Monday, July 03, 2006
Posted by Daniel Greenfield 3 Comments
When the US Supreme Court recently ruled on the legality of military tribunals for captured terrorists, it was another syllable in a long conversation on how to describe terrorists. As soldiers, pirates, spies or criminals. The left has continually tried to shoehorn them into the category of criminals.
Al Queda terrorists should be tried by the justice system like all criminals, the left has argued, rather than fighting a War on Terror we should be using legal means to extradite and prosecute them, they've argued.
The position of the left derives from the fact that criminals enjoy a good deal of legal protections. But there's a reason for that. Criminals are members of our society whose rights are protected as are the rights of all the members of our society. Terrorists however come from outside our society, infiltrating in the service of foreign governments and agencies with the intent of attacking us and causing us grave harm. As such they fall far more closely into the category of spies like the German saboteurs who snuck ashore during WW2 off a U-Boat and were promptly tried to a military tribunal and shot.
The left wing response to Palestinians terrorists has been ever more confused. At times they argue that Palestinian terrorists are guerrillas. Fine, then hostile guerrillas are legitimate targets. But wait, says the left, they should be arrested and tried in the legal system. Once they're arrested and jailed the left claims that they're freedom fighters and should be released.
Once again what the left is really doing is assigning terrorists the protections of every category and the responsibility of none of the categories. By turns the left views Palestinian terrorists as criminals, as soldiers, as activists, as freedom fighters, as politicians, as guerrillas; but never holds them to the flip side of any category. They cannot be shot like guerrillas or jailed like criminals, they are the elected leaders representing the will of the Palestinian people until Israel strikes back and then suddenly the argument goes, the Palestinian people can't suffer for the actions of a few terrorists.
With the kidnapping of Gilad Shalit, the left has been tying itself in knots trying to oppose Israel's rescue operation. By turns we are told that Hamas is working to resolve the crisis, even though the whole reason for the crisis is that Hamas kidnapped and won't release an Israeli soldier. The world insists that Israel pursue a diplomatic solution, but why? If the Palestinian government decides to attack Israel, Israel has the right to strike back. The diplomatic solution is simple, release the soldier. But by diplomatic solution instead, the world means reaching some sort of deal that frees convicted Palestinian terrorists thus justifying the Palestinian attack in the first place and insuring there will be many more.
The media wails that Israel is imposing collective punishment on the Palestinian people, yet those Palestinian people elected Hamas. Collectively they are responsible for its actions. So far Hamas isn't cleaning up the corrupt government so much as exchanging fire with Fatah and cowering when Israeli tanks drive by all the whole holding a gun to a young man's head and demanding that Israel give them what they want.
The left wants a morality that always puts the terrorists on the right side and holds them accountable for nothing, but that is not a morality Israel or America can afford to subscribe to. If the left wants to call Gilad Shalit a POW to legitimize Hamas' actions, then Hamas is therefore an enemy army and the West Bank and Gaza the territory of an enemy state, which Israel has every right to invade to recover its man. If Hamas is anything less than an army and a state, then they are nothing more than criminals whose territory Israel can enter at will whenever it chooses anyway.
The left has waded up to its shoulders in rhetoric but failed to clarify categories. If it wants to defend Hamas, it must state openly and clearly the status of Hamas and its freedoms and responsibilities. If it does not, then it has nothing to say worth listening to except propaganda and rhetoric.