The ‘good’ terrorist
By Seth and Sherri Mandell, November, 13 2001
Six months ago, on May 8, Palestinian terrorists slaughtered our son Koby, 13,
and his friend Yosef Ish-Ran, 14.
The two boys, who played hooky from 8th grade to go hiking in a dry
riverbed a half a kilometer from our home in Israel, were found with their heads
crushed and bodies mutilated beyond recognition. The killers dipped their hands
into the boys’ blood and smeared it on the walls of the cave where the boys
Koby was both an American and an Israeli citizen. He loved Cal Ripken, Michael
Jordan, making chocolate milk shakes for the whole family and studying the
logic of the Talmud. He was almost finished with 8th grade, and had just
started to care about the way he looked. He was kind and athletic and funny,
and he was smart, smart enough to understand the way that language affects
perception. What we call or name an action often determines how we perceive
In a stunning and painful development, many American newspapers, including
The New York Times and The Washington Post, have bought the Palestinian
propaganda line that murderers who kill innocent Israelis like Koby are not
terrorists trying to instill fear and demoralize a civilian population, but rather
‘militants’ who are engaged in a campaign of warfare against a repressive
According to this line of reasoning, our son and other children like him are killed
not by terrorists — but by Palestinian ‘militants.’
Militants are engaged in combat, in military action, ready to give up their
lives to attack the enemy. According to this line of reasoning, our son and other
children like him were killed not by cowardly and immoral terrorists — but by
brave and honorable Palestinian militants.
Militants are soldiers engaged in war, even if the people they are fighting aren’t
old enough to shave.
Calling Palestinian terrorists militants justifies the actions of people like
Sheikh Yassin of Hamas and Marwan Barghouti of the Tanzim who eagerly send
Palestinians to die ‘nobly’ for their cause, targeting Israeli children, like the 14-
and 16-year-olds killed last week in Jerusalem.
The two were on the way home from school. They were riding a public
bus filled with other high school students when a terrorist opened fire with an
M16. The shooter killed the two teenagers and wounded 50 others.
On the day of the shooting, the headlines in The New York Times and
elsewhere reported that the attack had been perpetrated by Palestinian
In the morning, those militants had been transformed into gunmen — an
even more offensive term, with its old-fashioned atmosphere and vapid
neutrality. The word is blameless, a description rather than a definition. A man
with a gun, engaged in illegal activity. Illegal, but not necessarily immoral.
What has happened to the word terrorist — inflicting terror, horror, pain to
create overwhelming fear? Why are these men called by innocuous labels when
their goal is to kill and maim as many innocent people as they can? And what
about terrorism — a system of inflicting terror on a particular population?
Why has that word suddenly been excised from the political rhetoric
Let us not excuse leaders who extol death by suicide bombing or who
encourage their people to spray bullets into a crowd of innocent children on
their way home from school. And let us not mistake terrorism as a random
event rather than as an institutionalized system of intimidation.
Palestinian leaders consciously inculcate the culture of terrorism in their society.
That’s one reason why polls indicate that more than 75% of the population
favor suicide bombings. That’s why on the evening of September 11,
Palestinians were dancing in the street, celebrating because nearly 6,000
people had been struck down by a ‘militant’ plot on American soil. That’s why
Palestinians accord rock star status to suicide bombers who die a “martyr’s”
It’s a message that legitimizes terrorists like the one who blew up the
Sbarro pizza parlor, killing our friend Frimet Roth’s 15-year-old daughter, Malky,
a flute player and poet.
The Palestinians celebrated the Sbarro bombing by opening an exhibition at an
Islamic university, where there was a cardboard cutout of the Sbarro storefront,
and fake blood spilled onto the ground. This is how the Palestinian students
learn to glorify the systematized ‘martyrdom’ of good ‘militants.’
Make no mistake about it. Our son Koby was killed by terrorists. We beg
you, do not whitewash that fact. Do not justify our son’s murder.
And do not jeopardize America’s moral fight against terrorism by calling the
Palestinians who killed Koby, Yosef, and the others resistance fighters, instead
of calling them what they are: cruel, callous, child-killing terrorists with blood
on their hands and hate seared into their hearts.
Terrorism and the peace process
Editorial, Jerusalem Post, November 13, 2001
In his speech at the United Nations this weekend, US President George W. Bush
demanded that the nations of the world speak the truth about terrorism and
started doing so himself. He said there is no such thing as “good terrorism,”
that murderers are not martyrs — just murderers, and that terrorists must not be
appeased, but defeated.
Bush also started to break away from the mistaken idea that
peacemaking is part of fighting terrorism, rather than fighting terrorism a
prerequisite to making peace.
In this context, it is critical that US Secretary of State Colin Powell stick with
his boss’s program. The European and Arab voices now pressing America are
right that there is a link between the quest for peace and the war on terrorism,
but they have the linkage backward. Powell’s job should be to set them
straight, not indulge their failed and dangerous paradigm.
Accordingly, the issue is not so much the minutiae of Powell’s much-anticipated
speech setting out American policy for the Middle East. The issue is whether it
is a speech written to assuage the sick and distorted sensibilities of the current
Middle East or to begin forging a new order.
Will the speech be written to please the potentates that produced Osama
bin Laden, or to signal that American tolerance for the Arab stew of despotism,
corruption, and anti-American radicalism has ended?
There is a real danger that any speech that attempts to lay out parameters for
an Israeli-Palestinian peace will itself be a capitulation to the terrorism of
Palestinian Authority Chairman Yasser Arafat and of Osama bin Laden.
However many times Western leaders say that Middle East peace is
being pursued for its own sake and not because of September 11, such words
will ring hollow unless the peace-making paradigm changes radically.
There are two ways to change the pre-September 11 paradigm in the right
direction, and both are a continuation of Bush’s powerful truth-telling at the UN.
The first is for the United States to end its respectful silence toward the
Palestinian penchant for rewriting UN resolutions.
In his UN speech this week, Arafat repeated the canard that all the Palestinians
want is the faithful implementation of UN Security Council Resolution 242 and
General Assembly Resolution 194.
The Palestinian claim is that these resolutions, respectively, require that
Israel withdraw to the 1967 lines and recognize the Palestinian ‘right of return.’
The United States has never agreed with the creative Palestinian reading of
these resolutions, and yet has politely refrained from saying so.
Powell should remind the Palestinians that Resolution 242 does not require
Israel to withdraw from “all the territories” or even “the territories,” but
Further, in a clear recognition that Israel’s pre-1967 lines needed
modification in Israel’s favor, Resolution 242 called for establishing “secure and
recognized” boundaries for Israel.
At the Madrid Conference, which Arafat also invoked, the first president Bush
stated clearly that peace (and an accurate reading of Resolution 242) required
President Bill Clinton arrived at Camp David with a similar notion. Arafat,
first by refusing to negotiate at Camp David and then by returning to terrorism,
has sought to erase the notion of territorial compromise as envisioned by
Resolution 242 and three decades of American policy.
If Arafat succeeds, it will mean that terrorism has won.
An even more outlandish Palestinian invention is the notion that Resolution 194
creates a ‘right of return’ of millions of Palestinians into Israel. That non-binding
resolution from 1948 states that “… the refugees wishing to return to their
homes and live at peace with their neighbors should be permitted to due so at
the earliest practical date.”
It is clear that such permission would be at Israel’s discretion, depends
on the ability to “live at peace,” and cannot be interpreted as forcing Israel to
endanger itself or give up its Jewish character.
The United States has never believed otherwise, yet in this case as well,
has silently tolerated the creation of a Palestinian mythology that is antithetical
to the prospects for peace.
The only kind of American peace initiative that can further the war on terrorism
rather than reward terror is one that ceases to gloss over the source of the
Arab-Israeli conflict: the refusal to accept Israel’s right to exist.
This means speaking truths that America has long believed, but left
largely unsaid. It means requiring that the Arab world finally reciprocate Israel’s
willingness to compromise, and abandon notions and ideologies that are
inconsistent with Israel’s right to live in peace and security.
Israel, as it happens, is the only country in the world whose
establishment was endorsed by both the League of Nations and the United
To paraphrase Arafat, Israel is not asking for the moon, only the full
acceptance of its international legitimacy.