Samson Blinded: A Machiavellian Perspective on the Middle East Conflict
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Israel may act against Islamic terrorist supporters by stealth

Collective liability for anti-Israeli terrorism

Collective liability is often defined as executing members of a persecuted group for real or imagined crimes. Summary executions are ugly, because they are usually the premeditated end for which the executioners invent hollow justifications. In the Middle East conflict, collective liability is different. The primary subjects of Israeli vengeance are states, not people, and punishment might include destroying buildings, oil wells, and irrigation, electric power, and military infrastructure. Jews should kill individual Muslim civilians only for supporting Palestinian terrorists actively or through malicious neglect. By enforcing collective liability, Israel would encourage pacification of the Middle East inhumanely but efficiently.

The Israeli-Arab “cold” war differs from other wars only by degree. Every war involves civilian casualties, whether they support the war or not. During a declared war, civilian casualties can be minimized, since the location of the armies is well known. But in a popular war, as distinct from a war waged by military professionals, many civilians actively participate, supplying the army or sabotaging the invaders. The combination nationalist/peasant war—Algeria, Vietnam, Palestine—pits an alien army against terrorists hiding among civilians and dependent on them for financing and supply. There is no way Israel can fight such a war without considerable Arab civilian casualties. Israel is engaged in exactly such a war and must acknowledge the inevitability of large Arab civilian losses.

Punishing collective responsibility recalls dictators massacring multitudes for peccadillos. In the Middle East, however, collective responsibility touches only countries which engage in anti-Israeli activity and deserve Israeli retribution. Israeli reprisals could aim at destroying Islamic government and civic targets, not civilians.

Collective responsibility is indispensable to wars where careful individual judgments are impossible. America attacked all of Iraq for Saddam’s crimes. The Syrians severely restricted all Jews to vex Israel and razed the city of Hama to stop the Muslim Brothers insurrection. The Russians interned German soldiers in labor camps after World War II. The French were not picky about killing Vietnamese and Algerians. And so on. Israeli actions against Arab civilians are only as wrong Arab-Israeli war itself.

Is this Israeli terrorism? In a sense, yes, though the Muslim civilian casualties from Israeli reprisals are collateral damage, while they are the Arabs’ primary weapon. Arab terrorists do not target Israeli infrastructure but rather civilians. Fighting a problem with the like means is reasonable for Israel. Two wrongs do not make a right, but Israeli wrong eliminates the Arab one. Islamic terrorists do not bring their Israeli civilian victims to trial before murdering them. Why should Israel observe legal niceties to identify and execute Islamic terrorists and their Muslim supporters?

The term collective responsibility is misleading. Arab civilians Israel kills in retaliatory strikes are not responsible in any legal or moral sense. Israel rather holds them hostage. The Israeli policy is not just, but war is rarely just; the Israeli policy may, however, contain the Islamic terrorists and minimize Israeli suffering in the long run.

Collective responsibility is a biblical concept: whole nations are judged. The idea does not ignore the innocent but rather, as Lot’s story demonstrates, finds societies more or less morally egalitarian, and righteous (or tolerant, in the Arab case) people are free to leave an evil land—the option offered in Sodom, Dir Yassin, and Beirut.[12]

Arabs allege collective responsibility when they attack Israeli civilians or cheer such attacks on Israel. The Arabs see Islamic terrorism against the Israeli population as an acceptable military tactic to force Israel to make political concessions to Palestine. The Israelis have every right to deal with Arabs likewise.

Act against terrorists' Muslim supporters by stealth

Israel may take another approach with Arab enemies who are not combatants but engage in subversive activity against Israel. The lex talionis is the best policy here. Countries like Saudi Arabia and Iran support anti-Israeli terror openly, though not at the government level. Similarly, Israel should encourage Israeli non-government paramilitary organizations, preferably based in the Israeli settlements on the West Bank, to make retributive attacks on the economic infrastructure of states that support Islamic terrorists. Clearly defined Israeli retribution would not likely start a spiral of Arab-Israeli violence, since neither Iran nor Saudi Arabia care much about the Palestinian cause. Moreover, since the Arab oil industry is the obvious target of Israeli counterattacks, foreign customers and investors would pressure the Arabs to abandon their support for Islamic terror and lobby Western governments to do likewise. Even if the violence grew, Israel would have proper cause for direct assault by Israel Defense Forces.

Israel may be well advised to copy Arab tactics in one respect. Direct Israeli government involvement is not necessary in most attacks—or call them counterattacks. Radical Jewish groups related to fringe Zionist political or Judaic religious beliefs and located out of Israel proper, in the desert or in the Palestinian territories, can operate despite nominal Israeli state opposition, just as the Arabs do. Developments in robotic weaponry have made warfare available to small groups. Israel might consider deploying heavy UAVs[13] of the Predator class with self-targeted Hellfire missiles if Israelis could procure them unofficially; or GPS-guided[14] light aircraft adapted for unmanned flight and armed with ICM[15] explosives and chemical weapons preventing fire-fighting. Israeli terrorists can use more traditional armaments, like speedboat-launched Stinger missiles. The Jewish radical groups need not take responsibility for their acts. Keep the Arabs guessing. Israelis need their own Osama.

Suicide missions by Israelis are dubious, but people could be hired. Israel may find incidents like Achille Lauro[16] very useful. Israel may use similar actions to compromise Islamic terrorist groups. Islamic terrorists have already begun to threaten Arab states, notably Egypt and Saudi Arabia. The Saudi refusal to bow to bin Laden’s Islamist political demands resulted in several bombings. Israel should simulate Islamic terrorists attacks in both places, targeting foreigners and local officials. Israel should not find it a problem finding some poor Arab willing to carry out a suicide attack to enrich his family. In the face of frequent “Islamic terrorists,” the Saudis would have no reason to placate Al Qaeda and would rather have to resist all Islamic terrorists, Al Qaeda included. Real or Israeli-simulated Islamic terrorist attacks in Europe could force a crackdown on Islamists.

Is Israeli deceit morally reprehensible? Not at all. The Israeli government has a single fiduciary obligation, and that is to Jews—not even to Arab Israelis whose citizenship is only an Israel's nod to world public opinion. There is no reason for Israel to care what the international community thinks, mostly hereditary anti-Semites, descendants of people who murdered and persecuted Jews, people with no stake in Israel’s security. Since when are deceit and stealth wrong in war?[17] Israel is in fact at war with most Arab countries.

Israel would do well to learn Sadat’s kind of deceit. Unlike Israel who boasts of military prowess lacks the resolve to use, Egypt in 1973 feigned weakness, then struck Israel as hard as she could, turning the tables and getting the settlement with Israel.

[12] Lebanese do not need visas to travel to many countries and could relocate instead of being bombed in Beirut along with entrenched Palestinian Liberation Organization fighters. Palestinians, more restricted, could have moved to not conflicted parts of the city or elsewhere in Lebanon.

[13] Unmanned Aerial Vehicle, a pilotless plane, relatively inexpensive and not easily destroyed because of its smaller size.

[14] Global Positioning System, satellite tracking device used for reconnaissance and targeting.

[15] Improved Conventional Munitions, expensive but of much higher explosive power than ordinary weapons, allowing for effective employment of light UAVs.

[16] PLFP-GC Islamic terrorists captured the ship in 1985, taking four hundred hostages. The odd part is murder of a 69-year-old Jewish-American cripple which predictably created a flood of condemnation and estranged the world opinion from Palestinian Liberation Organization. Italian police released Mahmoud Abbas, the chief of Islamic terrorists, immediately, and of two other terrorists shortly after. Israel did not punish Abbas who openly lived in Gaza since 1996, and Americans recently captured him near Baghdad.

[17] To Mohammed is attributed the saying, “War is deceit.”