" Obviously not all Muslims are terrorists but, regrettably, the majority of the terrorists in the world are Muslims. The kidnappers of the students in Ossetia are Muslims. The kidnappers and killers of the Nepalese workers and cooks are also Muslims. Those who rape and murder in Darfour are Muslims, and their victims are Muslims as well. Those who blew up the residential complexes in Riyadh and Al-Khobar are Muslims. Those who kidnapped the two French journalists are Muslims. The two [women] who blew up the two planes [over Russia] a week ago are Muslims. Bin Laden is a Muslim and Al-Houthi [the head of a terrorist group in Yemen] is a Muslim. The majority of those who carried out suicide operations against buses, schools, houses, and buildings around the world in the last ten years are also Muslims.
"What a terrible record. Does this not say something about us, about our society and our culture? If we put all of these pictures together in one day, we will see that these pictures are difficult, embarrassing, and humiliating for us. However, instead of avoiding them and justifying them it is incumbent upon us first of all to recognize their authenticity rather than to compose eloquent articles and speeches proclaiming our innocence...
Abd Al-Rahman Al-Rashed, former editor of the London daily Al-Sharq Al-Awsat, wrote in the daily under the title "The Painful Truth is that All of the Terrorists are Muslims:"
Today it's the New York Times that defines terrorism down. In Disentangling Layers of a Loaded Term in Search of a Thread of Peace, Times reporter Michael Slackman explains that the reason we can't have peace in the Middle East is because many of us in the West have this quaint notion that attacks that target civilians constitute terrorism.
Israelis often focus on intent in drawing a distinction between Israel and Hamas -- saying their forces kill civilians only as an unfortunate consequence of war while Hamas aims attacks at civilians. "The Israeli military effort is to neutralize the forces of aggression that have been used against its civilians, and there sometimes can be collateral damage," said Dore Gold, a former Israeli ambassador to the United Nations. "That happens in every war and every conflict."
That argument convinces no one here, where the public is outraged that Hamas is labeled a terrorist organization by the United States, while Israel is treated as a close friend.
"If you are with the Americans, you are a legitimate fighter, you are a hero, but if you are fighting against a country supported by America then you are a terrorist," said Abdel Bari Atwan, editor of the Palestinian newspaper Al Quds Al Arabi.
So the way Slackman presents it, since the argument "convinces no one," it's wrong. He doesn't explain what the rules of war are. He just quotes an Israeli who explains them briefly, as if only Israel believes such things. (UPDATE: Actually it sounds more like the argument doesn't convince Slackman, and he's found a bunch of people who agree with him.)
As a counterpoint Slackman points out:
Mr. Pundak said it was useful to recall, for example, that while the United States and Israel recognized Mahmoud Abbas of the Fatah faction as the legitimate leader of the Palestinians, not long ago Fatah and its leader, Yasir Arafat, were considered terrorists. He said that like the Irish Republican Army, Fatah was ultimately induced to be more pragmatic by being brought into the political process, not by being shunned and isolated.
This is a somewhat mangled version of events. Arafat was considered a terrorist. But when he said - however insincerely - that he accepted Israel's right to exist and forswore terror, he was accepted as a "partner for peace." In other words Arafat - in words only - gave up terrorism in order to be accepted. And while Arafat was alive, he continued to be involved in terror, so he himself never really became "more pragmatic." Hamas, of course, has never made a pretense of disavowing terror. I'll give them points for honesty, but that doesn't mean that they're not terrorists.
(UPDATE: I should emphasize, that Arafat proves the point that it doesn't pay to negotiate with terrorists, as he never actually gave up terrorism. He was just shielded from its consequences by being deemed essential for the peace process.)
Instead of writing an article about how many in the Arab world deny that violence targeting civilians is terror, Slackman has effectively presented this as "one man's terrorist is another man's freedom fighter." This is a sloppy piece of work. But it's hardly unexpected coming from a reporter who, in the past, gave credence to 9/11 conspiracy theories. There's a difference between explaining a position and advocating for it. Slackman doesn't know the difference.
Perhaps in the future he could go through the Arab world where Holocaust denial is prevalent and make the case that what really happened to the Jews is a matter of debate. The Saudi editor quoted at the beginning has a lot more integrity than a reporter for the New York Times.
Crossposted on Yourish.Posted by SoccerDad at February 26, 2009 6:02 AM