ZOA Condemns U.S. Ambassador Vincent Battle For Saying Some Hezbollah Terrorism “Is Not Terrorism”
September 4, 2002

Why is the State Dept Soft
on Those Who Attack Israel?

NEW YORK- The Zionist Organization of America (ZOA) has strongly condemned the U.S. ambassador to Lebanon, Vincent Battle, for reportedly saying that some of the terrorism carried out by Hezbollah “is not terrorism.”

Hezbollah is included on the official U.S. government list of terrorist groups. During the 2000 election campaign, George Bush himself returned a $1,000 donation from a leader of the American Muslim Council because of the Council’s praise of Hezbollah and other Arab terrorist groups. (New York Post, Nov. 3, 2000)

The Jerusalem Post (Sept.4, 2002) quoted a report in the Beirut Daily Star which stated that “when a reporter asked whether the United States considered last Thursday’s Hezbollah assault [on an Israeli Army position, killing one soldier and wounding two] to be an act of terror, Battle replied that it did ‘not fall within the rubric’ of terrorism, since Hezbollah had gone after ‘combatant targets’ and not civilians.”

In a telegram to Secretary of State Colin Powell, ZOA National President Morton A. Klein, chairman of the board Dr. Alan Mazurek, and chairman of the National Executive Committee Dr. Michael Goldblatt wrote: “If Hezbollah’s murder of an Israeli soldier is not terrorism because the target was a military one, then by the same logic, Hezbollah’s attack on the U.S. marine barracks in Lebanon in 1983, in which 241 American soldiers were murdered, was not terrorism, either. If Ambassador Battle’s reported statement was quoted accurately, he should be replaced immediately; nobody with a soft spot for Hezbollah should serve as a representative of the U.S. government. We ask you to publicly disavow and condemn Ambassador Battle’s statement and state explicitly that the U.S. regards all of Hezbollah’s attacks on Israelis as terrorism.”

Ambassador Battle made his statement the same day that U.S. Deputy Undersecretary of State David Satterfield arrived in Lebanon for a visit. Ironically, Satterfield himself has made similar statements about Hezbollah. During a tour of southern Lebanon in December 1998, Satterfield was asked about Hezbollah’s attacks. According to the Arab newspaper Al-Nahar (Dec. 4, 1998), he replied: “We make a distinction between resistance and terror. We don’t think that this resistance is terrorism.”

When a correspondent for the Journal of Counterterrorism asked the State Department for its response, a spokesman “refused to answer whether Satterfield’s comments were in line with State Department policy or not.” He did not deny that Satterfield made the statement. (Vol.6, No.2, p.26)

The ZOA notes that Ambassador Battle’s statement is the latest in a long series of controversial statements by State Department officials or envoys which attempted to justify some types of violence against Israelis or claimed that some good might result from such violence:

* “Some good can come out of it”: After a Palestinian Arab massacre of twenty Israeli teenagers in Tel Aviv, Secretary of State Colin Powell, speaking on NBC-TV’s “Meet the Press” on June 3, 2001, said: “I hope that this tragedy that took place on Friday, this awful bombing, some good can come out of that, if we can get this process started again.”

* “Rock-throwing may not be violence”: After a 5-month old Israeli infant, the grandson of American citizens, was fatally wounded by Palestinian Arab rock-throwers, the State Department expressed regret over the baby’s injuries but refused to acknowledge that rock-throwing is violence. A State Department spokesman interviewed by the Israeli news agency on IMRA on June 6, 2001 said that “the State Department has no position on rock throwing.” The official “categorized the question as to whether rock throwing should be considered violence as being in part a ‘philosophical’ question.”

Similarly, an IMRA interviewer asked a State Department official, on May 8, 2001, “if the United States considered stone throwing to be an act of violence. The official, after consultation, declined to say if the United States considers stone throwing to be an act of violence.”

* “Violence may result in a deal”: In a discussion with American Jewish leaders on July 31, 2000, then-National Security Adviser Sandy Berger said: “Either there will be an agreement between the Israelis and the Palestinians, or there will be a conflict…If there is no agreement, we may be sadder and bloodier, but then maybe they’ll be prepared to make a deal.”

* “Violence is a blessing”: Then-National Security Adviser Sandy Berger said on May 21, 2000, that Palestinian Arab violence against Israel is not just a curse, but also “a blessing,” because “the tragedy that awaits in the event of inaction also constitutes the greatest incentive for immediate action” in the Israeli-Arab negotiations.

* “Unreasonable to expect no violence”: The Jerusalem Post (January 14, 1999) quoted “a senior U.S. administration official” as saying that there may be “riots in the territories” if Israel does not quickly surrender more land, and “it may be unreasonable to expect that Palestinians at the grassroots level will remain quiet.”

* “Violence may lead to negotiations”: On August 26, 1997, the Israeli radio station Arutz 7 reported that members of the National Security Council have advised him that if “the explosive situation between Israel and the Palestinians deteriorates to a violent clash, this will convince the sides of the need to renew negotiations.”

* “Violence is a plausible safety valve”: The Jerusalem Post reported on June 22, 1997, that “a senior U.S. official” called the Arab violence in Hebron “a plausible safety valve” which “lets the Palestinians vent their anger.” The U.S. official also said that the refusal of the Palestinian Authority police to stop the violence is “because it [the violence] is not serious enough.” On the day of the U.S. official’s comment, Arab rioters threw over 100 firebombs, as well as rocks, bottles of acid, and a pipe bomb, at Jews in Hebron.

* “Some PLO violence is legitimate”: Gordon S. Brown, director of the State Department’s bureau of Arabian Peninsula affairs, said in a radio broadcast: “Some PLO actions would, I suspect, fall within our definition of legitimate acts of resistance within occupied territories. Asked about Israeli bombings of terrorist targets in Lebanon, Brown said “it’s terrorism to the same degree that Katyusha rockets [fired by Hezbollah on towns in northern Israel] are. There is a state of war.” (Washington Times, March 5, 1986)

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