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Letter on Palestinian Suicide Terror Debate
Read the full debate at
the Irgun Terrorist or Not?"
Francisco Gil-White * Replies
[ Posted 6 August 2003, 11:20 ET ]
[ www.tenc.net ]
Dear Prof. Gil-White,
I am a long-time subscriber to Emperor's Clothes and I read the 14 selected posts from the suicide terrorists debate with great interest. It made me see the pro-Israel side in a much more positive light. Thank you.
However, you claimed that "Begin and Shamir were never terrorists", and yet Atran argues against this in the paragraphs beginning as follows:
Unless I am much mistaken you did not respond to this in any of the posts selected for publication on Emperor's Clothes. This could lead readers to gain the impression that Emperor's Clothes was whitewashing alleged Israeli crimes.
Especially in view of the fact that you accused others in the discussion of not retracting points when they were shown to be false, I think that you ought to either:
- Retract your claim that Begin was not a terrorist
- Rebut the argument that he was, given by Atran.
If you have already done one of the above, fine, but I think in that case you should link/publish it on Emporer's Clothes, otherwise the series looks incomplete in this respect.
Otherwise I find the debate quite persuasive in your favour. I must concur that Arafat is not advancing the cause of peace.
Francisco Gil-White Replies
Isolated acts of terrorism do not make an organization "terrorist". At least some individuals in every military or paramilitary organization commit crimes. Therefore, one cannot say, members of the X organization committed *this* act of terror and therefore the Xs are "terrorist." In the case of the Irgun, as in any other case, the question is: what was the Irgun's *policy*?
I do not know the specifics of the individual case Prof. Atran referred to, but Prof. Atran cannot make his case by pointing to just the one case. The other case Prof. Atran mentions is Deir Yassin, and this is the most serious accusation leveled against the Irgun in its operations against Arabs. But the accusation is fraudulent, and I *did* refute it.
I have given a fuller explanation of these views in my reply to another reader's letter, so I refer you to it here:
Many thanks for writing!
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