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{Written by Sar Shalom for the Israel Thrives website}

A common refrain from supporters of Israel is that the PA has to condemn terrorism if it wishes to be accepted as a civilized organization. However, for the PA to condemn terrorism is meaningless. What is needed is for the PA to accept a definition of terrorism that does not change depending on the identity of the perpetrator or the identity of the victim. The following characteristics define terrorism:

  • physical violence
  • intended to influence political events
  • targeted at those with no nexus to a legitimate casus belli.

If all three conditions are met, the action is one of terrorism, and the absence of any one them means that the action is not terrorism. Both hold whether the actor is Muslim, Christian, or Jewish; or whether the recipient is Muslim, Christian, or Jewish. Rather than seeking a condemnation of terrorism, we should seek acknowledgement of such a definition of terrorism.

However, even properly addressing terrorism is of limited value. The focus on terrorism starts from the premise that no ends can justify the means of terrorism. However, if the only thing wrong is their reliance on terrorism, if the ends are fundamentally sound and the only problem is their means, then what would be wrong with promoting BDS? An would be, as Einat Wilf has said, “you can have a violent struggle for a noble cause, and you can have a non-violent struggle for a very sinister one. To establish that their ends are illegitimate, we have to insist on three points:

  • The Jews are a people.
  • The Jewish people are deeply connected to the Land of Israel in particular and Jerusalem in particular.
  • The Protocols of the Elders of Zion is a forgery.

One could complain that centuries ago, the Arabs/Muslims acknowledged the Jews’ connection but still suppressed the Jews under their heel. However, making that acknowledgement now would have a critical difference from then. Back then, they had the means to keep the Jews under their heel on their own. Today, they require the help of do-gooders in the West in order to reinstate that past. In order to gain those do-gooders’ help, they need to portray the conflict as one to establish justice which requires portraying the Zionists as foreign colonialists. Acknowledging those three things means telling the West’s do-gooders that justice actually means providing something for the Jews and thus they would have to give up on getting their help in expelling the Jews.


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