Who deserves the 'terrorist' label? [Letter]

Your article on the alleged kidnapping of three Israeli teens by Hamas points up the need for a better definition of the label "terrorist" ("Israeli leader accuses terrorists of kidnapping 3 teens," June 15).

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu uses this term even though he has not yet revealed any direct evidence implicating Hamas or its members.

Let's grant, for the sake of argument, that these teens could have been kidnapped by Palestinians, which would of course be a criminal act. But shouldn't it be acknowledged at the same time that the actions of the Israeli government, in their brutal oppression of the Palestinians, is also criminal and terrorist?

The taking of Palestinian land, water and other resources, the curtailment of movement and activity and the imposition of collective punishment all are activities that could certainly produce terrorism and a desire for revenge among the Palestinian population.

Even Ehud Barak, a former prime minister of Israel, said: "If I were a Palestinian, I would be a terrorist."

The house-to-house searches, though intensified at this time, are nothing new to Palestinians. Night raids to scoop up Palestinian children accused of throwing stones are commonplace.

These raids sow fear and humiliation, not only among the children but also among their parents, who are helpless to protect their children. An Australian documentary, "Stone Cold Justice," vividly portrays these nocturnal raids and their tragic results.

Mr. Netanyahu has rather hastily seized on the idea that Hamas is responsible, apparently because he dislikes the idea of a Palestinian unity government, and especially the U.S. recognition of such a government.

It appears that unless the world gets more involved in this, Israel has the power to portray this situation pretty much any way it wants.

Doris Rausch, Columbia

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