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ABC Mini-Encyclopedia

Violence - Cycle of Violence

 

Decent people condemn all senseless violence.

 

As if in this spirit, it is often claimed that Israel and the Palestinians are involved in an endless ‘cycle of violence'. This blurry euphemism doesn't name the perpetrators of violence or the victims, and equates them and thus exonerates the former, as if blame is on neither side but is a neutral fatal force. Or, both sides should be condemned.

 

Now, isn't this a fair, evenhanded approach?

Not really. Winston Churchill used to describe this way of thinking as "evenhandedness between the fire-fighter and the fire".

 

In the case of Palestinian terror organizations, Hamas, Hezbollah and others versus Israel, it is not so difficult to recognize the asymmetry and to name the perpetrators of violence on the one hand and those who act out of legitimate self-defense on the other hand.  Those who discriminately target civilians and aim at maximizing casualties, are - whether calling them ‘terrorists' or not - the violent side, responsible for the ongoing violence. Those who target the perpetrators of deliberate killings of civilians, making efforts to minimize civilian casualties, are exercising legitimate self-defense. 

 

But if it is so simple, what is the reason that so many media and politicians make this mistake? It may be the great difficulty to work in the environment of terror, which practically compels to comply. There is great risk in writing the truth about terrorists, there is no risk in even unfairly besmirching a democracy, like Israel.

 

But, in fact, there is no neutral cycle of violence.  Terror must be held responsible. On tyhe other hand, to crush terrorism is legitimate self-defense.

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It should be noted that this "Cycle of Violence" term and the false symmetry were frequently used by poor journalism in cases when Israelis were victims of Palestinian violence, like in a subtitle: "Two Israelis and four Palestinians were killed yesterday in the continuing cycle of violence" - even if those four Palestinians had killed the two Israeli civilians first and were killed later by soldiers in the following fight and pursuit (as we learn in the article - somewhere in Line 45).  In such cases we, the public, should write letters to the editor protesting the misleading term ‘cycle of violence'.

 

See also the entry "Disproportionate?" -  about the question, what is the proportionate use of force against terrorist targets


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