Behind the Illusions

Fifteen years ago, September 30, 1986 to be precise, a leading American publication, the New York Times invited a self-confessed expert on terrorism to advise it’s readers on how to defeat the plague. His advice, based on his own experience, was forthright: “The terrorists, and especially their commanders, must be eliminated.”

At the time he listed three examples of successful counterterrorist actions: the Israeli bombing of Tunis, the American bombing of Libya, and Israel’s military invasion of Lebanon. Today, as he is feted in the White House by special invitation, he will in all likelihood offer one more example: the American/British bombing of Afghanistan.

His rationale at the time was not any different from the current arguments advanced by Bush.  He recommended more bombings and invasions “if the civilised world is to prevail.”  The editors at the New York Times titled his article: “It’s Past Time to Crush the Terrorist Monster,” and they highlighted the worlds: “Stop the slaughter of innocents.”

Who was this terror expert?  The Times identified the author as “Israel’s Minister of Trade and Industry.”  His name is Ariel Sharon.  Presently Prime Minister of Israel with a career in terrorism dating back to the early 1950’s.

His exploits in terror includes the slaughter of 69 villagers in Qibya and 20 at the al-Bureig refugee camp in 1953; terrorist operations in the Gaza region and north-eastern Sinai in the early 1970’s.

His bloody past includes the expulsion of some ten thousand Palestinian farmers into the desert, their homes bulldozed and farmlands destroyed in preparation for exclusive apartheid-style Jewish settlements; the invasion of Lebanon undertaken in an effort é as now widely conceded é to overcome the threat of PLO diplomacy; the subsequent massacre at Sabra and Shatilla; and others.

While some may argue that the choice of Ariel Sharon to provide “the civilised world” with lessons on how to “stop the slaughter of innocents” may be perverse, it appears not be at odds with official American policies given it’s current intense carpet-bombing of Afghanistan, which has not spared civilians for “civilization.”

It is this logic, which is applauded by US media institutions (with some honourable exceptions), that has served to invalidate analysis of the ideological goals pursued by the United States and it’s baneful ally Israel.  Even academia seems reluctant to document accounts of the forms of terrorism supported by successive US governments.

The plain and painful truth is that on any reasonable definition of terrorism, the United States and its friends are the major supporters, sponsors and perpetrators of terrorist incidents in the world today.

(Mr. Iqbal Jasarat is Chairman of the Media Review Network, which is an advocacy group based in Pretoria, South Africa.)