The rise of an extreme style of conveying an opinion has turned the word terrorism into a word that is frequently heard. With that comes a new definition of oneself. One that is based on what you consider as a terror act and what groups you think are terrorists.Your political affiliations determine who you are.
As a Jerusalemite I’ve witnessed terrorism and had to form an opinion on who are terrorists at an early age. Nevertheless, until the age of 11 terrorism was an abstract idea that I only heard about in memorials such as 9/11. However I was surprised to find how existent terrorism is in Jerusalem. This happened when I witnessed an attack where a man drove into 4 people on a train station. This would become the premier of a long set of attacks that have been taking place in Jerusalem for the past 3 years.
Oddly enough I figured that the man who committed the act was an arab and referred to speaking in english and hiding my religion book that I was studying from. I hated the man. Hated how he put me and these strangers in such a position. Hated how desperate he was for attention. I was also bewildered how such a simple act that can't be stopped can ruin the whole country. After All, the government can't just stop people from driving.
This became more frequent as time passed. The style of the killing would change from driving over people to stabbing. These committers were so embedded within the society you can't prevent them until the act is done which has drove the police to become even more violent and oppressive such as shooting any palestinian looking person they doubt.
As time passed I started to see a different angle to what is happening and I stopped calling them terrorist attacks. When a civilian kills an another due to injustice, is that a terror attack ? When a man defies a country that is oppressing him, is that a terror attack ? Israel commits many crimes against palestinians. Palestine doesn’t have a strong army and won’t fight so it makes sense that a civilian would try convey a message through these attacks. They are showing the Israeli government that things are not fine.
These attacks are done by jerusalemites that are considered as second class citizens. these are individual acts with no political background. These people are not extremists. These are citizens that are treated unfairly and are outcrying against an occupying power. They know these attacks won’t bring back a country however they will disrupt the daily regime in israel which is enough.
There is are specific classes in the hierarchy that are committing these attacks. They are mostly working and lower class. These have immense financial difficulties that are even made harder due to taxes imposed by the israeli government. These youngsters are also targeted by the israeli police for no concrete evidence. So when a government attacks you and you can’t protest. You become violent.
A recent interview was conducted with the family of a martyr who committed an attack. They explained that their son was quiet and introverted but loved visiting Al Aqsa mosque. He was supposed to turn himself in to begin a 4 month jail sentence for a fight he had with an israeli policeman and was prevented from visiting the mosque. On his way to prison he conducted an attack that killed two Israelis. This man thought that whole government was against him. Out of desperation he decided to kill himself and punish the government. As a Fatah (a political party that is running the Palestinian government) official said:” The occupation government bears responsibility for the Palestinian responses.”
Here Israel practises its collective punishment as a response for the attack. They create concrete blockades with checkpoints that prevent people from going through their daily life. They destroy the houses of the immediate family of the martyr. Family members are detained and taken to jail and of course the body of the attacker is not given to the family. This is supposed to scare people from committing such attacks but for now all it's causing is more uproar for the injustice Jerusalemites live in.
But then again terrorism is any act of terror against civilians and these palestinians are killing Israelis. Targeting the military makes more sense humanity wise. I was talking to group tonight about this same topic and a man mentioned that it is an unwritten rule that any act of resistance against military officials is not terrorism, but in the mentality of an attackers, its easier to kill civilians because they’re not as protected by life vests.
So where does that leave us ? Are they terrorists or not ? That is a question I can't answer. Your ideologies shape you and your opinions. However, I do encourage every reader to try and find all aspects of a story. Even this ruthless attacker can have a story that might make him human. This makes defining terrorism even more complicated, but that's better than turning a blind eye on what is happening.