Haifa University Prof. Elliot Chodoff, a reserve officer of Israeli Defense Forces, spoke to audience members last night about the problems confronted when battling terrorism.
“We cannot defeat terrorism, (we) can defeat terrorists,” Chodoff said in reference to the U.S. war on terrorism. He explained that the semantics of this statement recall an international definition problem, and the United States has no international precedent in which to base its battle. “The idea of fighting terrorists is more along the lines of the way we’re going to be living our lives,” Chodoff said.
According to Chodoff, terrorism is defined by the use of threatening violence aimed, “to overturn the political status quo,” by a means that is, “always destructive, never constructive.” He said terrorists also attack governments indirectly, which increases their power.
International law does not define terrorism, only specifies certain acts, making it impossible to be outlawed or punished, Chadoff said. This was the basis of the problem presented, which he said is a worldwide problem.
“What is occurring in Israel is not a Middle Eastern problem, but a world problem,” LSA senior Sivan Oyserman said.
In fact, Chodoff explained that the ideology of democracies is conducive to terrorist attacks. As the principles of democracy restrict the severity of the reaction of a nation in comparison with other types of governments, democracies are vulnerable. He added that free press escalates fear in the population. In turn, pressure is placed on government officials. Terrorism is successful when this pressure transforms the structure of the government.
Graduate student James Dickens supported Chodoff’s definition of terrorism. “I think it’s important to say that we can operationally define terrorism,” he said.
Ari Jacobson, an Engineering junior, agreed, saying “You can more clearly analyze current events on an objective level rather than an emotional response.”