The first incident which has clouded my mind with respect to the distinction is the Israeli commando raid on a flotilla of ships heading for Gaza, carrying humanitarian aid. The raid on flotilla bearing the Turkish flag left nine activists dead, fueling international anger at the incident. However, internet has been flooded with videos claiming that the raiding soldiers acted on self defense, with some showing an activist pushing a soldier off the vessel Mavi Marmara (see youtbe for instance). The Israeli defense forces have also been quick to release snaps of the "weapons" found on the ship. International media has lapped up the story from both sides with many condemning the incident, esp. in the wake of deteriorating conditions in Gaza due to Israeli and Egyptian embargoes which has led to a staggering 80% of the population depend on international aid. A sizable majority seems to be on the other side of the line, however, as this article in the New York Times indicates (living up to its reputation once again!). I quote a statement from it here:
What is missing so far from the flotilla clips on both sides is context: it is difficult to establish the sequence of events or, more simply, to determine who attacked first. The videos have made it all the more murky.
I don't feel capable enough to answer the 'deep' question raised above and many more that follow - Was flotilla on its way to capture Gaza with kitchen knives and metal rods (please refer to the pics of the WMD's on the link given above ) ? Were the peace-loving Israeli soldiers, out on a pleasure air-trip, caught unawares and instinctively shot down the 'armed' activists who were attacking them ?? Were these aid-carrying humanitarians actually terrorists leading charge against the state of Israel and its soldiers? ....murky indeed.
The second incident, compounding this eternal confusion, occurred back home. Author-activist Arundhati Roy recently stated that she would happily embrace imprisonment but would not give up backing the Maoist struggle. She further stressed that the Naxal movement could not have been anything but an armed struggle because other options are infeasible in the present scenario.
I wasn't aware of the perverse power of democracy until the enlightenment I received from Ms. Roy's comments, esp. since the platform was a lecture organized by the Committee for Protection of Democratic Rights
in Mumbai. Her sympathy towards Naxal movement and 'right-to-defend -the-right-to-kill' for Naxals is especially surprising after the killing of 76 CRPF soldiers in Dantewada at the hands of Maoists in April, followed by Naxalite landmine blowing up a bus killing 44 people including several Special Police Officers (SPOs) and civilians [Ms. Roy opined that police should not have used the public bus in first place] and derailment of a Kolkata–Mumbai night train by a bomb blast initiated by Maoists killing at least 150 persons in May. Terrorists?... not if you ask Ms. Roy. Not so long ago, she had described the maoists as 'Gandhians with the guns'.
So maybe next time I feel threatened by someone, which won't be unusual for a girl in Indian society, should I be ready to join the ranks of an armed struggle and wipe off all the eve teasers from the face of the planet! Cringe as much as you may, ... I am sure Mr. Netanyahu and Ms. Roy will approve.