By Micah Halpern
Monday March 21, 2005
They call themselves freedom fighters. I call them thugs.
They call themselves heroes. I call them well-armed bands of hooligans.
They are terrorists.
Terrorists know the power of intimidation and they use it well, terrorizing even the people they claim to defend.
Terrorists feel themselves above the law of any land and glorify their own cause with displays of might and machismo.
Hamas. Islamic Jihad. Suicide bombers in Iraq. ETA in Spain. Al Qaeda. And the IRA. They are terrorist groups one and all. They rely on the complacency born out of fear of their constituents. But it is that silence that is used as cover for their brutal actions.
Until now. I hope.
It's taken five women, enraged over the brutal murder of Robert McCartney, their brother, innocently visiting a bar in Belfast and killed in front of countless eye witnesses who are now too scared to come forward with the truth, to say "enough." Too scared, because Robert McCartney was killed by terrorists, murdered by IRA thugs.
And now, the bereaved McCartney sisters, women who are neither scared nor intimidated, women who are righteously angry are cracking the wall of silence that protects these streets thugs and simple criminals whose behavior and strategy more closely resemble the acts of the mafia than the militias and armies they claim to be.
In the terrorist world symbols play an important role. Terrorists fight for symbols that mesh with their own ideology and attack symbols that run counter to their beliefs. That's why al Qaeda attacked the World Trade Centers, the world's most obvious symbol of materialism and greed. That's why Iraqi terrorists attack the UN and Red Cross. And that's why Hamas attacks discos.
Is it enough for five now-celebrated women, feted by the White House, to shout "enough!" It's a start. And the reason it will be effective at all is because it is locals standing up against locals.
If 10,000 Palestinians took to the streets and rejected terror as a vehicle for fighting Israelis, Palestinian terrorists would be forced to take notice. If 10,000 Palestinian university students shouted that young terrorist thugs are hampering their ability to achieve normalcy, the terrorists would be forced to respond. When the people upon whom the terrorists depend for their cover are no longer cowered into silence and submission and are empowered enough to turn against them, terrorists are left with one of two alternatives. They are either forced to clamp down on their communities, mafia style, or to change their approach.
It's a risk, but one worth taking.
Terrorists know that they cannot be successful without local support. The only way to defeat terror is for locals to show terrorists for what they really are. Only then will others be less afraid and only then will the truly evil characters in these terror groups be forced to disarm and modify their behavior.
Palestinian terrorists. Iraqi bombers. Al Qaeda. Take note. The tide is turning because those people upon whom you count are slowly becoming more and more willing to turn against you. Everyone take note of what the McCartney sisters are doing.
Palestinian locals. Citizens of Belfast. Citizens of the world. Pay attention. Let's learn the lesson of five women fighting valiantly - without arms - to restore dignity to their own lives and by extension, to ours.
Terrorism works best when it has the support of locals.