Ariel Merari, extract from The "Terrorism" Industry
Ariel Merari has been head of terrorism studies at the Jaffee Center for Strategic Studies at Tel Aviv University in Israel since 1979 and has written extensively on the subject. In Israel, it is hard to separate the private and governmental sectors of the terrorism industry; even more than in the other Western countries they have a symbiotic relationship, working together on a common enterprise. The head of Merari's center is a former chief of Israeli intelligence, and the conferences staged by the center regularly include a high proportion of government participants. For all of these participants there is only one relevant terrorism - Palestinian - and the issue is how to control it within the political assumptions of Israeli state policy.
Merari shares all of these premises and concerns, and his work is confined within narrow ideological bounds. In writings extending beyond the Palestinian question, terrorists are identified strictly within the Western model and the demands of Western power. Thus, for Merari the ANC and SWAPO are terrorist organizations, but UNITA and RENAMO are not. In his book with Shlomi Elad, 'The International Dimension of Palestinian Terrorism,' and in his introduction to the Jaffee Center volume 'On Terrorism and bombatting Terrorism,' Merari always describes Israeli actions as "responsive" or "retaliatory." He does point out that they often have had an intent of deterrence "through punishment," but this is never "terrorism." The many thousands of victims of this "retaliatory" punishment are not accorded much sympathy by Merari, who goes so far as to describe the punishment as "painful Israeli strikes over several years." Presumably, the pain refers to the condition of the victims, although it may be the pain of the Israelis who are compelled to inflict the punishment that elicits this word.
Despite careful accounts of the calculations and actions of Israeli and PLO strategists, Merari's bias causes him to make statements that are easily refutable from well-known evidence. For example, he states that "the Palestinian hijacking of an EI Al plane to Algiers on July 22, 1968, was the first time hijacking was used for the express purpose of political blackmail". Merari is surely aware of the fact that in December 1954 the Israeli military seized a Syrian civilian airliner to obtain hostages to bargain for Israeli soldiers held by Syria. The diary of former Israeli Prime Minister Moshe Sharett mentions that he was told by the U.S. State Department that "our action was without precedent in the history of international practice." Merari also states that the Palestinians "introduced" the practice of "blowing up aircraft" in flight. Again, among other well-known cases, a Communist Chinese aircraft flying from Hong Kong to Bandung, Indonesia, was blown up in April 1955, killing ten Chinese diplomats and a crew. Of course, in Western discourse terrorist acts are not carried out against the Communist powers, so that this incident may be expunged from history. But the quality of Merari's scholarship is evident in these falsifications of history.
- See above, chapter I, pp. 8-9.
- Ariel Merari and Shlomi Elad, The International Dimension of Palestinian Terrorism (Israel: Jerusalem Post, 1986).
- Merari, On Terrorism and Combatting Terrorism, introduction.
- Ibid., p. xi.
- Merari and Elad, International Dimension, p. 7.
- Quoted in Chomsky, Fateful Triangle, p. 77.
- Merari and Elad, International Dimension, p. 8.