Palestine, saving countless Jewish lives.
During the Jewish insurgency against the British, the Irgun aimed specifically on British police and military targets. Even so, the Haganah and the Jewish Agency publicly denounced their actions.
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