Tuesday, July 25, 2006
The faces of Hezbollah
What makes a terrorist?

I don't mean why do people starting bombing, and shooting and fighting from the shadows. I mean, for the purposes of news organizations defining terrorism, what should the definition be?

The United States and others clearly call Hezbollah a terrorist group: The source of countless raids, bombings and attacks on Israel; the bombing of the U.S. Marine barracks in Beirut in 1983, which left 241 people dead; and the architects of all those displays in which young men cover their faces, strap mock bombs to their chests, and parade before the cameras pledging to kill any and all soldiers and civilians alike who oppose their cause.

All this makes Hezbollah, especially for many westerners, the very definition of a terrorist group.

But some people describe another part of Hezbollah. They talk about a group that is beloved in southern Lebanon for running schools, hospitals, social services, even clearing snow in the winter for some communities that the official government of Lebanon does not serve. They say these things make Hezbollah something other than a terrorist group: A quasi-government; a nation within a nation.

All of this is done for Shiite Muslim families. The Shiites in Lebanon have long felt economically and politically deprived, and Hezbollah clearly gives many of them a feeling of both military and social strength.

So for one side, Hezbollah is a killing machine bent on seizing by terror what it wants from the world; for the other side, Hezbollah is a brave force, fighting for the rights of its people.

So what should the standard be? If you ran a newsroom, how would you define who is called a terrorist and who is not? What, for you, is Hezbollah?
Posted By Tom Foreman, CNN Correspondent: 2:14 PM ET
Hezbollah is defined as freedom fighters in South Lebanon. And this they are. Despite what your definition of a terrorist is, the people of South Lebanon lived under occupation. Something that is so rarely talked about on news stations these days. No one discusses the conditions of that Israeli occupation, the poverty, the lack of electricity and water in the South, the brutality of the occupation, why is that never discussed? Hezbollah gave them freedom, something we take advantage of every day. The ability to leave your house at night, to say whatever you want to whoever you want without fear. I went to south lebanon before and after the occupation, and I think thats a part of this story that we are all missing. And a freedom fighter for one group is always a terrorist to another. Not to simplify things, but even the very American movie the Patriot is about a militia that used what the others would call "brutal" tactics to get freedom over an occupying force and all who watched that movie considered them nothing less than heroic.

And just as a correction to your blog, hezbollah does not kill all those who disagree with them. I think thats a very drastic and exaggerated statement. Several in lebanon and other nations disagree with them, and they havnt caused death to them.

I don't think people have to support and agree with them. I am not asking for that. They have surely made their mistakes,but so has Israel. They bombed the UN quarters in Lebanon in 1996 killing hundreds. Why don't we call them a terrorist nation? Some probably do. One person's fighter is another persons terrorist.

I just think people should look at Hezbollah from a different angle and compare it to our own history and see if we'd call them terrorists if they were fighting to end a military occupation in America.
Posted By Anonymous Lina Sayed, Bayside, New York : 2:31 PM ET
Absolutely ridiculous question. Those that target innocent civilians time and time again are terrorists. Period. End of sentence. End of discussion.
Posted By Anonymous Leon, Boston, MA : 2:32 PM ET
I think this question is of the utmost stupidity. The fact that you need to ask it is insulting to not only your intelligence, but also to all of those at CNN. The fact that you ask it in the context of Hezbollah (with the underlying message that Hezobllah may or may not be a terrorist group) is a disgrace. I watch CNN because their coverage of this crisis cannot be rivaled. However, I do think that their self-proclaimed objectivity needs to be reevaluated. Mr. Foreman's question can only be answered with another question? Why do you feel the need to question whether or not Hezbollah is terroist organizations? I think I know the answer.
Posted By Anonymous Zane Gallinger Toronto Ontario : 2:33 PM ET
Terrorists. The social action is nothing more than the creation of a political base to give them the shield they need to protect against retaliation. That's the instrument used to pay for that shield. Without the shield they would be finished in a matter of a few days. In support of this statement is the source of their financing. They do not render all the community service you mentioned using income generated from their own work. They take money from foreign powers and do the war action preceded by the peaceful one in order to justify the death of civilians provoked by their ideology of reckless violence.
Posted By Anonymous Kleber Sernik, Reno, NV : 2:34 PM ET
We think your question is a good one. For some time now, since the Iraq, we have been trying to determine the difference between freedom fighter, revolutionary, reactionary, defender, terrorist and evolving new government.... we look forward to the discussion your question produces. Thank you.
Posted By Anonymous rolando salem oregon : 2:34 PM ET
I don't care how many schools or social services Hezzbollah runs. The reality is as an American lebanese I feel Hezbollah has again given Israel another reason to destroy the country and get away with it.

This is a cancer to Lebanon and it is unfortunate that the Lebanese Government cannot control the cancer. Now Israel is killing the patient.
Posted By Anonymous R. Touma Redington Shores, FL : 2:35 PM ET
Interesting question...based on your descriptions, the American colonials could have been considered terrorists by the British. I think my definition of terrorism is based on the type of warfare they conduct...the targeting innocent civilians as in 911, WMD's, gorilla warfare, combined with the lack of a solid central government with whom we can negotiate. I also believe groups move toward terrorism when the goal becomes simply to annihiliate a group of individuals or an idealogy rather than an attempt to create a better situation for their followers. For example, the continued call for Hezebollah, Hamas, and Al Quieda members to target all Americans. Given my definitions, I am sure you could find individuals in Iraq, Iran, Lebanon and other nations that consider us to be terrorists. This whole issue is extremely complex and ethically challenging. Thank you for the continued coverage. It has been good and fairly balanced. I have observed that you have more than one correspondent in several areas in Lebanon and Israel. Could you please send Nick back to Iraq? The violence is increasing and I really miss his insightful reporting on that situation. Be safe.
Posted By Anonymous Em, Grantsville, Utah : 2:35 PM ET
As a friend of mine, who until recently, lived in Lebanon, has said "one person's terrorist is another's freedom fighter". This friend in no way supports Hezbollah or it's methods. In fact, it is one of the reasons he left Lebanon. I think to every story, one must try to see both sides even if you are sure you don't agree with the other side.
Posted By Anonymous Tim, Bowie, MD : 2:36 PM ET
For me, an American living in France, Hezbollah is the Lebanese people. How can you get Hezbollah out of Lebanon when Hezbollah is composed of Lebanese people? I think of it as a guerilla group fighting visious Israel invasions. I really don't think the vast majority of Americans know anything about the history of Israel in Lebanon.
Posted By Anonymous E.V., Blaye, France : 2:36 PM ET
Good observation! Many could (and do) consider the Israeli tactics of bombing civilian targets under the ruse of "Hizballah may be hiding there" to be a terrorist act. Others may consider the the use of bombs containing phospherous to be a terrorist act. Others may call the acts of bombing Red Cross vans and other aid relief workers to be the acts of terror. Terrorism is a relative term, but it in essence means the use of fear to make someone do something. Some could argue persuasively that this definition applies to the IDF.
Posted By Anonymous Peter, Orlando, FL : 2:37 PM ET
I don't think that hezbollah is a terrorist group at all, I know that they're running schools, hospitals, social services, but that's not why i don't think they're terrorist
i don't think they're because they're the main liberator of their country and i think that makes them a natinal heros, on the other hand, i think the U.S polict tend to name any group/country that don't serve their interest terrorist or a sponser of terror with out even bringing facts why they call them that, and they had succesfully used the 9/11 events to back them up, 'cause it touches the Americans heart .
Posted By Anonymous Amira gadora, Khartum Sudan : 2:37 PM ET
I will call them terrorists who terrorize people . We understand from your reporting that Hezbollahs do a lot of service to the Shiite Muslim Lebanon people . But I would like to know if they really terrorize the Israelites without any provocations .

Also no one is born as terrorist , so if we call someone terrorist its our responsibilty to find out what made that person an enemy to the world.
Posted By Anonymous Rupa Dhar .Chelmsford , MA. : 2:38 PM ET
It all has to do with world view. I by no means support the violent attacks master minded by Hezbollah leaders, however those attacks are the only reasons your average American citizen has heard of Hezbollah. If Hezbollah leaders quitely stood by and asked for assistance, respect, and aid for its people they would be ignored. Violence seems to be the only means by which people listen. Therefore, it seems they feel obligated to act with "any means necessary." Living in a western country we are quick to condemn the entire organization. However, I bet these men are role models for a 10 year old Shiite boy in Lebanon who does not eat unless Hezbollah soldiers stop in his community with food and does not learn unless they provide books. It is vital because I guarantee no one else is going to do it.
Again, I do not support everything that Lebanon stands for but they undoubtedly perform a necessary service.
Posted By Anonymous Brandon San Antonio Texas : 2:38 PM ET
Good question.

It�s interesting the words that news providers use to describe the people fighting in wars over the years: Revolutionaries, insurgents, terrorists, rebel fighters, guerilla fighters, resistance fighters.

We seem to call everyone a terrorist now; anyone who is fighting against us or one of our allies. I know the Hezbollah do not consider themselves a terrorist organization, even if they use terrorist tactics. To them, they are resistance fighters, resisting the invasion of Israel 27 years ago, and they are fighting for release of all their prisoners captured by Israel from that war. And the Palestinians, still fighting against Israel for coming to their country and establishing the State of Israel over 50 years ago.

If the defination of terrorism is the use of violence and intimidation in the pursuit of political aims, then isn�t that what the U.S. military is doing in Iraq?

Language is a powerful tool.
Posted By Anonymous Linda, Boulder, Colorado : 2:39 PM ET
There were many who loved Hitler. He was no less a menace.
Posted By Anonymous Renee, Huntsville, AL : 2:40 PM ET
There is no dichotomy here. The Nazi party of the late 1930's provided social services, public transportation, police services and a well developed government infrastructure. Their goal, however, was the destruction of inferior races and hegemony over Europe. No one has any uncertainty as to what the Hitler regime was.

The same standard applies to Hezbollah. Its' stated goals include the destruction of the State of Israel. Its' actions fit the very definition of terrorism. There should be no ambiguity - Hezbollah is a wolf dressed up in sheeps' clothing.
Posted By Anonymous Dwer, Buffalo, NY : 2:42 PM ET
I think the term terrorist is completely accurate in its current popular use in the media. And yes, by the textbook definition of terrorist (one who uses violence and intimidation to achieve social, economical, or political goals) Hezbollah is most decidedly a terrorist group. The argument isn't whether or not hezbollah is a terrorist organization, but whether they're a "good" organization, meant for the people, that currently employs terrorist tactics to achieve what it feels is necessary for the well-being of its people. In the world view of things, not so long ago, a fledgeling United States of America employed so-called terrorist tactics to reach its goals, and was viewed with disgust by the larger, established nations of the day. As a United States Marine, I bear witness daily to the ignorance so prevelant in our daily society. We are so eager and willing to label hezbollah as an evil terrorist group, but if history serves me right, then a couple decades down the road (IF they win) hezbollah will be viewed as a great legion of freedom fighters, intent on the liberation of its people...much like the early revolutionaries are in our country.
Posted By Anonymous Dante Welcher, Johnston RI : 2:42 PM ET
Here's a hypothetical situation. A man provides well for his family, comes home every night to his wife and kids and in every way acts the perfect husband and parent. Meantime, a string of people have been killed. When the culprit is finally caught, it turns out to be the good provider, the perfect husband and father just described. He is now a murderer, plain and simple. Nothing good he ever did counts anymore. What is Hezbollah? Count the deaths. Nothing good they did counts anymore.
Posted By Anonymous Gypsy, an American in Mexico : 2:42 PM ET
The oxford English Dicionary defines a terrorist as "Anyone who attempts to further his views by a system of coercive intimidation." The reason we do not accept this definition and still struggle for an alternative one is because it includes both Hezbollah and the United States. We are reluctant to admit that perhaps the intentions of the United States are not as pure as some people would have us believe. The truth is, the actions of the United States and Hezbollah are at times compassionate and at other times despicable. People must stop killing other people.
Posted By Anonymous David, Provo UT : 2:46 PM ET
And what will it take for Israel to be labelled terrorist?
Over 300 Lebanese civilians have been killed, tens of thousands are without water and electricity, bombs have been raining down on them for more than a week now.
Posted By Anonymous Zehra, Naperville, IL : 2:49 PM ET
Running schools and hospitals is not a justification for terrorism. Hezbollah's violent actions are not merely a stain on an otherwise good organization. It's the other way around -- its humanitarian efforts are a tiny clean spot on a filthy and destructive group.

Community service does not redeem murder.
Posted By Anonymous Rafi Mittlefehldt, Austin, Texas : 2:49 PM ET
If Hezbollah performed only civic duties and offered charitable services, they would be a civic organization much like those in other countries including the US. When an individual or group uses terror to accomplish their goals they are terrorists. Domestic or international. Just like those in Oklahoma City. If a government allows such organizations to operate unopposed within their borders they are sanctioning their activities. Therefore, they are accountable to the rest of the world when those activities cross the boarder.
Posted By Anonymous Juli, Lubbock Texas : 2:51 PM ET
There is a simple answer to this question ... a terrorist is any individual, group or nation that uses violence to kill, wound or frighten innocent civilians for the singular purpose of an agenda, whether that agenda be ideological, political or economical. Given this definition, the word terrorist should be used even more freely by the media ... applying it to not only small Islamic groups that kill innocent civilians by the dozens, but also in reference to large nations, such as Israel, Russia and the U.S., that kill innocent civialians by the hundreds or tens of thousands. Until we become outraged by all acts of violence, even those sanctioned and commited by our own governments, peace will continue to elude the world.
Posted By Anonymous Jim, Roseville, MI : 2:51 PM ET
Terrorist is anyone who uses women and children as a shield as does Hezzbollah, they need to fight as real men and put their civlians in bunkers.
Posted By Anonymous K Snarey, Fairfax, VA : 2:51 PM ET
Sorry, but trying to humanize an organization that has been dedicated to spreading their hateful Islamic message and to the destruction of Israel can't be tolerated. What do you think they teach in those schools that you mention? The hospitals, social services, are all designed specifically to help a helpless group in order to indoctrinate them with their hateful message and strengthen Hezbollah. If I ran a newsroom, it surely wouldn't be difficult to label Hezbollah an Islamic Terrorist Organization, because that's exactly what they are.
Posted By Anonymous Ben W. Atlanta, GA : 2:52 PM ET
There are no terrorist. Just soldiers with a different set of tactics and rules. Hezbollah has studied the battle field and the political situation in Southern Lebanon and devised a sophisticated political and military response that offsets their lack of modern military might and gives their political constituents a government that is dedicated to the defense of their homeland (southern Lebanon). Moreover they project power abroad to facilitate their best interest. Only difference is that they do it with a willing martyr wrapped in C-4 and we do it with an aircraft carrier loaded with F-18s.
Posted By Anonymous Jesse Barker, Statesville, NC : 2:53 PM ET
Thanks Anderson and CNN Team for the wonderful reporting and updates from the war zone. I just keep praying the war comes to end and innocent people stop suffering - and the ego, anger and greed of the leaders are buried and sense prevails in them.
Posted By Anonymous Pradeep Jaiswal-Toronto-Ontario Canada : 2:58 PM ET
I don't think it's unusual for violent groups, including terrorist groups, to use charity and community building as a way of legitimizing themselves: most mafias and gangs do, the IRA did it, the PLO, all sorts of groups. Particularly groups who are dedicated to the advance of their own group at the dire expense of all others. I would argue that many groups that have gotten ahead in, say, the US have gotten ahead through the use of violence or at the very least the threat of violence...I say this as an American of Irish descent living in Whitey Bulger's town. But, to continue the comparison, the Irish Mob's intention was never to wipe out another group of people. Bottom line, Hezbollah wants to wipe Israel off the face of the earth. That they are helping "their" people in the process doesn't exactly make them UNICEF.
Posted By Anonymous Jen Deaderick Brookline, MA : 3:01 PM ET
What is Hezbollah?!? Ask the loved ones of one of the U.S. Marines killed by Hezbollah over 20 years ago. HELLO modern media... They're not warm and fuzzy, they're not an excuse to practice sensitivity training... THEY'RE THE ENEMY. What is wrong with you?
Posted By Anonymous Jay Parker, Chattanooga, TN : 3:02 PM ET
Well if you ask the Lebanese Christians, who have been terrorized endlessly by them ever since the organization was founded in 1983, they are described as nothing less.
Posted By Anonymous Eric, Toronto : 3:04 PM ET
CNN and other USA-based news organizations might well take a general look at their labeling and languaging. Far too often I see a fall-in-line labeling originated by the US government - and not from any internal standard. Shame on the media.
Posted By Anonymous Robert Gray, Newton, MA : 3:04 PM ET
You miss the point. Hezbullah only provides 'scial services' as a means to an end. With a school, they indoctrinate young impressionable minds to hate Israel or the USA. That becomes the fertile ground for the next generation of guerrillas. It took Arafat many years (2 generations) to accomplish that. Hezbullah is just copying Arafat. Once accomplished, Hezbullah will no longer need these people and when that happens, how long do you think it will take for them to stop being so benevolent? These people have no idea how 'used' they are!
Posted By Anonymous Alan Toronto Canada : 3:11 PM ET
If I remember my history correctly, Hitler and the Nazi's provided health care, retirement programs and wonderful schools for their fellow Nazi's and the Germany people willing to sell their souls for them them. And, in the U.S., our Bush tax cut recipient country club elite does a pretty good job of taking care of each other, too. You have to look at how these sorts of thugs treat everyone, how willing they are to share and take care of people they actually don't agree with, to measure their humanity. They're monsters.
Posted By Anonymous Mike Brooks, Eugene, Oregon : 3:11 PM ET
Curse you for questioning whether Hezbollah is a terroirist group. Terrorists intentoinall target civilians. It's simple. While Israel has killed many in what is usually referred to as collateral damage, this is far different from what Hezbollah does to Israeli's. When CNN posts the number of people killed by Isarel, they should also post the number of Israeli's who have died from Hezbollah terrorism over the past 20 years.
Posted By Anonymous Tony, Los Angeles, CA : 3:11 PM ET
I would define a terrorist as someone who targets innocent people to kill just because they have a different beliefs system, different color skin, nationality, or something else that they do not like.

This situation will not end until all groups realize that Israel does exist and that Syria stops financing Hezbollah activities on one hand while it calls for peace on the other.
Posted By Anonymous Mike, Boston MA : 3:16 PM ET
Freedom fighters face their opponents. Terrorist dont. They are cowards. If you pretend to be a passenger of a plane and smash it into a building, or starp yourself with bombs and blowing it up in public places, your not a freedom fighter. Your a coward. A terrorist. Simple as that!
Posted By Anonymous Sonny L. Toronto, Ontario : 3:19 PM ET
I find all and any comparisons to the Nazis profoundly offensive and blatantly vulgar.

Every time the Jewish state is involved in some manner of acts of war, attacking and invading sovereign nations (Lebanon,Palestine) some half-wit starts writing about the holocaust. The jews were not the only people who died in german death camps: gypsies,catholic priests,artists, disenters, gays and the mentally challenged.

Also, what of the holocaust that the Serbians perpetrated against the Croations? Or do we not care because those were Muslims buried in mass graves 3000 innocent souls deep?
What of the holocaust in Rawanda? Where tribal groups turned on their neighbors and killed several hundred thousand innocent people, or is that because they were black we dont care?

To compare a small group of insurgents who are at times protecting their homeland and other times retaliating against the Israeli war machine as Nazis and screaming about the jewish holocaust is insane!

Posted By Anonymous Jay, Brooklyn, : 3:20 PM ET
Hezzbollah..."fighting for the rights of its people" ??? What a concept! If the statement were only true, but it is not. They have tricked the locals with goodies -- until they were needed as human shields.
Posted By Anonymous Barry , Irvine, CA : 3:28 PM ET
Terrorism is killing innocent civilians by a state or a group of people like Al-Qaeda during 911 and Israel in Lebanon and Palestine. Israel has been killing innocent civilians for decades, occupying their land, imprisoning them in their own cities using, making their lives miserable and systematically commiting war crimes and ethnic cleansing. When people like Hezbollah and Hammas react to all these in humane behavior, we can not call them terrorists with conscious minds. As a Jewish person, I urge Israel to stop killing and send all the detainees and occupied land back to Lebanon and Palestine to get our soldiers back and for God's sake bring peace to the region.
Posted By Anonymous Anne Lichtman, New York City, NY : 3:28 PM ET
If I ran a newsroom I wouldn't allow the use of the word terrorist, except in very specific situations. It is far too subjective and a very misused, misleading term.
It has created a war of words. We use terrorist way to easily and then others rebute, "The US is the world's biggest terrorist".
I wish CNN and other outlets would stop using it completely.
Posted By Anonymous Dan F, Passaic, NJ : 3:29 PM ET
Similar,so called "social oriented group" is also exists in Israel. It is "SHAS" - religious jewish party. They are jewish fanatics and they also have numerous "social" oriented programs", schools. It is the way of of religious extremists to come and to dictate their "order of things". They are similar in way they are doing.
When I hear about social programs for most weak social group I understand - this is nothing, but a way to wash our brain.
Posted By Anonymous Peter, Haifa. : 3:34 PM ET
Your point is well made, but when a group, no matter what good it accomplishes, delibertly targets non-military or non-combattant citizens, then it becomes a terrorist organization. It is somewhat difficult for those of us in the west to identify with the ideality of the eastern mind. We have a great tendency to balance everything against our values and way of life. This is where we go wrong, we need to face the fact that not all people can live under a democratic system where everyone is equal. When will the US learn that we cannot be the police force for the whole world. The more we try to democracise the world, the more it resists us. If we look at our history, our Founding Fathers might have been classified as terrorists if we judge them by todays standards. So, you ask who or what is a terrorist? I believe it is in the eye of the beholder.
Posted By Anonymous Stan Curry, Waukegan , IL : 3:35 PM ET
Your quote is to "be honest ..." I think it's great that you pointed out the spin Hezbollah is trying to push on the media. Why are you guys so afraid to point out the spin being pushed from the Israeli's?

You appear pretty biased when you don't call the Israeli's out on targeting ambulances, hospitals and non-Shi'ite cities. So, are you going to tell the whole "truth" or is that just for marketing?
Posted By Anonymous Chris, Gaithersburg, MD : 3:36 PM ET
Terrorism is a tactic, and terrorists employ that tactic. It is possible to be both a terrorist organization and an organization that has a legitimate cause and provides legitimate services. Hamas also provides services, and is quite popular - in much the same way as Hizbollah. This does not change the simple fact that both organization employ terrorism as a means to achieve their ends. This is a tactic that is internationally condemned, and should never be rewarded. There are many ways to gather attention and support, but attacking civilians and using the emotion of "terror" as a tool - these are not good ways, no matter how valid your cause is.

So the question itself is misleading: Hizbollah is simultaneously a political party, a state within a state, a provider of social services, and -most infamously- a terrorist organization.
Posted By Anonymous Lance - Orlando, Florida : 3:36 PM ET
Live free or die? Are we terrorist? I desagree with the method that Hezbollah is using the same way I desagree with Israel method, maybe we can just call all of them terrorist...Funny is that one terrorist is receiving a green light to fight the other...my tax money at work.
Posted By Anonymous jean, Portland, Oregon : 3:39 PM ET
Most of these posts show that most of the american peoplea re in fact brainwashed. You believe what your government says, even though they rob you, cheat you, and lie to you, you still believe that everyone accroding to them are terrorists. Where USA is the biggest terrorist in theworld according to many because it sticks its nose in everything. the USA is not the world police. Say what you must and choose to say about hezzbollah but the people living know better than all of us here. so until you absolutely and utterly know the truth of your words people please keep them to yourself and or do not Assume, because assuming is what causes problems in this world.
Posted By Anonymous Ali, Phila PA : 3:41 PM ET
Terrorist is anyone who uses women and children as a shield as does Hezzbollah, they need to fight as real men and put their civlians in bunkers.

Posted By K Snarey, Fairfax, VA : 2:51 PM ET

Aren't the bunkers being bombed?
Posted By Anonymous ALi, Philadelphia, PA : 3:43 PM ET
I am sure if the Hizbollah had a strong PR as Israel does, they would be called "Resistance Group"! But because they are not recognized as goverment, any bullet that they shoot will be claimed as terrosism, while Israli air planes can drop 23 pounds of bombs and kill 100s of people and call it Target killing of the terrosits, with "unfortunate Colateralals"! right?
Posted By Anonymous AJ, Santa Monica : 4:02 PM ET
This is an excellent, most astute question! The fact is that in the UN and EU, this question has been debated for years as they tried to define "terrorism", "terrorist", and "terrorist organisations" and so far all for naught. The British government is thus far, I believe, still the only "organisation" to have made a formal attempt to define the term - and even that definition is not widely accepted. For the rest, the words terrorist and FF are bandied about to emotive effect.

The reason is that one person's terrorist is another one's freedom fighter. People like me who grew up in England believed, like the British govt., that the IRA were terrorists; the Irish - and frankly, even the Americans - do not believe that and even gave succor and more to the IRA.

This is a very tough question and I don't think there's a pat answer available even if some of your reader-responders think that you have terrorist sympathies for asking it! ;-)

I'd like to think the answer lies in something like adherence to agreed upon rules of engagement or the notion of a code of conduct in the war. But I'm afraid that that standard seems byzantine given our own conduct in recent engagements - conveniently calling prisoners we take "enemy combatants" and therefore exempt from the existing codes such as the Geneva Convention etc. And even Hezbollah appears to have some sort of standards on what is war and what is an act of terrorism and barbarism; recall they felt the 9/11 was beyond the pale and wholly unacceptable!

Very intelligent question and good on you for asking it. It was enjoyable mulling this one.
Posted By Anonymous Leena, Cambridge, MA : 6:31 PM ET
Get a grip. The people trying to destroy your way of life, your country and YOUR religion without regard to military, government or civilian status are terrorists. People that must hide their faces behind rags, hide their weapons in holy places and suppress education and personal freedom are terrorists. Your junk journalism does not support our country, our people or our relgion.
Posted By Anonymous Neel in Las Vegas, Nevada : 6:41 PM ET
It is irresponsible and ignorant to deny Mr.Foreman's question out of hand. Indeed, the spirit of rational and interrogative inquiry is one quality which differentiates us from those who practice the killing of innocent civilians to support their causes.

Hezbollah initiated this crisis by attacking an IDF patrol, capturing two soldiers in the process. This action, by most standards, is called "warfare," not "terrorism." Israel responded with a devastating air and artillery attack on suspected Hezbollah sites in Lebanon, killing over 300 civilians and wounding many more in the process. Many of the weapons they use are supplied by the United States, and we're rushing to ship them even more.

In my opinion, a civilian death is a civilian death. If Israel cannot guarantee that their rockets and shells will not kill hundreds of innocents, then what differentiates IDF attacks from Hezbollah's indiscriminate bombing of Haifa? Because they're aiming at supposedly legitimate targets? I'm sorry, but the justification of "collateral damage" just does not fly with me.
Posted By Anonymous Evan, Madison, WI : 7:00 PM ET
Why is Isreal allowed to use such a military Force. Such as air raids and very strong U.S. Weapons. They been usings these same weapon on Palastine also. Are we blind too see al these human beings dyeing in the name of self pride. I wonder who is making all the money for this war.
Please open your eyes.
Posted By Anonymous Anibal Gonzalez. Thaleischweiler, Germany : 2:32 PM ET
Anderson, I told my brother in Lebanon about your "staged" interview with Hizballah and he thought it was very funny. He particularly liked the part where Hizballah instructed a man to wave his hands higher and where the ambulances were told to turn on their sirens and circle the block so you would have background noise for your story. He said it's too bad that your program is not televised in Lebanon.
Posted By Anonymous Andy, Miami, FL : 2:43 PM ET
Jesse Barker you have insulted every veteran who has stood up to serve honorably. A soldier follows orders issued by a legitimate government that answers not only to their constituents, but also to the world community. We have all seen what happens to a soldier who commits dishonorable acts. Terrorists act without accountablity. They do not represent governments and therefore are not expected to engage in any effort to resolve differences before resorting to force. That is why Lebanon allows them to operate within their boarders. They want to be able to sit wide-eyed and claim that they are not representatives of the Lebanon government and they just can't stop them. Soldiers are professionals and do not target civilians. Check out your high school history book for info on the Geneva Convention. There ARE terrorists and they are NOT soldiers.
Posted By Anonymous Juli, Lubbock Texas : 3:41 PM ET
In war, civilians will die. It is impossible to do otherwise unless the battlefield is completely separated from civilian populations. The real point of contention is one of motive. Are the ones pulling the trigger aiming at enemy soldiers or civilians? Also, is the one dodging the bullets hiding in a civilian population?

There is no excuse for targeting civilians. It is murder and it is evil!
Posted By Anonymous Scott Hillstrom, Phoenix AZ : 6:55 PM ET
Hizballah is the whole population of south Lebanon, and then some. When the Israelis invaded Lebanon to chase the PLO ,the southeren Lebanese welcomed them with flowers, and rice, like at weddings. The Israeli mentality of greed and taking more land by force, aside from treating the villagers very harshly, all this led to the creation of Hizballah. The Israel's were warned hundreds, but thousands of times, but their hatred to others is unbelievable. ( and I mean the Israeli extremests especially, since a lot of jews I met, and know are very respectable). Anyway Hizballah only fought in Lebanon against the occupiers. If hizballah was a terrorist organization, beleive me they would terrorize the world, but they are ordinary people who have a lot of pride. People always say Hizballah killed Americans in Beirut. Let us assume that the did that, even though they did not exist at the time, but the shiites in Lebanon where the ones who carried this attack, President Reagan is dead now, but many in his adminstration are alive, and know why the Marine compund in Lebanon was blown up. Sometime before the attack, President Reagan ordered the USS New Jersey with it 2200 lbs/ bombs to shell the shiite, and help the christian minorty in Lebanon( he also gave begin the green light to invade south lebano where in 2 months 15000 Lebanese civilians died, and tens of thousands were injured). Many Shiites died again. Are these reasons enough to tell you what hizballah is?? Before the latest round of violence two weeks ago, there were about 25000 Americans in Lebanon, both working, or visiting and I mean not only Lebanese Americans, but American from different races, and cultures; not even one of them was in danger at any time, if Hizballah was a terrorist group, they probably will like having Americans to terrorise, but you got it all wrong. I hope your readers will take this explanation with an open mind. Thank you.
Posted By Anonymous Jim/ Lebanese american// Portland/Oregon : 8:42 PM ET
Get your facts right please, Israel is the land of many religions, it is not a "jewish" land and before the jews there were the asyrians (arabs) and after the jews the land was part of Greater syria which was then divided by the french and british into smaller countries and the area was named Palestine and documented in the British records. When britain withdrew from Palestine, it "sold" the land to the jews without consultation with the palestinians who lived there.
Posted By Anonymous Hassan Choucair.Beirut.Lebanon : 1:00 AM ET
It is very sad my government is allowing the killings of innocent people by the Israelis. As a Buddhist I believe that since my tax dollars are sponsoring this killing its bad karma for all Americans, we all have blood on our hands. The sad fact is that some Americans seem very proud about that as can be seen in the comments posted on this site.

Its ironic that none of the US news groups have still reported this news item about how the Israelis deliberately bombed the UN peacekeepers.
Posted By Anonymous Shan Abeywickrama, Baltimore, MD : 1:24 AM ET
I don't believe talks will end the current conflict. This exchange will go on until either Hezbollah is eradicated in Southern Lebanon or Hezbollah gives the IDF a resounding defeat and a very large loss of soldiers.
Posted By Anonymous C Chapman .NYC. : 1:27 AM ET
Only economic sanctions against Israel will end this conflict.
Posted By Anonymous Robert Fish, London : 1:31 AM ET
Israel wants to "unilaterally" install security zones within Lebanon on the Lebanese/Israeli and Syrian borders.

If Israel gets what it wants, we no longer will talk about Lebanon but about the "Lebanon strip"!
Posted By Anonymous Ahmad Alaaoui. Paris.France : 1:48 AM ET
The most recent UN deaths have exposed the lack of Israeli military competence. The probable causes of the foul-up are obvious to any experienced military person.

The issue of military ideology: manning arms, versus arming men, is being tested in this conflict.

To date the arming of men seems to be in ascendancy.

This means that Israel is painting herself into a corner, from which it will be very difficult to get out.
Posted By Anonymous [olgrumpy], Gosport, United Kingdom : 1:54 AM ET
The arrogance shown by Israel never ceases to amaze me. When British people were murdered by the IRA bombs in London, did the UK send in the fighter planes to bomb Dublin? Lebanon is finally getting to its feet again and now its right back to where it was in the 80s.
Posted By Anonymous Jamie Lomax, Nairobi, Kenya : 1:58 AM ET
What is taking place in Lebanon right now is an outright atrocity. The whole world can see that what Israel is doing is not serving to effectively disarm Hezbollah but rather devastate the state of Lebanon. So why is nothing being done? My entire family lives in Lebanon and I am concerned about their well-being. My grandfather cannot sleep at night because of bombs going off near his home. Israel is violating all sorts of international laws and it shouldd not be permitted to do this any longer.

Stop talking about hezbollah's terrorism.
Posted By Anonymous Tamara Sfeir,Morristown.NJ : 1:59 AM ET
The US spoiled son is just acting in Lebanon like its father doing in Iraq.
Posted By Anonymous Abdallah, Giza : 2:06 AM ET
Why did Israel blow up Southern Lebanese bridges, knowing full well that innocent civilians could not escape, this is really playing into the enemy hands!
Posted By Anonymous Emmanuel, Erie.PA : 2:07 AM ET
This is a calculated and deliberated attack on civilians by Israel. Israel has no right to attack or kill civilians and it looks that Israel is a bigger terrorist than Hezbollah.

The world must know that Hezbollah is supported by the people in the Arab world and not puppets of any regime.
Posted By Anonymous Vythilingam Siva, Toronto, Canada : 2:23 AM ET
Israel is Demolishing Lebanon to get rid of Hezbollah.
Well it was Israel in the first place that created and strengthened this movement by occupying Lebanon for twenty years.
Hezbollah was going to be systematically disarmed by the Lebanese, if not for the constant Israeli threats of annihilating Lebanon.
Posted By Anonymous faysal haroun, beirut, Lebanon : 2:30 AM ET
The talks in Rome are too little too late. Israel will have been given enough time to achieve its goals, which are many, in Lebanon and the region. Israel. To the international community, Israel is the darling of the day. Not so much for reasons of sympathy with a people who continually remind everyone of their suffering and victim status (while also behaving very unlike victims, as violent unconscionable aggressors) but more for reasons to do with money and power. Israel is good for business.
Posted By Anonymous Nigel M Blake, Rome : 2:33 AM ET
What Ms Rice means by "enduring peace" is the re-shaping of the Middle East boundaries, openly declared by herself during her visit. Peace and USA are two words one should not dare use in one sentence.
Posted By Anonymous Jim Finnegan.Dallas.TX : 2:34 AM ET
I just want to let everyone know the perspective from the arab land, yes our governments are corrupt and their position is shameful but we the people are all the way supporting lebanon and the resistance who are making Isreal carry great number of casulties that the media refuse to show. these days remind the arab world of the days of Nasser, the arab massess are getting angrier and sooner or later they will rise against their dictators.
Posted By Anonymous Mohannad, Ramallah, Palestine : 2:35 AM ET
I am shocked and appalled by Israel's use of lethal force in a foreign soverign country justified under the euphamistically called "Self Defence". I wonder what would happen if other countries bombed neighbouring civilian populations using this preposterous excuse. Shame on you Israel!
Posted By Anonymous Peter Adam, Hong Kong : 2:36 AM ET
Ms Rice says "It is time for a new Middle East, it is time to say to those who do not want a different kind of Middle East that we will prevail; they will not." Who are "we" I assume the USA and Isreal, the Arabs should be the ones to dictate the shape of the Middle East not the foreigners and those that have been imposed on the Middle East.
Posted By Anonymous Gerry, Panama : 2:36 AM ET
Israel's right to exist ia a given. My sympathies for Israel have been drained by the senseless loss of numerous innocent Lebanese lives. This is due to the fact that, like the Americans, Israel's armed forces wish to minimise the number of their body bags. Hence their cowardly actions of F16 air strikes and overwhelming firepower through their artillerys. The Hezbollah erratic rockets cause minimal casualties compared to the Israelis, a point which US and British journalists fail to point out.
Posted By Anonymous K. H. Koh, Singapore : 2:37 AM ET
"The Hezbollah erratic rockets cause minimal casualties compared to the Israelis". . . . Are you OUT OF YOUR MIND. Hezbollah's purpose is to KILL as many INNOCENT lives as it possibly can. You speak of cowardly and what the media does not report?? How about the many years of cowardly and senseless rocket firing into Israel by Hezbollah. Lets ask who started this, it is obviously Hezbollah and the corrupt governments who support them.
Posted By Anonymous Michael, LA, CA : 12:08 PM ET
Hezbollah is Lebanon's only army. Their government is corrupt their army disarmed years ago. Hezbollah is the only chance that Lebanon has against any aggressor. Hezbollah is not only supported by the Shiites, but many of the Christian populations in Lebanon as well, to me that speaks volumes.

Anderson, I'm very disappointed in the onesidedness that I see you portray with this conflict. I've always held that you were one with integrity. To be in the Middle East and not say what is really going on there has changed that opinion of you.

We fail to remember what started this conflict was that Israel's secret service went into Gaza in the middle of the night and kidnapped 2 brothers who were affiliated with Hezbollah. Hezbollah then a few weeks later kidnapped 2 Israeli soldiers and asked for a trade, then the bombs began to fly...from Israel into Lebanon. Why is that never looked at as terrorism on Israel's side. We as Americans have a responsiblity to be fair, not only fair to those whose interests suit us but fair to all. I see the government making this choice over and over, but journalists should have more integrity to give us the facts and not just what big brother wants us to hear.

I regularly looks to other country's for my news when it comes to the middle east, America is not getting the real facts, and when I have always regarded CNN with a degree of respectibility, I can no longer do so with such a one sided version of what is happening in the Middle East.
Posted By Anonymous Brenda, Pleasant Grove, Utah : 1:05 PM ET
Maybe it's about time the American media took another hard look at Zionism. Why are we so hell-bent to support the Zionist cause? Biblical scripture? And I thought we were a secular nation. The last thing Israel is is a secular democracy and yet our media go non-stop 24/7 as if this little skirmish had a dramatic impact on the rest of the world. Israelies need to get over themselves and stop acting as if the Zionist design was more important than the rest of the citizens of the world or the USA for that fmatter. I am not anti-semite but I am not pro-Jonestown a.k.a. Israel either. You guys in the media are all drinking the kool-aid.
Posted By Anonymous Jim Crackhorn, Austin Tx : 3:53 PM ET
Who remembers the "Affiche Rouge" ("red public notice") during WWII? Nazis in France hanged thousands of those notices calling the resistants "terrorists". The poster said on top: "Are those really freedom fighters?" and in the bottom line they wrote "no, they are just the army of crime"
Posted By Anonymous pascale Switzerland/lebanese : 6:01 PM ET
Can't we just all get along????
Posted By Anonymous Laura, Pompano Beach, Florida : 12:11 AM ET
What is Hezbollah ?

A religious Shiite Muslim sect, sponsored and supported by Syria and Iran, that controls the country of Lebanon through a political party and a military force trained in the art of guerrilla warfare, led by a self-proclaimed leader who has a distinct hatred for Israel and Isrealites in particular and Jews in general.

An emotional man in control of a country, government and fighting force, supported and financed by 2 countries with their own agenda , makes for a very volatile situation.

Each man has to be responsible for his actions and the consequences that follow.

There are no checks and balances involved here..........just a man's emotions that affect and effect a nation of people.

So, to answer the question is Hezbollah a terrorist organization all you have to do is look at the leader for the answer.

The answer is a resounding yes to any sane logical free-thinking individual.
Posted By Anonymous Garrett Lackey - Woodbridge - Virginia : 1:12 AM ET
Hezbollah are no more then killers. Killers often use charity to hide who they are in reality. If person kills and is fond of cats he is killer first of all. Feeding cats doesn't help his victims.
Posted By Anonymous Michael, Nsk : 2:03 AM ET
It's nice to be able to read people's opinions and not just the usual propaganda by the US government and media. I'm so sick of it that I'd rather turn to AlJazeera to know truth.
I am American, white, and Christian, and I believe that the US and Israel are monsters, terrorists and need to be disbanded. No one in the rest of the world wants us, this war is making it worse, and I think Hezbolla are valiant. The Arabs are being slaughtered everywhere and Israel has been doing in for decades. Whatever she gets will be deserved and whatever God gives to America will be well deserved, expected and rejoiced by the world over.
Posted By Anonymous Robert Stone, Tokyo, Japan : 3:41 AM ET
Labeling groups and organizations as "terrorists" is simply a method to demonize the enemy. No one has a problem when it comes to fighting and killing terrorists. Its as if they cease to be human anymore and are now branded with a sign of evil, which is exactly what western politicians want. Don't get me wrong, Hezbollah's actions were obviously wrong and it was the trigger to this conflict. But using words like "terrorists" and "axis of evil" (in comparison to Nazi Germany) to describe oppositions is simply way to justify one's aggresive actions and is how politicians help us sleep at night with a good conscious.
Posted By Anonymous Atif Sheikh, Raleigh NC : 3:28 PM ET
I lived and worked in the refugee camp of Sabra during the last invasion of Lebanon in 1982 and before that in the 70's when hezbollah first came into the camps. As a Uk citizen, I was welcomed and treated with utmost courtesy and respect by all those people many in the west crand erroneously as 'terrorists'. I worked as a nurse in Gaza Hospital and although our cultures and lifestyles were polarised, they knew that I was there to help them and I respected there presence too. Jennifer young Essex United Kingdom
Posted By Anonymous Jennifer Young Ingatestone Essex UK : 7:29 PM ET
When I lived in China, I was stunned by how thoroughly the media indoctrinates its citizenry. And when I returned, I discovered that our media is no better, notwithstanding notable exceptions such as the McNeil Lehrer News Hour and Anderson Cooper 360.

For fortress Americans who watch local broadcast news and read local papers most Muslims are terrorists, all those who oppose our proxy, Israel, are terrorists or anti-semites and all who oppose U.S. interests are anti-democratic--as if the U.S. ever were.

I don't care how Condoleeza Rice uses the term terrorist. I know what interests she has in her use of the term. What puzzles me is the media's interest in its use of the term? Could it be manufacturing consent?
Posted By Anonymous Jacques, Brooklyn New York : 9:30 AM ET
When is the world going to wake up and smell the terrorists.

These are the evil minds that think nothing of killing Israeli women and children, and blow to bits Western tourists in a night club on the island of Bali, not to mention killing innocent people in the U.S, at something called the World Trade Center.

The only thing they understand is the business end of an AK-47. When the day comes that all evil terrorists are sent to where the Devil lives, the world just might be a little safer.

Just one man's opinion.

Posted By Anonymous Don Rogers, San Diego, CA : 4:16 PM ET
A behind the scenes look at "Anderson Cooper 360°" and the stories it covers, written by Anderson Cooper and the show's correspondents and producers.

    What's this?
CNN Comment Policy: CNN encourages you to add a comment to this discussion. You may not post any unlawful, threatening, libelous, defamatory, obscene, pornographic or other material that would violate the law. Please note that CNN makes reasonable efforts to review all comments prior to posting and CNN may edit comments for clarity or to keep out questionable or off-topic material. All comments should be relevant to the post and remain respectful of other authors and commenters. By submitting your comment, you hereby give CNN the right, but not the obligation, to post, air, edit, exhibit, telecast, cablecast, webcast, re-use, publish, reproduce, use, license, print, distribute or otherwise use your comment(s) and accompanying personal identifying information via all forms of media now known or hereafter devised, worldwide, in perpetuity. CNN Privacy Statement.