Don’t mince words


I was extremely upset to read last week’s article by the “Justice for Palestine” [JFP] organization labeling Palestinian gunners, snipers and suicide bombers who specifically target Jewish women and children as “so-called terrorists.”

In the wake of the terrorist atrocity on September 11th, there is no room for mincing words with regards to these kinds of heinous crimes. Any sense of justice — no matter how animated — leads to the conclusion that wanton murder of innocents is not justified under any circumstances, no matter the ethnicity of the victims.

There is no greater injustice than that perpetrated by the Palestinian terrorists who have deliberately blown up, burned and maimed women, children and babies in their carriages as they waited outside of a Jerusalem synagogue; shot pregnant women for the crime of driving home while Jewish; and blew up teenagers as they waited in line in front of a discotheque. Just in the past few days, Palestinian terrorists have targeted and murdered Israeli civilians at a Tel Aviv restaurant, in civilian automobiles on the Jerusalem Tunnel Road and at the Afula Bus Station. Other Palestinians have targeted Jerusalem buses and a family celebration in Ashdod.

Most of these massacres have been carried out by the newest addition to the United States’ list of illegal terrorist organizations: the Al Aqsa Brigades, whose commander in chief (according to local Al Aqsa leader Maslama Thabet and Palestinian Authority spokesman Mohammed Odwan) is none other than Yasir Arafat, head of the Palestinian Authority and the P.L.O.

No cause — even Mr. Arafat’s — grants one the right to target and blow up buses or cafés packed with innocent people. If JFP dislikes the word “terrorist,” then perhaps we can agree on the word “murderer.” Or, if JFP prefers to think of suicide bombers as soldiers in a war against Israeli occupation, then the word “war criminal” would be quite appropriate. That’s the term applied under international humanitarian law to people who intentionally target civilians, as these “brave Palestinian freedom fighters” do.

International law is quite clear about the consequences of such terror as well. As the response of the international community to September 11th reaffirmed, acts of terror — in addition to being war crimes — are acts of aggression that give rise to a right to self-defense, including by military action. The terrorists, then, are responsible not only for the deaths of those they murder, but also for those killed in the inevitable self-defense actions that follow.

I am sure those with a sense of justice will join me in condemning JFP’s whitewashing of terror, and in decrying the senseless loss of life created by Palestinian terrorists.

Is JPF prepared to refer to the people who flew planes into the World Trade Center towers only as “so-called terrorists”? If so, their opinions speak for themselves, and the Harvard community can decide whether those who decline to condemn the murder of our fellow citizens deserve to be tolerated as legitimate members of that community. If not, then JFP owes an explanation as to why it is morally and legally permissible to kill Israeli civilians but not American civilians. More specifically, they owe an explanation as to why it is morally and legally permissible to kill Jews.

Rachel Masory

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