The gangsters of the 1930s, like the terrorists of today, were the exception among Palestinian Arabs. About a quarter of the population, though not militant itself, supports the militants. The rest are reasonable, peaceful Arabs who want to live their lives under whatever political system happens to dominate. Even the general Arab strike of 1936 was short-lived, and the Intifada didn’t draw many participants. But the moderates incite radicals. Moderates are such only in terms of means rather than ends. The Istiqlal Party of the 1930s was relatively non-violent, and even shielded the Jews during its demonstrations, but its nationalist demands inspired the Arabs who embraced the Istiqlal’s ends and Izz ad-Din Qassam’s means. The Muslim Brotherhood similarly turned moderate, but inspired Hamas. When Hamas turned moderate, it sprouted the Qassam Brigades.

The process is historically common: Russian liberals pre-1917 renounced terrorism and mob violence, but their goals inspired others who embraced both terrorism and mob violence. Moderation never wins; only ugly radicalism is sufficiently strong to break the old order’s defenses. Moderation is half-hearted, while radicalism is honest: if the goals are so sweet, surely they justify temporarily unpleasant means.

Terrorism works. Israeli officials promulgate the ugly lie that Palestinian terrorists harm their own cause and delay their statehood. On the contrary, the Palestinian cause received international prominence because of the daring terrorist operations against Jewish targets abroad. Polls show that Jewish support for the Palestinian state surges after major terrorist attacks in Israel. The terrorism of the Second Intifada forced Israel to evacuate her settlers from Gaza. If not for terrorism, Israel would ignore Palestinian demands for statehood. Terrorism is a viable military tactic against a stronger enemy.

Jews, too, embraced terrorism: not only by Irgun and Lehi against the British, but by Ben Gurion against the Arabs, such as in Kfar Qassem and various operations of Sharon’s Unit 101. Terrorism is not an occupation for the stupid or cowardly as some assert: forty years before the tactically brilliant attacks of 9/11, PLFP-GC hijacked three airliners simultaneously and landed them in Jordan, sparking the 1960 Jordan-PLO war.

Terrorism is more moral than common warfare, as terrorism achieves its political ends with a smaller death toll. Civilian losses inflicted on Israel by Palestinian terrorists are significantly lower even in relative terms than what the Allies inflicted on Japan. We might not like Palestinian terrorism, and we can surely oppose it to the utmost extent necessary with military power, but there is no point in whining about it.