- The Washington Times - Friday, April 19, 2002

When the Arab effort to torture the definition of terrorism into gibberish became clear soon after September 11, the revelation was as outrageous as it was absurd. Surely, no matter how often the ministers of the Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC) shuttled from Doha to Kuala Lumpur, scratching their heads (or head scarves) over the supposed perplexities of the issue, the exercise was a joke a very bad joke, but laughable and certainly pointless. After all, there's no confusion over the meaning of terrorism. It's blood in the supermarket and fear on take-off. It's a bomb at the lunch counter and a hole in Manhattan. It's the blast that turns a bus packed with commuters into another shattered hearse. Terrorism is the maiming and murder of unsuspecting civilians in order to paralyze and coerce a society into making political concessions.

Simple, right? Islamic efforts to splice the definition into omitting terrorism against Israeli civilians may have added nothing to our understanding of what terrorism is, but it has told us quite a lot about the Islamic mind. The end, whatever it may be political ascendance down the road or a vengeful bloodletting on the street justifies the means. That most elemental decency, layered into and reinforced by the painful evolution of civilization, telling homo sapiens that a baby in a stroller is never, ever fair game, is subject to political and even religious compromise. For many in the Western world, this has been an eye-popping education.

What has the West done with its newfound knowledge? The answer to this question is more shocking than the open Arab effort to pervert terrorism's definition. Rather than draw together as a bulwark against such barbarism, the West has begun the immoral slide downward to the point of accepting and even sanctioning terrorism. How else to explain the endorsement this week by six European Union countries at the United Nations of a resolution condoning Palestinian violence?

This significantly shameful resolution, approved 40-5 (with seven abstentions) by the U.N. Human Rights Commission in Geneva, supports "all available means, including armed struggle" to establish a Palestinian state. It condemns what it calls Israeli "acts of mass killings" against "the Palestinian people," even as zero evidence of such "mass killings" has emerged. Meanwhile, the resolution contains no condemnation not even a mention of the terrorism Palestinians commit regularly against the Israeli populace, of which the evidence is all too ample. Not incidentally, the resolution marks the first time, as Canada's National Post reported, many diplomats "could remember violence being endorsed as a way of furthering human rights."

That's progress for you. Alfred Moses, a former U.S. ambassador to the commission who now heads the monitoring group U.N. Watch, put it this way: "A vote in favor of this resolution is a vote for Palestinian terrorism. An abstention suggests ambivalence toward terror." But don't take just Mr. Moses' word for it. As the National Post also pointed out, the resolution's reference to "all available means," language carefully lifted from a 1982 General Assembly resolution directed against Israel and South Africa, is something Yasser Arafat himself has long cited as sanctioning acts of terror.

Among those 40 nations who have decided to give terrorism a chance are Austria, Belgium, France, Portugal, Spain and Sweden. As one of seven abstaining nations, Italy (land of Silvio "West is best" Berlusconi) is no drawn saber of steely principle, either. Meanwhile, Britain, Canada, the Czech Republic, Germany, and Guatemala occupy that shrinking sliver of Planet Earth still stubborn enough not to condone terrorism. (The United States isn't a member of the commission, having unexpectedly lost its seat for this session.) As Canada's Marie Gervais-Vidricaire explained, the resolution's silence on terrorism rendered it "fundamentally unacceptable," adding with a refreshingly uncomplicated bluntness: "There can be no justification whatsoever for terrorist acts."

It is our looming tragedy that such justification is becoming increasingly commonplace. Just last year, for example, every European member of the commission could at least muster the ambivalence of an abstention during a commission vote that condemned Israel for targeting the terrorists behind attacks on its citizenry; this year, half of Europe sees fit to grant those same terrorists an international stamp of approval as "armed strugglers" who simply use "all available means." The fact is, not one of those OIC confabs redefining terrorism for the Islamic world could have expressed it better. But guess what? None other than the OIC itself drew up this latest U.N. contribution to "human rights," co-sponsoring it with China, Cuba and Vietnam. Which shouldn't be too surprising, really. Or should it?

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