antisemitism, BBC, Britain, Bush, Israel, Politics, Terrorism

misusing words: ‘terrorist’ and ‘boycott’

The term ‘terrorist’ is abused. There are a lot of ugly monsters – who deserve their intestine microwaved – out there. But, contrary to what President Bush’s speech-writers appear to think, they are not all terrorists. This point, often made by the left, I accept (as I have already discussed here). But now I have noticed that ‘boycott’ is another term often abused and misused (by the left (read: BBC), for example). Someone should tell the BBC News editors that if Israel (and the US) don’t want to negotiate with people whose expressed aim in life is the destruction of Israel, that is not a boycott. Last night, one of those ugly monsters who are not terrorists (believe it or not, Mr. Bush) approached me with a knife. I dared to run away, instead of negotiating over the contents of my wallet. I am waiting for the poor fucker to complain to the BBC over my unfeeling boycott.

Advertisements
Standard

12 thoughts on “misusing words: ‘terrorist’ and ‘boycott’

  1. As you say, the term terrorist does get abused. It should be reserved for muslims, asylum seekers and the like. Glad to hear that you managed to avoid being one of our crime statistics, by running away. I think that I will use your example and advise old age pensioners that they should do the same rather than meekly allow themselves to be mugged.

  2. Home Sec, indeed i think YOU should be the one to decide whether someone is or not worth the term ‘terrorist’. it could be, if your challenge to Brown doesn’t work out, your next job: Special Advisor to President Bush (and the Bush family in general should his brother be elected) Over The Use Of Words Relating To Terror And The Like. indeed, you would be very busy (to which you are trained, given your Home Office experience). But, judging from the Campbell-Blair relationship, you’d probably be the second (ops, first) most powerful man on earth!

    p.s. just to say that i didn’t really get attacked… just an example, but i didn’t want to spoil it by saying “suppose that”. anyhow, im worried that your concern was not spontaneus, but that you were just glad that a potential jail spot was spared;-)

  3. Dave On Fire says:

    Hi, good to know you were not really attacked.

    Just for the record, Hamas’ “expressed aim in life” is NOT the destruction of Israel. They have repeatedly expressed a willingness to accept Israel’s existence and negotiate permanent borders (as is the position of the new unity government).

    The term “right to exist”, when applied to a nation-state, is all but meaningless. The Palestinians recognise Israel’s existence; they accept that they have been forced from their lands, and can deal with that reality, negotiate a peace. That should be enough, without demanding that they accept that forcing them from their lands was somehow Israel’s morally justified “right”.

    The “right to exist” demand is Israel’s excuse not to negotiate. And I too would hesitate to call the sanctions on Palestine a boycott, since the US and Israel aren’t just refraining from doing business, they are preventing anyone from doing business with them. Unemployment in Gaza is thus at 70%, and since they are now prevented from even fishing there is an increasing risk of starvation. I would have used the word “blockade”, though perhaps “seige” would describe the situation better.

  4. Hi Dave,

    so you want to distinguish between “recognising Israel’s existence” and “recognising Israel’s right to exist”; and you want to say that Hamas does the former if not the latter; and that the former should be sufficient to Israel and the US.

    But what does the former mean? And how it is different from the latter? The former cannot just mean that Hamas, epistemologically, acknowledges that Israel exists. for sure they aknowledge that Israel exists, otherwise it would be irrational of them to blow up stuff that they thought did not exist. So i guess “recognising Israel’s existence” must mean something more. Does it mean that Hamas is ready and willing to stop attacking Israel? This would indeed be different from “recognising Israel’s right to exist”; because Hamas would, as it were, keep its political opinion of Israel (that it should have not been there), but move on, negotiate and make piece.

    So it that what you are claiming? That Hamas is willing to stop attacking Israel, and that it wants to make peace with Israel? This seems contrary to daily evidence. But, anyway, at what cost would Hamas give up, if you are right in your interpretation of their intentions?

    On boycotting, I agree. The term is better used when there are commercial implications.

  5. Dave On Fire says:

    so you want to distinguish between “recognising Israel’s existence” and “recognising Israel’s right to exist” … But what does the former mean? And how it is different from the latter?

    A nation-state, ultimately, is an artificial construct. It has no “rights”, any more than a corporation has a “right”. It can be said to exist; to recognise the existence of a nation means to accept that it is a nation and, as such, an entity with which one can fix borders, and engage in trade and diplomacy.

    (c.f. the People’s Republic Of China. For a long time this was not recognised by many countries, and event he U.N. seat was held by what was considered to be the “real” Chinese govt., in exile in Taiwan).

    The two Koreas do not recognise each other to exist, each considering themselves to be Korea and the other to be illegitimate. They do not have a border, merely a “demilitarised zone”.

    That the Palestinians recognise Israel’s existence means that they are not devoted to its destruction, rather that they are willing (if not happy) to accept that it is there and deal with it.

    What does a nation’s “right to exist” mean? That’s not clear, as it has never come up before. Britain does not recognise France’s right to exist, and France doesn’t ask it to, because it doesn’t really mean anything.

    Under its weakest interpretation, “accepting Israel’s right to exist” would merely be semantic humiliation, forcing Hamas to change its position from “Israel was wrong to force us en masse from our homes and deny our human rights, but it’s in the past and we can learn to live as neighbours” to “Israel was right to force us en masse from our lands and deprive us of our basic rights.”.

    You may consider that the Palestinians should be willing to accept such a humiliation in order to acheive peace. However, there is a stronger interpretation of the “right to exist” clause. Israel’s borders have never been defined, and an Israel that merely “exists” would be forced to negotiate those borders with a resurgent Palestinian state. An Israel with a moral “right to exist” could dictate those borders. In this way, recognising Israel’s “right to exist” amounts to unconditional surrender, which Hamas rightly denies them.

    So it that what you are claiming? That Hamas is willing to stop attacking Israel, and that it wants to make peace with Israel?

    Yes. (With one caveat: Hamas do not consider themselves to be attacking Israel, but defending themselves from it). It is perfectly consistent to be in a state of war, and to wish to be in a state of peace. Hamas consider themselves to be at war with Israel (you may not agree, but for the sake of argument). They are aware that can never win this war, and would dearly like to negotiate a truce.

    Israel is unwilling to negotiate without this “right to exist” clause. It is little more than a cynical ploy, Israel’s way to refuse to negotiate while still shrugging its shoulders at the international community with an “oh well, we tried”.

    Incidentally, Israel has never agreed, even in principle, to a two-state solution. In other words, Israel does not recognise Palestine’s right to exist. Isn’t it hypocritical to ask more from the Palestinians? Finally, you seem to imply that the Israelis are not attacking the Palestinians, when they in fact kill and kidnap more Palestinians than the Palestinians do Israelis by orders of magnitude.

  6. let us see if i understand our disagreement: we both accept that the state of Israel is trying to destroy Hamas; and that Hamas is trying to destroy the state of Israel (or maybe you think it’s doing something short of that). but while I think that Hamas (or some other terrorist organization that will take its place) will not stop if given, say, ’67 borders – because syria and iran must keep their influence on the middle east – you think that, say, palestinian terrorism against israeli civilians will stop with ’67 borders.

    is this it?

    p.s. how do you do these beautiful quotation marks?

  7. Dave On Fire says:

    hehe, they’re good, no? it’s the html <blockquote> tag.

    Firstly, I’m now confused as to your definition of terrorist. Isn’t Palestinian violence better characterised as resisting occupation than as terrorism. Also don’t forget that Hamas has largely respected its self-imposed ceasefire over the past months, while Israel has continued to destroy Palestinian lives and property.

    Secondly, I am not saying what kind of settlement Hamas would or wouldn’t accept, because I don’t know – they are not being allowed to negotiate. They have said “we are willing to negotiate permanent borders with Israel“. Israel has said “we are not willing to negotiate until you accept this absurd and hitherto unheard-of precondition.

    The “right to exist” thing is deliberately confusing. But either it means nothing, in which case Israel is essentially telling Hamas to roll over, or else it means something, in which case it should be a part of, not a prerequisite to, negotiations. Hamas are willing to negotiate, Israel is not, and in that I light I do not see how it is justifiable to punish Hamas, and even less so how it is justifiable to punish the Palestinian nation as a whole, and so very severely.

  8. Dave,

    for my own definition of terrorism, look here:
    http://nullo.ilcannocchiale.it/?id_blogdoc=764078

    as for Hamas is willing to negotiate, while Israel isn’t: the reason why I was trying to understand what we disagree about is that willingness or otherwise to negotiate are only significant within the context of what the two parties want. if israel cannot expect anything it considers reasonable from hamas, negotiations is pointless, and it would weaken israel. and the formula that you despise so much is exactly meant to establish that: how serious is hamas over negotiations.

    if you google it, you will find that hamas government officials declaring that they are willing to make piece for the ’67 borders. but, as i told you before, im skeptical of that. i dont know whether hamas takes direct orders from syria and iran (probably not), but they definitely get the means.

    i dont really like the blame game; thats why I was trying to understand what your position is. what you think it would be a reasonable settlement;

    but, ultimately, what i think is that only israel can achieve peace. and thats why i support them

  9. Dave On Fire says:

    how serious is hamas about negotiations? well it’s willing to enter into them, unlike israel. and your statement “if israel cannot expect anything it considers reasonable from hamas, negotiations is pointless” implies that you consider anything short of the “right to exist” to be unreasonable. In that case, what does “right to exist” actually mean to you? Hamas are willing to negotiate permanent borders and permanent truce, I don’t see how much more reasonable they can be.

    Hamas was elected by the Palestinian people and as such, whatever influence Iran and Syria may have, must be taken as representing the Palestinians. What support Hamas does get from these countries is dwarved by what the US has given to Fatah in weapons to try and provoke a coup d’etat.

    What I think is a reasonable settlement is somewhat irrelevant; that is for the Palestinians and the Israelis to decide in negotiations. As to Israel acheiving peace you yourself admit that Hamas are prepared to negotiate a two-state solution along the pre-1967 borders, yet no
    Israeli politician has ever said as much. In fact, the Likud party charter expressly rules out such a possibility. And if actions speak louder than words, how about Hamas’ imposing and respecting a ceasefire while Israel continues to kill Palestinians.

    We can agree to disagree if you like. I’m just a little… mystified as to why you so readily give the moral high-ground to the Israelis when not only did they start the conflict, but they continue to deny the Palestinians’ basic human rights, in defiance of international law, and they are the ones who refuse to negotiate. Israel could stop this now, if it wanted. The Palestinians do not have that luxury.

  10. Dave On Fire says:

    how serious is hamas about negotiations? well it’s willing to enter into them, unlike israel. and your statement “if israel cannot expect anything it considers reasonable from hamas, negotiations is pointless” implies that you consider anything short of the “right to exist” to be unreasonable. In that case, what does “right to exist” actually mean to you? Hamas are willing to negotiate permanent borders and permanent truce, I don’t see how much more reasonable they can be.

    Hamas was elected by the Palestinian people and as such, whatever influence Iran and Syria may have, must be taken as representing the Palestinians. What support Hamas does get from these countries is dwarved by what the US has given to Fatah in weapons to try and provoke a coup d’etat.

    What I think is a reasonable settlement is somewhat irrelevant; that is for the Palestinians and the Israelis to decide in negotiations. As to Israel acheiving peace you yourself admit that Hamas are prepared to negotiate a two-state solution along the pre-1967 borders, yet no
    Israeli politician has ever said as much. In fact, the Likud party charter expressly rules out such a possibility. And if actions speak louder than words, how about Hamas’ imposing and respecting a ceasefire while Israel continues to kill Palestinians.

    We can agree to disagree if you like. I’m just a little… mystified as to why you so readily give the moral high-ground to the Israelis when not only did they start the conflict, but they continue to deny the Palestinians’ basic human rights, in defiance of international law, and they are the ones who refuse to negotiate. Israel could stop this now, if it wanted. The Palestinians do not have that option.

  11. on negotiations: my point is that your distinction “Hamas is willing” – “Israel is not willing” has to be clarified: im saying that, by putting this “right to exist” clause, Israel is negotiating. it is testing how much, in terms of giving up the armed struggle, hamas is ready to give. given this, im not sure it makes sense to distinguish between who is negotiating and who isn’t. they are, but they are still to far. now we might argue whether Israel is expecting too much of Hamas, but i don’t think that argument should be on the basis that there is someone who is willing and someone who is not. the only question, with regards to negotiations, is whether one of the parts is asking for too much.

    on legitimacy: you seem to recognise that palestine is not a state; therefore it is not a democracy; therefore it has no democratic government; therefore hamas does not represent the palestinian people; therefore they have no legitimacy to negotiate. but i dont think this point is crucial. legitimacy to negotiate doesn’t matter. it only matters who has the power to negotiate, and hamas, wth palestine today, has that power.

    my point about ’67 borders is that hamas says they would accept that. but that, because of syria and iran, i dont believe they would. it is not about weapons, so it doesnt matter if the us gives more to fatah. its about syria and iran not being able to afford losing more influence on the area. they have no advantage from peace, differently from the palestinians and the israelis. so thats why attacks would not stop.

    finally, on the moral high-ground: im not taking one. i told you that i support israel because, as you seem to think too, i believe that they are the only ones that can make peace.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s