The Jerusalem Post today describes the killing of a man by two IDF soldiers after, the soldiers claim, he was acting erratically and tried to grab one of their guns. When he was fatally shot by the IDF, says the paper, he was “believed to be an Arab terrorist.” As it turns out, he was not an Arab Palestinian but rather an Israeli Jew. Upon learning this, the “terrorist” designation was officially and “immediately” rescinded:
Only after the man was neutralized was it made clear that he was a Jew from Jerusalem, police concluded. . . .
ZAKA rescue and recovery chairman Yehuda Meshi Zahav, who was at the scene, said he also initially thought the suspect was an Arab terrorist.
“When I arrived with the ZAKA team at the site of the supposed terrorist attack, it seemed to be a ‘standard’ current terrorist attack, a stabbing attempt, and the terrorist was apprehended,” he said.
“I wanted to cover the body in a black bag [reserved for terrorists]. After I was asked to take care of the body I saw that he was a Jew, and that it was mistake to speak of a terrorist. I immediately notified the police and we switched to a white ZAKA body bag.”
This story was flagged by Remi Brulin, the NYU scholar whose work has been devoted to the “discourse of terrorism” and who has amply documented that the term is a meaningless concept that, from the start, has been used for propagandistic purposes. It’s hard to imagine an incident that more compellingly proves the point than this: “I wanted to cover the body in a black bag [reserved for terrorists]. After I was asked to take care of the body I saw that he was a Jew, and that it was mistake to speak of a terrorist. I immediately notified the police and we switched to a white ZAKA body bag.”
When they thought he was a Palestinian Arab, he was labelled a “terrorist,” and then soon as they realized he was an Israeli Jew, the label was instantly withdrawn for that reason alone, even though the conduct was the same. That’s the manipulative, malleable concept of “terrorism” in a nutshell. As Rudy Giuliani put it in 2007 when asked whether waterboarding was torture: “It depends on who does it.”