By the end of Ronald Reagan’s first term, American elected officials had come to accept and adopt the main claims and assumptions that had, for years, been at the heart of the Israeli discourse on “terrorism.” The “terrorist” is the non-Western “other.” “He” uses evil, immoral means, in the service of evil, immoral ends. In that sense, “the terrorist” belongs to the pre-, non-civilized world. By contrast, “we” oppose, condemn and reject “all terrorism.” “We” stand for moral clarity, and have a profound respect for the sanctity of innocent, civilian life. “Our” ends, as our means, are pure. “Our” uses of force are legitimate, and always defensive. They come in response to or self-defense against the “terrorist threat,” and always aim to limit the loss of civilian lives.
Israeli Defense Minister Ariel Sharon and Idf Chief of Staff Rafael Eitan in Lebanon in 1982. (Photo: David Rubinger/Corbis)
From 1979 to 1983, that is to say precisely the period between the Jerusalem and Washington conferences, very senior Israeli officials conducted a large-scale campaign of car-bombings that killed hundreds of Palestinians and Lebanese, most of them civilians. In fact, by the time his New York Times OpEd was published Sharon had been personally directing this “terrorist” operation for a full year. Even more remarkably, one of the objectives of this covert operation was precisely to goad the PLO into resorting to “terrorism” so as to provide Israel with a justification to invade Lebanon.
These claims are not the product of a feverish, conspiratorial mind. A barebones description of this secret operation was published by Ronen Bergman, a well respected Israeli journalist in the New York Times Magazine on January 23, 2018. This article was adapted from Rise and Kill First: The Secret History of Israel’s Targeted Assassinations, where a much more detailed account of the operation, entirely based on interviews with Israeli officials involved in or aware of the operation at the time, is provided.
Over the last three months, its author has participated in countless media interviews and given high profile public talks around the country. And yet, in these reviews, interviews and public talks this secret operation has not been mentioned a single time. In fact, the public discussion that has surrounded the publication of Rise and Kill First has taken place as if the revelations contained in that book had never been published.
“Our” opposition to “terrorism” is principled and absolute. “We” by definition do not resort to “terrorism.” If and when evidence to the contrary is presented, the reaction is: silence.
To quote David Agmon, head of the Northern Command Staff of the IDF and one of the few men to have been aware of the operation, as explaining its objective as follows: “The aim was to cause chaos among the Palestinians and Syrians in Lebanon, without leaving an Israeli fingerprint, to give them the feeling that they were constantly under attack and to instill them with a sense of insecurity.” To do so, Eitan, Ben-Gal and Dagan “recruited Lebanese locals: Druze, Christians and Shiite Muslims who resented the Palestinians and wanted them out of Lebanon.” Between 1979 and 1983, “the Front killed hundreds of people.”
“Soon the bombs began exploding at the homes of the PLO’s collaborators in southern Lebanon, killing everyone there, as well as in PLO positions and offices, mostly in Tyre, Sidon, and the Palestinian refugee camps around them, causing massive damages and casualties.”
The car-bombing campaign that greatly intensified once Sharon became Defense Minister should be understood precisely as one element of this broader strategy of provocation.
“By mid-September 1981, car bombs were exploding regularly in Palestinian neighborhoods of Beirut and other Lebanese cities.”
On October 1, a car “booby-trapped with 220 pounds of TNT and 20 gallons of gasoline” exploded near the offices of the PLO, in what a UPI journalist described as “a busy street in Moslem west Beirut packed with fruit and vegetable venders and housewives doing their morning shopping.” The bomb “tore the facade off buildings, destroyed 50 cars and left the street littered with debris and dismembered bodies.” Immediately following the blast a second bomb, weighing 330 pounds and which had been planted in another car parked on the same street, was found and dismantled by bomb disposal experts. Later that same day, “six other cars loaded with hundreds of pounds of explosives were found and defused in Beirut and Sidon in what was intended as a devastating blitz against Palestinians and leftist Lebanese militiamen by rightist terrorists.”
Over the years, indeed decades, the erasing of the FLLF thus coincided with the construction of a narrative that portrayed Israelis solely as victims (and never perpetrators) of “terrorism” and described the Palestinians (and their Arab allies) as exemplifying the very essence of the “terrorist” threat.
Similarly, the FLLF’s car-bombing campaign has never once been mentioned in articles published in the main “terrorism studies” journals, namely Terrorism (published from 1979 to 1992,) Studies in Conflict and Terrorism (during the period 1992-2018) and Terrorism and Political Violence (between 1997 and 2018.)
as if the Palestinians had never been the victims of a widespread campaign of “terrorism,”
In all these reviews, interviews and public talks, the secret operation set up by Eitan, Ben-Gal, Dagan and Sharon is not mentioned a single time. The idea that Israeli officials might have engaged in “terrorism” in the early 1980s has been treated as simply beyond the pale or, to use media scholar Daniel Hallin’s terminology, as a “deviant” idea that simply “does not belong” in the public discourse and must therefore be excluded from it.
Read the original article, more details:
mondoweiss: remarkable disappearing terrorism
Go to All Pages on Palestine/ Zionism @ Livingislam.org
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