Although we tend to associate modern-day terrorism exclusively with Islam, as Israel and Palestine prepare for a new round of peace talks, one previously influential terror movement is now almost forgotten; Zionist terrorism.
At one point after WWII, and after the creation of the Jewish state of Israel in 1948, Zionism was synonymous with subversive activities and terrorism. Documents of the British Foreign Office from 1949 highlight this emerging concern of the time.
“While we are not of course concerned with the activities of Jews as such…activities of some of Zionism’s extremist supporters qualified beyond doubt to be described as secret, subversive or illegal and thus a danger to security”.
This suspicious sentence emphasises an important point. The British author of the report implicitly suggests a mistrust of the Jewish race because of extremist elements within the Zionist movement. Such a sentiment is remarkably similar to the way Muslims are portrayed in elements of society and the world media today; because of Islamic extremism, all Muslims must be treated with caution and suspicion.
In the Israel-Palestine debate, the association of Hamas with the Palestinian Territories leads to an assumption in the Western media that one ‘side’ predominates in the use of terrorism. This ignores isolated acts of Jewish terrorism and the unilateral targeting of Palestinian civilians by Israeli militants or even the Israeli Army.
“The Jewish terrorists are unfortunately not logical people”, the post-WWII British report continues. “There has not in the past been much evidence of reason in their selection of persons or buildings [to attack]”. Such crude delineations characterise the treatment of contemporary terrorist suspects and fail to move towards an understanding of the motives and desires of these groups.
Terrorism is indefensible yet it occurs for a reason and to dismiss terrorist atrocities as illogical will only exacerbate violent action. By the 1950s, anti-Zionism had proliferated not just amongst Arab states but in many countries in the West. Such is the state of anti-Islamism today.
Needless to say, the ever-looming spectre of terrorism plagues the Israeli-Palestinian peace process and unfortunately there will always be those supporters on both sides unwilling to compromise sufficiently for an amicable settlement to be reached. Invariably, this inability and refusal to compromise will spawn more terrorist attacks.
What we should not forget is that the terror flows two ways and is not an exclusively-Muslim preserve, just as the Jews were not the only ones to commit atrocities after WWII.