BEN-GURION REDUX. All...

BEN-GURION REDUX. All right, on this David Ben-Gurion business, I was trying to be provocative and maybe should have just gone with Menachim Begin whose Irgun is less controversially considered a terrorist group. That said, the different pre-independence groups did work together before the King David Hotel bombing, and Ben-Gurion's group was involved with "kidnapping of British officials in Palestine and sabotaged the British infrastructure in Palestine."

My inclination would be to say that kidnapping British officials serving in Palestine or other colonies wasn't terrorism. It's conventional, however, to describe the attacks on the Marine barracks in Lebanon, on the Khobar Towers installation in Saudi Arabia, on the USS Cole at sea, on our embassies in East Africa, and on various American officials in Iraq as terrorism. If those things were terrorism, then so were Haganah´┐Żs tactics.

Be that as it may, my intent was less to compare Zarqawi to Ben-Gurion and Michael Collins than to contrast the former with the latter two. Ben-Gurion and Collins demonstrated much more restraint in the application of violence, along with a willingness to compromise and turn against more extreme elements within the Israeli and Irish national movement. They were, I was contending, not just better people than Zarqawi for it, but actually much more successful in achieving their goals. I think George Will's backhanded compliment of calling Zarqawi the "most successful" terrorist is just part-and-parcel of a general conservative overestimation of the efficacy of violence.

--Matthew Yglesias

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