Jewish World Review August 28, 2002 / 20 Elul, 5761

Edward I. Koch

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In defense of terrorism | Last May, Newsday columnist Sheryl McCarthy objected to Iraq being labeled a terrorist state. She contended that it is "simply an adversary of the United States."

While acknowledging Saddam Hussein's use of nerve gas, McCarthy sought to downgrade its impact, writing, "This is a terrible weapon, but Hussein has only used it on his own people, the Kurds…", inferring it was considerate of him to have only used it on his own citizens. However, McCarthy ignores the fact that Saddam also used nerve gas against Iranian troops in the eight-year Iran-Iraq war, a conflict that cost millions of lives.

McCarthy objects to characterizing chemical and biological weapons as "weapons of mass destruction," writing, "This used to mean nuclear weapons." She does not believe there is a realistic possibility that Hussein will use biological weapons. You can be sure that McCarthy is against the United States embarking on a war against Iraq, notwithstanding Hussein's possession and use of weapons of mass destruction.

In the opinion of many observers, Iraq is expected to have nuclear bomb capability in two to ten years. Iraqi conventional missiles regularly target American and British planes enforcing the no-fly zone imposed on Iraq to protect the Kurds in the north and the Shiites in the south.

In her August 19th column, McCarthy wrote of a trip to Israel by 12 members of the New York City Council, led by Council Speaker Gifford Miller. The stated purpose of the trip was to show solidarity with Israel and speak out against terrorism.

She complains that while the Council members visited many "sites of attacks on Jews" and "talked to Jewish victims of terrorist attacks," the "delegation didn't speak to a single Palestinian terror victim." "Terror has been coming from both sides," she wrote. She criticizes Council members for not equating the "terrorism" she claims has been visited upon both sides and poses the question, "I wondered who they thought they were representing. Not me." Clearly. She also stated that the only way to describe their trip is "pander, pander."

McCarthy has a number of ideological soul mates in the media on this issue, including Robert Novak and E.R. Shipp. Like her, they do not distinguish between terrorists and their victims. For these three columnists, Palestinian suicide bombers are freedom fighters to be viewed in the same light as the Israel Defense Forces under these columnists' doctrine of moral equivalency.

Let me define terrorism. Terrorists deliberately target civilians for injury and death to achieve their political goals. Freedom fighters target the opposing military to achieve their goals.

All civilized people distinguish between collateral deaths, occurring when non-targeted civilians are harmed in the line of fire directed at military and terrorist personnel, and deaths caused by deliberately targeting civilians, as terrorists do. Our own U.S. Armed Forces in Afghanistan, pursuing Taliban and al-Queda personnel, have killed and injured civilians. While those casualties are to be deplored, only the perverse would equate, with the same moral outrage, the acts of terrorists with those defending the civilian population from the terrorists.

McCarthy's latest column, in effect, equates Israel's right of self-defense with the deliberate targeting of innocent civilians on buses and in malls, restaurants and homes. She, in effect, equates "Palestinian suicide bombs that kill Jewish civilians to the Israeli government's killing of Palestinian civilians in its search for terrorists."

The Council delegation does indeed support Israel. I'm certain that McCarthy sees the Palestinians as the underdog and supports them. In effect, she is endorsing terror as a tactic and giving aid and comfort to terrorist groups such as Hamas, Islamic Jihad and Fatah which Arafat himself has nominally repudiated but, regrettably, encouraged.

In this Israeli-Palestinian war, abuses will occur on both sides, as they do in all wars. The difference is that terrorism is the policy of the Palestinian Authority. The policy of the Israeli government is to end terrorism so negotiations can go forward with the acceptance of Israel with secure and defensible borders alongside an independent Palestinian state.

McCarthy probably sees two sides in the beheading of Daniel Pearl by al-Queda terrorists, the beheading of two J. Witnesses in the Philippines by Muslim terrorists, and the singling out and murder of Pakistani Christians in Pakistan by Muslim terrorists. Her column could have been entitled "In Defense of Terrorism."

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JWR contributor Edward I. Koch, the former mayor of New York, can be heard on Bloomberg Radio (WBBR 1130 AM) every Saturday from 9-10 am. Comment by clicking here.

08/22/02: Saddam Hussein is extremely popular in "Arab street," so why attack him?
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08/09/02: Traitors: Journalistic and 'patriotic'
07/31/02: Euros should spend their time analyzing their own country's wartime actions
07/25/02: I may know next to nothing about the stock market, but I'm not getting out
07/18/02: Dems should stop trying to 'Whitewater' the President
07/11/02: Real Americans and the Islamic threat

© 2002, Edward I. Koch