Since the terms “terrorist” and “freedom fighter” have a tendency to be used interchangeably these days, I think that it is time to clear up the confusion. One man’s terrorist is not another man’s freedom fighter.
Let’s begin by defining our terms. The term “freedom fighter” is a relatively new term. The root of the word is “freedom”. These are people who are looking for freedom from a government that is oppressing them, or looking to secure basic rights under that government. Since their point is political, they will attack military targets of that government. And finally, these targets would not include civilians since obviously they are not military targets.
We see from this that there are two main criteria to fulfill if you want to be a freedom fighter. The first is that you have a political objective. The second is that your targets are limited to military instillations and personnel.
Next is the definition of a “terrorist”. The root of the word is “terror”. What is terror? Terror is defined by Webster’s Dictionary as “an organized system of intimidation”. These people may have political or religious underpinnings but the focus of a terrorist is the intimidation of the civilian population. The main difference between a “terrorist” and a “freedom fighter” is that a terrorist does not hesitate to attack and murder civilians.
There are some excellent examples of terrorism in recent times. In the attack on the Twin Towers in New York last September 3,000 civilians were murdered. This was not an attack by freedom fighters, because the two criteria that define a freedom fighter were not fulfilled. First, the hijackers were not looking for freedom from an oppressive government and second, they attacked a civilian population. The hijackers were terrorists looking to intimidate the American civilian population.
Another example of terrorism is the nightclub bombing in Bali, Indonesia in mid-October of this year. 200 civilians were murdered and many more injured when terrorists set off bombs destroying the club. This was not an attack on an oppressive government or an attack on military personnel. This was an attack on tourists and vacationers who had decided to go out for a night of dancing and partying. This attack is an act of terrorism.
Let’s bring terrorism down to a more individual level. Last week in Israel on November 10th, a terrorist walked into Kibbutz Metzer, a kibbutz known for it’s friendly relations with it’s Arab neighbors. As a result of these friendly relations, there was no security fence. Revital Ochayon had just put her two little boys to bed, Matan 5, Noam 4, when a terrorist came into her home and murdered all three. That night at the kibbutz Tirza Damari was murdered by the same terrorist as she took a late night walk with a friend. This was not an attack on military personnel. This was attack on small children. These attacks are acts of terrorism.
On Friday night, walking home from Sabbath evening prayers in the holy city of Hebron, Jewish worshipers being escorted by the Israeli military were attacked and murdered. This not being enough, the security and medical team sent to help were also ambushed and murdered. The result of this massacre: 11 Jews, civilian and military and one Bedouin Israeli soldier murdered. This was not an attack on a military instillation or personnel. This was an attack on worshipers on their way home after services. These attacks are also acts of terrorism.
It is clearly seen what are acts of terrorism and what are acts of freedom fighters. The attack on the Twin Towers is an act of terrorism. The attack on the Bali nightclub is an act of terrorism. The attack on the kibbutz, murdering little children and their parent is an act of terrorism. The murder of a woman out for a walk is an act of terrorism. The attack on worshipers coming back from prayer services is an act of terrorism.
It must be clear that there are no excuses for terrorism. The confusion between a “freedom fighter” and a “terrorist” must end. Do not become apologists for murderers. One man’s terrorist is not another man’s freedom fighter.