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February 28, 2002
Section: Local News

Israeli professors speak on causes of terrorism
Repository staff writer

JACKSON TWP. � Frustration. Political power. Religious fervor.
Terrorism encompasses all these facets, say those in the know.

On Wednesday, a panel of Israeli professors from Western Galilee College in Akko, Israel, discussed the subject with some Stark County counterparts at �Confronting the Roots of Terrorism: Understanding the �Other,� � a live videoconference at Kent State University Stark Campus.

The conference, the first of four, is part of Partnership 2000, an educational and cultural exchange between the Western Galilee region and Stark County.

About 50 attended the conference, including students from GlenOak High School, Malone College, Kent State and Stark State College of Technology.

�I think school is a good place for this kind of series,� said David Baker, assistant dean of Kent Stark. �At school, we investigate the impact of ideas on human actions.�

Oded Neumann, a professor at Western Galilee College and host of the Israeli panel, said terrorism is not a new phenomenon.

�It�s been a method in political history, he said. �As early as the Greeks and Romans, with the assassination of Julius Caesar by Brutus and Mark Antony.�

Neumann said terrorism first surfaced in the Middle East in the 10th or 11th century, when it was embraced by a religious cult known as the Hashishim, from which comes the word �assassin.�

�The common denominator is the directed use of violence against innocent people to achieve a political goal,� he said.

John Geib, professor of religion at Malone College in Canton, said the early institutional church unwittingly practiced terrorism through forced conversions and isolation.

�The Crusades were state-sponsored terrorism,� he said. �The Bible gives no sanction to forced conversions. I deny they were true Christians. True Christians are known by their sacrificial love for others.�

Geib said modern terrorism is rooted in idolatry.

�The worship of one�s own view of God, or ideas,� he said. �Theirs is a demonic and pathological conclusion of a theological error.�

Neumann said Zionists� success in establishing a Jewish state and subsequent victories in defending that state gave rise to anti-Jewish groups such as the Palestinian Liberation Organization, Hezbollah and Hamas.

�Terror is the weapon of the feeble, or those who see themselves as feeble,� he said. �It is feelings of frustration and helplessness. But the frustration is overshadowing the political goals.�

Neumann rejected the suggestion of a link between America�s support of Israel and the Sept. 11 attacks.

�This claim is as true as the claim that Hamas and Hezbollah are freedom fighters.�

He said only a small, vocal minority of Palestinians support terrorism.

�Palestinian terrorism could and will be defeated,� he said. �Terror has a history of failure.�

The series is being cosponsored by The Education Enhancement Partnership and the Jewish Community Federation.

You can reach Repository writer Charita Goshay at (330) 580-8313 or e-mail:

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