It is crucial to ask how we can adopt and execute a sustainable long-term strategy to combat and win the war against Islamic terror.
I’m an Israeli and we have seen a series of Israeli governments attempt to combat terror. In most cases, the strategy to combat Palestinian terror centers on worrying what the US and EU think of us. Not surprisingly, the focus on PR, image and relations with third parties rather than a root cause analysis of what the Palestinian terrorists really want has failed. In this post, I will explain why Israel is losing the war on terror, basing my analysis on empirical observations rather than political imagery and spin.
First of all where are we today? The so-called Oslo Peace process (and similarly-architected roadmaps of various sorts from the US or Saudi) are not only failures but significant contributors to continued violence; empirical evidence shows many more victims of terror violence after Oslo than before Oslo.
In late 2008, Yossi Beilin – one of the architects of the Oslo Accords, and one of the leaders of the left-wing Meretz party, has announced his resignation from public life. That says something – Oslo is universally declared by both Palestinians and Israelis (across the political spectrum) to be a colossal failure that resulted in loss of thousands of Jewish and Arab lives.
In the wake of the Barack Obama’s election to US President, and his team of policy advisors that came out of the Clinton and Carter administrations – it is time to examine the root causes of the failure of the international community to combat Palestinian terror. Max Abrahams writes in his article “What Terrorists Want”, that “the international community cannot expect to make terrism unprofitable and thus scarce without knowing the incentive structure of its practioners”.
The Carter administration brought us the fall of the Shah in Iran and the rise of Houmeini and now Ahmadinijad. The Clinton adminstration brought us 9/11.
Over the past 30 years, Israeli governments employed a variety of strategies to battle terror: a strict no concessions policy (during the 60s and 70s), promoting democracy (the Oslo agreement that created the PA and resulted in several elections for Palestinian self-determination) and land-for-peace appeasement (the disengagement from Gush Katif). None of the strategies have succeeded and if anything have resulted in more attacks on Israeli citizens, more Palestinian fatalities and economic hardship and higher costs for Israel with building of the security fence that carries a steep economic and domestic and international political cost.
The dominant assumption by Israeli governments (and prevailing model in academic terror studies) is that terrorists attack civilians in order to achieve their political objectivess. According to this model – terrorists act rationally to maximize their political benefit, choosing terror when the expected political gain less the estimated cost is greater than expected benefit of the alternatives.
However – Hamas and it’s competing terror organization Fatah both act irrationally – preferring continued violence to peace. More importantly – Israel and the West are acting irrationally in the war against Islamic terror, consistently taking steps that never work.
The reason for this is fairly simple – although the solution itself requires a very basic change in the way we behave.
Israel, Europe and the US consider this a political conflict with political solutions; in fact this is a religious conflict with military and religious solutions.
Islam values land and does not value human life. Islam’s strategic objective is to convert all non-Muslims to Islam by the sword.
Israel values life and is willing to compromise on land. Judaism’s strategic objective is to bring light to the world.
The religious part of the solution is for Jews all over the world and in Israel to execute their Jewish strategic objective – just as the Muslims as exercising their strategic objective: bring light to the world through personal example, strengthening personal belief in God, performing mitzvot and learning Torah.
The military part of the solution must be zero tolerance to Arab violence – one rocket fired against Israel – decimation of an entire city. I am sorry that it must be this way – but the path of fulfilling and living Jewish values with a strong hand against terror is the only way to win this religious war being waged by Islam.