No, it’s not a misprint. All, I hope, will become clear.
At the heart of many of todays conflicts is the word ‘terror’. People and groups are described as terrorist, a definition that includes targeting civilians. And we, or our leaders/protectors, want to know who these terrorists are so that we/they can find them and remove the danger they pose.
Who are these terrorists? The group names have become familiar, ISIS, Al Qaeda, Boko Haram, Hamas, Hezbollah, these are the more recent ones. Others, less recent would include Basque separatists, IRA, ANC…
One thing that puzzles me is our obsession with who and our apparent indifference to what and why. What do these ‘terrorists’ want and why do they want it? What is their motivation?. A woman straps some explosives to her chest, goes into an empty field and presses the trigger, it’s suicide. She does the same thing on a crowded bus and its terrorism, and of course, any similarity between the two events is purely mechanical.
By no stretch of the imagination could the woman on the bus think she has ‘won the war’. If she did it would be strong evidence of a disturbed mind. And if that’s what the larger groups thought they’d quickly stop doing it because they would see they had won nothing. That, by the way, was substantially the reasoning behind the cessation of Palestinian suicide bombings. It was nothing to do with a wall which at that point hadn’t been started and even now, more than 10 years later, is not finished.
“Their leaders are manipulating these suicide bombers with promises of Paradise”, is one of the mantras we hear. Whilst true in some cases it still doesn’t answer the fundamental question. What is their goal and what does this immediate action hope to achieve. Answering the first question depends on the particular group, although they mostly have things in common. Answering the second question is actually pretty easy. It is ‘look, listen, take notice’, it is essentially a cry of hopelessness, a plea.
We sit up and take notice of the explosion on the crowded bus because it is a top item on the news, but that is rarely where it starts. The explosion is the end or the middle, but the beginning is a grievance, that may or may not be justified. Most are genuine, for in order to reach the crowded bus scenario the grievance has to be shared and most of us can recognise the difference between a genuine grievance and a bellyaching whinge.
Many of us were put off history because of the way was taught, all those dates, the funny names and lists. But today’s current affairs which were yesterday’s headline news, is history on the hoof, waiting to be processed into manageable chunks. Whether we like it or not we are surrounded by history, it’s always bumping into us. Our political parties were formed as a reaction to perceived injustice. And at the time they were formed many were regarded as revolutionary. (Some, of course, were the reaction to the reaction).
The trouble with history is that if we ignore it we get into a terrible mess. It’s not a mystery, but a ‘messtory’. And our political leaders, some with degrees in history and political science (whatever that is), are the worst at reading the runes.
When Hamas refuses a ceasefire with Israel they are universally condemned. Our leaders take what they believe to be the moral high ground and support Israel’s right to self defence. Pres. Obama says “no country would stand by while rockets are fired at its people”. So, why should Palestinians stand by and allow their people to be imprisoned without trial, assassinated, murdered, denied clean water?.
If it is terrorism to react when your children are killed, your husband, the breadwinner, imprisoned without trial, when you are denied access to your land to pick the olives on which you depend, then terrorism seems to have become a ‘human right’. This is dangerous ground. If it is terrorism to demand the rights others take for granted where do we stop? You take for granted your right to live in comfort with a decent income and guaranteed education for your children? Why shouldn’t Palestinians have the same right? You take for granted your right to travel abroad for a holiday or to improve the mind? Why shouldn’t Palestinians have the same right? You take for granted your right to freedom of worship, to freedom of movement, your right to life? Why shouldn’t Palestinians have the same right. Why? Why?
UK, USA, Canada, Australia, and EU are in ‘messtory’ the messy, wrong side of history. History will judge, but, speaking under my ‘evangelical Christian’ hat, so will God & I know which side I’m on.

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