Samson Blinded: A Machiavellian Perspective on the Middle East Conflict
[ Israel's anti-terrorist attacks ]

Israel should respect Islamic terrorists as fighters

Israel must attack Islamic terrorist bases

Jews have historically engaged in terrorist groups

Islamic terrorists today are not unlike the Jewish terrorist organizations in Palestine, like the Irgun, though the Jewish Irgun adopted the military approach of the Enlightenment, attacking military and paramilitary targets. Not only the fringe Irgun Zvai Leumi and the Jewish Stern gang but also the semi-official Palmach, later to become the Israeli army, sometimes attacked British non-military administrators and Arab villages in purely terrorist fashion. Spiraling violence between Jews and Arabs blurred the difference between attack and reprisal, and what Jewish militia called revenge, Arab historians call aggression; on the tactical level, that was terrorist war. The Arabs, facing an overwhelming Israeli enemy, could not afford moral restraint and attacked Israeli civilians, terrorist tactics not unknown to Jews, namely the Sicarii (Dagger Men) before the War of 66 C.E. Like them, the Arabs resorted to repeated terrorist attacks to terrorize Israeli civilians and erode popular support for Arab-Israeli war. Like the Jews engaged in terrorism, they have a specific objective, to form a Palestinian state. Whether the Islamic terrorist approach is reasonable or whether discussion with Israel could have resolved matters sooner is open to question. Jews did not negotiate with Arabs when they founded Israel.

Nor are the Islamic suicide bombers anything new in the history of terrorist warfare. Fighting with no chance of survival is as ancient as warfare itself. Sun Tzu writes of expendable spies, certain to be discovered and killed. Greeks ostensibly killed messengers who brought bad news, and yet the messengers volunteered. Dying killing an evil ruler is putatively noble, though a terrorist attack technically. Modern warfare has seen efficient and dignified kamikaze pilots, and Soviet soldiers conducted suicide missions against hopeless Nazi odds. The Islamic media claim that the shahedeen (Islamic martyrs to jihad) die with the assurance of a virgin-laden paradise is a myth. Many Islamic terrorist bombers are women, whose fate in paradise the Koran hardly discusses, and the opinion that women, too, are awarded houris contradicts the Islamic tradition. Women are inferior in the world of Islam. The suicide terrorists are mostly too young for religiosity but driven by Islamic nationalist ideology. Because death in war is acceptable to poor Arabs, who lack the Jewish extensive sense of self-worth, nationalism creates Islamic terrorists and suicide bombers. Palestinian parents often seem proud and resigned to lose their terrorist children in suicide bombings. In the Book of Maccabees, a Jewish mother urges her seven sons to die before honoring foreign deities. Some people readily accept death for higher purposes.

Israel has to respect Islamic terrorists as fighters

To condemn Islamic fighters as terrorists mistakenly represents the Arab-Israeli conflict's history in moral terms,[2] while it is a question of warfare where the moral dimension is inapplicable. It takes courage or faith, religious or ideological, to be a terrorist; Islamic morals may be deplorable but not despicable. While Jews see Israeli civilians as innocent victims of terrorists, Muslims see the Israelis as enemies. Votes create and sustain Israel, so each citizen is legally and morally responsible for the Israelís actions. Civilians are often targets in war. Palestinians see Israeli civilians that way and are entitled to attack them with terrorist means. Islamic terrorists are not cowards; rather terror is the only kind of war possible against a much stronger Israeli enemy. Calling terrorists warriors gives them the right to be treated with the respect due to soldiers but also the liability of being dealt with as soldiers ó war, not moralizing, negotiation, and police action.

Israel should extend the terrorists' approach to Arab civilians: Israelis support their government, and Arabs support the Islamic militants and, as the enemyís home front, are responsible for the Islamists' actions and can expect Israeli anti-terrorist attack.

Israel must attack Islamic terrorist bases

Water can put out small fires but not big ones. That takes another fire. Medieval towns used ditching and counter-fire, as did prairie pioneers. Israel should fight fire with fire.

Since Islamic terrorists sneer at relatively comfortable Israeli prisons, killing terrorists during arrest is the ticket. Milder Israeli tactics only arouse the opposition and help the Muslim groups recruit terrorists. Israel should shoot enough Hamas, PIJ, Hezbollah, and other Islamic terrorists to create panic.

Classic war theory teaches that a passive defense is useless against a resolved, resourceful assailant ó and the Islamic terrorists are operating in ideal circumstances. Palestinians have strong ideological and religious beliefs, the support of a friendly Israeli Arab population and abundant resources, perfect logistics secured by the Arab states right up to Israelís borders, tolerant treatment if Israel captures them, and glory if killed. Under those conditions, even a big war could drag on for years, as in ancient Greece or feudal Germany. Low-profile Middle East conflict can be sustained forever. Attrition works only against Israel. The Palestinians have no economy.

Passive Israeli security, like fences or land mines, will not solve the problem. Israeli answer to Islamic terrorists is attacking them. Islamic terrorists are not just hostile elements but enemies at war with Israel. Terrorist bases are like air fields to which enemy aircraft repair to re-arm for maintenance after every mission. Israel, however, tolerates even the terrorist training camps in the Lebanese Bekaa Valley which should have been scorched with napalm and vacuum bombs long ago. Government forces eliminated the medieval Assassin terrorists by systematically overrunning their strongholds. Even if they did not get all the terrorist camps, Israeli raids might stop the stream of Islamic volunteers. Islamic terrorists do not stop being terrorists when they can get together in Iran or Syria or Saudi Arabia or Belgium to plot against Israel in the safety of sovereign borders. Belgium, France, Sweden, and some others provide safe haven for the Islamic terrorist high command, tantamount to Switzerland letting Nazi troops reorganize there in 1945. Israel should not limit herself to killing Islamic terrorists only when they cross Israel's borders, only in Palestine. Islamic terrorists are enemies wherever they are, and Israel should let other governments know that if they harbor Islamic terrorists, Israel will attack terrorists where she finds them. That is not outrageous. What if Israel sheltered German terrorists who blew up French cathedrals and demanded the return of Alsace-Lorraine to Germany? Imagined? This is how Israel should behave in her case.

[2] When labeling their opponents terrorists to turn popular opinion against them, Jews should not believe the labels. Many call the Egyptian attack on Yom Kippur treacherous though Egypt betrayed no one, and Israelis were similarly ready to preempt, violating armistice. Neither the attack on the holiest day was blasphemous without precedent: Israelis disregard prayer times and other religious concerns of Islamic terrorists. One lesson of the Yom Kippur war is to strike Arabs at final days of Ramadan, when Muslims are wear from long fast.