The word terrorist is no longer used to denote any specific action but is used almost always propagandistically, to dehumanize those whom one considers an enemy and manipulate public opinion. Call someone a terrorist and their action terrorism and you have already gone a long way towards winning the propaganda war.
Glenn Greenwald highlights a perfect example of this in a recent incident in Israel where a person shot dead by Israeli Defense Forces was initially labeled a terrorist because he was thought to be a Palestinian Arab. But when authorities discovered that he was in fact an Israeli Jew, the label of terrorist was immediately withdrawn.
ZAKA rescue and recovery chairman Yehuda Meshi Zahav, who was at the scene, said he also initially thought the suspect was an Arab terrorist.
“When I arrived with the ZAKA team at the site of the supposed terrorist attack, it seemed to be a ‘standard’ current terrorist attack, a stabbing attempt, and the terrorist was apprehended,” he said.
“I wanted to cover the body in a black bag [reserved for terrorists]. After I was asked to take care of the body I saw that he was a Jew, and that it was mistake to speak of a terrorist. I immediately notified the police and we switched to a white ZAKA body bag.”
The word terrorist is one that has ceased to have any objective meaning. When you hear a political figure use it, you can be pretty certain that it is being used dishonestly and propagandistically in pursuance of an agenda and not in any way connected to the act itself.