Israel and Terrorism

Very interesting article in the Jewish World review, by Yossi Klein Halevi & Michael Oren (via new media celebrities Power Line)

The article is called Israel’s unexpected victory over terrorism, and it highlights the positive impact that has come from Israel’s aggressive attacks on Hamas and the effects of their linkage of PA to terror through the Karine A.

But the politics of the effort – and the negative political fallout – are one of the key things they discuss.

The price Israel has paid for its victory has been sobering. Arafat may be a pariah, but Israel is becoming one, too. Increasingly, the legitimacy of Jewish sovereignty is under attack. Former French Prime Minister Michel Rocard, for example, has called Israel’s creation a “mistake.” In Europe, an implicit “red-green-black” coalition of radical leftists, Islamists, and old-fashioned fascists has revived violent anti-Semitism.

Along with the desecration of Jewish cemeteries by neo-Nazis and the assaults on Jews by Arab youth, some European left-wingers now sense a sympathetic climate in which to publicly indulge their anti-Semitism. In a recent interview with the Israeli newspaper Haaretz, Greek composer and left-wing activist Mikis Theodorakis denounced “the Jews” for their dominance of banks, U.S. foreign policy, and even the world’s leading orchestras, adding that the Jews were “at the root of evil.” In the Arab world, a culture of denial that repudiates the most basic facts of Jewish history — from the existence of the Jerusalem Temple to the existence of the gas chambers — has become mainstream in intellectual discourse and the media. Government TV stations in Egypt and Syria have produced dramatizations based on The Protocols of the Elders of Zion. Boycotts of Israel are multiplying: The nonaligned states recently voted to bar “settlers” — including Israelis who live in Jewish neighborhoods in East Jerusalem — from their borders. Among young Israelis across the political spectrum, there’s growing doubt about the country’s future and widespread talk of emigration.

In its victories and its defeats, Israel is a test case of what happens to a democracy forced to confront nonstop terrorism. In their daily lives, Israelis must contend with the most pressing questions of the global war against terrorism: Can terrorism be defeated? And, in doing so, can basic democratic principles be maintained? Finally, does the moral necessity to defeat terrorism supersede the moral necessity to address the grievances of those in whose name terrorism is committed?

Read the whole thing.

20 thoughts on “Israel and Terrorism”

  1. While I admired much of the article’s analysis as far as it went, don’t you find it curious The Fence was mentioned favorably only once? And then later, only in the context that the terrorists would have won if the Israeli Supreme Court ran the fence along the 1967 border [N.B. this is a gross exaggeration of the Court’s orders to date]—a statement that I find at odds with their principal thesis. Is the point of Israeli conduct to eliminate terrorism that kills Jews (if suicide squads don’t penetrate the fence, then it is successful), or is it to “defeat” terrorists in some much less quantifiable psychological dimension?

  2. “Arafat may be a pariah, but Israel is becoming one, too.”

    So what else is new?
    As Chuchill said: “You have enemies? Good. That means you’ve stood up for something, sometime in your life. ”

    This whole cause and effect of European anti-semitsm is absurd. Blame the victim, and it is especially disgusting considering Europes history of anti-semitism. Did the French become pariahs for their multiple colonial massacres? Have any of the numerous Arab nations? Does anyone doubt the ambassador from Sudan would at this moment draw more respect from the European nations than Israel’s? Let’s not lay down with the dogs, the French and most of the rest of Old Europe have embraced dictators and thugs for years while having the gall (gaul) to condemn Israel in the most partisan of ways. Forget em, Europe will simply never forgive Israel for not having the good taste to lie down and be martyred.

  3. Andrew,

    In answer to your question… Yes. Both.

    It’s a balancing act, but ultimately you can’t have one without the other. Even if the fence was magically perfect at stopping suicide squads, without a broader defeat and recognition that the Arafat/Hamas/Hezbollah approach has been a disaster, the security bought is illusory – all you’ve really bought is time until something else is figured out.

    That’s just a basic principle of wars. Hope fuels them, and despair ends them on terms favourable to the less-despairing side.

    Now, time can be an ally – and a fence (or anything else) can also be a winning approach if it’s coupled with a political strategy that can plausibly force changes in one’s opponent.

    The one argument I have with the article A.L. quotes is that it seems to link the constant hate in the Arab media to Israel’s recent strategy. This hate didn’t BECOME mainstream – it WAS mainstream, and has been for a long time. Even “peace” agreements (vid. Egypt) have done nothing to slow it. Post 9/11, we are waking up to the full extent of this hate, and its genocidal qualities, and beginning to believe its proponents when they say such things. That’s all.

    As long as fomenting this hate remains in the interests of Arab political and religious elites, the war to destroy Israel will continue. Period. No matter what Israel does. It may still be possible to imagine a viable peace process in this environment, but ONLY if that underlying dynamic is understood AND factored into policy.

    Is the point of Israeli conduct to eliminate terrorism that kills Jews (if suicide squads don’t penetrate the fence, then it is successful), or is it to “defeat” terrorists in some much less quantifiable psychological dimension?

  4. AJL:

    bq. Is the point of Israeli conduct to eliminate terrorism that kills Jews (if suicide squads don’t penetrate the fence, then it is successful)

    Which Jews? The ones inside the Green Line, the ones inside the communities Bush and Sharon have decided get protection, or all Israelis?

    I’m not accusing you of saying so, but limiting terrorism to an ‘acceptable’ level (killing soldiers, ‘settlers’ and every so often getting lucky within the Green Line) is not a victory. Unfortunately, I think that’s all Sharon’s aiming for.

  5. The signs in Israel are so far positive, but there’s no victory yet – a victory would be a path towards a staple and relatively safe Palestinian state living alongside the state of Israel. We are a long way off from that.

    Two problems are out there:

    1. Israel is unilaterally creating a Palestinian state with their wall. This state will be a failed-state and a harbor for terrorism with states like Iran helping this come about. The wall cannot protect Israel from a dangerous failed state.

    At least before the wall, Israel’s presence is their to freely interdict at whatever threat it finds, after the wall, Israel cannot as easily do that. Israel cant positively have a wall, yet still occupy/intervene in Palestinian territory.

    2. Public opinion – EU opinion – can change at any momenet towards favoring Palestine again. Just because the EU appears to be being more even-handed now – in some minor respects – doesnt mean Arafat and Co. cant win back support.

    Israel has a long way to go. And, I hope it gets there while Iran goes nuclear.

    I dont think the article addresses these two issues at all.

  6. CORRECTION!!! (sorry folks)

    This:
    At least before the wall, Israel’s presence is their to freely interdict at whatever threat it finds, after the wall, Israel cannot as easily do that. Israel cant positively have a wall, yet still occupy/intervene in Palestinian territory.

    Should be:
    At least before the wall, Israel was free to interdict in Palestine at whatever threat it finds, after the wall, Israel cannot as easily do that. Israel cant possibly have a wall, yet still occupy/intervene in Palestinian territory.

  7. Daniel:

    In fairness, the article is outlining Israel’s recent successes rather than future challenges.

    But it is a little odd to say how effective destroying the terrorists’ sanctuary has been as Sharon moves towards giving them time to regroup.

  8. Colt:

    I understand that its focusing on the recent success, but frankly I dont know if the recent “success” is more of a pause. And, it doesnt seem to address that.

    I mean, its like saying our war on terror is going well because we havent had another 9/11 yet. I dont think that’s the best measurement. There’s a lot of work to be done.

    I dont want to sound rude and caustic, but beyond saying things are lightening up for now in Israel, it says nothing.

    One could say that that’s all the article is supposed to do, as I do think that someone needs to point out that the wall and EU positions has changed quite a few things in this ongoing Israel/Palestine issue. And, in a good way for once. If that’s it, than its a fine article.

  9. bq. I dont want to sound rude and caustic, but beyond saying things are lightening up for now in Israel, it says nothing.

    It says why things have got better. It serves as a good defence of Israel’s tactics and character

    bq. I mean, its like saying our war on terror is going well because we havent had another 9/11 yet.

    But if a piece was to say why there hadn’t been another 9/11, that’d be something else.

    bq. EU positions has changed quite a few things in this ongoing Israel/Palestine issue

    That’s interesting – what changes do you think have occurred?

  10. Hi Colt,

    I have to concede that my last comments were quite stupid. I stand corrected.

    I still think, however, that the article – although it is by design – should hint at some kind of possible long-term outlook, rather the current success. Like I said, I still dont know if the success is more of Israel’s doing or a fluke.

    But that’s more of an opinion, than an argument.

    – Daniel

  11. Daniel:

    Heh, I hate admitting I’m wrong, too :-)

    bq. Like I said, I still dont know if the success is more of Israel’s doing or a fluke.

    IMO, the relative quiet is Israel’s doing. Unfortunately, the tempo will increase again – thanks to Sharon’s plan.

  12. Daniel:

    “Israel is unilaterally creating a Palestinian state with their wall. This state will be a failed-state and a harbor for terrorism …”

    You say that victory requires the creation of a stable, non-failed Palestinian state alongside Israel. Call me unimaginative, but I can no longer even remotely picture what such a state would be like.

    How often does it occur to anyone that we ought to create a stable, independent state out of the occupied territory of Lebanon? Surely this would be a simpler task, but currently it can’t be done because it would require facing up to militant Islamic ambitions, to a degree that Europe finds politically unacceptable.

    Why do the demands of Palestinians for a state take precedence over the rights of the Lebanese? Because a free and independent Lebanon (likewise a free and independent Iran) would not be a weapon against Israel.

    And a “Palestinian state” interests its international advocates only to the degree that it can be used as a weapon against Israel.

  13. “Does the moral necessity to defeat terrorism supersede the moral necessity to address the grievances of those in whose name terrorism is committed?”

    If the answer to this question is not a resounding and unequivocal YES, then terrorism must win every time. It wins with the very first blow it strikes, and nothing will deter it from striking again and again.

    To admit anything else is to consent to a doctrine of Might makes Right – or rather, Murder makes Right.

  14. Howdy All!

    Colt: I was beyond wrong; I was just dumb. ;)

    Glen:

    “You say that victory requires the creation of a stable, non-failed Palestinian state alongside Israel. Call me unimaginative, but I can no longer even remotely picture what such a state would be like.”

    I understand that and you are right. But, we have to be very much aware what the this Wall is doing to Israel and the cost-benefits between the creating the Wall and Not. I am reluctantly supporting the Wall, but I fear that Israel may get into a worse mess than before.

    The option to either keep Israel occupying Palestine or to unilaterally create a Palestine state will not secure the safety of the Israeli people. The wall looks good in the short term and shows that Israel doesnt mind a Palestinian state, but in the long-term it can lead to even greater terror. A failed state with a Iran going nuclear is not a place I want to be near.

    I know I am not offering any solutions, but I think it needs to be clear to all that the Wall will not suffice as a long-term solution. It will buy Israel time (from the mounting international pressures against Israel), and I hope they can use that wisely.

  15. Daniel writes: “The option to either keep Israel occupying Palestine or to unilaterally create a Palestine state will not secure the safety of the Israeli people.”

    True. Israel may take the tactical offensive at any time, and improve its defenses (which the Wall has done), but it is unable to take the strategic offensive and end the conflict short of destroying the entire Middle East. “My comment above explains.”:http://windsofchange.net/archives/005543.php#30007

    All it can hope for at this point is a partial (not full) decoupling of the Palestinian population from the larger Arab War on Israel. To which must be added a policy of retaliation against neighbouring states that places limits on the nature of their support for the terrorist war they began in the 1960s, and continue to this day.

    Other states may be less strategically constrained. Still, the tactical and leadership lessons from the article are interesting:

    * One must break out of the mindset that military approaches are useless, and that strong responses will only encourage more terrorism. The military can be effective, and it’s the half-measures that are dangerous. Evidence is put forth that shows Israel moving from hesitation to confidence in this area.

    * Ensure domestic consensus and the support of vital allies (but only the vital ones; ignore the rest).

    * “He acted liked the leader of a nation at war, not a party at war.”

    * Sharon held Arafat personally responsible for terrorism (and the Karine A seizure was the turning point in that process).

    * “Here was another lesson Israelis had finally internalized: Addressing terrorists’ grievances before terrorism is defeated only encourages terrorism and makes those grievances harder to resolve.” (This was internalized on the moderate Left as well, after the bloody month of March 2002.)

    * “…one can defeat terrorists without annihilating the society that hosts them.” (I think it’s a bit early to come to that conclusion, since the war has not concluded yet.)

    * One must have the ability to endure criticism from abroad and even to risk international isolation.

    * One must have a willingness to define the war on terrorism as a total war (which it is by its very nature).

    * One must have an absolute commitment to focus one’s political agenda on winning, not on divisive or extraneous concerns.

  16. Joe:

    Aren’t

    bq. One must have a willingness to define the war on terrorism as a total war (which it is by its very nature).

    and:

    bq. Sharon held Arafat personally responsible for terrorism (and the Karine A seizure was the turning point in that process).

    contradicted by Arafat still being alive?

  17. Not if one believes that an alive and incompetent general you can easily keep tabs on is preferable to killing him and forcing a (possibly competent) newcomer to replace him.

    But I did screw up here. It would have been better to say:

    * One must have a willingness to define and recognize terrorism as total war (which it is by its very nature).

    Israel’s response has not been a Total War response, at least not yet.

    I’m working on an article that clarifies this relationship between Terrorism and Total War, because I think it’s really important.

  18. bq. Not if one believes that an alive and incompetent general you can easily keep tabs on is preferable to killing him and forcing a (possibly competent) newcomer to replace him.

    Fair point. Ironically, though, Arafat is almost certainly going to be replaced – and disengagement will strengthen whoever it is.

    bq. I’m working on an article that clarifies this relationship between Terrorism and Total War, because I think it’s really important.

    I look forward to it.

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