WASHINGTON (Sep. 8)
The State Department has taken issue with a statement Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Shamir made last week defending the use of “personal terrorism” to bring about the establishment of Israel.
“No matter what the justification or objective, we condemn terrorism,” department spokesman Richard Boucher said Sept. 5 when asked about remarks Shamir made in a radio interview the day before.
The occasion of the interview was the 51st anniversary of the Stern Gang, which committed a series of violent acts, including assassinations, aimed at ending British control of Palestine.
Shamir was a leader in the group, which was officially called Lohamei Herut Israel, or Fighters for the Freedom of Israel. And he defended its activities in the Sept. 4 interview.
“We believed in what we did. We believed in what we said, discussed and wrote. Therefore, it was correct,” he said.
“From the moral point of view, there is no difference between personal terror and collective terror. Here and there blood is spilled; here and there people are killed,” he said.
Boucher was asked by reporters the following day if he would consider the Stern Gang’s activities terrorist.
“I’m not in the position to analyze those specific acts of 40 or 50 years ago,” he replied, adding: “I think our position on terrorism is very clear.”
Howard Sachar, history professor at George Washington University and author of a two-volume history of Israel, said in an interview that he believed the Stern Gang engaged in terrorism.
“Obviously you can’t idealize these people. Their first founder was an admirer of (Benito) Mussolini,” Sachar said, referring to Avraham Stern. “They accepted many of the tenets of Italian fascism.”