Samson Blinded: A Machiavellian Perspective on the Middle East Conflict
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Abandon formalities toward Palestinian terrorists; rely on suspicion and preemption

Israel at war mistakenly uses peacetime legislation to deal with hostile Israeli Arabs. They are not loyal citizens of Israel but enemies, killing Israelis or supporting Arabs who do. Not only should the penalties for disloyalty to Israel be harsher but also Israel should lighten the burden of proof, doing away with the presumption of Arab innocence and allowing detention of Arabs in Israeli jails without charge. Israel should deal with Islamic terrorists’ Muslim neighbors and people who demonstrate against the Israeli government by wartime standards. An anti-terrorist Israeli task force should not have to petition an Israeli judge to search an Arab house or detain a suspect. The changes should not affect Jews. If Arabs object to the policy, they are free to leave Israel, and Palestinians are not obliged to come into Israel.

The unintended consequence of “suspicion justice” could be crowded Israeli jails. To avoid the costs, Israel must exile Arab suspects and their families and imprison only proven Islamic terrorists and their supporters—though Israel cannot jail even them forever without formal trial. One way for Israel to cut costs is to keep the Arabs on short rations in the kind of prisons common in the Arab world. Israeli jails are to break criminals, not to feed and encourage them. Israeli jails have little deterrent effect. When Saudi Arabia mutilates convicts, Israel need not refrain. Executing Islamic terrorists is cheaper for Israel and more efficient. Israel should deduct prison costs from remittances to the Palestinian Administration.

Common justice does not apply to international relations. Inside a state, police may search anywhere and interrogate anyone according to due process, letting courts establish truth beyond doubt, though one state may not do so in another state’s territory in peacetime.[11] Consider the brouhaha over whether Iraq did or did not have weapons of mass destruction. Even if Iraq had chemical and biological weapons, the United States could not intervene, because the inspectors found no laboratories, though there was reason to believe Saddam had them, since he repeatedly blocked inspections.

Formal Israeli justice is inappropriate for Islamic terrorists and their supporters, because hard proof often cannot be found and if found, Israel cannot reveal its sources. In the wake of the Sudanese “pharmaceutical” factory bombing scandal, the press alleged that the soil samples with VX gas ingredients the CIA presented as evidence were inadmissible because the operative who delivered them could have tampered with them. Presumably, the alternative was to subpoena the Islamic terrorists.

Israeli usually trust their government on significant issues, such as monetary policy, without going into the details but are prone to question Israeli intelligence matters, asking for the proof behind the allegations on which Israel Defense Forces predicates its limited strikes. It is impossible that Israeli government reveals the sources, and incomplete information invites contempt from Israelis. Intelligence matters should be kept secret, even at the risk of offending Israeli public opinion.

Police operations aim to solve crimes committed. Israel needs an agency dedicated to preventing Islamic terrorist attacks, which could hardly work in a courtroom, since the Israelis would target Muslims not proven guilty, whose guilt is known or suspected only by a few Israelis. Indeed, the Muslims may not yet have committed a crime, only be planning an attack on Israel. The agency should operate much like the early Mossad, neither plagued by pervasive Israeli bureaucracy nor burdened with political responsibility of the Israeli government agency. Its head should be answerable only to the Israeli prime minister and even then only from a distance, to prevent Israeli politicians from leaking information. The head should hold office for a long term, possibly for life, to insulate him from political change in Israeli government and indecision. Alternatively, their tenure could be limited by fifteen years with full salary afterwards. White-collar criminals are apt for secret service work; Israeli organizations working outside the law need people with relevant experience, and there are enough such criminals among Israelis. It should operate like an Israeli commando unit, raiding the Arab enemy camps in other countries, assassinating Muslim supporters and encouraging dissenters. Israel might establish several such independent units, keeping them small and not bureaucratic. Information sharing, such as could have prevented the 9/11 attacks, is not joint planning and operations. Israeli security organizations would still be constrained, allowed to kill only a narrowly defined category of enemies: Islamic terrorists and their Muslim supporters. One or three judges of the Israeli Supreme Court could investigate the most volatile cases in closed session. There is little reason to fear Israeli domestic abuses from Israeli agencies which operate abroad. Israel might consider private security agencies, more flexible and unhampered by Israeli government hiring policies. The Israeli government could subscribe to their briefings or put out contracts on certain Islamic targets. Private spies could sell information to the State of Israel.

Governments rely on more or less substantiated conjectures in foreign relations, almost never established facts. A citizen alone has little power compared to a whole society and can harm it little. That allows the state to wait for crimes to happen or almost happen before punishing the culprit. Israeli relations with Arab countries more resemble police prosecuting a citizen for looking at illegal rifles on the internet, though he has neither bought one nor killed anyone.

That is the only practical approach for Israel, since nations want at all costs to avoid a first strike against themselves and must take pre-emptive action before aggression occurs if there is credible threat. Arab aggression against Israelis is ongoing. Civilized countries can let some guilty go unpunished to avoid punishing the innocent, and prosecute only committed crimes, but Israel cannot wait for an attack and only then retaliate. If Israel attacked Arab state-owned assets, Israel would not punish the innocent, since Arab regimes support Islamic terrorists. Israelis who decry bypassing standard judicial procedures and common law in Arab-Israel military relations do not understand the basic issues. Even the lip service Israel pays to international justice is too much: it hinders required Israeli actions and erodes public support for Arab-Israeli war. Since Israel already controls the Palestinian territories, Israel could ask an international police force to prevent violence on both sides.

Syria, Saudi Arabia, and Iran openly support Islamic terrorists, and most Arab countries incite Islamic militant groups and ordinary Arabs against Israel, all the while proclaiming their readiness for accommodation of Israel, though the extent of their meddling is difficult for Israel to prove. Even when facts are available, Israel cannot reveal them for security reasons. Evidence obtained illegally is inadmissible in any case. Israel, therefore, should drop the pretense of legality and act efficiently instead. Israeli war against terror means striking Arabs who support terror without hesitation and formalities, wherever they are, not only in the Palestine defenseless against Israel but anywhere. That idea is not altogether new, since Israel chased the PLO all the way to Tunisia. The innovation would be for Israel to attack not only weak states but rich ones as well. Such action might not lead to reprisals against Israel or prolonged conflicts; no Arab army would stand a chance in a confrontation with Israel. Israel may even benefit from Arab-Israeli war since Israel Defense Forces is stronger than Israel's enemies’ and could demilitarize them. Arab countries would likely be glad to retract their support, financial or otherwise, for Islamic terrorists who are a headache for their hosts. If some bin Laden outfit blackmailed Saudi Arabia into paying ransom instead of cracking down on the Islamic terrorists, the Israeli Defense Force should be able to terrorize the Saudis into standing up to the terrorists. Arab countries who support Islamic terrorists infringe on Israeli sovereignty, and Israel should reciprocate.

Pre-emptive or arbitrary wars are not out of line today. Though in Korea and Vietnam the United States established a precedent for defining enemy within the legal framework of the United Nations, only after the American invasion of Iraq did the notion of pre-emptive aggression based on less than hard evidence come into play. Whether the invasion was justified is moot. The point is that a country strong enough to establish precedent by its actions did it. Should Israel adopt the strategy she can expect American support, if only to cover its fault in Iraq by similar incidents. Israel would not be long alone in preempting Islamic terrorists; other countries will do likewise. Unlike the United States in Iraq, Israel has positive evidence of Arab sabotage.

Israeli pre-emptive or retaliatory strikes, especially at rich countries like Saudi Arabia, may elicit negative reactions, but the objections would be disingenuous. Destabilization and threat in the Middle East push Arab countries toward the West for protection and arbitrage. Isolated Islamic terrorist actions are hard to trace to any particular place. The actively anti-Israel Arab countries can be blamed for incitement and held responsible by Israel. Muslims talk about unity, and Israel offers them a chance to suffer for it.

[11] The extraction and trial of Eichmann was an unnecessary, expensive show, since his guilt was beyond doubt. Attempting to repeat the experience with Mengele, Israel abandoned the operation instead of simply—or elaborately—killing him where they found him.