David Gokarran Sukhdeo

The September 11, 2001 terrorist attack has decidedly equaled or perhaps surpassed Pearl Harbor in terms of enormity of an attack on America on American soil, so daring, devastating and momentous has been the event. That Islamic militants had succeeded in performing this terrible deed, and in the process risking the wrath of the World's Super Power and the condemnation and reprisal of the entire democratic world, attests to the intensity of their motivation and the perfection of their terrorist methodology.

Terrorism is basically about a sub-national group engaging or attacking an institutionalized government, sections of the population or property by using non-traditional methods of warfare in pursuit of a pre-determined political, religious or military objective.

This article will trace the history of Israel, showing how violence has been a dominant constituent of their history, and how, as a numerically smaller group, they developed a methodology of terrorism, as we know it today, in order to defeat institutionalized governments. The article will explain that it was Israeli terrorist methodology that was copied by other groups worldwide. It will show that it was Israeli terrorism that provided both method and motive to the Islamic terrorist, and that the attack on America by Islamic terrorists in the late summer of 2001 was a result of and response to Israeli terrorism against the Palestinians.

For the purpose of this article, early Jewish history is extrapolated from the Bible. There is a scarcity of secular, non-biblical documentation to substantiate early Jewish history as it is recorded in the Old Testament. For instance, there is no record in Egyptian history of a Moses in the courts of Pharaoh. There are also speculations that the biblical story of the Great Flood and Noah may not be original, but that it might have been taken over by Hebrew writers from Babylonian mythology. It must be stated, however, that it is not the actual history that is important; it is the social construct and conceptualization of it that is; and to this end there is a general acceptance of the authenticity of the Old Testament version of Hebrew history.

In extrapolating early Jewish history from the Old Testament, and analyzing it from an atheocratic, political perspective it is hoped that the analysis is not considered heretical.

Jewish biblical history began with the golden age of Eden and a divinely created pair, Adam and Eve, as the original ancestors of all mankind. As they multiplied and population increased, life became debased and cruel; and then came the flood, destroying all civilizations except Noah, his wife, three sons and their wives. After the flood, the Semites, descendants of Shem, the eldest son, settled themselves in western Asia. The descendants of the second son, Ham, settled in Africa, while those of the last son, Japhet settled in Europe. As generations passed, a descendant of Shem, whose name was Abraham, discovered the one true God and established monotheism. As a reward, God gave the land of Canaan (Palestine) to him and his seed forever. (Genesis 13:15.) Hence it is with Abraham Hebrew chroniclers definitely began the history of Israel as a people with a divine claim to the land of Palestine. Abraham, however, had two sons. His first, Ishmael, progenitor of the Arab people, was borne by an Egyptian slave, and his second, Isaac, by his wife, Sarah. According to biblical history, the inheritance was passed on to Isaac and his son, Jacob (whom God renamed Israel.)

Two things must be noted however: firstly, that when Abraham moved into the land it was already peopled, however sparsely and disorganized, by other nomadic Semitic tribes. Therefore, there is no valid "prior occupation" or comprehensive right to the land by the Jews, as some believe. Their claim rests wholly on a divine basis. Secondly, that monotheistic history does not indicate any original conflict between Ishmael and Isaac; rather, there appeared to have been some mutuality between them, as it records that both sons cooperated at the funeral of their father. The conflict developed later when religious differences arose with the establishment of Islam by Mohammed in 610 AD.

It must be observed that not only Jews are Semitic (although the term is used today to mean exactly that), so also are the Arabs, since they are descendants of Abraham who was a descendant of Shem, father of the Semitic races. Though this fact might be irrelevant, it does lend some credibility to the Palestinian’s right to live on the land. (Other words that have undergone similar change are Aryan and Caucasian.)

The descendants of Jacob (the Israelites) later abandoned the land after a prolonged famine, and settled in Egypt for four hundred years. It was the statesman, Moses (who spent forty years in Pharaoh's court) who gathered twelve of the Semitic tribes together (only the descendants of the twelve sons of Jacob that had sojourned in Egypt) and returned them to their Promised Land.

In their four hundred years absence, however, Palestine had become more populated and organized under numerous kingdoms many of whose total population greatly outnumbered that of the Israelites. In preparing to wage war against the inhabitants of Palestine and take their land, Moses accomplished a great task in uniting the twelve tribes under the common bond of religion, and made them into a nation by delivering to them laws and ordinances of government, society and religion. In doing so, Moses established (the first) a mono-theocratic nation. Thus, while the history of Israel as a people began with Abraham, the history of Israel as a nation began with Moses. It was incumbent upon his successor to establish statehood to the nation by obtaining the land.

In the early desert days, justice was based upon the simple principle of lex talionis, common to all primitive peoples, and perhaps still retained by desert dwellers today. Basically stated, it was an eye for an eye, tooth for tooth, and life for life. The law of retaliation became institutionalized in Judaism by Moses and remains still as a great part of Hebrew as well as Islamic traditions, as these two Abrahamic religions (Judaism and Islam), based on Old Testament principles, have not, unlike Christianity, undergone any reformation.

In preparing his people for war, Moses also established a spy system to obtain information on the weaknesses of the enemy. Two of his most successful spies were Caleb and Joshua, the latter later succeeding Moses as the leader of the Israelites. Joshua became the Napoleon of the Israelites. He led his invading hosts across the Jordan in a series of courageous attacks and subtle stratagems, his forces at all times numerically weaker that the enemies, to victory after victory. However, his army not only fought against regular warriors, but also slaughtered innocent women and children in almost all the battles fought, claiming divine instructions to do so. The inhabitants were demonized as enemies of Yahweh (the God of the Israelites). In the battle of Jericho, Joshua employed a non-conventional, highly scientific, ultra-sonic weaponry to shatter the walls of the city before invading the inhabitants.

Thus, we see the following rudimentary characteristics of terrorism:

  • primitivism of justice system
  • religious bigotry and its efforts at the establishing of a theocratic nationhood
  • sub-national/non-state group waging war against established nations
  • spying on the enemy
  • demonizing the enemy
  • slaughter of the innocent (women and children)
  • divine rationalization and justification
  • use of non-conventional weaponry.

Having taken possession of Palestine, Joshua divided up the country by lot among the twelve tribes who helped in the conquest. But conquest was one matter; security after conquest was quite another. It is strange that a rugged, mostly barren land as Palestine, should attract countless invaders over the millennia, both before and after the Israeli conquest. The Israelites never had any peace for generations. Within Palestine itself were pockets of Caananites who constantly threatened their security and independence. They were hemmed in on all sides by enemies – Moabities, Midianites, Ammonites, Edomites, Amalekites, Jebusites, etc. with whom there were perpetual battles. Invaders, like the Philistines, even came from afar off as the Mediterranean islands. The Philistines, in particular, fought with the Israelites for hundreds of years.

The defeat of the Israelites was not only due to wars against external enemies, but also wars among themselves. It was not long after settling in Palestine that dissention broke out among the twelve tribes, resulting in a disintegration of the original gathering. High taxation, forced labor, and royal extravagance were tremendous burdens on the people and their nationalism. Civil contention and wars among themselves further sub-divided their kingdom into two "toy" kingdoms, Israel and Judah, the two warring with each other. Violence became institutional and civil conflict became so great that nine dynasties were established in Israel alone in a little more than two hundred years, and nineteen kings followed one another, each virtually hacking his way to the throne. The Israelites were generally an agricultural people, but military despots were their rulers, and their kingmakers were prophets and professional fighters to whom royal and civil genocides, and plundering of the spoils of the poor were common practices. Hence religion and terrorism went hand in hand to aid political aspirations. Judah was a little more fortunate than Israel in their experience of royal successions and violence.

In 721 BC, Israel fell to the Assyrians. Judah lasted another hundred years or so before falling first to the Egyptians, and then most disgracefully to the Chaldean king, Nebuchadnezzer. Israel and Judah were now under foreign control. The heart of their religion was torn when the Chaldeans razed the Temple of Solomon, broke up its columns and rolled them down to the bottom of the valley of Kidron. (The Temple was rebuilt in 516 BC by some Jews who returned to Palestine.) Their populations were greatly diminished. Many of them were exiled. Only a sorry remnant of peasants remained in the countryside and pockets of rebel resistance in hiding, resorting to guerilla tactics to damage the alien oppressors. Within only a few months of Nebuchadnezzer's governor assuming leadership of Judah, he was assassinated by Jewish rebels.

As a result of the hundreds of years of constant wars the Jewish people developed a strong national consciousness and a close affinity to their God who, they were convinced, had been the guiding light in all their victories against alien enemies. Paradoxically, the civil wars that resulted in their divisions were actually intended to unify them. But more importantly, centuries of wars had sharpened their war technology, intelligence, aggressiveness and, like a wolf, their thirst and taste for blood. To the Jews mass murder of entire populations was synonymous with survival, and became a norm to them. Wars had also developed a greed among those who were accustomed to the easy plunder and spoils of war, though the Old Testament stated that they were always a greedy and discontented people, even prior to entering the Promised Land. Hundreds of years of wars had mutated their survival instincts and sharpened their will to progress economically even in the harshest of political, military, social and economic conditions. They were a people who refused to die, even after being conquered.

But more significantly, they were not just a resistant people; they were a revengeful people. Revenge was the hallmark of their religion. Probably their most popular sermon is that they are a people chosen and favored by God, and anyone who harms or opposes them would be punished by God or by those anointed to carry out His will. Their God was a God of (revenge and) war (Exodus 15:3). The Song of Lamech epitomizes their justice system and their culture of revenge:

A young man I slew for wounding me;
A young man, too, for bruising me.
Avenged may Cain be sevenfold,
But Lamech seven and seventy fold!

The unfortunate British certainly paid seven and seventy fold for Lamech during their administration of Palestine, early to mid twentieth century; but what Israel Prime minister, Ariel Sharon, has done in Palestine, particularly in Jenin, these past months, is a clear indication that the tradition of lex talionis is still alive, and Lamech is still being avenged.

Coming also out of this belief of being a people anointed and set aside by God, is a prejudice towards and an air of superiority over other peoples. The Jews believe and preach they are a light to the gentiles, and a salvation unto the end of the earth. They believe it is their mission, and theirs alone, to convert the gentile nations and bring then into conformity with the primary goal of the Torah (the Mosaic laws which are a guide to Jewish religious and civil life) which is to prepare them for the Messianic era when, "on that day Hashem will be one and His name one" – meaning that all other religions will disappear. (Isaiah 49: 6; Bryan J. Ellison, 1998.) The Christian world that accepts the anointment and superiority of the Jews, or feel a spiritual obligation to support them in their vengeful schemes, fall prey to the antiquated Old Testament principles, and fail to follow the teaching of Christ who clearly taught equality of Jews and gentiles alike, and who instituted a justice system diametrically opposite to the Mosaic law. They also fail to realize that even (the Hebrew) God does not actually support exclusivity of the Jews, since their most cherished monarch, King David, ordained by God himself, was an off-spring of Ruth, a Moabite. (If there is any spiritual message in this, it is one of co-existence.)

It is ironic that throughout all this history, up to the time the Jews were displaced from Palestine, they never diligently sought to or succeeded in establishing a truly theocratic society. They, as well as their kings, cohabited freely with the gentile races, and there were periods when they adopted the idol-worshipping religions of the gentiles. It was during their exile, after the destruction of their Temple that they realized how valuable their religion was, and began to trickle back into Palestine for the main purpose of re-establishing their religion. To them exclusive occupation of the land was an intrinsic part of their religion. Their first accomplishment was the re-building of the Temple which was completed by 516 BC. A period of about a hundred years of relative peace followed during which the Talmud (an elaboration of the Torah, and deduction from the old laws of new meanings drawn out from every sentence and every clause) was developed. By then the Jews had re-populated Palestine, and in the absence of any monarch (the last two of whom were killed when the Assyrians and Chaldeans conquered them a hundred years before) a gradual theocracy took shape with Pharisees and Saducees at the helm of authority. Extremism began to complement religious bigotry.

Their hundred years of relative peace was eventually shattered by the ambitions of Alexander the Great and his successors, Ptolomy and Seleucus, and the advent and influence of Hellenism which had been brought to them by both Ptolomy and Seleucus. Ptolomy and Seleucus were constantly fighting each other, with Palestine being the common pawn between them, changing hands several times. Hellenism, however, came with a cultural sophistication, and its tremendous antithetical influence on Jewish life gave rise to two extreme factions, Letzimism, a group that assimilated Hellenism, and Hasidism, a puritanical group that advocated the maintaining of an unadulterated Jewish culture. Hellenism did not present any security threat to Judaism, but the threat of cultural bastardization was just as great. The Greek invasion was more cultural than military. Judaism was in danger of being swallowed up, a danger not dissimilar to what present day globalization threatens to the Abrahamic, unreformed religions, a threat that is a serious bother to extremists today as it was then. The Jews responded with violence, and in turn, Antiochus IV, the Syrian monarch who succeeded Seleucus as ruler of Jews, retaliated with a tremendous persecution in which he issued an edict prohibiting Jewish practices and compelling loyalty to pagan abominations, sending twenty-two thousand soldiers, most of them overlooking the Temple, to ensure compliance. In the bitter confrontations that followed, the Temple was again destroyed, hundreds of Jewish homes were burned, pillaged and looted, and hundreds of women and children sold into slavery.

All this only further infuriated the Jews. An aged priest, Mattathias, reacted violently, killing a Syrian officer and a Jew who made a pagan sacrifice. Then he and his five sons, the Maccabees, fled to the mountains and raised the standard of revolt against the mighty Syrian Empire. Terrorism and guerrilla warfare was now in full order. The eldest Maccabees son, Judas, led a band of untrained, unequipped and unsupported men to several victories against the Syrians, each time having the advantage of surprise and geographical location. At one particular strategic location, a narrow pass at Emmaus, he defeated a large Greek contingent. At this famous pass great victories were also won by Joshua, before him, and after him by Richard the Lion Hearted against the Moslem forces, and the English General Allenby in advancing to the Holy City. The Jews had not only mastered the techniques of strategic location and terror, but had also taught others behind them. Judas eventually recaptured control of the Temple site and rebuilt the Temple and rededicated it to the God of Israel. His astonishing victories and the miraculous restoration brought great joy to the Jews, and they celebrated it in every home, even unto this day as the Festival of Hanukah. Judas skittled several of their perpetual Caananite enemies, and was soon in control of an area as large as that once controlled by King David.

The Maccabean revolt was so successful that by 142 BC it brought independence once more to the Jews under the leadership of Simon, the youngest of the Maccabean brothers. A period of reconstruction followed, and the Jews were delighted, and they prospered.

At this point a remarkable precedence in history occurred. The Jewish leader, Simon, the architect of Jewish reconstruction, was assassinated. His son, Hyrcanus, full of ambition, military knowledge and religious fanaticism, succeeded him. Hyrcanus, only a generation away from those who had poured out their life and fortune for religious freedom, created a mercenary army with which he proceeded to carve out an empire and spread his faith by the point of the sword. He subjugated the Samaritans and destroyed their temple. He gave Israel's ancient enemies, the Edomites, the choice of exile from the land or convert to Judaism. It was an amazing campaign of terror that was to repeat itself in the twenty-first century.

Aristobulus, the son of Hyrcanus, was even more ambitious. He not only followed his father's example in empire building, he also crowned himself king, and reintroduced the old Jewish practice of destroying members of his own family who could become threats to the security of his throne. His brother, Jannaeus, who succeeded him, was even worse.

Monarchical corruption and opposition to it once again led to internecine conflict. Jannaeus even crucified eight hundred of his own people who opposed him, and while they died slowly, he cut the throats of their wives and children before their eyes. Throughout the history of Israel and Israelite monarchy there had never been such a bloody civil massacre.

Upon his death, and that of his wife who succeeded him, the empire fell into the hands of their two sons who, with separate armies, waged a bitter, long war against each other for their parents' inheritance. It was at this time that an ambitious Roman captain, Pompey, was begged by the Pharisees to intercede. Pompey took advantage of the Jewish infighting, and within months Jerusalem was once again conquered by foreigners. Twelve thousand Jews perished as the reign of the Maccabees and the independence of Judah came abruptly to an end. Maccabean terrorism that had reinstated Israel independence was also responsible for its defeat. (If there is another lesson to learn here, it is that terrorism contains the inherent germ for its own defeat.) However, from the caves and hills the Maccabean loyalists continued their terrorist attacks against the Romans and Herod, the newly appointed king of Judea, for another twenty-seven years until Antigonus, the last of the Maccabean dynasty was hunted out of the caves, scourged like a common criminal and then ignobly beheaded.

With the Romans came the beginning of a new era of brutal resistance and persecution never before experienced in the history of the Israelites. Numerous rebellions followed Herod's brutal reign. Following one rebellion he slaughtered three thousand Jews in the Temple court as they gathered for the Passover festival. Pilgrims were slaughtered like sheep side by side with their temple offerings. The Temple was filled with the dead. Herod was eventually removed as king by the Roman Emperor, and banished to Gaul. The Emperor thereafter appointed procurators, instead of monarchies, over Judea, but still brutality continued, particularly following protests against heavy taxation and the usurping of Temple funds for secular development such as building aqueducts. As Jewish protests increased, so did Roman barbarity, and Jews were slain by soldiers at the slightest provocation. Eminent Jewish leaders were crucified and whole villages were razed. One of the procurators, Florus, insulted by a simple gesture of the Jews, killed more than six thousand of them. A feeling of hopelessness prevailed and a fever of martyrdom seemed seized upon the harassed people as Zealots rushed to their deaths in protest against oppression. Thus, it was the Jews who introduced religious suicide into the Abrahamic religion(s).

Following Florus' massacre of more than six thousand Jews, a national rebellion broke out and this was destined to bring an inglorious end to Israel as a State. Zealots seized a fortress at Masada. The soldiers offered to surrender, asking only permission to leave the country, and their terms were accepted by the Jews. But the rebellion had turned into a holy war, and every pagan was to be killed. Consequently, when the soldiers laid aside their arms, they were savagely slaughtered. A series of Roman retaliation followed, beginning with Cestius Gallus who besieged Jerusalem with twenty thousand troops. After six months of raging battle with the Jews, Gallus and his twenty thousand troops that had vastly outnumbered the Zealots were badly defeated – so daring and war-maddened were the Zealots. The Emperor then dispatched Vespasian, this time with fifty thousand troops. Vespasian was a shrewd and capable general with extensive experience in Germany and Britain. In the months that followed many thousands of Jews were killed. Vespasian's campaign was interrupted by his accession to the Roman throne, following the death of Nero, but his son, Titus continued from where he left off.

Defeat for Jerusalem was imminent. Titus had completely surrounded the city. Within its three city walls nearly a million Jews were crammed, cut off from food and supplies as Titus slowly battered down the walls one after the other and implored the Jews to surrender. But they stubbornly refused, preferring to die instead; and die they did by the thousands, more from starvation and diseases than from wounds of war. Factional strife among them developed, divided by temperaments, personal animosities, fights for food, and disputes over war methods. At nights hordes of them would steal out in search of roots and anything to eat, only to be captured by the vigilant soldiers and crucified, five hundred and more in a night. Desperation seized them. Many ran out to fight with bare hands, some collapsing before even reaching the Romans. The Jews had showed the world not only how noble it was and how willing they were to die for their religion, but also how to do it at a cost to the enemy. Damage to the enemy was made an element of religious suicide.

After four years Titus conquered Jerusalem. The Temple was, for the third time, razed, the Torah was carried away to the palace of the emperor, and Titus struck coins depicting Judah as a weeping woman under a palm tree, with the inscription: "Judea capta."

For a generation or more the subjugated Jews lived quietly, enjoying equal political rights with the non-Jewish citizens of Rome. Then suddenly they revolted, this time against a Roman edict that forbade the practice of circumcision. Bar Kokba, a brilliant, young warrior who claimed to be divinely inspired arose to lead them. He was widely hailed as the long awaited Messiah. Throughout the country the Jews believed and preached deliverance had come, and rallied for a last stand against Rome, and the eventual establishment of God’s kingdom on earth. Only the Christians rejected the message, accepting instead that the Messiah had already come in the person of Jesus.

The Emperor recalled Severus, his most experienced general, from Britain, for this finale against the Jews. Severus, using the same strategies as Vespian and Titus, succeeded in an extermination campaign. Half-a-million Jews were killed. Many survivors were sold at the slave markets or sent to the gladiatorial arenas. The name of their homeland was changed to Palestine, and Jews everywhere were forbidden, on the penalty of death to ever set foot in Jerusalem – only on the date of the traditional anniversary of the destruction of the Temple, could they pay for the right to weep at the site, a right that was to be denied them for eighteen hundred years, only to be restored to them by the British. (That the Jews should repay the British with such violence attests to their great barbarity and ingratitude.) The Temple site at Jerusalem became a haunt for wild animals, and the land became desolate once again.

Two interesting observations are to be made at this point. Firstly, the efforts to re-establish the State in the twentieth century were not undertaken by the Jews in Israel – they were virtually wiped out. These efforts were made by Jews who had, throughout the centuries, been scattered in all parts of Europe, and who were prospering in their various enclaves. Secondly, the military tactics and terrorism employed by the Jews for hundreds of years had brought them countless victories over their enemies, but they were eventually defeated. Therefore, any attempt to re-establish the State would require different military and terrorist strategies.

In a follow-up of this article it would be seen how these European Jews, in their nearly two thousand years of exile from Palestine, were able to finetune their religious, political, military and terrorist strategies in order to accomplish a re-settlement of Palestine.

Modern terrorism is not about killing out the enemy in total. It is about creating terror and causing the population to lose their confidence and sense of security in the government. It is about attracting world attention and sympathy to its cause. This would be the new approach of the twentieth century Jews who were able to defeat the British, although the British were twice as strong as the Romans who had wiped them out from Palestine nearly two millennia before. So highly developed was their methodology that terrorists and genuine freedom fighters the world over (including the Arabs) began studying and following the Jewish blueprint. For the Arabs, in particular, the Jews had not only provided them the method, but also the motive.

For centuries the Jews lived in almost every country in a state of exile, barely accepted. Scattered all over the globe, they lived in enclaves. Some submit that they prospered off their hosts, and this relation gave rise to anti-Semitism which quickly became internationalized as the Jews multiplied but stubbornly refused to assimilate in mainstream societies. Everywhere they were looked upon as an alien group. As early as AD 38 a Greek scholar, Apion, led a delegation to the Roman Emperor, complaining that Jews were haters of mankind. In 1872, Pope Pius IX, in celebrating Christmas, issued a diatribe denouncing the Jews as enemies of Christ and a pernicious influence in civilized society. When the first set of twenty-three Jews arrived in the US from Brazil, in September 1654, Peter Stuyvesant of the Amsterdam (New York) Chamber of the Dutch West India Company wrote a letter opposing their admission on grounds that “their customary usury and deceitful trading with Christians; their repugnance to the magistrates; and that they were blasphemers of the name of Christ.” William Shakespeare epitomized the Jew as Shylock, a mean, despicable and cruel merchant of Venice, much hated by all. Even during the Nazi persecution, shiploads of Jews escaping Europe were refused entry into the US. It is marvel how the Jews, within a few short decades, managed to convert the US from a rigid anti-Jewish position into their strongest ally, without actually altering any of their cultural practices or their original demand for exclusive possession of Palestine. On the contrary, they have revived the Hebrew language and many of their cultural practices with the full blessing and financial backing since 1948.

The Jews, in many ways, were both the cause and result of the anti-Semitic treatment meted out to them. They lived like exiles, and were therefore treated as such. Deep in their hearts Palestine was their true home, the place where their God was, and their religion, their culture, their language; it was a place where they all yearned to return. And their yearning increased as anti-Semitism and persecution against them increased in almost all the enclaves in which they dwelled. It is rather ironic that such hatred against a set of people should become so pandemic in a continent that was steeped in the traditions of Renaissance, Enlightenment, classical liberalism, and public education.

For nearly eighteen centuries there was no significant re-migration of Jews to Palestine. The land, by then, had become occupied by Islamic Arabs. Established in the seventh century, Islam, like Judaism, rejected the God-hood of Jesus. The creator of the religion, Mohammed, who, like Jesus, came from a humble background, nevertheless, went one step higher that the Jews in elevating Jesus to the status of prophet, while he declared himself to be the last prophet of God. Mohammed, in earlier days, had been fascinated by the Jews in Arabia, who, despite their internecine strife, were strongly unified by a common religion, and Mohammed longed to find such a bond that would unite his own people who were always at war among themselves.

In studying Jewish history Mohammed extrapolated much from the Old Testament and converted it to suit his purpose. Certain "distortions" openly affronted Jewish theology, particularly Islamic claims that Ishmael, not Isaac, was the true inheritor of the Abrahamic promise. This deviation which became the catalyst and quintessence in appealing to and appeasing of the Arabs, struck at the heart of Judaism and created an irreparable rift between the Arabs and the Jews. Having converted sections of Arabia, Mohammed, adding insult to Jewish injury, used the same method of the Israelites, particularly the Maccabean method, to practically force his religion down the throat of his enemies at the point of the sword. The first Islamic violence against Judaism occurred in Medina following Mohammed's failure to convert the Arab Jews and borrowing money from them to finance his planned attack against Mecca. He confiscated their possessions and sent them packing from Medina. Thereafter there was perpetual Islamic violence against the Jews.
After the death of Mohammed all Arabia was won to Islam. Then, taking advantage of the weakened Persian and Eastern Roman empires which were locked in combat for over a century, the army of Islam quickly swept through the region, changing the political and religious landscape of Europe and the East forever. But for the Jews in particular, their birthright, the land of Palestine, had been stolen through the Arab distortion of their own Hebrew theology. For them it was an unforgivable act.

It was in this political and religious climate that the Jews began to return to Palestine, encouraged by the formation, in the late nineteenth century, of the Zionist Movement, founded by Dr. Theodore Herzl whose specific objective was to resettle their former homeland and re-establish their state and nation. (Herzl was later posthumously honored as the father of modern Israel.)

Throughout history the land of Palestine was of little or no economic importance to any of the invading nations; its importance was rather geo-political. In earlier times it was the bridging route of caravan trade between the Far and the Middle East; hence whoever controlled the route controlled the trade. (It was the control of this trade route that later spurred European nations to explore for alternative routes by sea.) The Romans however were able to bleed some wealth out of the people (not the land) through burdensome taxation. When fossil fuel became important, a consequence of the industrial revolution, Palestine became even more important to the western nations of Europe, since it became a base from which they could exploit the huge oil resources of the surrounding nations. Further importance, military and economic, was attached when the Suez Canal was dug, as Palestine became a strategic point from where the Canal could be protected. Perhaps the greatest religious importance of Palestine was that it cradled two of the three Abrahamic religions, and became a holy shrine for all three.

It was therefore no surprise that Britain, super power of the era, was in control of Palestine, and the returning Jews not only had to deal with the Arabs and Islam, but also a powerful, bureaucratic and manipulative imperialist. Britain had gained control of Palestine following the collapse of the Ottoman (Turkish) Empire at the end of World War I mainly by manipulating Arab, Zionist and European support against the Turks, and through a 1922 official mandate from the League of Nations for the control. The British, in soliciting the support of these three entities, had, in the Balfour Declaration of 1917, promised the Jews a creation of a Zionist state in Palestine; and the Arabs and Europeans, basically the same thing, only in different words, thus playing each against the other. It was diplomatic treachery, and Britain was to pay dearly for it, as stated before, "seven and seventy fold for the avenging of Lamech" (whosoever Lamech was). Europe accepted the treachery with diplomacy, and the Arabs were too disorganized to challenge the British, thus they felt the full brunt of Israeli terrorism as a result.

Israeli terrorism,* launched mainly by a Jewish terrorist organization, the Igrun, was first directed at the Arabs, but expanded to include the British in1939 following the promulgation of a British White paper severely restricting Jewish immigration into Palestine. Thus the struggle was not so much against imperialism as it was a protest against their restrictive immigration policy. The Irgun suspended their anti-British terrorism for a four-year period during World War II, seeing that they both were fighting a common enemy in the Nazi. By1943, under the leadership of Menachem Begin (a later Prime Minister of Israel), the Irgun resumed operations against the British, and in 1944 simultaneously bombed immigration offices in Palestine’s three major cities, following up with attacks on land registry offices that administered the White Paper's restrictions on Jewish land purchases. Their most spectacular terrorist operation was the bombing, in 1946, of the King David Hotel, which housed the nerve center of British rule in Palestine. Ninety-one persons were killed and forty-five others injured – men and women, Arabs, Jews and Britons alike. It was perhaps the first mass murder associated with modern terrorism. The event fully achieved its terrorist objectives in sending a message to the British, and in attracting worldwide attention to the Jewish concern. So effective was their propaganda and lobbying activities that pro-Irgun Jewish-Americans succeeded in obtaining the passages of resolutions by the US Congress condemning "British oppression" and re-affirming American support for the establishment of a Jewish state in Palestine. Begin, head of the terrorist organization, was even twice granted audience at a United Nations Special Committee to present his organization's cause.

With the US, UN and most of the world behind them, the Irgun could do no wrong. The next year, 1947, in retaliation to the government's trial, conviction and execution of three Irgun terrorists, they publicly hanged two British sergeants. Many other daring attacks followed, and so terrorized and terrified were the British, living in pathetic pockets of seclusion, that the same year the American Consul-General in Jerusalem observed, "...the [British] Government of Palestine is a hunted organization…."

A year later, on May 15, 1948, the British were forced to concede to terrorism, and Israel was established as a State once again in the land of Palestine under the prime ministership of David Ben Gurion. Within a few hours of the Israeli declaration of their independence, President Truman announced a de facto recognition of the new state, and three days later, the Kremlin similarly with a de jure recognition (each of the two super powers having an eye on the prize). The following year the UN granted membership to Israel as a State.

The fate of the Palestinians was officially placed at the mercy of the Jews. The world was fully aware of Jewish mercy. The Jews celebrated with dancing, but in the streets of Palestine the Arabs felt that, just as how the British had betrayed them, the US, USSR, UN and the rest of the world had done the same, and they were destined to re-live the Crusades all over again.

With the British out of their way, the Jews immediately returned their attention to the Arabs. Throughout history the Jews never had intentions of coexisting with the Palestinians. They wanted the entire Palestine, since the whole territory was their biblical inheritance. The Arabs, on the other hand, were willing to accommodate the Jews under a single partitioned State, but their terms of having the State led by an Arab who had participated in the Nazi's holocaust, was deemed unrealistic. Within months of their independence declaration Israel launched a brutal attack against them resulting in nearly a million Arabs being displaced and seeking refuge in the neighboring countries of Jordan, Syria, Lebanon and Egypt. Out of these humiliated refugees emerged a group of new Arab leaders vowed to take revenge. One such leader was Yasir Arafat who founded the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) in 1964 with the objective of attacking Israel and the occupied territories. By 1968 there were seven Islamic terrorist organizations, and by 1978, fifty-five.

In the years that followed, Israeli response to Palestinian terrorism was seen as a betrayal of the concept of Zionism as originally perceived by Dr. Herzl when he established the movement. Israel had not lifted itself from the sub-national type terrorism that it previously practiced to that of a more dignified and restrained behavior expected of a State. They were now practicing legitimized terrorism. Zionism itself which was the driving force behind Israeli statehood had undergone changes, shifting from its political objective (which was now achieved) to a messianic objective – the disappearance of all other religions (by force if necessary) in preparation for the coming of the Messiah.

The messages and activities of two such messianic Zionists, Dr. Baruch Goldstein and Rabbi Meir Kahani, were to have a profound effect on Islamic extremist movements, and the events that followed connect both directly and indirectly to the attack on America on September 11, 2001.

Rabbi Kahani, a native of Brooklyn, and founder of Israel's right wing Kach Party, advocated a kind of Jewish Nazism. His statements about Arabs were compared word for word with those of Hitler about the Jews, and found to be remarkably similar. A firm believer in religious violence, his strong messianic message was that the Arabs should be forcefully removed from Palestine, and a new State called Judaea be established. He even had a flag already made out for the State. Regarding Israel, Kahani was totally against any secular government in Israel which he claimed was an enemy to the Jews. Kahani's perpetual call for violence against the Palestinians resulted in his assassination in a downtown Manhattan hotel on November 5, 1990 by El Sayyid Nosair, an Egyptian immigrant.

As always, whenever one side killed, the other retaliated in equal (or seven fold) measure. Thus, the next day two elderly Palestinian farmers were shot dead, and the spiral of attacks and reprisal started again.

Several events thereafter connect the teaching of messianic Zionism and its terrorist activities to the bombing of the World Trade Center, while others indicate an escalation of terrorism by either side.

  • Rabbi Kahani was probably the first person to export Arab/Israeli terrorism to the US when three of his followers became the FBI’s prime suspects in the murder of a leader of the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee, in California.
  • An accomplice of Rabbi Kahani’s assassin, Mahmud Abouhalima, who had a connection to Osama bin Laden, was said to be the mastermind behind the World Trade Center bombing and was one of the men later convicted of the crime.
  • On February 25, 1994, Goldstein, a disciple of Rabbi Kahani, entered the Tomb of the Patriarch, a shrine held sacred to all three Abrahamic faiths, and fired 119 shots from an M-16, killing thirty Palestinians and injured another 150 as they knelt in prayer, before he himself was overwhelmed and beaten to death by the faithful.
  • The period following Kahani’s death saw the meteoric rise of the terrorist star, Osama bin Laden who appeared to have specialized in exporting
    terrorism outside the traditional Israel/Palestine axis, with activities in such countries as:
    • Somalia, 1993 – he admitted training the troops that brought down a US Army Blackhawk helicopter, and killing eighteen American soldiers.
    • Jordan, 1993 – assassination attempts on Prince Abdullah.
    • Egypt, 1993 – attempted assassination of Egyptian president, Hosni Mubarak.
    • Saudi Arabia, 1995 – his Afghan trained al-Qaeda men killed five American service personnel and two Indian soldiers.
    • 1996 – bin Laden officially declared war on the US.
    • Kenya, 1998 – bombing of American Embassy.
    • Tanzania, 1998 – bombing of American Embassy.
    • In addition to direct involvement, he has trained and positioned terrorists in several other countries over the world.
  • The November 4, 1995 assassination of Israeli Prime Minister, Yitzhak Rabin; thus frustrating the peace efforts between Rabin and Arafat.
  • Numerous suicide bombings followed by Israeli intensification of legitimized terrorism. In the previous ten months prior to the World Trade Center bombing on September 11, 140 Israelis were killed by Palestinian terrorists, compared to 550 Palestinians by Israeli soldiers. Israel has also increased the bulldozing of Palestinian homes, and the use of helicopter gunships to strafe civilians.
  • Several incidents of apparent targeting of young Palestinian children by the Israeli. One such incident occurred on October 1, 2000 in which a man and his twelve year-old son were sheltering from Israeli gunfire. The man kept begging with those who were firing not to shoot them, but they did, nevertheless, killing his son and wounding him. (See photos) That week two other children, ages 10 and 7 were added to the list of victims of Israeli terrorism.

The question of “why America?” has been raised by millions of voices, and the answer would take volumes.
First of all, the Arabs have long been suspicious of Christian (Western) intervention in the affairs of the Middle East since the days of the Crusades. Then there is the feeling of betrayal by the British who failed to keep promises made to the Arabs since WW I to the time of their withdrawal in 1948.

But perhaps most importantly, the principles of western secular democracy and the practices of western culture are seen to be in direct confrontation with the theocratic/monarchical/patriarchal structure of Arab society.

Then there is the feeling that great injustice is being meted out to the Palestinians by the US in the three billion dollar annual support to Israel, in addition to military aid.

At the political level there are concerns that the US is moving further away from international law and UN resolutions on issue relating to the Arab/Israeli conflict. The US has frequently vetoed UN objections to human rights abuses against the Palestinians.

Concluding Remarks

With fifty thousand troops Titus, the Roman general had defeated the Jews and scattered the remnants to all parts of the world where they remained for eighteen hundred years. The British, who at one time had one hundred thousand troops in Palestine (one soldier for each adult male Jew) and much superior weaponry, was unable to defeat the Irgun terrorists. But the Romans and the British were not dealing with the same nation mentioned in the Hebrew and Christian Bibles or the Islamic Q’ran. The Israel of today is a secular power dominated by people of European descent who had been exiled for nearly two millennia and who were/are determined to make Zionism a success.
They had learned a valuable lesson from the Romans in that the war should not be a war of numbers. Success was not to be measured by the causalities inflicted or assets destroyed. (Indeed, between 1945 and 1947 less than 150 British soldiers were killed.) This was a psychological war. Strategies were designed less to kill and more to tarnish the enemy. The occasional bombing was only to attract the media, indicate responses, reinstate terror and confusion among the enemy, and force them to take more repressive actions while the terrorist's media stood by ready to broadcast the repression to the world. In the end the good guys became the bad, and the bad the good. It all had to do with construction of reality. So effective was the Irgun's campaign against the British that it established a revolutionary model which thereafter was to be emulated and embraced by both genuine freedom fighters and terrorists alike, the world over. Nearly a quarter of a century later the Brazilian revolutionary theorist, Carlos Marighela, would advocate the same strategies in his famous manual Handbook of Urban Guerrilla War. Another book The Revolt published by General George Grivas in Cyprus, was a study of the Irgun campaign. In Cyprus where the situation was somewhat similar to Palestine, Grivas adopted the same strategy as Begin’s in that he did not aim at an outright military victory against the British, but he relied on dramatic, well-orchestrated and appropriately timed acts of violence to focus international attention on their cause. Like Israel also, Grivas troops were outnumbered by the British one hundred to one.

In Algeria the National Liberation Front (FLN) in revolting against French rule studied the Zionist methodology and adapted it to fit their circumstances.

Even Yasir Arafat of the PLO and Nelson Mandela of the African National Congress (ANC) have admitted how their respective organizations have benefited from studies of the Zionist/FLN methodology.

The Irgun had refined the crudeness of Israeli terrorism that formerly concentrated on total destruction and mutilation of the enemy. The goal was now to demonize and discredit the enemy at the international level. Make the common peace keeping officer a monster. Introduce a high level of drama, have massive media ownership and control, and constant lobbying at the international level are required – the latter being something the Arab terrorists are yet to accomplish, though they have adopted a different method of internationalizing their cause by internationalizing terrorism itself through such acts as hijacking airlines, murdering of eleven Israeli athletes at the Munich Olympics, 1972, and bombing Israeli and US interests in other countries.

It is so unfortunate that at this height of our civilization and culture that groups should go after each other with primitive barbarity. It is even more unfortunate that a nation that claims to have been chosen by God should provide the motive and methodology that might eventually usher in the Armageddon.


1. Boy’s Killing Blemishes Israeli Image. Internet. www. 2002.
2. Carroll, et al.: The Development of Civilization Vol I Glenview, Illinois: Scott, Foresman and Co. 1961.
3. Collins, L and Lapierre, D.: O Jerusalem. New York: Pocket Books. 1972.
4. Ellison, Bryan J.: The Final War for Jerusalem. Brooklyn, New York: Bryan Ellison, 1998.
5. Hoffman, Bruce: Inside Terrorism. Columbia University Press. 2000.
6. Juergensmeyer, Mark: Terror in the Mind of God: The Global Rise of Religious Violence. Los Angeles: University of California Press. 2000.
7. Sachar, A.L.: A History of the Jews. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, Inc. 1966.
8. Schappes, Morris: History of the Jews in the US – 1654-1875. New York: Citadel Press. 1950.
9. Scofield, C.I. (Ed): The Holy Bible, King James Version. New York: Oxford University Press. 1945.
10. White, J. R.: Terrorism. Connecticut: Wadsworth. 2002.

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