The Necessity of a Teleological Approach to the Language of the Discourse.
The Palestinian Israeli conflict has lasted for decades, with unimaginable human suffering involved on both sides.
This suffering was predominantly on the side of the Palestinians and Arab Israelis, but legitimate suffering has been and is present on both sides. It must, with all recognition of Israeli suffering, be understood that Israel is not only the one that illegally occupies Palestinian territory; it also has one of the worlds most well equipped military forces that are largely used to control the civilian population that is living under illegal occupation.
The conflict has been dominated by decades of both low intensity and high intensity conflict. Both sides have used and are making use of what could be generally described as “terrorism”.
The problems with commonly used approaches to the language of the discourse with regards to the Palestine Israel conflict as well as politically motivated violence in general becomes obvious when one analyzes the different philosophical and scientific approaches that are used for understanding terrorism. Before establishing a teleological approach, let us briefly analyze some of the other approaches that are commonly used.
The constructionist and social constructionist approach. With regards to so called terrorism, the constructionist approach is among other represented by Rom Harré. In his contribution to “Understanding Terrorism” (8), Harré not only emphasizes that the genesis of many psychological phenomena lie in the language and other symbolic systems.
Harré is also correctly drawing attention to the fact that social constructionism does not sufficiently deal with problems such as positioning, scapegoating and labeling. Harré is giving the example of the British Member of Parliament Peter Mandelstam, who said: “I think the distinction we have to make is not between good and bad terrorists.
It is between those terrorists who have political objectives, and are prepared to negotiate these objectives at the end of the day and engage in some kind of political or peace process.“(9). Harré realizes the problems with social constructionism.
The example of Peter Mandelstam´s definition (ibid.) also clearly begs the question, if so called terrorists loose legitimacy because their opponent oppresses them to such a degree that they never get to the point where negotiations are possible. Are they less legitimate. Harré draws attention to the fact that the one mans terrorist can be the other ones freedom fighter. What Harré fails to deliver though, is a model that can help overcome the problems with social constructionism in politics and conflicts, and all that it includes.
There are numerous other approaches to the discourse of so called terrorism. The influence of the social self, the dishonest criminal, and many other which to analyze is beyond the scope of this article.
The one most widely taught in Western University Institutes is describing a staircase, beginning with perceived injustice, where the individual who perceives apparent injustice, and who is feeling deprived of legitimate and sufficient political influence, is slowly radicalized, and then driven into the hands of “terrorist” networks who slowly recruit and indoctrinate the person into becoming a terrorist. This theory was developed by the Iranian American Fathali M. Moghaddam (10).
Actually Moghaddam´s theory is a brilliant example for how problems can not be solved. It is also a brilliant example of how so called terrorism theory actively contributes to prolonging the Palestinian Israeli conflict rather than solving it.
As long as the point of departure is “perceived injustice” (ibid.) without first analyzing if there is any injustice to be perceived, the theory will not help solving the underlying causes of a conflict and thus not help stop the politically motivated violence.
It can at best be useful for reinforcing the victors, the powerful´s narrative, that young people are indoctrinated by radicals, without ever analyzing why a group of people is making use of politically motivated violence including the strategy of terrorism. With respect to the Palestine Israel conflict, Moghaddam´s terrorism theory (ibid.) is reinforcing the Hollywood narrative.
The narrative of the violent Arab, the uncivilized barbarian, who seduces misguided, imbecile young Arab people into vicious and incompetent Arab monsters who have nothing better to do than randomly murdering innocent Israeli citizens for thereafter being murdered with impunity.
It is true that the genesis of many psychological phenomena is to be found in semantics, in language, in words. Semantics partially predetermine social syntax. And thus, before we ever arrive at a state where we can discuss legitimate suffering, perceived injustice versus injustice perceived, and how to solve one of the most complex conflicts of the Middle East and the world, we should begin by developing a teleological approach to the language of the discourse.
A teleology is any account that holds that final causes exist in nature. A thing, a process, or an action is teleological, when it is for the end of a final cause (11). In other words, teleology analyzes the “inherent intentionality in all objects, subjects and activities“.
This includes politicians, military and paramilitary forces, populations, nationalities, organizations, et cetera as well as flowers and bumblebees and the bumblebees and flowers inherent intentionality that partially determines the course of their interaction. What the author of this article suggests is that the language of the Palestinian Israeli discourse, and that of conflicts in general, must be based on an understanding and application of teleology.
The reason why this approach is so crucial for conflict resolution is, that a teleological approach to the language of the discourse makes it impossible to position, scapegoat, excuse, use euphemisms, and so forth. Let us look at some examples.
Hiroshima. The second world war had already cost tens of millions of lives. The United States Air Force is a national military force. Terrorism can be described as the tactic of instilling the emotions of fear, terror, and perceived helplessness in a target population, with the aim to manipulate a political agenda.
The city of Hiroshima was not of any direct military significance in the sense that it was not heavily defended, and in the sense that the vast majority of it´s inhabitants were innocent civilians and non combatants. With a teleological approach to the language of the discourse of politically motivated violence, the bombing of Hiroshima was; ”
The criminal, premeditated mass murder of civilian non combatants by means of a national military force, with the intention to terrorize an entire people and their government into submission, and with the purpose to intimidate and terrorize them so as to accept an unconditional surrender“. Euphemisms like “we nuked them to end war” are part of the problem, not part of the solution.
The occupation of Palestine is the illegal occupation of a sovereign peoples country by means of military and paramilitary national, occupying forces. The countermeasures against so called terrorism in the occupied West Bank, such as road blocks, would be utterly unnecessary if Palestine was not illegally occupied, and are designed to intimidate and terrorize. They are illegally established population control units established to maintain an illegal occupation.
The bombing of Gaza in 2004 was the terror bombing of a civilian population with the intention to instill the emotion of terror and helplessness, with the intention to intimidate both the Palestinian people and their government into ceasing to continue their legitimate fight for liberation and self determination. It was terror bombing of non combatant civilians and premeditated mass murder.
The PFLP-GC is a Palestinian paramilitary organization that uses politically motivated violence with the intention to liberate their country from illegal occupation.
The PFLP-GC has the declared intention to liberate their country from illegal occupation and it is thus a militant liberation movement. It also makes use of terror bombing of civilians, as well as it makes use of legitimate military action. The euphemism “targeted assassination“ used by Israel and the United States of America, is a euphemism for premeditated murder.
The brutal violence used by Israeli military forces against civilians in the occupied West Bank amounts to inflicting bodily harm with the purpose to intimidate and instill terror, so as to control the population of an illegally occupied territory. It is politically motivated, illegal violence and terrorism with the purpose to continue and control an illegal occupation.
The Palestinian man or women, who strap a bomb on them selves and explode them selves among non combatants inside Israel are terror bombing civilians with the intention to liberate their country from occupation. Never the less, it is terror bombing of civilian non combatants and premeditated murder too.
To be continued.
END of Part 2
All opinions presented in this piece are the opinions and analysis of their author, and do not necessarily represent the opinions of the IMEMC.
About the Author:
Dr. Christof Lehmann is a clinical psychologist as well as political advisor. Besides his clinical work, Dr. Lehmann has for now 29 years been working as political advisor.
HIs clients, include 2 Presidents, one Prime Minister, and many other high profile politicians. Among them, in 1982, H.E., the late Palestinian President, Yasser Arafat.
Dr. Lehmann is a life long peace activist and advocate for Palestinians right to statehood, self-determination, the right to return, an end of the occupation.
On August 28 2011, Dr. Lehmann started the news blog nsnbc to help break western media´s embargo on truth. My articles are published worldwide.
All references are attached to Part One.