The Zionist Organization of America (ZOA) has expressed criticism of Vice-President Joseph Bidens reported use of the term terrorists to describe Congressional Tea Party Republicans, a term rarely used by President Obama and his Administration to describe actual terrorists deliberately murdering innocents, including Jewish civilians and non-combatant American servicemen standing in a line at an army base. At a closed-door Democratic caucus meeting, in commenting on the recent debt-limit deal during negotiations with Republicans, Rep. Mike Doyle (D-PA) proclaimed, We have negotiated with terrorists. To this Vice-President Biden was reported to have added in agreement, They have acted like terrorists. Subsequently, Bidens office at first declined to comment about Bidens comments at the close-door meeting but, once publicized, his spokeswoman, Kendra Barkoff, said, The word was used by several members of Congress. The vice president does not believe its an appropriate term in political discourse (Jonathan Allen & John Bresnahan, Sources: Biden likened tea partiers to terrorists, Politico, August 1, 2011).
Indeed, the Obama Administration avoids using the term terrorist, even where wholly appropriate and, instead, new and absurd terms have been invented to avoid referring to terrorism and the military campaigns dealing with them. Janet Napolitano, the Homeland Security Secretary, has re-designated terrorist acts as man-caused disasters. The Defense Department has relabeled military operations against terrorists in Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, and around the globe overseas contingency operations.
In his June 2009 Cairo speech to the Muslim world, President Obama never used the term terrorism to describe the murder of innocent Israeli Jews by Arabs, only resistance, a term implying a legitimate basis to Palestinian violence. In May 2010, after being asked by Congress Lamar Smith (R-TX) whether radical Islam was a factor in specific individual terrorist acts, Attorney-General Eric Holder repeatedly twisted himself into a pretzel trying to avoid attributing specific individual terrorist acts to radical Islam. Only under repeated questioning did he concede that it was a factor motivating such acts.
Moreover, brutally repressive, terrorist-sponsoring states like Syria are not described as such. Until recently, the Obama Administration only expressed concern over Syrias behavior and its desire for Syria to play a more constructive role. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton was even calling Assad a potential reformer until recently. Only with the continuation of the bloody Syrian crack-down on civilian protesters has the Administration spoken critical words about the Assad regime, which is on the U.S. list of terrorist-sponsoring states. Indeed, in December 2010, the Obama Administration, which could not obtain Congressional approval to appoint an ambassador to Syria, due to the conduct of the Assad regime, appointed Robert Ford to that post via a recess appointment.
More broadly, President Obama and his officials tend to speak of particular terrorist attacks as being the work of isolated extremists. Thus, a terrorist like Nidal Hasan, who murdered 14 U.S. servicemen at Fort Hood was described as such, even when his Islamist terrorist connections with the American-born Al-Qaida in Yemen leader, Anwar al-Awlaki, who advised him, were readily traceable.
ZOA National President Morton A. Klein said, We find it remarkable and shocking that Vice-President Biden would choose to use this word to describe the elected representatives of a group of law-abiding American citizens who support reduced taxes and limited government. Agree with them or not, it is certainly legitimate for the Tea Party to hold these views and to argue strongly for them on Capitol Hill. It is disgraceful, inaccurate and opprobrious to label such people terrorists, even in the thick of a passionate, vexing political debate on the future economic direction of our country.
Where are the editorialists condemning this false, inflammatory language? It is extraordinary that much of the media itself refuses ever to call Hamas or Hizballah terrorists or terrorist organizations. Instead, they refer to them as militants, as though one were talking of angry activists, not blood-soaked terrorists who have deliberately murdered hundreds of civilians and who, additionally, speak of a bringing about a world-wide genocide of Jews. If these editorialists believe that the word terrorist is so loaded and powerful that they refuse to use it in connection with real-life terrorists, where is their indignation when patriotic, law-abiding Americans are described as terrorists on Capitol Hill by their political opponents? For whom is the label terrorist more appropriate Hamas, Nidal Hasan, or the Tea Party?
What makes Vice-President Bidens use of this term even more inappropriate and disturbing is the fact that the Obama Administration has gone to extraordinary lengths to avoid calling real terrorists by their true name. The Obama Administration rarely refers to Hamas, for example, as terrorists, though in running for office, then-Senator Obama did. Also while running for office, Obama actually described Hamas and Hizballah as organizations with legitimate claims.
On May 19, when President Obama referred to the fact that Mahmoud Abbas Fatah-controlled Palestinian Authority (PA) had signed a unity government agreement with Hamas, a U.S. recognized terrorist group that calls in its Charter for the destruction of Israel (Article 15) and the global murder of Jews (Article 7), he did not call Hamas a terrorist group. He did not refer to Hamas as terrorists, let alone terrorists with genocidal ambitions; he simply described them as a party that has shown itself unwilling to recognize [Israels] right to exist, and that PA leaders would have provide a credible answer to the question of how Israel was supposed to negotiate with it. And yet we must not forget that, despite expressing concern for Israels security in his speech, he still demanded Israels return to the 1949 armistice lines with mutually agreed swaps. In other words, the agreement between Fatah/PA and Hamas in no way altered his attitude toward PA. He still demanded the same massive concessions from Israel. The President should have but did not condemn the PAs agreement with a genocidal terrorist organization, nor did he say that the U.S. would defund the PA if it formed a government with Hamas. Only two days later, on May 21, after numerous expressions of concern about this and many other aspects of his May 19 speech on the Middle East, did President Obama, addressing AIPAC, refer to Hamas as a terrorist organization one of the few times he has done so as President. Despite this, he reiterated his call for an Israeli return to the 1949 armistice lines with agreed swaps, even though Abbas Fatah/PA is now aligned with Hamas.
We thus have the absurd and disturbing situation that real terrorists who murder innocents are rarely referred to as terrorists, whereas patriotic Americans arguing for their policies are described as such on Capitol Hill by some of their Democratic opponents. The purpose of maligning Tea Party Republican Members of Congress as terrorists has a clear, cynical logic: it is to make discussion and debate of certain policies out of bounds in polite company. Instead of simply responding to their arguments and critiquing their positions, the aim is to demonize, dismiss and isolate those who argue for these positions. This should be repudiated by President Obama, the Democratic Congressional leadership, the media and all decent Americans.