Monday, September 19, 2005
Terrorism viewed from the eyes of a 6 year old child
By Leni von Eckardt
1972, the year the Summer Olympics took place in Munich, Germany.
For those too young to remember, this was the venue for one of the most notorious terrorist acts committed on innocent people.
On September 5th of that year a Palestinian terrorist group called 'Black September' murdered 11 athletes of the Israeli Olympic team.
Rarely was the cause of innocent Palestinians served worse.
Once again, on September 14, 2005 in New York, their cause was served ill by supposedly one of their fiercest and staunchest advocates.
This is presumably nothing new to Palestinians, their grievances have been used as a political football by Saddam Hussein, Osama bin Laden, George Bush (just to name a few) for a long time.
On this particular September evening the verbal clash, Christopher Hitchens vs the said Rt. Honourable George Galloway, MP for Bethnal Green, UK, was staged.
Most of the debate was un-notable but one comment made by Mr. Galloway dumbfounded me, a low blow right in my guts.
Mr. Galloway said:
"You see it was very important, Mr. Hitchens' support for the Palestinian people and it was not easy in 1980, only a few years before the Palestinian resistance had seized the Israeli Olympic Games team in Munich and had committed what most people in the world described as an act of mass terrorism. Mr. Hitchens' courageous stand with groups like the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, the hijackers of many an aircraft, the carrying out of many a military operation was very significant because it was very real. (Equally I want to thank Mr. Hitchens for the brave stand that he made against the war on Iraq in 1991...)"
This comment was prefaced by the alleged praise Hitchens had paid Galloway for his twinning of the city of Dundee, Scotland with the city of Nabulus in Palestine, to which Hitchens said "it must have been someone else", and to be fair to Mr. Hitchens, he interjected right after this harmless opener, before knowing what Galloway was about to say.
But I don't doubt Mr. Galloway will find a way out of his applauding death.
If you look carefully at his choice of words in his latest unforgivable and cruel comments, you will notice that far from being clumsy he is a very clever wordsmith. The construct is such as to leave room to later twist the meaning of what he said and shout down his accusers as liars.
The biggest giveaway that betrays the true meaning of what he said is the fact that he called the killers 'resistance' rather than 'terrorists'. Never has Mr. Galloway used the word resistance in a negative way. He always uses it in the context of a worthy, moral cause.
Mr. Galloway has a penchant for saying things that he first denies as dirty slander and misrepresentation, then calls an unfortunate choice of words and finally, as he says in his own book, regrets.
"In parliament, on television, in the press, and at public meetings, I have carpet-bombed the record of Saddam Hussein, both before and since I met him for the first time in 1994. But what I said on the occasion of that early visit to Baghdad has made it much easier ever since for my enemies to grotesquely caricature my views. Sir, I salute your courage, your strength, your indefatigability.' How many times have I had those words rammed down my throat by people with not a scintilla of my record on human rights and democracy in Iraq? How much do I regret the potential for damage in that brief statement? How long have you got?"
I bet he does. But clearly not enough.
But what gets me most about the infamous 1994 speech is not the 'Sir, I salute you...' part. His excuse is that his "salute" was meant for the Iraqi people, not Saddam. I must take exception to that, because Galloway also said: "I thought the president would appreciate to know that even today, three years after the war, I still meet families who are calling their newborn sons Saddam."
It is this portion of the speech that makes his excuses and regrets least convincing.
If he was denouncing Saddam and feeling concern for the Iraqis who had to live under his terror why then say those words to their oppressor?
His newest utterances, the endorsement of the cold-blooded murder of a country's Olympic team, 11 innocent civilians, is as disgusting to my ears as hearing somebody endorse and condone the brutal massacre at the Palestinian refugee camp in Shatila that Ariel Sharon, now Prime Minister of Israel, allowed to take place.
The brutal killing of innocent civilians, be they Palestinians, Iraqis, Kurds, Rwandans, Afghans, Israelis, Americans or British, ANY, ANY innocent civilians, is abhorrent to me in the extreme.
This is why Galloway's approval of the killing of these particular innocent civilians struck a deep nerve.
The nerve of a child.
I was 6 years old and this was the first act of terrorism I consciously became aware of. This atrocity contributed in no small way to my subsequent worldview. The great thing was that I was 6 years old and so knew nothing of the reasons and politics behind it, I say 'great' because you don't need to know the reasons and politics to know that this was a heinous act. A philosophy I carry to this day. I will never forget those coffins.
Today, I work as an investigator for print and television journalism. My current chosen target is the Bush and Blair governments' heinous acts in Iraq. My motive is simple: I am horrified by their casual doling out of death to unarmed and innocent Iraqis, an echo of the same logic of that frightening day in September, thirty-three years ago.
Leni von Eckardt is chief investigator for GregPalast.com on the war in Iraq.
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