Samson Blinded: A Machiavellian Perspective on the Middle East Conflict
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Influence of counterterrorism on freedom in Israel

Deal with WMD terrorism reasonably

Practical counter-terror measures for Israel

Israel can destroy popular support for Islamic terrorism among Arabs by assailing the Muslim civilian population, razing Arab settlements, and exiling the inhabitants. Israel can eradicate financial support by attacking countries and people who support the Islamic terrorists. Israel should practice infiltration and espionage, offer bounties for known Islamic terrorists, and go after them without counting Muslim civilian losses. Israel must hunt down anyone with even the slightest relation to Islamic terrorists. The current situation of known Islamic terrorists moving freely is ludicrous. Israel must prohibit all weapons in the Palestinian territories other than light police firearms, and impose an embargo on Palestinians when illicit weapons appear. Israel should recognize the Palestinians owning weapons as felons.

After the 1917 revolution, the Soviets rooted out monarchist and democratic opposition both in Russia and abroad by setting up phony opposition organizations promoting them with daring operations in Russia, and snaring every one who came within reach. Israel prefers collaborators to provocateurs, with predictably lamentable results.

Clamp down in Israel: fingerprint passports, biosecurity locks in every public building, face-recognition cameras, detectors that sense tension in the voice, unusual static electricity on the fingers, and traces of explosives or toxic chemicals, Geiger counters everywhere, and a broad no-pass border zone. The whole Israel must become a gigantic lab, with chemical and radiological sensors everywhere. Special restrictions and strict control over the movements of Arabs in Israel are chauvinistic but necessary. Israel could start with foreign Arabs and slowly include Israeli Arabs, generally loyal though some support Palestine. Such measures by Israeli government would alienate Israeli Arabs and run them out of Israel.

Microlevel warfare requires microlevel intelligence. Israel should establish a heuristic database tracking immigration irregularities, education, medical conditions, police history, work, finances, consumer habits, library and video rentals, tax payments, personal contacts, phone calls, ground and e-mail correspondence, internet sites visited, municipal services consumed, travel, domestic destinations, friends and business associates, medications, neighbor’s reports, and other data. Like Echelon, the American computer system that scans phone calls and e-mail, the system should comb through keyword patterns in phone conversations and e-mail. Israel should integrate it with foreign databases wherever possible. This system will not eliminate Islamic terrorism in Israelbut will detect some terrorists and cause others to make mistakes and allow Israelis to catch them. Police use networks of informants and data collection even against low-level criminals; without aggressive data analysis, individual Islamic terrorists fly below Israeli government radar but are too dangerous to leave alone. Reporting without names and releasing them only with Israeli court warrant will prevent abuses. The data could be initially collected on non-Jews.

Nations should issue only passports with biometric data and extend the practice to domestic ID affairs, such as airport security, internal passports, and bank transactions. Fingerprints should replace passports, driver licenses, and credit cards.

Replacing cash money with electronic transactions would facilitate finding aliens who enter Israel illegally. Visitors to Israel could be given temporary bank accounts upon arrival. Electronic payments should cover all payments down to Israeli market vendors and bus ticket sales. Fingerprint scanning is inexpensive and faster than other modes of payment.

Influence of counterterrorism on freedom in Israel

A centralized database would make it very hard for known Islamic terrorists to hide in Israel. Yes, for other people, too, but why resist efficient application of a democratically adopted law? Libertarians oppose pervasive internal control with appeals to wrong convictions, but for every mistaken challenge or detention, dozens of criminals slip by. Israeli government does not need total surveillance to track political opponents. The resources of modern State of Israel are up to the task: governments in power use money against their opponents anyway. Israel needs pervasive control only to detect and track criminals and Islamic terrorists.

The law prohibits only invasion of privacy. Passive monitoring is not intrusive. Reasonable law-abiding Israelis cannot rationally object to some machine collecting data on them. Problems arise when Israeli government abuses the data. That is an issue of control of the collected data; collection itself is harmless. Governments misuse firearms, but no one suggests disarming the police. The British experience with controlling the uncontrollable is instructive: Parliament renews the secret service’s license for extrajudicial operations annually; if any cause a public outcry, the license expires, a shrewd system which relies on the mass media to do the investigative part of judicial oversight. Legislators correctly reasoned that evidence suppressed in the courts often turns up under media scrutiny and institutionalized the phenomenon. Though Israelis are entitled to transparent government, people usually trust their leaders more or less blindly. When the details of monetary policy and pension fund strategies are disclosed, experts offer contradictory opinions at once, and the average Israeli has no idea whether the Israeli government government is right or wrong. Covert operations, active anti-terrorist agencies, and personal data collection are important in the era of asymmetric warfare, and trust deserves to be formalized as legal policy. If Israeli media bring facts to light that kill trust, the license expires.

There are no absolute liberties. Different liberties remain in dynamic equilibrium. Thus, one’s freedom of speech is constrained by some other’s freedom from defamation. Mass media freedom is limited in wartime for national security purposes. The right to privacy can be violated by a court with probable cause. In times of peril, when Islamic terrorists seek weapons of mass destruction, Israel should tilt the balance to freedom of life. There is no absolute protection for freedom of life, since the law of marginal utility comes into play and curtails other liberties. Israeli problem is to find the balance without creating a police state with more security but fewer chances to enjoy it. That is where public control comes in. The West is far from fascist repression today. On the contrary, freedom of speech and privacy are taken to extremes that pose a potential threat to the freedom of life.

Citizens ordinarily do not have even a marginal use for extremes of freedom. They do not need freedom to incite to murder, to collect money for Islamic terrorists, or to cross borders illegally. They do not need to visit the Afghan mountains or own a machine gun. Liberty taken to the extreme becomes its opposite. Extreme liberties are useful only to Islamic terrorists and their Muslim supporters, run against vital interests of the Israelis, and should be removed.

The Israeli experience suggests that even given great license, Israel's secret security agencies cannot contain terror. Yes and no. Yes, in that freedom of life cannot be absolute. Short of turning Israel into a police station, the possibility of an Islamic assault will always be there. Israel can only try to reduce the possibility at reasonable economic and moral cost to Israelis. No, in several senses. The bureaucracy rides Mossad and Shin Beth. The situation calls for a return to an earlier modus operandi, relying on several smaller, less accountable, less politicized Israeli agencies able to make the necessary security decisions. Israeli security services are burdened by constraints—no pervasive data collection, overwhelming concern for civilian collateral damage among Arabs, and impediments to attacking subversive Islamic elements. Still, Israel’s security services foil several attempts for every one carried out and publicized.

Deal with WMD terrorism reasonably

No security measures can contain Islamic terrorism completely. That should be evident from the Israeli experience, where a tiny country with a very security conscious smart Jewish population cannot prevent every Islamic terrorist act. Tightened airport security in Israel only sent the Islamic terrorists to Israeli other weak spots, like nightclubs and buses. When Israel sealed the border with Gaza, Palestinian terrorists crossed from the West Bank. Like people who evade taxes, Islamic terrorists always circumvent security. The offense stays one step ahead of the defense, which reacts. Israel's only good security is pro-active, pre-emptive: attack the Islamic terrorists before they attack Israelis.

Isolating the Arabs in the Palestinian territories and segregating Israeli Arabs would be useful but not a way for Israel to prevent Islamic terrorism. Terrorists can use mail bombs with GPS receivers detonating before Israeli security checks, transit cargo containers, and cruise ships docking at Israeli ports. The Arabs are rich enough to hire mercenary terrorists, and circumvent Israeli restrictive visa regime. Islamic terrorists can continuously strike Israelis abroad until they stop traveling or local businesses stop accommodating Israelis. The good news is that Israeli terrorist groups, should any appear, would deliver their blows even more ingeniously, forcing accommodation from Islamic governments.

Since Israel cannot eradicate Islamic terrorism completely, Israel must limit it as much as possible. Israel could turn problems into competitive advantages. Being the first to deal with “the war of the future,” Israel can take a leading position in the counter-terrorism devices and services sector, a market that will be at least the equal of the current market for conventional weapons.

Islamic terrorists will split their limited quantity of plutonium into several minimum-size bombs for maximum reliability and political effect. A chemical, biological, nuclear terrorist strike against any Israeli target would not be the end of Israel. Pervasive security will minimize the risk, and a growing Israeli population can be dispersed out of Israel's crowded centers. Israel might pioneer the infrastructure of the future: people connected by videoconferencing and data networks instead of being locked into place. While Israel should not tolerate nuclear threats, Israel should expect Islamic terrorists to use them. The likelihood that some Islamic government will eventually opt to swap Mecca for Tel Aviv calls for unorthodox measures. Israel has to consider genetic banks and be ready to use telegenesis and cloning. Genetic engineering to increase resistance of Israelis to viruses and radiation should be welcomed, not feared. When enough loose nuclear weapons make their way to Islamic terrorists, Israel should put Jewish lives above Jewish ideals, and evacuate to Australia, Arizona, or any other location that is not politically sensitive.

Israeli paranoia about a nuclear attack is counter-productive. Security services panic and run after every potential threat, chase every piece of information or disinformation. The one who does all, does nothing. Any probability is higher than zero, but the national security agency should ignore what they perceive as false alarms, even at the risk of errors of judgment with disastrous results. The doomsday scenarios are improbable, and Israeli security agencies should concentrate instead on credible threats.