Reem Acra Spring Bridal Runway Show, New York. 2017

Women’s march Washington, DC Jan 21st, 2017. Elected opinion, a Law of Value.

Women’s March National Organizers

connect: LOCAL & STATE ORGANIZERS – USA trump-inauguration/96864158/ Women’s March on Washington in Washington DC.

On January 21, 2017 we will unite in Washington, DC for the Women’s March on Washington. We stand together in solidarity with our partners and children for the protection of our rights, our safety, our health, and our families — recognizing that our vibrant and diverse communities are the strength of our country.

The rhetoric of the past election cycle has insulted, demonized, and threatened many of us–women, immigrants of all statuses, those with diverse religious faiths particularly Muslim, people who identify as LGBTQIA, Native and Indigenous people, Black and Brown people, people with disabilities, the economically impoverished and survivors of sexual assault. We are confronted with the question of how to move forward in the face of national and international concern and fear.

In the spirit of democracy and honoring the champions of human rights, dignity, and justice who have come before us, we join in diversity to show our presence in numbers too great to ignore. The Women’s March on Washington will send a bold message to our new administration on their first day in office, and to the world that women’s rights are human rights. We stand together, recognizing that defending the most marginalized among us is defending all of us.

We support the advocacy and resistance movements that reflect our multiple and intersecting identities. We call on all defenders of human rights to join us. This march is the first step towards unifying our communities, grounded in new relationships, to create change from the grassroots level up. We will not rest until women have parity and equity at all levels of leadership in society. We work peacefully while recognizing there is no true peace without justice and equity for all. HEAR OUR VOICE.



Hindvi sort of (Hindi and Urdu): Aoge Jabb Thum O Sajna. Return to me O Jerusalem. Your daughters pleaded for it.

What chang’d its order or what did retire since all would be of the fame nature, Fire. Lucretius.

Aoge jab thum o saajna angna phul khilenge barsega saban, barsega saban, jhuum jhuum ke dho dhil aise mileyenge, aaoge.. angna phul khilenge, naina tere kajra re hain naino pe hum dil hare hain, anjane hi tere naino ne vade kiye gaye sare hain, sason ki raine, mathlub chale, those kahe barsega saban jhoom jhoom ke do dil aise mileyenge angna phul khilenge, angna phul khilenge.  When you come to me Beloved, there blossoms will flourish. The rain will fall with happiness as our two souls meet. Your eyes are beautiful and I am lost in them. Without knowing I have promised the world to your gaze. In the season of breathless wonder, all evil is driven away, I tell you this Beloved, the rain will fall in glory and splendor. And when our souls meet flowers will blossom yet anew.שאתה בא אליי אהוב, יש פריחת תפרח.הגשם ייפול עם אושר כשתי הנשמות שלנו נפגשות. העיניים שלך יפות כמו כחל חשוך, ואני אבוד בהם. בלי לדעת שהבטחתי העולם למבט שלך. בעונת פלא חסר נשימה, כל הרע הוא מונע משם, אני אומר לך את זה אהוב, הגשם ייפול בהוד והדר.וכאשר הנשמות שלנו עומדות בפרחים יפרחו עדיין מחדשعندما تأتي لي أيها الأحباء، سوف تزدهر هناك أزهار. سوف يسقط المطر مع السعادة كما يلتقي لدينا اثنين من النفوس. عينيك هي جميلة مثل الزهور، وأنا فقدت فيها. دون معرفة لقد وعدت العالم لبصرك. في موسم عجب لاهث، هو الدافع وراء كل شر بعيدا، وأنا أقول لك هذا أيها الأحباء، فإن المطر تقع في المجد والعظمة. وعندما يجتمع نفوسنا سوف الزهور تزهر بعد جديد.

When can you deny established majesty? While seeking evil in the many forms of hatred.


Consent of the governed is not a right; It is the established approval of people. Thomas Jefferson on liberty.


“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable Rights, that among them are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness; that to secure these Rights, Governments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed…” Declaration of Independence, 1776.

The perils and promises of Orthodoxy. Aristocratic freedom as described by Alexis De Tocqueville, 18th century theorist not.

The schism between Orthodoxy and Heterodoxy

Heterodoxy is often associated as a means of dividing human beings and beliefs. Orthodoxy counters this by legislation and morality. Belief in Orthodoxy can be part of what De Tocqueville comments on as “Aristocratic Freedom.”  This freedom works when applied to the interests of the privileged to establish an increasing legitimate morality.


For more on thought, reason and beliefs go to the seminal account of De Tocqueville by Pierre Manent here–Democracy and Aristocracy; Chapter 2. 

What does moral law have to do with getting rights for yourself? Find out here.

Gandhi on the partition of India and Pakistan. 1947

Satyagraha and fanaticism of the “open” kind, Tolerance. Tony Milligan, Author. ” Civil Disobedience: Protest, Justification and the Law.” 2013.


It is tempting to say that for satyagraha to occur, only the leadership and the specially trained satyagrahis were required by Gandhi to take steps towards the transformation of anger into love. But while love on the part of satyagrahis might be used to disarm and to help persuade political opponents by appealing to what is best in them, Gandhi made it clear that satyagraha, understood as the force of love or soul force, involved more than persuasion. It was not mere supplicatoin, not even polite supplication. “It is not a matter carrying conviction by argument. The matter resolves itself into one of matching forces.” Forces cannot be reduced to communication although an element of the latter might still be involved. Rather, satyagraha was supposed to cooperate with what was best in opponents in order to coerce what was worst. Effort was involved: “When love is bestowed on the so-called enemy, it is tested, it becomes a virture and requires an effort, and hence is an act of manliness and real bravery.” Here we may be uneasy about Gandhi’s echoing of Thoreau on the subject of manliness. Beyond being forceful and manly, satyagraha was nonetheless still civil in a variety of senses and for Gandhi this did mean that it had to be public: “Disobedience to be civil has to be open and non-violent.” Similarly, in another passage which speaks of civility: “The law-breaker breaks the law surreptitiously and tries to avoid the penalty; not so the civil resister.” This insistence upon open and the appeal to the good inside the immediately confronted political opponent, differs significantly from the more on-directional and not necessarily requited appeal. For Gandhi, something in political opponents had to answer to civility and love. This made the sacrifice of the satyagrahi, even the sacrifice of life, worthwhile. “He disobeys the ruler’s orders and his laws in a civil manner and willingly submits to the penalties of such disobedience, for instance imprisonment and gallows.” Stripped of a certain romantic appeal, this looks suspiciously like a conflation of political responsibility and fantaticsm. It is tempting when faced with passages like this to wonder if Gandhi was occasionally carried away by winged words. But it is difficulty to overlook the fact that many activists were killed duing the agitation for independence, even at the culmination of the otherwise peaceful Salt March, when suppporters were brutally clubbed and did not respond in anger. There was a match between the political rhetoric and real danger. Such a conceptionof the task that faced the truest of satyagrahis is also presupposed demandingness to the point of sacrificial leadership, a model which (again) is by no means alien to Christian modes of political thought. Perhaps we may be inclined to say that, even with its fanatical overtones, this was the right conception of protest for the time and for the circumstances in question. Perhaps we may even say that disparate mass movements, with all sorts of internal tensions and a varying record of success were, on several occasions during the twentieth century, united to an unusual degree by figures who, like Gandhi, appeared to stand head and shoulders above the fray while often,in point of fact, being prepared to take a stand on factional disputes. Here, I am thinking also of Martin Luther King and closer to our own time, Nelson Mandela. Their authority has stretched far beyond anything that is customarily associated with political leadership. It is the authority of political figures who are not to be regarded as mere politicians. Individuals of this standing who are not to be regarded as mere politicians. Individuals of this standing are often expected to comment in a deep way upon the human condition in addition to providing notes about political strategy. As an instance of such a politicized moral and spiritual leader, Gandhi may have denied any claims of personal sainthood, but his conception of the satyagrahi, at least on the strongest formulations of the later, was not so much an ordinary activist ideal but a model for saintly leadership, one that may perhaps occasionally be embodied by very few which may inspire but is nonetheless unlike to match up well with the more mixed psychological makeup of ground- level political activism.

Satyagraha and civilizational values. Aamra Nuthon Juboneri dhuuth. We are the ambassadors of a new world. Lyrics of Poet Rabindranath Tagore. Vocalist, Swagatalakshmi Dasgupta.

Aamra nuthon juboneri dhuuth, We are the new days beginnings, āmarā cañcala, āmarā odhbhuth. We are vibrant and amazing, Āmarā bēṛā bhāṅi, we can overcome all obstacles, āmarā aśōkabanēra we are the emperor’s courtiers rāṅā nēśāẏa rāṅi, that make him proud; making quietened storms his consort. Jhañjhāra bandhana chinna, We effortlessly dispose shackles karē di’i with the help of and for the help of others. Aamarā bidyuṯh. We are lightning, Āamarā kori bhul, that brings to life wrongdoing. Agādha jalē jhām̐pa diẏē, In deep water, we jump in head first, yujhiẏē pā’i kūla to search out horizons. Yēkhānē ḍāka paṛē. Ready to serve wherever and whenever we are called to do so jibon moronn jhodhe.  In cases of life and death aamra prosthuth,we are always service.

Mehr-un-Nissa. The consort and beloved of Mughal Emperor Jahangir. 17th century Indian subcontinent.

Nur Jahan (Persian: نور جهان‎‎; Urdu: نور جهاں‎; Pashto: نور جہاں‎) (alternative spelling Noor Jahan, Nur Jehan, etc.) (31 May 1577 – 17 December 1645) born Mehr-un-Nissa, was the twentieth but most beloved, and therefore most important consort of the Mughal Emperor Jahangir. 250px-nurjahan


unparalled beauty

Yom Yerushalayim, Jerusalem Day. May 23. Celebrate Freedom of Conscience with the Rabbinate in Jerusalem, Israel.

The right to follow one’s own beliefs in matters of religion and morality. 

jerusalemday Jewish holiday of Yom Yerushalayim, begins at sundown on Tue, 23 May. Jerusalem Day. Commemorates the re-unification of Jerusalem in 1967.

Meet Paris the great city again. In thy Omniscience embrace our world. Miltha Jajyo Guru Gyani. Vocalist, Kishori Amonker.

Paris-SacreCoeur-Montmartre-shutterstock_95372311Le Sacre Coeur, The Sacred Heart.

Miltha jajyo guru gyani, Embrace our world, Omniscient One, hari surat dekhyo lubhani, let the world see your face and rejoice. Mero naam bujhi thum lijo, I plead that you take my name, Main huun biraha deewani, I am a hopeless romantic. Raath diwas kal nahi parat hai, Jaise min bin paani.  Night and day do not pass without prayer my water. Dharas bina mohe kachu na suhave, my sorrows will not leave unless you take my name.  Thalap thalap mar jaani I yearn for no one else and for thee I die every day. Meera tho charnan ki cheri, Your servant, Meera, is the bond of your feet, sun lije sukhdhani hear her and fill our hearts with happiness.

Aye muhabbath therae anjam pae rona aaya, love’s decline that will bring only tears. Singer, Begum Akhtar, Tribute.

Aye muhabbath therae anjam pae rona aaya,  Arrive love because your conclusion will bring tears to our eyes. Jaane kyun aaj tere naam pae rona ayaa, I don’t know why your name brings tears.  Yuun tho har shyam ummidho mai guzar jaathi thi, aaj kuch baath hai jo shyam pae rona aaya, Here, evenings’ promises were wasted, and yet what was spoken this evening brought tears.  Kabhi taqdir ka mautham, kabhi duniya ka gila, Sometimes fate’s passing and sometimes the damned world, manzilae ishq mae makes me yearn for your love in my heart, mae har ghaam pae rona aaya, so much that trouble now brings only tears.  Jaab hua zikr zamane mae muhabaath ka shakeel,  When holiness makes the world long for love, mujh ko apne dhile nae naam ka pae rona aaya, I will allow my soul to remember love that brought tears to my eyes.


Elif Khan. Jalthe Dhiyae. What glory was and will be allowed to burn in His sight.

Aaj agar milan ki raath hothi,  If today were the night of our meeting,  jaane kya baath hothi, I wonder what would have taken place, I believe it to be a glorious undertaking. Sunthe hain jab pyaar ho tho diye jal uthte hain, I understand that when true love is found, the lamp lights will surely rise. Thann mein, mann mein aur nayan mein, dhiye jal uththe hain, it is as if a body were on fire. Especially eyes which are a window to the beyond. Aaja piya aaja ho..Naa ja piya aaja, Come beloved and do not leave this time.  Do not leave me behind, as I wait only for You.  Bithani therae saaye mein, saaye mein, Zindagani bithani there saaye mein, saaye mein, in your shadow I long to live.  Kabhi kabhi kabhi kabhi. Sometimes aise dhiyon se such  lamps lag bhi jaathi aag bhi, can turn into a full blown fire Aa.. dhule dhule se aanchalon pe lag hain jaathe raag bhi, in this manner sometimes clothes catch on fire.  Hain viraano mein badhalthe dekh mann ke baag bhi, In bravery, these embers change and shift opening every soul to gardens. Apno mein shringar ho tho dhiye jal uthte hain, if you have virtue, lamps will also burn to light your beauty. Khwashishon ke aur sharam ke dhiye jal uthte hain, one’s desires and shame can be rescinded in glorious light. Zindhagani bithani therae saaye mein, saaye mein, mera nahi.. mera nahi hai woh dhiya jo jal raha hai mere liye, the light within souls are not ours,  meri tharaf kyun ye ujaale aaye hain inko rokiye, so why did such glory come our way?  Yoon begaani roshni mein Kab talak koi jiye, furthermore, how is it possible to remain in such glory? Saason mein jhankaar ho tho, dhiye jal uththe hain,  if one’s breath is full of life, then too will lamps will alight. Kangano mein dhiye jal uththe hain, in every corner there is illumination,  aaja piya hmm jalthe dhiye, come beloved to your resting place.  Bithani therae saaye mein bithani zindhagani, so that I can spend my life in your shadow.

The Bible, Isaiah on Jerusalem’s Future. Be joyful with Jerusalem and rejoice for her, all you who love her.

SaltSatyagrahaJerusalem's futurerabbinate12


Be exceedingly glad with her, all you who mourn over her, That you may nurse and be satisfied with her comforting breasts, That you may suck and be delighted with her bountiful bosom. For thus says the LORD, “Behold, I extend peace to her like a river, And the glory of the nations like an overflowing stream; And you will be nursed, you will be carried on the hip and fondled on the knees. As one whom his mother comforts, so I will comfort you; And you will be comforted in Jerusalem. Then you will see this, and your heart will be glad, And your bones will flourish like the new grass; And the hand of the LORD will be made known to His servants, But He will be indignant toward His enemies. For behold, the LORD will come in fire And His chariots like the whirlwind, To render His anger with fury, And His rebuke with flames of fire. For the LORD will execute judgment.

Is There A Higher Law ? According to MK Gandhi only when the Creator permits it. It is realized as Moral Law.

We constantly pronounce judgments upon the value of actions. Some actions satisfy us and others do not. Whether a certain act is good or bad does not depend upon whether it is beneficial or harmful to us. In judging it, we adopt quite a different standard. We have in our minds certain ideas and on the basis of those we judge the acts of others. Whether any wrong done by one to another affects us or not, we do feel it to be wrong. Sometimes, we have a sympathy for the wrong-doer; but despite that sympathy, we feel no hesitation at all in pronouncing his act to be wrong. It may be that at times our judgment is found to be mistaken. We cannot always fathom a man’s motives, and may thus judge him wrongly. Nevertheless, we find no difficulty in judging an act in so far as the intention is known. Even if our personal interests are sometimes served by wrong actions, we do feel inwardly that they are wrong.  Thus it is established that the rightness or wrongness of an acts does not depend upon a man’s self-interest. Nor does it depends upon his wishes. There is a difference between morality and sympathy. Out of sympathy for the child we wish to give it a certain thing, but if the thing is harmful to the child, we hold it immoral to give it. It is doubtless good to show sympathy but, unrestricted by moral considerations, in turns into poison.
We see also that moral laws are immutable. Opinions change, but not morality. When our eyes are open, we see the sun; when they are closed, it is not seen. The change here has been in our sense of sight, not in the fact of the sun’s existence. The same hold true of moral laws. It is probable that in a state of ignorance we do not know what is moral; but once the eye of knowledge is opened, there is no difficulty in knowing it. Men rarely care to see single-mindedly the right or wrong of things; often prompted by personal considerations, they mistakenly describe the immoral as moral. The time is yet to come when men, freeing themselves from self-regarding considerations, will concentrate their attention on the ideas of morality alone. Moral culture is still in its mere infancy; it is as science was before the birth of a Bacon or a Darwin. Men were eager to know what the truth was. Instead of inquiring into morality, they have been hitherto engaged in discovering laws of nature -the laws of the earth’s motion, etc. Where do we find the disinterested students of morality, patient and painstaking, who, setting aside his earlier superstitious notions, devotes his life to seeking only the ideal good? When men become as eager to explore the world of moral ideas as they are now to explore the realms of nature, we shall be able to bring together the various conceptions of morality. It is unlikely that, on ideas of morality, there will be the same divergence of opinion as exists among men on matters of science. However, we may not for a time arrive at unanimity of opinion regarding moral laws. This does not, however, mean that it is impossible to distinguish between right and wrong. We thus see that, independent of and apart from men’s wishes and opinions, there is something like a moral standard which we may call moral law. If there are laws of the State, why may not there be a moral law too? It does not matter if that law is not committed to writing by man, and indeed it need not be. If we grant or hold that the moral law exists, it is incumbent on us to obey it, just as we ought to obey the laws of business and remain poor? Or if I disobey the laws of the State and incur the ruler’s displeasure?” But it will never do-either for me or anyone else-to say, “What does it matter whether I tell a lie or tell the truth?” There is thus a great difference between moral laws and temporal laws. For morality dwells in our hearts. Even a man practicing immorality would admit that he has been immoral. A wrong can never become a right. Even where a people is vile, though men may not observe the moral law, they would make a pretence of doing so; they thus are obliged to admit that moral laws ought to be observed. Such is the greatness of morality. It cares not custom nor for public opinion. To a moral man, public opinion or custom is binding only so long as it is in harmony with the moral law. Where does this moral law come from? This law is not laid down by the State, for different laws are found in different States. Many men were opposed to the morality which Socrates observed in his day. Even so the world admits that the morality he observed has remained, and shall remain, morality for ever. Robert Browning says, ‘If ever Satan proclaimed the law of hatred and untruth in the world, even then justice, goodness and truth will continue to be divine.’ (…justice, good, and truth were still Divine, if, by some demon’s will, Hatred and wrong had been proclaimed Law through the worlds, and right misnamed. Christmas Eve, XVII.) One may conclude from this that the moral law is supreme and divine. Such a law no people or individual can violate to the end of time. As has been said, even as the dangerous storm ultimately passes, immoral men must meet their destruction. (As the whirlwind passeth, so is the wicked no more; but the righteous is an everlasting foundation. Proverbs, X. 25.) No sooner did the cup of sin in Assyria and Babylon become full than it broke. When Rome trod the path of immorality, none of her great men could save her. The ancient Greeks were an accomplished people, still all their art and philosophy could not continue in their immorality for long. The French Revolution was but and insurrection against immorality. The same was the case with America. The good Wendell Phillips used to say that immorality even if enthroned will not endure. This mysterious moral law brings prosperity to the man who observes it: it sustains the family that obey it, and the community which lives by it ever flourishes. Freedom, peace and happiness are the lot of the nation that lets itself be ruled by this highest law.

Rabbis Against Occupation Who Are Not Against the State of Israel. “It’s the occupation, stupid”.

This paraphrase of Bill Clinton’s iconic campaign phrase looms large over everything I say or do that is related to Israel and Palestine. I believe that Israel’s occupation of the West Bank and the Palestinian people who live there is the major moral issue facing the Jewish world today, and that we are being stupid not to acknowledge this loudly and often. Israel’s denial of basic civil rights to West Bank Palestinians is an ethical disgrace, and a source of shame for Israel and for those of us who love her. Furthermore, when Diaspora Jews (along with our Israeli counterparts) maintain ignorance of the occupation and its repercussions, we jeopardize the very future of Zionism and Israel as we know and love them. The occupation is a time bomb.

Open Borders, Closed Borders

When the Oslo Accords were announced in 1993, I was an RRC student living in Jerusalem and studying at the Hebrew University. As flawed as it was, the Oslo process allowed many of us to experience a Camelot-like moment when the entire region seemed to blossom into the myriad possibilities that peace might bring. Within two years, when I was living and working in Jerusalem, the barriers seemed to be coming down as co-existence flowered. Palestinian buses to Ramallah or Bethlehem passed through West Jerusalem, making visits to areas controlled by the Palestinian Authority simple.  I made such trips regularly in order to participate in dialogue groups, volunteer as an English tutor for Palestinian children and take Christian visitors to Bethlehem. More importantly, Israelis also visited the Palestinian areas of the West Bank regularly, allowing open-minded people on both sides of the then-porous border to get acquainted.

Twenty years later, the border consists of a concrete wall that is up to 26 feet high; metal fences buttressed by barbed wire and electricity; and scattered checkpoints where Palestinians who have secured permission to work or study in Israel are subjected to stressful ordeals, long waits, and frequent humiliation and danger. In some areas, the wall actually divides Palestinian communities internally: family members and friends living on two different sides of the same town must drive for hours to visit someone who lives just three blocks away. Farmers are prevented from working their own land on the other side of the barrier. Students are forced to traverse Israeli military checkpoints to get to class.

Symbols of Enmity

I witnessed these hardships regularly because I am not an Israeli citizen. Israelis—even those who carry foreign passports—are forbidden to visit the Palestinian West Bank. A few weeks ago, on a visit to Ramallah and its environs, I saw several huge, red warning signs stating: THIS ROAD LEADS TO AREA “A” UNDER THE PALESTINIAN AUTHORITY. ENTRANCE FOR ISRAELI CITIZENS IS FORBIDDEN, PUTS YOUR LIFE IN DANGER, AND IS AGAINST ISRAELI LAW.

These warnings reinforce many Israelis’ view of Palestinians as implacable enemies. Although some Israeli Jews have been kidnapped and even murdered while traveling in Palestinian areas, the average Palestinian is not interested in harming Jews. Many would like to see Israelis return to the area to purchase goods and services. Activists for peace and justice on both sides of the border argue that the laws preventing Israelis from visiting the West Bank without a special and elusive permit aren’t in place primarily for safety reasons; rather, they serve to prevent Jews and Palestinians from meeting one another and learning how to live as peaceful neighbors. Such xenophobic signs contribute to the credibility of hate and fear mongering Israelis, who add them to their pile of “evidence” that the Palestinian people are inherently dangerous to Israel’s survival.

In reality, the military occupation of the West Bank poses more danger to Israel’s survival. The many Jewish settlements that have been built have created a two-tiered social system that has so dehumanized Palestinians that the recently built Jewish-only roads on which they are forbidden to travel are actually called “sterile roads,” as if Palestinians would somehow infect them. I visited the West Bank during the Pesach holiday this year. Since many Israelis travel around the country then, the military police closed more roads than usual to Palestinians. Meanwhile, Jewish settlers living just down the road from Palestinian villages sport Israeli license plates on their cars, so they can zip through checkpoints and down brand new Jewish-only highways. The occupation builds resentment, which, combined with the growing settlements, makes peace-making ever more difficult.

Facts on the Ground

On a visit to several West Bank communities with Rabbis for Human Rights (RHR), I met olive farmers whose trees were destroyed by young Jewish settlers. I witnessed twenty middle-aged Palestinian men being forced to stand for hours in the blazing noonday sun without shade or water: while they had to address traffic violations at the nearby military police station, they were not allowed to enter the large Jewish settlement that houses it. Instead, they waited for hours for the military police to come and process the tickets. When the armored car finally arrived with its blue lights flashing, the officers climbed out with M-16’s drawn and police dogs at their sides. All of this for traffic tickets.

I am less interested in theories about how to solve this intractable conflict than I am in urging Diaspora Jews who care about Israel’s future to learn more about the occupation. Every Jewish visitor to Israel should also visit the Palestinian West Bank. The landscape is spectacular, and most Palestinians are warm and hospitable to Jewish visitors. The major population centers are a short drive from Jerusalem, and there are many guides who offer “dual-narrative” tours of the area. Only by visiting in person can one truly appreciate what the occupation means. My hope is that, when confronted with the disquieting reality on the ground, more of us will support our Israeli counterparts in their struggle to end it.

In 2012, I participated in a dual-narrative tour of Hebron led by an Israeli and a Palestinian peace activist. While the co-leaders of the trip were each forbidden to visit the other’s section of this deeply divided, heavily militarized city, we international visitors were able visit and talk with people on both sides, as well as with international peacekeepers stationed there. In Hebron I met Jewish settlers who have enshrined the grave of Israeli terrorist Baruch Goldstein, who in 1994 murdered 29 Muslims as they prayed at the Tomb of the Patriarchs, a site sacred to both Judaism and Islam because it is built over the grave traditionally identified as that of our shared ancestor Abraham/Ibrahim. Those of us who are appalled by Jewish terrorism carried out and glorified by fanatics who claim to speak for the Jewish people and the State of Israel must not remain silent. We must confront and repudiate such people and actions, but we only learn about them by visiting both current populations of the West Bank: Jewish and Palestinian.

In conversation with an Israeli whose army service had been in Hebron, I came to understand that ending the occupation and resolving the conflict are two different processes. While a conflict is resolved between disputing parties, true negotiation can’t take place while the boot of one is on the neck of the other. He also pointed out that the amount of military resources deployed in Hebron and neighboring areas is vastly disproportionate to what is required in areas of Israel proper. This former officer declared that he would always pick up a gun to protect his beloved Israel, but for that pledge to be truly meaningful, Israel needs actual borders—something it has not had since 1967.

Possible Futures

A few weeks ago, my partner and I traveled to the West Bank with long-time peace activist and negotiator Dr. Gershon Baskin, who took us to the brand new Palestinian city of Rawabi, which has been featured in American media. We saw the innovative and impressive models of a city that will house Palestinians of all backgrounds. I agree with Baskin’s assessment that supporting the emerging Palestine is not only the morally correct thing to do for Palestinians, but is also the best guaranteed security for the Israel that many of us hope to see: an open democracy situated side-by-side with its neighboring state, Palestine. And counterintuitively, cities like Rawabi also may serve the interests of those Israelis who would rather keep Palestinians at a distance. A self-sufficient Palestinian society that does not depend on Israel for its basic needs will have less need for daily entanglement with Israel.

Visiting Ramallah, it was clear to us that the nascent State of Palestine already exists. The real question is whether its’ government buildings, cultural centers, commercial districts and banks become the dynamo from which Palestine grows, or whether we all continue to inch toward a single state that through demographic inevitability will eventually not be a Jewish state. Currently there is a one-state reality on the ground, in which Jewish Israelis control Palestinians in most aspects of their lives, and determine whether or not Palestinians who live abroad can return to their native land. Israel was not created so that Jews could subjugate another people without affording them basic civil rights. Regardless of what one thinks of an “ethnic democracy” (an issue many European nations grapple with), there is nothing democratic about a military occupation. As long as settlers live freely on a West Bank occupied by Israel, the Jewish state is far from a democratic nation.
As Gershon Baskin writes in his April 15, 2015 column in The Jerusalem Post,

Benjamin Netanyahu’s victory is undeniable: […]a majority of Israelis support a right-wing vision for Israel’s future. But let’s not forget, even for one minute, that nearly half of the Israeli population does not. Half of Israel’s population continues to support a vision of two states for two peoples, and I would venture to say that if Israelis believed it was possible to achieve such a solution, that number would grow to two thirds…

The people of Israel, even most of the half of them from the Center leaning toward the Left, do not believe there is a partner for peace in Palestine.

I strongly disagree, and I base my disagreement on constant ongoing contact with the Palestinians and their leaders.

I have sat with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas and extensively discussed all of the issues in conflict in permanent-status negotiations, and I know that there are possibilities for reaching agreements that will provide Israel with all of its security needs. I have had these discussions with a large number of Palestinian leaders throughout the West Bank, in cities, towns, villages and refugee camps. I am there several times a week for years already. I speak to Palestinians in Gaza almost every day…I am convinced that there is a Palestinian partner for peace.

Baskin’s column is titled “The Citizens’ Challenge — from Despair to Hope.” We diaspora Jews who still believe that a just and peaceful two-state scenario is possible must offer hope to our Israeli counterparts who feel post-election despair. The only way for this to happen is to confront the reality of the occupation head-on.

After we have faced that harsh reality, we also need to act. I boycott West Bank goods as a protest against an illegal occupation that is sustained by a steady, large infusion of government money to the detriment of education and social welfare in the rest of Israel. You might choose a different path. However, for the sake of the Jewish people and of justice in the world, we must not be silent.

Rabbi Rebecca Lillian
Rabbi Rebecca Lillian, a 1995 graduate of the RRC, currently lives in Malmö, Sweden. She is a project manager for the Open Skåne Social Cohesion Initiative and teaches at Lund University. A founding Board Member of Brit Tzedek V’Shalom, she has been an activist for a non-violent solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict for over 20 years.

Gandhi NEVER invested in America. Asia and the Americas, Volume 22, By East and West Association (U.S.)

     MK Gandhi. 19th century. “America tells the world how to live.”

I do believe that where there is only a choice between cowardice and violence I would advise violence.  I advocate training in arms for those who believe in the method of violence. I would rather have India resort to arms in order to defend her honor than that she should in a cowardly manner become or remain a helpless witness to her own dishonor. But I believe that nonviolence is infinitely superior to violence, forgiveness is more manly than punishment, forgiveness adorns a soldier. But abstinence is forgiveness only when there is the power to punish, it is meaningless when it pretends to proceed from a helpless creature. A mouse hardly forgives cat when it allows itself to be torn to pieces by her. … I do not believe myself to be a helpless creature. Only I want to use India’s and my strength for better purpose. Let me not be misunderstood. Strength does not come from physical capacity. It comes from an indomitable will.

It is beyond my power to induce in you a belief in God. There are certain things which are self proved and certain which are not proved at all. The existence of God is like a geometrical axiom. It may be beyond our heart grasp. I shall not talk of an intellectual grasp.  Intellectual attempts are more or less failures, as a rational explanation cannot give you the faith in a living God. For it is a thing beyond the grasp of reason. It transcends reason. There are numerous phenomena from which you can reason out the existence of God, but I shall not insult your intelligence by offering you a rational explanation of that type. I would have you brush aside all rational explanations and begin with a simple childlike faith in God. If I exist, God exists. With me it is a necessity of my being as it is with millions. They may not be able to talk about it, but from their life you can see that it is a part of their life. I am only asking you to restore the belief that has been undermined.

In order to do so, you have to unlearn a lot of literature that dazzles your intelligence and throws you off your feet. Start with the faith which is also a token of humility and an admission that we know nothing, that we are less than atoms in this universe. We are less than atoms, I say, because the atom obeys the law of its being, whereas we in the insolence of our ignorance deny the law of nature. But I have no argument to address to those who have no faith.

I do believe that where there is only a choice between cowardice and violence I would advise violence.  I advocate training in arms for those who believe in the method of violence. I would rather have India resort to arms in order to defend her honor than that she should in a cowardly manner become or remain a helpless witness to her own dishonor. But I believe that nonviolence is infinitely superior to violence, forgiveness is more manly than punishment, forgiveness adorns a soldier. But abstinence is forgiveness only when there is the power to punish, it is meaningless when it pretends to proceed from a helpless creature. A mouse hardly forgives cat when it allows itself to be torn to pieces by her. … I do not believe myself to be a helpless creature. Only I want to use India’s and my strength for better purpose. Let me not be misunderstood. Strength does not come from physical capacity. It comes from an indomitable will.

It is beyond my power to induce in you a belief in God. There are certain things which are self proved and certain which are not proved at all. The existence of God is like a geometrical axiom. It may be beyond our heart grasp. I shall not talk of an intellectual grasp. Intellectual attempts are more or less failures, as a rational explanation cannot give you the faith in a living God. For it is a thing beyond the grasp of reason. It transcends reason. There are numerous phenomena from which you can reason out the existence of God, but I shall not insult your intelligence by offering you a rational explanation of that type. I would have you brush aside all rational explanations and begin with a simple childlike faith in God. If I exist, God exists. With me it is a necessity of my being as it is with millions. They may not be able to talk about it, but from their life you can see that it is a part of their life. I am only asking you to restore the belief that has been undermined.

In order to do so, you have to unlearn a lot of literature that dazzles your intelligence and throws you off your feet. Start with the faith which is also a token of humility and an admission that we know nothing, that we are less than atoms in this universe. We are less than atoms, I say, because the atom obeys the law of its being, whereas we in the insolence of our ignorance deny the law of nature. But I have no argument to address to those who have no faith.

I do believe that where there is only a choice between cowardice and violence I would advise violence.  I advocate training in arms for those who believe in the method of violence. I would rather have India resort to arms in order to defend her honor than that she should in a cowardly manner become or remain a helpless witness to her own dishonor. But I believe that nonviolence is infinitely superior to violence, forgiveness is more manly than punishment, forgiveness adorns a soldier. But abstinence is forgiveness only when there is the power to punish, it is meaningless when it pretends to proceed from a helpless creature. A mouse hardly forgives cat when it allows itself to be torn to pieces by her. … I do not believe myself to be a helpless creature. Only I want to use India’s and my strength for better purpose. Let me not be misunderstood. Strength does not come from physical capacity. It comes from an indomitable will.

It is beyond my power to induce in you a belief in God. There are certain things which are self proved and certain which are not proved at all. The existence of God is like a geometrical axiom. It may be beyond our heart grasp. I shall not talk of an intellectual grasp. Intellectual attempts are more or less failures, as a rational explanation cannot give you the faith in a living God. For it is a thing beyond the grasp of reason. It transcends reason. There are numerous phenomena from which you can reason out the existence of God, but I shall not insult your intelligence by offering you a rational explanation of that type. I would have you brush aside all rational explanations and begin with a simple childlike faith in God. If I exist, God exists. With me it is a necessity of my being as it is with millions. They may not be able to talk about it, but from their life you can see that it is a part of their life. I am only asking you to restore the belief that has been undermined.

In order to do so, you have to unlearn a lot of literature that dazzles your intelligence and throws you off your feet. Start with the faith which is also a token of humility and an admission that we know nothing, that we are less than atoms in this universe. We are less than atoms, I say, because the atom obeys the law of its being, whereas we in the insolence of our ignorance deny the law of nature. But I have no argument to address to those who have no faith.

War and the movement against it. Non-violence is the greatest force.

non-violence weapon of the strong(From The Hindu 11-8-26 MK Gandhi)

The movement against war

Will America, England and the other great nations of the West  continue to exploit the so-called weaker or uncivilized races and hope to attain peace for the world? Not till the spirit is changed can the form be altered. The form is merely an expression of the of the spirit within.

The essence of moral guardianship. The Illuminative Way of Proficients.

wayoftheproficientsThe gift of knowledge renders us docile to inspirations superior to human knowledge and even to reasoned theology. We are here concerned with a supernatural feeling that makes us judge rightly of human things, either as symbols of divine things, or in their opposition to the latter. It shows us vividly the vanity of all passing things, of honors, titles, the praises of men; it makes us see especially the infinite gravity of mortal sin as an offense against God and a disease of the soul. It throws light particularly on what in the world does not come from God, but from defectible and deficient second causes; in this it differs from the gift of wisdom. By showing the infinite gravity of mortal sin, it produces not only fear but horror of sin and a great sorrow for having offended God.

Thomas à Kempis on forgiveness. The Illuminati or the enlightened soul.

The more you know and the better you understand, the more severely will you be judged, unless your life is also the more holy. Do not be proud, therefore, because of your learning or skill. Rather, fear because of the talent given you. The Illuminati (plural of Latin illuminatus, “enlightened”) is a name given to several groups, both real and fictitious. Historically, the name usually refers to the Bavarian Illuminati, an Enlightenment-era secret society founded on May 1, 1776. The society’s goals were to oppose superstition, obscurantism, religious influence over public life and abuses of state power. “The order of the day,” they wrote in their general statutes, “is to put an end to the machinations of the purveyors of injustice, to control them without dominating them.”[1] The Illuminati—along with Freemasonry and other secret societies—were outlawed through edict, by the Bavarian ruler, Charles Theodore, with the encouragement of the Roman Catholic Church, in 1784, 1785, 1787 and 1790.[2] In the several years following, the group was vilified by conservative and religious critics who claimed that they continued underground and were responsible for the French Revolution.

Sheila Ki Jawani, Sheila’s Youth. Dances of Russia of Mayuri (Peacock)

I know you want it, I won’t fall into your hands, believe it or not the world is crazy for my love, hey you I know you want it but you are never going to get it, wont fall into your hands, I feel I should gently hold myself, I don’t need anybody else, I love myself, I won’t fall into your hands what’s am too sexy for you, My name is sheila I am too sexy for you. I won’t fall into your hands, no no no, Sheila’s killer youth They follow me. Silly silly boys, you are so silly, they follow me, when I look at them, their words seem so hollow, I craved for so long this looks like ages, On this thirsty heart Sheila’s killer youth every trick is ineffective on me, I won’t fall into your hands, Sheila’s killer youth, ….Money, car, luxurious villa, empty pockets and broke No no I don’t like it like that, I’ll bring the whole world at your feet, On this thirsty heart like the rains your eyes fell I”ll bring the whole world to your feet, I know you want it, but you are never going to get it, I feel like I should gently hold myself, What’s my name, I don’t need to love anybody else am too sexy for you, Sheila, I am too sexy for you Sheila’s killer youth, Ain’t nobody got a body like Sheila, What’s my name My name is Sheila, drive you crazy because my name is Sheila.

Sufi Kathak Dance. Vocalist Abeeda Parveen, Dhama Dham Masth Kalandar. Praise to Almighty God in a desirous manner.

Khwaaish is an Urdu word meaning desire, request, demand.

Kwaaish waale, desirous people.

. O Laal Meri Pat Rakhiyo Bhala Jhoole Laalan. The red robed one! May I always be protected by You, Jhoolelaal  Laal Meri Pat Rakhiyo Bhala Jhoole Laalan. May I always be protected by You, O Jhoolelaal  Sindhri Da Sehwan Da Sakhi Shahbaz Kalandar  Lord of Sindh and Sehwan, noble Kalandar Duma Dum Mast Kalandar, Ali Da Pehla Number euphoric Kalandar, Ali is always the first  Duma Dum Mast Kalandar, Sakhi Shahbaz Kalandar  O red-robed euphoric Kalandar, O noble Kalandar … Laal Meri Pat Rakhiyo Bhala Jhoole Laalan. May I always be protected by You.  Jhoolelaal  Sindhri Da Sehwan Da Sakhi Shahbaz Kalandar. Lord of Sindh and Sehwan, O noble Kalandar  Ho Laal Meri, Haaye Laal Meri…   Chaar Chiraag Tere Baran Hamesha . Your shrine is always lighted with four lamps  Char Chiraag Tere Baran Hamesha  Paanjwaan Ve Palan Aaiyaan Bala Jhoole Laalan  I’ve come here to light the fifth lamp in Your honour, Jhoolelaal  Ho… Paanjwaan Ve Palan  To light the fifth lamp O Jhoolelaal Sindhri Da Sehwan Da Sakhi Shahbaz Kalandar, Lord of Sindh and Sehwan, O noble Kalandar  Duma Dum Mast Kalandar, Ali Da Pehla Number  O red-robed euphoric Kalandar, Ali is always the first  Duma Dum Mast Kalandar, Sakhi Shahbaz Kalandar, red-robed euphoric Kalandar, O noble Kalandar  Ho Laal Meri, Haaye Laal Meri… Jhanan Jhanan Teri Naubat Baaje. Your drums are ringing. Jhanan Jhanan Teri Naubat Baaje. Your drums are ringing  Laal Baje Ghadiyal Bala Jhoole Lalan  Let Your name be glorified day and night, Jhoolelaal… Laal Baje Laal Baje Ghadiyal Bala Jhoole Lalan. O Jhoolelaal  Sindhri Da Sehwan Da Sakhi Shahbaz Kalandar. Lord of Sindh and Sehwan, O noble Kalandar  Dhuma Dhum Masth Kalandar, Ali Dha Pehla Number  O euphoric Lord, Ali is always the first  Dhuma Dhum Mast Kalandar, Sakhi Shahbaz Kalandar, the companion of the noble.  Ho Laal Meri, Haaye Laal Meri…  O red robed one!  Arre Dhuma Dhum Dhum Dhum Dhum Dhum Ali Ali. There’s Ali in every breath I take. Dhuma Dhum Masth Kalandar, Ali Da Pehla Number  O red-robed euphoric Kalandar, Ali is always the first Dhuma Dhum Masth Kalandar, Sakhi Shahbaz Kalandar  O red-robed euphoric Kalandar…

Mujhe rangde, Bathe me with color. Anna Ivanova, Chakkar ensemble, Moscow, Russia.

Mujhe rang dhe, mujhe rang dhe Give me color, main banke savera jaag uthi main jaag uthi, I have come as the morning awakened to life. Main banke morni naach uthi, As becomes a colored bird, I dance. There naina mere naina mere nainon mein rang. Your eyes  reflected in mine fill with sight. Haan rang dhe haan rang dhe haan apni prith vich rang dhe come, fulfill me until my love comes home. There sapnon ke aangan mein cham cham chaloon. I walk in the courtyard of dreams, quietly, delightedly my anklets sing their praise. Main chaloon main chaloon there sang sang chaloon,  I want to walk with you my beloved companion. I walk, by your side I walk, aaja aaja ve aaja thu banke hawaa. Come to me as soulfully as rain. There sadke jawaa tere maare jawaa, I absorb all  troubles in order that you remain with me.  Main bhi thanha hoon thu bhi hai thanha kahin, I am fraught with difficulty as are you. Somewhere out there, main adhoori yahan thu adhoora kahin, Separated from each other we are incomplete Ek aahat si hoti hai mujhko yahan, I hear a footstep, are you there? Thu kahan hai kahan hai kahan hai kahan I search for you day and night.  Mujhe le chal thu le chal tu le chal wahan, Take me with you wherever you are. Take me there, take me there, jahan tak aasmaan aasmaan aasmaan, where  our roads lead to the sky and beyond. Ho mohobat ki duniya nashe maien jahan, where all loves are complete as hearts demand.  Mujhe le chal tu le chal tu le chal wahan, take me, let us go there now.

Can terrorism be objectively understood? A trenchant reply of Richard Jackson, Reader, International Politics at Aberystwyth University and the Founding Editor of the journal, Critical Studies on Terrorism.

An Argument for Terrorism. By Richard Jackson

terrorismIt has become something of a cliché to note that there are over 200 definitions of terrorism in existence within broader terrorism studies literature; that many terrorism scholars have given up on the definitional debate and use the term unreflectively; and that such a state of affairs hampers theoretical progress and skews terrorism research in unhelpful ways. However, the significance and consequences of the definitional debate go far beyond such narrow academic confines, important as they are to the field. Rather, the issue of definition is central to the way in which the Global War on Terror is prosecuted by the authorities both domestically and overseas. It also affects the way in which terrorism is understood and dealt with as a criminal act under international and domestic law. In the academic and cultural realms, the definition of terrorism has important implications for the way knowledge and commonsense about the subject is constructed and reproduced socially. Furthermore, it has substantial indirect consequences for individuals and groups labelled as terrorists – who may then be legally subject to torture, rendition and internment without trial – and for the “suspect communities” they belong to.

This paper argues that despite a number of serious political and ontological obstacles to the definition of terrorism, it should be possible to agree on a clear set of criteria that can be employed to distinguish and conceptualise terrorism as a unique form of political violence. There are a great many advantages to adopting these definitional criteria. More importantly, there are political-normative imperatives for retaining “terrorism” as a central organising concept for the field. The paper begins by discussing some of the main challenges in defining terrorism and the kinds of knowledge practices this has resulted in to date. The second section outlines a set of criteria that analysts can employ to distinguish terrorism from other forms of political violence. The final section of the paper attempts to demonstrate how this approach to terrorism can play a role in strengthening rules and norms against illegitimate and oppressive forms of political violence, whether it is committed by state or non-state actors.

The Constitution of Terrorism

I have already noted that the definitional debate in terrorism studies has reached something of a stalemate. Not only is there no agreed definition among scholars, but an analysis of 490 articles published in the leading terrorism studies journals between 1990 and 1999 revealed that only eight, or 1.6 percent of them, could be regarded as conceptually-oriented papers.[2] This suggests that many scholars have largely given up on the challenging theoretical debates surrounding the central concept of the field. An examination of broader terrorism studies literature suggests four main approaches and practices towards the definition and conceptualisation of terrorism.[3] Arguably the most frequent practice—particularly amongst scholars who are newly arrived to the subject—is to simply use the term without defining it, on the misguided assumption that it is widely understood and accepted. Such an approach is problematic for a number of very obvious reasons, not least because terrorism is a highly emotive and divisive concept which different scholars and societies have often understood in very different ways.

A second approach, confined mainly to political leaders and security officials, but also to a surprising number of researchers and media pundits, is to define terrorism as an ideology or movement. Although groups specializing solely in terror do sometimes form, they are extremely rare and typically remain highly unstable and ephemeral. There are very few such groups operating today. In reality, most terrorism occurs in the context of wider political struggles in which the use of terror is one strategy among other more routine forms of contentious action.[4] As Charles Tilly puts it, “Properly understood, terror is a strategy, not a creed. Terrorists range across a wide spectrum of organizations, circumstances, and beliefs.”[5]

Third, it is not uncommon to see researchers adopt an actor-based definition in the literature, whereby terrorism is defined as a particular form of political violence committed by non-state actors who attack civilians. Bruce Hoffman, for example, argues that terrorism involves violence “perpetrated by a subnational group or non-state entity.”[6] This is in keeping with the U.S. State Department’s highly influential definition of terrorism, which conceives of terrorism as “premeditated, politically motivated violence perpetuated against non-combatant targets by subnational groups or clandestine agents, usually intended to influence an audience.”[7] For scholars who adopt this definition, terrorism is largely indistinguishable from insurgency, militancy, guerrilla warfare and the like. More importantly, inherent to this approach is an assumption that while states may commit atrocities, engage in political repression or torture opponents, this nonetheless does not constitute terrorism, in large part because states have the sovereign right to use force.[8] From this perspective, definitions of terrorism hinge on questions of legitimacy and sovereignty and the nature of the actor who employs the violence. As I will argue below, actor-based approaches to the definition of terrorism are both analytically untenable and politically suspect.

Lastly, and most commonly among the leading scholars in the field, terrorism is defined as a violent strategy or tactic that actors employ in pursuit of particular political goals. That is, terrorism is defined and understood by the nature and characteristics of the act itself, rather than the nature of actor, and is conceived as a particular kind of political action directed towards certain strategic goals rather than as a broad ideology or movement. Louise Richardson for example, defines terrorism as “politically motivated violence directed against non combatants or symbolic targets which is designed to communicate a message to a broader audience.”[9] Crucially, such a definitional approach accepts that states are also actors who can and frequently do adopt strategies of terrorism and commit terrorist acts. This is a useful formulation that provides the basis for the identifying criteria I present below.

Partly due to these definitional approaches, research on terrorism in the broader field has been characterised by a number of unfortunate tendencies. An initial tendency widely noted by some critics of the field is the selection bias of much terrorism research. In this case, the terrorism label is applied almost solely to non-state groups opposed to Western interests. It is usually not applied to those groups supported by Western states – even when they commit identical acts of civilian-directed violence such as hijackings, bombings, kidnappings and assassinations.[10] Thus, while left-wing groups have always received an inordinate amount of attention in terrorism studies literature, right-wing groups like the Contras, anti-Castro groups, US- and South African-supported movements in Angola and Mozambique, various Afghan factions, numerous Latin American death squads, and today a number of Iraqi death squads, have remained scandalously understudied. Although this is in part the result of the definitional practices noted above, it is also the result of an understandable but avoidable ideological bias amongst many Western scholars who adopt the interests of their own governments.

A more serious issue is that the field has been widely criticised for its failure to provide sustained analysis (and moral condemnation) of state terrorism. Indicative of the almost exclusive focus on “terrorism from below” as opposed to “terrorism from above” is the finding that only 12, or less than two percent, of articles from 1990 to 1999 in the core terrorism studies journals focused on state terrorism,[ 11] and that only 12 of the 768 pages in the Encyclopaedia of World Terrorism (1997) examined state terrorism in any form.[12] In part, this is due to the not infrequent practice noted above of defining terrorism exclusively as a form of non-state violence.

However, there are also many prominent scholars who accept that, objectively, terrorism is a strategy of political violence that any actor can employ, including states, yet simply refuse to examine cases of state terrorism in their research. Walter Laqueur, arguably one of the founders of terrorism studies, is emblematic of this practice: he openly accepts that states have killed many more people and caused far more material and social destruction than “terrorism from below”, but then argues that this is simply not the type of terrorism he wishes to examine.[13] It is perfectly understandable that scholars would wish to focus on particular subjects, but when an entire field neglects what is a very important dimension of the phenomenon, it raises troubling questions about the ideological orientation and political objectivity of the overall field.

Clearly, there are reasons for concern over this state of affairs. From a political-normative perspective, the field appears biased towards Western state interests and complicit in the terroristic practices Western states have regularly employed over the past two hundred years.[14] The well-documented use of political terror by Western states during the colonial period, the “terror bombing” during World War II and other conflicts, cold war counter-insurgency and pro-insurgency campaigns, the active sponsorship of right-wing non-state terrorist groups and the widespread use of torture during certain counter-terrorism campaigns, among others, are only the most prominent examples of the kind of terrorism that many Western states have employed. The failure to analyse state terrorism or to condemn it in the same morally assured terms as non-state terrorism appears to many observers as pro-Western bias and a toleration of certain forms of state-practiced terrorism.[15]

In addition, it represents a breakdown of scholarly procedure and a self-imposed intellectual blindness. It is intellectually unsustainable to argue that states cannot practice terrorism against their own people and against other states. For example, such an approach would argue that a car bomb detonated on a city street by clandestine state agents is not an act of terrorism, but an identical attack by non-state actors is. Or that the kidnap, torture and murder of a civilian by agents of the state are not terrorist acts, but the same act by a non-state group is terrorism. Accepting that terrorism can only really be described according to the nature and quality of the particular act of violence—rather than the purported legitimacy of the actor who commits it [16]—has a number of serious consequences and implications.

In the first place, the acceptance that states are not exempted from employing terrorism raises serious questions about the broader focus of the field and the empirical foundations it is based on. That is, while non-state terrorists have killed tens of thousands and caused significant damage during the past century and a half, the acceptance that “states can be terrorists, too” [17] reveals that some individual states have been responsible for more terrorism than all non-state terrorist groups put together. A conservative estimate of state-instigated mass murder, forcible starvations and genocide against civilians for example, suggests that governments have been responsible for 170-200 millions deaths in the twentieth century alone.[18] Even if only a small proportion of these deaths can be strictly defined as state terrorism, the few hundred deaths caused every year by non-state terrorists pales beside the massive death, destruction and de-stabilisation caused by some states. Moreover, a great many states continue to employ terrorism on a considerable scale against their people today in places like Colombia, Haiti, Algeria, Zimbabwe, Myanmar, Pakistan, Uzbekistan,[19] Egypt, Kashmir, Palestine, Chechnya, Tibet, North Korea, Indonesia, the Philippines and elsewhere. And yet, the broader terrorism studies field does not include statistics on state terrorism in any of its recognised databases, nor does it expend any real effort trying to understand the nature, causes, strategies and outcomes of state terrorism.[20]

A serious analytical breakdown occurs when an entire field largely fails to examine what is arguably the most serious aspect of the subject. It would be comparable to an imaginary situation in which criminologists focused most of their research on anti-social behaviour and burglaries, and failed to study in any systematic way the extent and causes of domestic violence, rape, murder, sexual abuse or other serious crimes.

Another important consequence of accepting state terrorism as “terrorism” (and not just “repression”) is the need to re-conceptualise some of the accepted truisms in the field regarding the nature of terrorist behaviour. It is not the case for example, that terrorism is solely the ‘weapon of the weak’; it can also be true that “the stronger the state, the stronger the temptation to rule through a regime of terror”.[21] In fact, an objective look at the history of terrorism would suggest that strong actors have used terror far more frequently than weak ones. Moreover, it is clear that contrary to popular beliefs, terrorism can be employed during war as well as during peace. For example, when states bomb civilian targets of no military value for the sole purpose of terrorising a population into surrender—a case of frightening one group of people in order to produce a political change in another—they are clearly committing a terrorist act.[22] Similarly, counter-terrorism itself can become terrorism under certain conditions:

· When it fails to distinguish between the innocent and the guilty;

· When it is highly disproportionate;

· When it aims to terrify or intimidate the wider population or a particular community into submission;

· When it is co-opted to serve a political agenda.

Ultimately, there are important ethical-normative implications for the notion that states employ terrorism too, often under the guise of “counter-terrorism”. In the current climate, virtually every state and international organisation has adopted new anti-terrorism legislation, and military force—including “strategic bombing”—is frequently being used as a tool of counter-terrorism. At the very least, scholars should be highly suspicious of any and all attempts by states to define terrorism in ways that conveniently absolve what they or their agents do from being considered terrorism. They should refuse to accede to the common practice of exempting state officials from charges of terrorism, if for no other reason than that:

There is something morally suspicious, however, about people making laws that apply to everyone else accept [sic] themselves. The sheer fact that politicians have entered into a mutual-protection pact not to prosecute one another as ‘terrorists’ cannot change any logical or deontological facts of the matter. If what they do is otherwise indistinguishable from what is done by non-state actors that we would deem to be terroristic, then the acts of the state officials doing the same thing would be morally wrong for just the same reasons.

It is not as if there understandable reasons exist for the continuing failure to agree upon a definition of the field’s central concept. In the first place, some of the key concepts at the heart of the definition of terrorism are extremely subjective and difficult to determine objectively. Most definitions of terrorism by leading scholars for example, describe it as a form of illegitimate violence directed towards innocent civilians that is intended to intimidate or terrify an audience for political purposes. The question of what makes an act of violence legitimate or not, who is considered a civilian, how innocence can be measured, what the real intentions of often clandestine actors might be and what counts as a political aim, are all highly contested and subject to competing claims. As a consequence, in practice it is often the politically and culturally determined legitimacy of the particular group under scrutiny that determines whether its actions are labelled as “terrorism” and not necessarily the characteristics inherent to the violence itself.

Much more significantly however, terrorism is not a causally coherent, free-standing phenomenon which can be defined in terms of characteristics inherent to the violence itself. It lacks a clear ontological status—which actually makes an objective definition impossible. As two leading figures in the field put it, “The nature of terrorism is not inherent in the violent act itself. One and the same act… can be terrorist or not, depending on intention and circumstance”. The bombing of civilians for example, is not always or inherently a terrorist act; it may be the unintentional consequence of a military operation during war.

The reality is that terrorism is a social fact rather than a brute fact. Although acts of violence are experienced as brute facts, the wider cultural-political meaning of those acts as “terrorism” for example, is decided through symbolic labelling, social agreement and a range of inter-subjective practices. That is, as a phenomenon, terrorism is constituted by and through the discursive practices which make it a concrete reality for politicians, law enforcement officials, the media, the public, academics and so on. We can identify a number of processes by which certain acts and individuals are constructed as “terrorism” and “terrorists”, including:

· The labelling of certain acts and groups as such by authoritative actors, such as the annual State Department reports;

· The legal definitions contained within criminal and international law;

· The compiling of statistics on terrorism by the CIA, RAND, and various academics and think-tanks;

· The ascriptions of different groups and acts as “terrorist” in the media;

· And the like.

Actions and actors are constituted and reconstituted as terrorism in a continuous flow of social and political discourse. Moreover, analyses of these discourses reveal significant variation and instabilities between and within institutions, as well as shifts over time in the way terrorism is discursively constructed and delineated. For example, before the late 1960s, there was virtually no “terrorism” spoken of by politicians, the media or academics; there were instead numerous references to “bombings”, “kidnappings”, “assassinations”, “hijackings” and so on. The current discourse of terrorism used by scholars, politicians and the media is in fact, a very recent invention. Similarly, in the 1980s, the Afghan Mujahidin were described as “freedom fighters”[28] before they were later reconstructed as “Islamic terrorists”. Numerous other groups and states have experienced the same kind of discursive transformation from “terrorist” or “state-sponsor of terrorism” to “freedom fighter”, “political leader” or “ally in the War on Terror”.

In an important sense, terrorism does not exist outside of the definitions and practices that seek to enclose it. In the same way that “races” do not exist objectively as a meaningful way of assigning identities and behavioural characteristics to individuals, but classifications of humankind do, so too “terrorism” does not exist as a kind of essential marker—even if classifications of different forms of political violence do. A pertinent illustration of the ontological instability of the terrorism label is the observation that there are no less than four recognised “terrorists” who have gone on to win the Nobel Peace Prize: Menachim Begin, Sean McBride, Nelson Mandela and Yassir Arafat.  In other words, even within the confines of contemporary terrorism discourse, “once a terrorist, is not always a terrorist.” It depends upon the current political context and the dominant discourses which determine and constitute it.

It is for this reason, among others, that some scholars argue that the term should be avoided or eschewed altogether in academic research. These scholars suggest that the appropriate focus of study is not the terrorism that exists out there “in reality”, but the discourses of terrorism and the discursive practices that construct terrorism as a political and cultural subject. Another set of scholars argue more prosaically that terrorism is a political-cultural label and an act of de-legitimisation, and that no group ever accepts its designation as “terrorist”. They suggest that as a concept, “terrorism” has been greatly abused by political interests and has too many negative cultural and political connotations to retain any real analytical value. While these are cogent and challenging arguments, I do not accept that this means we should abandon the attempt to carefully and consistently determine which acts should be considered terrorist, or that we cannot agree on a set of fairly clear identifying criteria which can be employed for research purposes.

An Argument for Terrorism

It is my argument here that in spite of its insecure ontological status, its negative cultural-political baggage and its frequent misuse by political and academic actors, there are a number of important political and normative reasons for retaining the term “terrorism” as an organising concept for the field. I want to further suggest that the term can serve a useful function within a broader progressive political project to restrict and eliminate the use of certain kinds of illegitimate and oppressive forms of political violence. However, in order to achieve these lofty goals, scholars need to adopt the aims and commitments of a more ‘critical’ approach to terrorism.

Politically, there are a number of reasons why we should retain the term “terrorism” and engage in sustained and rigorous discursive struggle over its constitution and knowledge production. Most obviously, the term now has widespread political and cultural currency. It is the organising concept for a vast array of powerful political institutions, processes and practices in contemporary society, and scholars who refuse to employ or engage with it risk marginalising their views and their access to power. The term also clearly retains a great deal of academic currency. There is now a whole field of research, teaching and advocacy surrounding the concept of terrorism, with numerous journals, conferences, teaching programmes, think-tanks, research centres, funding opportunities and advisory posts in existence. To refuse to employ the term or engage in debates about its definition and application in research is again, to risk marginalisation and irrelevance within this broader scholarly context.

Most importantly however, there is a compelling normative imperative to retain a term that de-legitimises particular kinds of violence directed against civilians and which instrumentalises human suffering for the purposes of influencing an audience.[33] Of course, the normative power of the terrorism label is highly dependent upon its consistent application to all qualifying cases, including cases involving Western states or their allies. The selectivity and bias of terrorism scholars and political leaders in the past has seriously undermined this project by making it appear that the term is reserved solely for enemies of the West. However, I would argue that this provides a reason for critical engagement rather than withdrawal and capitulation in the discursive struggle.

Although terrorism can never be adequately defined due to its unstable ontological status, I want to argue that it can, and should, be described according to a set of identifiable and unique characteristics, which delineate it from other forms of political violence. Furthermore, a review of broader terrorism studies literature would suggest that the following conception of terrorism has broad support from many leading scholars in the field and could form the basis of a consensus over how to conceptualise it. Such an approach moreover, has several advantages over most of the existing approaches I outlined above. I suggest that as a form of political violence, terrorism can be described according to four main characteristics.

First, terrorism is an intentional and pre-determined strategy of political violence. This suggests its rational and instrumental basis. It also implies that any actor (states, groups or individuals) can employ it in pursuit of strategic goals. More importantly, it implies that actors can abandon its use at any time, and that being a “terrorist” is not a determinant of future behaviour or an indication of some kind of essential “evil” nature. “Terrorists” can choose to adopt non-violent strategies instead; they can even become statesmen and peacemakers. Importantly, it also implies political motivations, as a way of distinguishing terrorism from other forms of violence designed to terrify, such as the intimidation of communities by organised criminals seeking to obtain financial reward, the terror caused by a serial killer, or the fear caused by a one-off mass killing. Lastly, it implies forethought and intentionality, as opposed to the terror induced by rioting or communal disturbances, for example.

Second, the targets of terrorist violence are not necessarily the victims of the violence, but rather the audiences to the violence. From this perspective, terrorism is a form of political communication rather than direct military action. An important distinction here is that terrorism instrumentalises its victims. Unlike the actions of soldiers in war who seek to directly degrade the material ability of the enemy to continue fighting, the victims of terrorism are chosen instead for symbolic reasons. An important point here is that states which try to hide their involvement in civilian-directed violence may still be sending a powerful message to the society or social groups they wish to intimidate. The use of disappearances as a strategy of terrorism for example, sends a message that the state is omnipotent, omnipresent and ruthless in rooting out opponents,[34] as does kidnap and torture. In other cases, state terrorism may be both instrumental and direct: killing a union organiser for example, both weakens the union and sends a message to potential union leaders and the society they come from.

Third, and related to the previous point, terrorism is intended to cause fear and intimidate. This is the central purpose of the violence and not just the unintended consequence, although it can be argued that there is a certain kind of intentionality when actors engage in actions they can be sure which will cause terror and intimidate, such as using airpower to bomb civilian areas. Moreover, the intention to cause fear can usually be deduced from the targets, context and foreseen consequences of the violence. Bombs in public places or the widespread use of torture against regime opponents for example, are clearly intended to terrify the wider society.

Lastly, terrorism is aimed primarily but not solely at civilians. Here I differ with some scholars in that I argue that it is often unhelpful to try and maintain civilian-military or combatant-non-combatant distinctions in conceptualising terrorism. I agree with Goodin in this regard that such distinctions can in fact, be counter-productive, as they allow actors to claim legitimacy for other forms of equally abhorrent violence. A violent campaign aimed at police officers or off-duty military personnel that was intended to cause fear and intimidate the wider society or a certain section of society for example, would still constitute terrorism even though it avoided targeting civilians. Similarly, certain actions during war which were aimed solely at terrorising enemy soldiers and their civilian audience, rather than for military-strategic reasons, could also be considered terrorism. The use of certain types of militarily ineffective but demoralising chemical weapons or the bombing of civilian areas in which there were no real strategic targets, for example, would qualify as terrorism.

There are a number of clear advantages to employing such a conception of terrorism. In the first instance, it does not artificially and illogically limit the phenomenon by the nature of the actor (as some definitions do), but includes state terrorism, gender-based terrorism,[36] and non-state terrorism. Second, it does not limit the analysis to peace, but also includes the behaviour of actors in war—the site of a great deal of concentrated political violence. Lastly, as mentioned, it can be argued that there is already a consensus on these criteria among the leading terrorism scholars, as their definitions tend to incorporate all these elements. From this perspective, the main issue is not that we do not know what terrorism is or that we cannot clearly identify it; it is rather that the application of the definition is too often restricted—for whatever reason—to a narrow set of actors that most often happens to coincide with the current strategic interests of Western powers. During the cold war, most terrorism research focused on left-wing non-state groups; today, most terrorism research focuses on so-called “Islamist terrorism”. This inconsistent application both distorts the focus of the field and undermines attempts to restrict and eliminate oppressive forms of political violence.

Terrorism and Emancipation

In addition to its analytical advantages, the terrorism label could be employed as means to advancing a progressive political project aimed at protecting marginalised and vulnerable populations from indiscriminate and oppressive forms of violence. That is, at the most basic level, employing the above criteria can have the effect of de-legitimising any and all forms of violence that seek to instrumentalise human suffering for the sole purpose of sending a message to an audience. Related to this, it also de-legitimises all forms of civilian-directed violence, including the direct targeting of civilians during war.

Most importantly, however, this approach to terrorism brings back states as a subject for analysis and holds them accountable for actions that many recognise as terrorism but which are rarely acknowledged as terrorism, even by terrorism scholars. This is a critical task, given that the known effects and consequences of state terrorism —in terms of deaths, human suffering and material, social and political destruction—are far more serious than non-state terrorism. In this sense, the identifying criteria described above functions to set the limits of legitimate state violence, despite the frequent attempt to justify terroristic forms of violence by reference to doctrines of state sovereignty and the legitimate use of political violence. The criteria can also be used to scrutinise state practices during counter-terrorism and counter-insurgency operations to ensure that they do not morph into terrorism themselves by failing to distinguish between the innocent and the guilty or being highly disproportionate, for example. Similarly, it can be used to evaluate state practices during times of war, identifying those occasions when military actions go beyond strategic necessity to the use of force for the purpose of intimidating and demoralising civilians.

In short, these criteria provide a strict set of criteria for the evaluation of actions by any and all actors who are in conflict. As such, they have the potential to strengthen the norms relating to the limits of political violence, thereby improving human and social security. Importantly, the broad social and academic consensus, as well as the relevant legal precepts, is already in place for proscribing and de-legitimising actions that fall within the categories of illegitimate, terrorist violence outlined above.

However, in order to make this work in everyday scholarly practice, I would argue that terrorism scholars in particular would need to adhere to a set of core ontological, methodological and normative commitments. These have been outlined in detail elsewhere,[37] but would include, among others:

· An acute sensitivity to the politics of labelling in the terrorism field and an acceptance of the insecure ontological status of the term;

· Transparency about their own values and political standpoints, particularly as they relate to the geo-political interests of Western states;

· A willingness to expand their focus of research to include the use of terrorism by states, including Western states engaged in operations overseas;

· Adherence to a set of responsible research ethics, including a commitment to refusing to cooperate with state counter-terrorism projects that include the use of torture, illegal practices such as rendition or the victimising of whole “suspect communities”;

· A commitment to normative values which reject any and all forms of civilian-directed violence and which promotes a broad notion of human security.

In particular, terrorism scholars must recognise the cultural-political biases they hold and aim for consistency of application of the criteria set out. Specifically, they must demonstrate a willingness to scrutinise and condemn the actions and intentions of their own states when they cross the line into terrorism. This is in fact, the biggest problem facing the field in this area. It is not that terrorism scholars do not recognise the use of terrorism by states; it is rather that they limit the focus of their research largely to non-state groups that are opposed to Western interests and fail to acknowledge the long history of involvement of their own states or allied states in terrorism.


In this paper, I have attempted to demonstrate that even though terrorism is impossible to define and the study of terrorism is beset by some unhelpful biases and knowledge practices, it is both possible and necessary to retain the term as a focus for research. I have further suggested that as an analytical term, terrorism can potentially also play an important normative function. However, in order to realise this potential, terrorism scholars need to acknowledge and accept the ethico-political content of their subject and commit themselves to a number of transparent principles.

The consequences of failing to do so are that the field remains unbalanced, politically biased and highly limited in its focus. More importantly, unless these imbalances are addressed, the field is in danger of reinforcing the view that terrorism is solely a problem of non-state groups and individuals, and that states are immune from condemnation or sustained scholarly analysis. As such, there is a danger that terrorism studies will continue to be seen by some as simply an arm of the state security sector and a bastion of support for the Global War on Terror. Considering some of the morally questionable and counter-productive policies at the heart of current state security practices in the global counter-terrorism campaign—such as extraordinary rendition, the widespread use of torture, internment at Guantanamo Bay, pre-emptive war, extra-judicial killing of terrorist suspects, shoot-to-kill policies, intrusive surveillance, aid and support for authoritarian regimes and the like—this should sound a clarion call for concerted action to scholars in the field.

About the Author: Richard Jackson is Reader in International Politics at Aberystwyth University and the Founding Editor of the journal, Critical Studies on Terrorism. He gained his PhD from the University of Canterbury, New Zealand. His current research focuses on the discourses of terrorism and the development of ‘critical terrorism studies’.


[1] An earlier version of this paper was presented at the British International Studies Association (BISA) Annual Conference, 17-19 December, 2007, University of Cambridge.

[2] Silke, A. (2004) ‘The Road Less Travelled: Recent Trends in Terrorism Research’, in A. Silke, (ed), Research on Terrorism: Trends, Achievements and Failures. London: Frank Cass, p. 207.

[3] For an excellent overview of the main definitional approaches in the field, see Raphael, S. (2007) ‘Putting the State Back In: The Orthodox Definition of Terrorism and the Critical Need to Address State Terrorism’, Paper Prepared for British International Studies Association (BISA) Annual Conference, 17-19 December, 2007, University of Cambridge, United Kingdom, available online at:

[4] Tilly, C. (2004) ‘Terror, Terrorism, Terrorists’, Sociological Theory, vol. 22, no. 1, p. 6; Schmid, A. (2004) ‘Frameworks for Conceptualising Terrorism’, Terrorism and Political Violence, vol. 16, no. 2, p. 199.

[5] Tilly, ‘Terror, Terrorism, Terrorists’, p. 5.

[6] Hoffman, B. (1998) Inside Terrorism, New York: Columbia University Press, p.43.

[7] Emphasis added. Quoted in Martin, G. (2003) Understanding Terrorism: Challenges, Perspectives, and Issues, Thousand Oaks: Sage, p. 33.

[8] See Raphael, ‘Putting the State Back In’.

[9] Richardson, L., quoted in Taylor, M. and Horgan, J. (eds) (2000) The Future of Terrorism London: Frank Cass.

[10] I explore this problem in Jackson, R. (2007) ‘Critical Reflection on Counter-sanctuary Discourse’, in Michael Innes, (ed), Denial of Sanctuary: Understanding Terrorist Safe Havens, Westport, CT: Praeger Security International.

[11] Silke, ‘The Road Less Travelled’, p. 206.

[12] Quoted in Goodin, R. (2006) What’s Wrong with Terrorism? Cambridge: Polity Press 2006, p. 55.

[13] Laqueur, W. (1977), Terrorism. London: Weidenfeld and Nicolson, p. 6.

[14] Western state terrorism is discussed in more detail in Jackson, ‘Critical Reflection on Counter-sanctuary Discourse’.

[15] See for example, George, A. (1991), Western State Terrorism, Cambridge: Polity Press; Herman, E. (1982) The Real Terror Network: Terrorism in Fact and Propaganda, South End Press.

[16] In any case, it can be argued that states who employ terror as a mode of governance lack legitimacy.

[17] Goodin, What’s Wrong With Terrorism?, pp. 50-77

[18] See Rummel, R. (1994) Death by Government. Somerset, NJ: Transaction Books; see also Goodin, What’s Wrong With Terrorism?, p. 67).

[19] The former British ambassador to Uzbekistan reveals the nature and extent of Uzbek state terror and Western complicity in Craig Murray, Murder in Samarkland: A British Ambassador’s Controversial Defiance of Tyranny in the War on Terror (Mainstream Publishing, 2006).

[20]This is not to say that there are no scholars who examine state terrorism, simply that they are few and far between and tend to exist on the margins of or even outside of the main field. There has been some outstanding research on state terrorism, including: Sluka, J. (ed.), (2000), Death Squad: An Anthropology of State Terror (Penn: University of Pennsylvania Press); Stohl, M. and Lopez, G. (eds.) (1986), Government Violence and Repression: An Agenda for Research, ed. Bernard Johnpoll, Contributions in Political Science, New York: Greenwood; Gareau, F. (2004), State Terrorism and the United States: From Counterinsurgency to the War on Terrorism, London: Zed Books; and Grosscup, B. (2006) Strategic Terror: The Politics and Ethics of Aerial Bombardment. London: Zed Books.

[21]Goodin, What’s Wrong With Terrorism? p. 52

[22] On the issue of terrorism during war, an excellent example is Grosscup, B. (2006) Strategic Terror: The Politics and Ethics of Aerial Bombardment. London: Zed Books. Grosscup provides a thoroughly convincing and eloquent argument about why the doctrine and practice of strategic bombing constitutes a form of state terrorism – not least because its original formulation was as ‘terror bombing’ aimed at civilians and intended ‘to create such terror, destruction and misery as to undermine civilians’ morale and in swift order break their fragile will to resist’ (p. 24). He goes on to document the use of ‘terror bombing’ against civilian populations in numerous European colonies, in the Spanish Civil War and during World War II, and then in its new formulation as ‘strategic bombing’ in numerous conflicts since such as Korea, Cambodia, Vietnam, Lebanon, Chechnya, Kosovo, Afghanistan and Iraq. Furthermore, Grosscup demonstrates that the two most common justifications for strategic bombing – that unlike non-state terrorism it does not deliberately target civilians and that when large numbers of civilians are killed it is not intentional – are in fact, highly specious (p. 179).

[23] Goodin, What’s Wrong With Terrorism? pp. 69-73.

[24] Ibid., p. 56.

[25] Schmid, A. and A. Jongman, (1988) Political Terrorism: A New Guide to Actors, Authors, Concepts, Databases, Theories and Literature, Oxford: North Holland, p. 101.

[26] See Zulaika, J. and W. Douglass, (1996) Terror and Taboo: The Follies, Fables, and Faces of Terrorism, London: Routledge; Jackson, R. (2005). Writing the War on Terrorism: Language, Politics and Counterterrorism, Manchester: Manchester University Press; Jackson, R. (2007) ‘Constructing Enemies: “Islamic Terrorism” in Political and Academic Discourse’, Government & Opposition, vol. 42, no. 3, pp. 394-426; Winkler, C. (2006) In the Name of Terrorism: Presidents on Political Violence in the Post-World War II Era, Albany, NY, State University of New York Press; Collins, J. and Glover, R. (eds.) (2002) Collateral Language: A User’s Guide to America’s New War (New York University Press, 2002); and Croft, S. (2006) Culture, Crisis and America’s War on Terror, Cambridge, Cambridge University Press.

[27] See Zulaika and Douglass, Terror and Taboo.

[28] Livingston, S. (1994) The Terrorism Spectacle, Boulder, CO: Westview Press.

[29 ]Sluka, J. (2002) ‘Comment: What Anthropologists should know about the Concept of “Terrorism”‘, Anthropology Today, vol. 18, no. 2, p. 23.

[30] Zulaika and Douglass, Terror and Taboo, p. x.

[31] Schmid, A. (2004) ‘Frameworks for Conceptualising Terrorism’, Terrorism and Political Violence, vol. 16, no. 2, p. 205.

[32] See Zulaika and Douglass, Terror and Taboo.

[33] This point was made to me in conversation with Ken Booth, Aberystwyth University.

[34] See Sluka, ‘Introduction’.

[35] Goodin, What’s Wrong With Terrorism?p. 15.

[36] See Sharlach, L. (forthcoming) ‘Veil and Four Walls: A State of Terror in Pakistan’, Critical Studies on Terrorism, vol. 1, no. 1.

[37] See Jackson, R. (2007) ‘The Core Commitments of Critical Terrorism Studies’, European Political Science, 6(3), 244-51.

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There is no such thing as human law. Why Kant and his adversaries were wrong about Morality and Moral Law.

Human law cannot survive because it is never objective. Its use has always depended on subjective morality. In contrast objective or moral law applies even if there is no defense of it.  Satyagraha was a complete system to deal with subjective morality’s ambitions. Hence, the prophecy that when law is moral it is for the purpose of governing blindness to sin. The best anyone can do is to apply this morality that accounts for terrorists and saints.

Kant and adversaries

Kant and adversaries.

Presence of an External Master of Knowledge. Wallace Stevens. EPOPTEIA: the homages.

Under the shape of his sail, Ulysses,Symbol of the seeker, crossing by night,The giant sea, read his own mind. He said, “As I know, I am and have The right to be.” He guided his boat Beneath the middle stars and said:”Here I feel the human loneliness And that, in space and solitude, Which knowledge is: the world and fate, The right within me and about me, Joined in a triumphant vigor, Like a direction on which I depend . . .A longer, deeper breath sustains This eloquence of right, since knowing And being are one – the right to know Is equal to the right to be. The great Omnium descends on me, Like an absolute out of this eloquence.”The sharp sail of Ulysses seemed, In the breathings of that soliloquy, Alive with an enigma’s flittering, And bodying, and being there, As he moved, straightly, on and on Through clumped stars dangling all the way.sparkling white swans

Illuminations 20: Veillées. (Vigils.) Arthur Rimbaud 1854-1891.

It is repose in the light, neither fever nor languor, on the bed or the field. It’s the friend neither ardent nor weak. The friend. It’s the beloved not tormented, and not tormenting.  The beloved. The air and the world unsought. Life. Was this it, then? – And the dream cools.

C’est se reposer dans la lumière, ni fièvre ni languir sur le lit ou sur le terrain.  C’est l’ami ni passionne ni faible. L’ami. C’est amour pas tourmenté, et pas tourmenter. L’ amour.  L’air et le monde non recherche. La vie. Était-ce donc?  Et le rêve se refraichir.

Raindrops are the bravest things in the world because they are never afraid of falling.

Raindrops are the bravest things in the world they are never afraid of falling.

sparkling white swans


Piyu palana lage mori ankhiyan: Beloved you have captured my eyes. Pt. DV Paluskar. Raag Gaud Sarang.


Piyu palana lage mori ankhiyan, ali bina piyu mora jiya ghabarave chaine na nahi ave ghari pala chinna dinna raine. Piyu palana lagi mori ankhiyan piyu bir pathaka val le laje sandeshva, piya san kahiye hamari katha tumhari darasa ko biraha…Beloved come and capture my eyes my heart is fearful and I am without hope. I await deliverance. Let the brave the news of your arrival to the far corners of the world that waiting for You has caused me untold misery and suffering. Beloved come and capture my world.

Bole Re Papihera. Sing to me Bird of Paradise. Pandit D.V. Paluskar.

Sinagogue -Budapest Hungary.

Sinagogue -Budapest Hungary.

 Bole re papihera, bole re papihera, ab ghan garaje, ab ghan garaje bole re papihera ab ghan garaje… sun mun bunde dar aye badariya barsana lagi sada rangile, sada rangile, mai har var damini dhunde dhunde chunarva, bole re papihera, ab ghan garaje, ab ghan garaje, bole re papihera… ga pa dhani sa, ma pa ni, ma pa dhani, ni sa ni….Sing to me O bird of paradise now that the clouds have spoken their rain drops shower the earth filling the world with the song of the eternal One. I am scared of thunder as I search for the veils that cover glorious showers.  Speak to me O bird of paradise now that the clouds of rain have passed. Surah Al-‘A`raf Ayahs #1-28 by Mishary Rashid Alafasy with english translation.

Pandit DV Paluskar, Raag Bilawal, Of Devotion, Saban Badariya, The Clouds of the Monsoon Season.

In the book of Ezekiel, the Prophecy of New Jerusalem (or City (where) God (is) there (יְהוָה שָׁמָּה, Jehovah-shammah),John of Patmos watches the descent of the New Jerusalem from God in a 14th century tapestry.

In the book of Ezekiel, the Prophecy of New Jerusalem (or City (where) God (is) there (יְהוָה שָׁמָּה, Jehovah-shammah),John of Patmos watches the descent of the New Jerusalem from God in a 14th century tapestry.

Majhi saban badariya je lo, majhi de upakar,mai dar bajat majhi sur mar ghirva,repeat, le nagari sudh aare hath var le eitan gali mai je lo kaman ram majhi saban badariya je lo. Boatman, the clouds of rain have arrived. Now hear their appeal. I fear their thunder surrounding the earth  boatman take me to the other side. The countryman pleads for a way out of his home.  Help me to overcome these road blocks for I wish to do no harm. Boatman look the clouds of rain arrived today when will you take me to that side?hebrides1

Pt. D.V. Paluskar “Ladali” Raag Miyan Ki Malhar. Rain for the Beloved. For Marie. Teachings of the Rabbi Hillel (30 BC – 9 AD)

If I am not for myself, who will be for me?  If I am not for others, what am I? And if not now, when? Hillel The Elder.jewishfemale

Ladali ladalithe ladan dhunde barkha ruthe mohe bicha nanana nanana dhe chunariya the, ladali, ladalithe, ladan dhunde barkha ruthe mohe bicha nanana nanana dhe chunariya thae ladali….jaise ruthe upathe bhavan me momar dundhe ro sada rang ke dhe pichkar barkha ruthe mohe bicha nanana nanana dhe chunariya.

Beloved in the season of rainfall, your glory spread all over this earth. I have searched and now have found you wherever you are. Just like in the palace of seasons, the monsoon, the peacock dances with joy praising the Creator with color. I search your face that is forever bright in the season of rain.

Balma Bahar Aayee. Beloved Came Outside. Pt. D.V. Paluskar, Raag Gaud Malhar. To Shemi in Jerusalem.

Beloved One

Beloved One (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Balma bahar aaye dadara mor papiya piya ki bole gat chaaye balma bahar aaye dadara mor papiya piya ki bole gat chaye nishiali ali damini darave, koyel shabd sunave, balma bahar aaye. My Beloved has come, the song birds rejoice, listen to the voice of my love that removes fear. The bird known as Koyel praises. My Beloved came out.

On human destiny. Do human beings deserve anything? No.



Destiny is but a phrase of the weak human heart-the dark apology for every error. The strong and virtuous admit no destiny. (They recognize that they are simply a tool for the creator to fulfill his plans.) On earth conscience guides; in heaven God watches. And destiny is but the phantom we invoke to silence the one and dethrone the other.

Can these dry bones live? Social and political reform at the turn of the century. Evil’s exigencies.

ireland123“Man, truly virtuous, who means anything more than Shew and Parade, who wishes well to his Country or to Mankind, who hath any thing more than Self, and some little fading transitory interest in view, will, at this Time particularly, try what he can do towards it: The Man who doth not, in proportion to the Power he is instructed with, is answerable to his Country for every miscarriage and disaster that happens, for the Evil it feels, and for the Evil it fears: The prosperity, the preservation, apparently the very Being of the State depends upon it; it’s Credit abroad, its Peace at home, its present Tranquility, and all it’s future security. None of these, we are bold to say, had ever been in the hazard and uncertainty they now are, had the rule been strictly adhered to; the cowardice of some, the treachery of others, the corruption of many, and the dissolute wantonness and luxury of all, had never, as it now is, been the general Complaint.”







Juridical speech. Speech as freedom of opinion. A Law of Value.

A moderated law of value must rest upon two defining principles, 1. Value as elected opinion 2. Law as freed labor. We are called to share value by obeying democratic lawful governance. When nations are unprepared to fulfill these responsibilities they are nothing but common thieves and criminals.  By agitation and resistance, it is incumbent upon EVERY individual to demand that these constraints be removed from the private and public sphere. Failure to do so will bring danger and destitution to our world. In order to live freely one must be prepared to die for freedom. Whether freedom is metaphysical or existential is one’s own business.  However, nations will be required to embrace freedom’s cost as a way out from under fiefdoms.  Fascists prosper when individualists ignore their duties as law-abiding people. They wait for criminal authorities to uphold law.  Sadly, laws can work when people are willing to stand up for them. Unwillingness to do so is very very expensive.  When speech is juridical a vigorous and ongoing defense of opinion should provide justice. This fight is moral and must begin and conclude with making life worthwhile of laws of value.  Through practice of opinionated speech it might be possible to discard evil thinking. Only then rule of law is value fit to become enshrined within human beings.

How we treat each other, the spirit of benevolence, of service, of contribution. If we ignore the moral foundation and allow economic systems to operate without moral foundation and without continued education, we will soon create an amoral, if not immoral, society and business. Economic and political systems are ultimately based on a moral foundation.

Commerce (Business) Without Morality (Ethics), Wealth Without Work.  This refers to the practice of getting something for nothing – manipulating markets and assets so you don’t have to work or produce added value, just manipulate people and things. Today there are professions built around making wealth without working, making much money without paying taxes, benefiting from free government programs without carrying a fair share of the financial burdens, and enjoying all the perks of citizenship of country and membership of corporation without assuming any of the risk or responsibility.