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Commentary Last Updated: Sep 19th, 2006 - 00:50:12

Who are the terrorists, who are the freedom fighters?
By Gulamhusein A. Abba
Online Journal Contributing Writer

Sep 19, 2006, 00:47

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I first learnt about the Jews when I was just a little boy of 10. There was a picture in the Illustrated Weekly of India. It depicted Kristallnacht! Even at that young age I was interested in political events. The picture, especially the title, caught my eye. I was shocked at what I read. Living in the midst of bloody Hindu-Muslim riots in Bombay, I well knew the fear each community felt in the area of the city in which it was a minority. People got killed. Houses and businesses got burnt. In my childish ignorance I thought it happened only in Bombay. And here I was reading about it happening in Germany to the Jews. My heart went out to them.

I then learnt more about their sufferings, their humiliations, mass murders, curfews, special badges, permits to move from one place to another. These appeared in small paragraphs in the Times of India. How terrible, I thought. I sympathized with the Jews and was very, very angry at the Germans for treating them in such a way.

About five years later I distinctly remember reading about the brave resistance put up by the Jews of the Warsaw Ghettos against their tormentors. They were hailed as freedom fighters and resistance heroes. I was filled with admiration at their bravery and indomitable spirit. There were reports of how they were supplied with food, clothing, men and weapons through underground �tunnels� (sewers). Movies were made in their honor and I cheered and clapped along with the rest of the audience at their heroic deeds as they flashed on the silver screen.

But not very long thereafter, faces of Jews began to appear on �WANTED � TERRORIST� posters put out by the British during the British Mandate years in Palestine. The former freedom fighters had become terrorists!

And, a short time later, those whose faces had appeared as terrorists on British posters, became the heroes of Israel when it was formally established. At least two of them -- Menachem Begin and Yitzhak Shamir -- went on to become prime ministers of Israel. Many of these �terrorists� have streets in Israel named after them in their honor.

It can be argued that all this was a long time ago and that 9/11 has changed all that. Israel now no longer condones terrorism of any kind. It understands what terrorism is and wants to wipe it out.

Well, Israel �s new foreign minister, Tzipi Livni, is the daughter of Eitan Livni. the man who was the chief operations officer of the Zionist Irgun Zwai Leumi, the terrorist organization that dynamited, on the orders of Menachim Begin, the King David Hotel in Jerusalem more than half a century back, in July �46, killing 91 people, mostly civilians. (On Eitan�s gravestone is the map of greater Israel, extending over both sides of the Jordan River.)

Granted that the sins of the fathers should not be visited on their children and the appointment of Tzipi Livni as Israel�s foreign minister cannot be faulted simply because of who her father was.

But then how is one to explain the putting up by the Israelis, in July 2006, of a plaque honoring the blowing up of the hotel as a deed of �resistance� to the British Mandate government (which, it must be remembered, was put in place by the League of Nations)?

Perhaps the Israelis felt a need to counterbalance the bust and plaque displayed in the UN building in Manhattan in honor of Count Folk Bernadette. It was he who saved 21,000 prisoners from German camps during World War II and who the UN sent as its envoy to Palestine to mediate and supervise the cease-fire there but was murdered by Jewish terrorists.

Surprisingly, these very same Israelis insist on calling the brave Palestinians who have been heroically resisting the illegal, brutal, belligerent, 39-year-old Israeli occupation of West Bank, Gaza and East Jerusalem as �terrorists�!

By the simple expedient of so labeling them �terrorists,� and playing into and exploiting the worldwide fixation with terrorists and terrorism after 9/11, the Israelis have arrogated to themselves the right to slaughter and massacre the Palestinians, wipe out their villages, incarcerate and assassinate their leaders, kidnap, detain and torture their young men, women and children, bomb or bulldoze their homes, sometimes with residents still inside, confiscate their lands, steal and collar their water, uproot their olive groves and orchards, destroy their farmlands, rip out their roads, demolish their bridges and infrastructure, impose closures and curfews, some lasting for days, restrict their movements, humiliate and even kill them at checkpoints, deport them and prevent refugees from returning to their homes.

What greater irony can there be than this? And how shameful that the US should be complicit in this and the international community should watch impotently.

So then, ask yourself: Are there any resistance heroes left in this world or are they all just terrorists? More specifically, are the Palestinians �terrorists� or are they heroic, indomitable freedom fighters exercising their right to resist and overthrow a long-standing and brutal occupation and neutralize state terrorism of the worst kind?

Gulamhusein A. Abba is a 78-year-old writer with over 30 years experience as a journalist. His work has been published widely. Originally from India he came to the US in 1982 and has been residing here ever since. The Middle East is his special focus with emphasis on Afghanistan, Iraq, Israel and Palestine. He has researched and studied exhaustively the history of the Jews and Arabs, with special reference to the establishment of the state of Israel and its evolution on the one hand and the struggle of the Palestinians for a state of their own on the other. His e-mail address is

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