Indeed, from 1979 to 1983, that is to say precisely the period between the Jerusalem and Washington conferences, very senior Israeli officials conducted a large-scale campaign of car-bombings that killed hundreds of Palestinians and Lebanese, most of them civilians. In fact, by the time his New York Times OpEd was published Sharon had been personally directing this “terrorist” operation for a full year. Even more remarkably, one of the objectives of this covert operation was precisely to goad the PLO into resorting to “terrorism” so as to provide Israel with a justification to invade Lebanon.
These claims are not the product of a feverish, conspiratorial mind. A barebones description of this secret operation was published by Ronen Bergman, a well respected Israeli journalist in the New York Times Magazine on January 23, 2018. This article was adapted from Rise and Kill First: The Secret History of Israel’s Targeted Assassinations, where a much more detailed account of the operation, entirely based on interviews with Israeli officials involved in or aware of the operation at the time, is provided.
As Richard Jackson explains in Writing the War on Terrorism, a political discourse is a way of speaking that attempts to give meaning to events and experiences from a particular perspective. Analyzing the discourse on “terrorism,” Jackson argues, involves “appreciating the rules guiding what can and cannot be said and knowing what has been left out as well as what has been included.” “The silences of a text,” he adds, “are often as important as its inclusions.”
The secret car-bombing operation Israeli officials conducted in Lebanon in the early 1980s represents a remarkable historical example of such “silences,” and of the “rules” that underlie the discourse on “terrorism” and ensure that certain things simply “cannot be said,” certain facts simply aren’t ever mentioned. Rise and Kill First has received the highest praise from reviewers in the American press. Over the last three months, its author has participated in countless media interviews and given high profile public talks around the country. And yet, in these reviews, interviews and public talks this secret operation has not been mentioned a single time. In fact, the public discussion that has surrounded the publication of Rise and Kill First has taken place as if the revelations contained in that book had never been published.
“Our” opposition to “terrorism” is principled and absolute. “We” by definition do not resort to “terrorism.” If and when evidence to the contrary is presented, the reaction is: silence.