Histomat: Adventures in Historical Materialism

'Historical materialism is the theory of the proletarian revolution.' Georg Luk√°cs

Sunday, February 19, 2006

Glorifying Terror


This week, British MPs voted for a new law against "glorifying terror". In response, I thought I would start a post to put up quotes from people who historically have 'glorified terror' who, according to Blair and New Labour, would now be convicted criminals. Feel free to send in quotes etc., but I thought I would start the ball rolling with this one from one of the 'founding fathers' of the United States and indeed author of the 'Declaration of Independence'.

'The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants'
- Thomas Jefferson, 1787, glorying in the role violence played in America's national liberation. Jefferson later became the Third President of the United States.

'Accept my congratulations on this splendid act of conquest. Convey my regards to all the commanders and soldiers. We shake your hands. We are all proud of the excellent leadership and the fighting spirit in this great attack ... Tell the soldiers: you have made history in Israel with your attack and your conquest. Continue this until victory. As in Deir Yassin, so everywhere, we will attack and smite the enemy. God, God, Thou has chosen us for conquest.'

Menachem Begin member of the Zionist Irgun organisation after the bloody attack on Deir Yassin, an Arab village of about 750 residents located on high ground in the corridor between Tel Aviv and Jerusalem, in 1948, which left 100 dead. In 1946, Begin had been involved in the King David Hotel bombing, which left 91 people dead. Begin became Prime Minister of Israel in 1977.

'Neither Jewish morality nor Jewish tradition can negate the use of terror as a means of battle...We are quite far from moral hesitations on the national battlefield. We see before us the command of the Torah, the most moral teaching in the world: Obliterate - until destruction. We are particularly far from this sort of hesitation in regard to an enemy whose moral perversion is admitted by all...But primarily terror is part of our political battle under present conditions and its role is large and great...It demonstrates, in clear language, to those who listen throughout the world and to our despondent brothers outside the gates of this country of our battle against the true terrorist who hides behind his piles of papers and the laws he has legislated...It is not directed against people, it is directed against representatives. Therefore it is effective...If it also shakes the Jews in Israel from their complacency, good and well...Only so will the battle for liberation begin.'

Statements from the Stern Gang, a 1940s Zionist organisation whose members included Yitzhak Shamir, who became Prime Minister of Israel in 1983.

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2 Comments:

At 12:28 pm, Blogger Rob said...

I dunno if you've read any of my posts on this (and in some respects they're a bit out of date now - though the fact that glorification is back in hmmm....), but I reckon this points to a very worrying trend whereby huge amounts of discretion are introduced into the law and determinations are increasingly based on pure politics.

I mean, the definition of terrorism it uses is essentially any violence for a political end, so potentially here is my 'quote' from someone glorifying terrorism:

http://politics.guardian.co.uk/iraq/story/0,12956,1162991,00.html

(In case anyone's interested - my posts on the subject:
http://pashukanis.blogspot.com/2005/11/end-of-habeas-corpus-in-great-britain.html
http://pashukanis.blogspot.com/2005/11/clarke-flexible-on-terror-laws.html
http://pashukanis.blogspot.com/2005/10/old-news.html)

 
At 11:45 pm, Blogger Snowball said...

All very good points Rob. I may well use your 'quote' though there are so many examples of glorifications of state terror that they can become banal.

 

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