Tolerating Terrorism in the West: An International Survey

By Noemi Gal-Or | Go to book overview

Chapter 3

Tolerating terrorism in Israel

Noemi Gal-Or


INTRODUCTION

‘One man’s terrorist is another man’s freedom fighter’ has been a statement constantly rejected by Israeli society. Recently, however, this consensus has been shattered. Change in opinion in this matter is probably one of the more important indications of the socio-psychological blurring which has grasped Israeli society. Interestingly, intellectuals, jurists, some politicians and other public figures have not, as in the past, united to counter and denounce the phenomenon of terrorism in Israel when it is perpetrated by Jews. Israeli society, which formerly so absolutely and unanimously rejected Arab terrorism, international terrorism and terrorism in general, has been definitely shocked into a state of uncertainty.

A comparison of the active engagement of factors within Israeli society endorsing Jewish-Israeli terrorism on the one hand, and Arab terrorism on the other, will reveal different patterns of attitude and behaviour. Apart from an insignificant fraction of the extreme left, overall Jewish-Israeli society is definitely opposed to any kind of Arab terrorism. Moreover, its definition for this kind of terrorism belongs to the exhaustive version rather than the narrow one. 1 Yet, when referring to Jewish terrorism, Jewish-Israeli society lays different emphases, is interested in and establishes categories of definition according to the national identity of the terrorist actors. The primary basic distinction refers to Jewish-Israeli versus Arab (Israeli and non-Israeli) terrorism. The other differentiation concerns the kinds of Jewish-Israeli terrorism. Thus, the support for the so-called ‘Jewish Underground’ is undoubtedly overwhelming when compared to the indifference characterizing the attitude towards other terrorists, such as the TNT group, the Lifta

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