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Post Bombing of King David Hotel, 1946
Created by John Eipper on 10/24/15 2:00 PM

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Bombing of King David Hotel, 1946 (Leo Goldberger, USA, 10/24/15 2:00 pm)

Yes, I agree with Gary Moore (24 October). The distinction between the terms "terrorist" and "freedom fighter" seems more often than not to be one of labeling. In the case of the 1946 bombing of the King David Hotel, it first was roundly condemned by David Ben Gurion as an act of terrorism, but eventually became viewed as a fight for freedom or as an "foundation event"--to use John Eipper's apt characterization.

For a fairly detailed account of the changed historical view of the King David Hotel bombing, the article in the Jerusalem Post of 7/22/2011, is worth reading.

See: http://www.jpost.com/Features/In-Thespotlight/This-Week-in-History-The-King-David-Hotel-bombing

My only argument with Eugenio Battaglia's (October 21) was his over-generalization in lumping together the states he chose to cite.

JE comments:  The Jerusalem Post article above claims that there has not been a more deadly bombing in Israel (91 dead) since the 1946 King David blast.  I never would have thought that.

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  • Terrorists and Freedom Fighters (Timothy Brown, USA 10/25/15 7:19 AM)
    I find this discussion fascinating. I have several friends who were active armed Marxist revolutionary guerrillas during the last years of the Cold War.

    As part of structured oral history interviews I filmed, unlike those that were not directly involved, these revolutionaries often justified the use of lethal force against unarmed civilians during their operations. For example, they used kidnappings for ransom for the purpose of obtaining funds to pay for their armed operations. When necessary to convince their families or colleagues to pay up, they would torture their captives on film and send the film to those they were trying to coerce into paying up. On occasion, this caused the death of a captive. They also selectively executed unarmed civilians for the specific purpose of instilling fear into those that didn't support their cause. They knew full well that their acts would be seen as acts of terrorism. But since the end justified the means, using terror tactics was necessary.

    I leave it to my fellow WAISers to pass judgment on them. I did not, although in retrospect, they themselves felt remorse for their acts. As I've said before, terrorism is a tactic, not a strategy.

    JE comments: Of course, but can terrorism also be an end in itself? I'm thinking of ISIS/ISIL, which has upped the terrorist ante to unprecedented levels. These gory theatrics strike me as the entire raison d'etre of the movement.

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    • More on Terrorists and Freedom Fighters (Tor Guimaraes, USA 10/26/15 3:53 AM)
      All the statements so far on the nature and meaning of terrorism have carried their fair share of truth, and the discussion is quite interesting. Now, briefly let's look at terrorism from different perspectives.

      On one extreme we have the terrorism of ISIS which John Eipper correctly stated, "has upped the terrorist ante to unprecedented levels" to the point where John suspects that beyond any tactical reason, their "gory theatrics strike [him] as the entire raison d'etre of the movement." On the other extreme, I am sure terrorists justify their nasty behavior against innocent civilians as an absolutely necessary evil to be stopped when their noble objectives have been accomplished. Somewhere in the middle we have the situation described by Timothy Brown, where the terrorists systematically torture innocent people to support their cause, and "since the end justifies the means, using terror tactics is necessary."

      From the innocent civilians' perspective, terrorism is a piece of hell brought to their footsteps by evil nasty people. Whether the crazy people have a good ulterior motive like freedom, government replacement, a separate nation, etc., is not very relevant. Whether the terrorists place bombs in cars or bicycles to be personally detonated or by remote control, is also not relevant. Whether they torture your child in front of you to extract money or information is no different than if a high-tech drone or manned aircraft drops a missile right in the middle of a family wedding, and the rest of the world just calls it "collateral damage" with a promise of a thorough investigation, and possibly even an apology. That is just another form of terrorism despite the niceties afterwards.

      There is no good excuse for war unless in self-defense. I understand personal revenge because many times it is an unstoppable part of human nature. I cannot accept systematic terrorism, because similar to war it hurts innocent people. Also as a tactic it does not work, even though strategically it might work particularly as part of a "good/bad cop strategy."

      JE comments: I see it the other way around: the question is whether terrorism ever works as a strategy, for it inevitably creates calls for revenge. In the Middle East, the Balkans, and elsewhere, these quarrels can last for centuries.

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      • State Terrorism (José Ignacio Soler, Venezuela 10/27/15 4:00 AM)
        I have been following the recent discussion on terrorism, and have found it quite interesting. I agree with Tor Guimaraes's comment of 26 October: "All the statements so far on the nature and meaning of terrorism have carried their fair share of truth." However, I am somehow surprised that I have not found any references to some of the more subtle methods of terrorism, such as state terrorism.

        I suppose it would be correct to define terrorism in a general sense as "the use of terror and violence by organizations to systematically coerce society (left, right, nationalist, religious, independentist, and so on) to achieve its objectives."

        From its own perverse perspective, state terrorism is similar, but "used by a Government institution to induce terror, fear, in their own citizens or some other foreign population, in order to achieve it purposes or to promote behaviors that otherwise would not be produced."

        What would be the difference here from the most common known form of terrorism? Institutionalized "terror," by using apparently "legitimate" or basically illegitimate methods with the support of government institutions or agencies, judicial, police or military, has the purpose, other than more practical and immediately political objectives, of inducing a "fear culture."

        There are many ways of inflicting this kind of "terrorism"--coercion, persecution, kidnapping, the creation of paramilitary or secret organizations to promote fear or terror, conspiracies to discredit people´s reputations, to imprison, murder or extra-judicially execute them; the use of military for repressing civil actions or the political opposition, restriction of liberties, imposing restrictions on or suppressing press freedom, of expression or of free emigration, etc.

        This kind of terrorism is clearly and commonly applied by dictatorships, absolutist and autocratic governments--such as our current one in this country! The cases are pretty obvious in contemporary history.

        But with this perspective there are also many other examples, past and current, not only in autocratic governments but in so-called democratic ones, which often and in many ways have carried out state terrorism. I invite readers to identify these cases; there are plenty.

        JE comments: Perhaps the subtlest method of all is pervasive surveillance.  We've known this at least since the times of Orwell.  But one person's "state terrorism" is another's "homeland security."

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      • Terrorism and the "Good Cop/Bad Cop" Strategy (Tor Guimaraes, USA 10/28/15 4:45 AM)
        In my last post (26 October), I stated that "I cannot accept systematic terrorism, because similar to war it hurts innocent people. Also as a tactic it does not work, even though strategically it might work particularly as part of a 'good/bad cop strategy.'" John Eipper disagreed because "the question is whether terrorism ever works as a strategy, for it inevitably creates calls for revenge. In the Middle East, the Balkans, and elsewhere, these quarrels can last for centuries."

        I agree with this, and that is why I prefaced my statement above with "I understand personal revenge because many times it is an unstoppable part of human nature." I should have been more clear that among humans, violence tend to produce more violence, but let's be fair, it does not have to be violence by terrorism. Bombs dropped from invisible aircraft accomplish the same results.

        On the other hand, while there is clear evidence that terrorism tactically does not seem to work, contrary to John's opinion, "strategically it might work particularly as part of a good/bad cop strategy. For example we have the IRA (bad cops) and the Sinn Fein (good cops) arms'-length cooperation, which finally won the Northern Ireland struggle driven by IRA terrorism.

        Today, another example of significant partial success (still too early to call the final results) from this "good/bad cop" strategic model for terrorism is represented by the government of Pakistan and Islamic terrorists like Al-Qaeda. In this case, huge benefits have already accrued to the Pakistani Government (good cops) as an ally against the terrorists (bad cops). Needless to say, the supposedly good cops in this case have been caught working with the terrorists on a few occasions; nevertheless the charade continues into the foreseeable future because without the bad cops, the good cops have no value to the rich Uncle Sam. Therefore, there is political/financial incentive for the good cops to ensure that the terrorists remain operational.

        Always remember, the terrorist for you enemy is your ally. Therefore, if your enemy is rich and powerful, offer to help destroy its terrorists while understanding that without the terrorists only old enemies will remain. Prey to Allah that your enemy's government is stupid enough to accept your offer to help for a very long time, until you bleed them to death. That is how terrorism can become a powerful strategic force for changing a stupid world.

        In the case of ISIS, my biggest fear is that Iran and Shiite groups, and legitimate Sunni countries like Saudi Arabia, Egypt, and Turkey will also have no incentive to completely wipe out ISIS to the benefit of the relatively rich USA and EU. Thus this presently ongoing regional quagmire will simmer on forever as the American people bleed to death financially and the EU nations increasingly swim in refugees.

        JE comments: Tor Guimaraes points out a troubling reality in places like Pakistan. The government has no real incentive to wipe out al-Qaeda, as it would also bring an end to foreign military largesse. Remember Tim Brown's maxim from yesterday: foreign aid is when the poor of rich countries give money to the rich of poor countries.

        A parallel example is the Islamic Republic of Iran.  ISIS/ISIL in a real sense serves Iranian interests, as it makes the IRI look like a respectable, moderate regime in contrast.

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        • Sinn Fein and IRA (John Heelan, UK 11/02/15 12:34 PM)
          Tor Guimaraes wrote on 28 October: "For example we have the IRA (bad cops) and the Sinn Fein (good cops) arms'-length cooperation, which finally won the Northern Ireland struggle driven by IRA terrorism."

          Perhaps Tor should review the histories of the various parties contributing to the Irish "Troubles" that lasted for more than 30 years--e.g. some leaders of Sinn Fein are alleged by some to have been simultaneously leaders of the IRA's (or the more dangerous "Provisional's") Army War Council. Then there are at least three other parties to the "Troubles," e.g. RUC, the British Army and the various Unionist paramilitary groups. (It might also help to look a bit further back in history at the "Fenians.") In essence, Tor's good cop/bad cop description of the resolution of Northern Ireland's politics is somewhat simplistic, if not mistaken.

          JE comments:  Northern Ireland is one of history's intractable conflicts that got resolved.  Are there any lessons for the Middle East?  Granted, this is a question framed in the simplest of terms.

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          • Sinn Fein, IRA, Good Cops and Bad Cops (Tor Guimaraes, USA 11/04/15 4:11 AM)
            I do not understand John Heelan's statement of 2 November: "Tor Guimaraes's good cop/bad cop description of the resolution of Northern Ireland's politics is somewhat simplistic, if not mistaken."

            Obviously I did not mean to imply that there were no other players in the Northern Ireland conflict. Similarly, in the other example (Pakistan), the good/bad cops analogy is also complicated by other players besides the government security services and Al-Qaeda. However, such complications may somewhat cloud the issues, but without invalidating the bottom line that the good/bad cop approach has been and continues to be used in the context of terrorism for political, financial strategic advantage.

            JE comments:  I've always claimed that Pakistan and Saudi Arabia are the principal "frenemies" of the US.  Who in WAISworld follows Pakistan?  We could use an update.

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          • Northern Ireland and Middle East; from Gary Moore (John Eipper, USA 11/04/15 5:09 AM)

            Gary Moore writes:

            Responding to John Heelan and Tor Guimaraes on Northern Ireland,
            John Eipper's hopeful Nov. 2 postscript is uplifting: basically that if
            "impossible" Northern Ireland could be resolved, then maybe there's
            hope against hope for the great impossibility of the world: the
            Middle East. It should be remarked, though, that, as entwined as
            religion is in Northern Ireland, that's not the epicenter. The very roots
            of the Western and even a large Non-Western mindset live on that
            patch of ground in the Middle East. Doesn't mean it can't be solved,

            Hey, Urban II, Geoffrey, Reginald, Tancred--you guys listening?

            JE comments:   How is it that in 35,460 WAIS articles, there's not one mention of the 11th-century Norman Crusader Tancred?  The closest we came is this 2004 post from Prof. Hilton, which mentions the Rossini opera Tancredi.  Tancredo occasionally crops up as a given name in Spanish and Portuguese, but I know of no Tancreds in the Anglophone world:


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