Reflections on Israel/Palestine-Gaza-West Bank

Israel's measures paralyze Palestinian rule

Nearly a third of lawmakers in Israeli jails

August 26, 2006


RAMALLAH, West Bank -- The Palestinian parliament was scheduled to meet this week to grapple with a packed agenda, including an update on the 2006 budget, a discussion about a new contemporary-affairs textbook for public schools, and a vote on supporting the marketing of Palestinian olive oil. But with nearly one-third of their fellow members in Israeli jails, lawmakers suspended the meeting, unsure whether they would be able to muster enough votes to approve even routine legislation.


``Our council is becoming ineffective because we can't do our normal work," said Azam al-Ahmed, parliamentary chief for the Fatah party. ``The Palestinian situation is frozen." During the two months since Palestinian militants kidnapped an Israeli soldier near the Gaza Strip, Israeli forces have carried out a far-reaching and punishing military offensive against the Hamas-led Palestinian Authority, knocking out a power plant and bombing bridges, roads, and government offices in Gaza. More than 200 Palestinians have been killed in the fighting.

In the West Bank, where Israeli forces move freely, Israel has taken a different approach. In sweeping raids, Israeli troops have rounded up and jailed Hamas officials, charging them with membership in an illegal terrorist organization.


Israel is holding five members of the Palestinian Cabinet -- including the deputy prime minister -- and more than two dozen other lawmakers.
Combined with the 14 lawmakers who were already in prison, 39 of the 132 elected council members are behind bars, Palestinian officials said.


``I think Israel wants to send a message that the authority means nothing to them," said Hasan Khreisheh, 51, who became acting speaker of the legislative
council after the arrest in August of Aziz Dweik, the council speaker. ``They can change the rules of the game. They want to humiliate us."


An independent who ran with Hamas during the elections, Khreisheh was arrested by Israeli police in July, when he returned from a business trip to Germany. He was released after 20 days without being charged.


Israel's tough measures against the Palestinians, however, have done more than humiliate the Palestinian Authority. Already battered by a six -month-old international economic blockade, the Hamas-led government has largely stopped functioning. Workers have not received full paychecks in six months. Hospitals are running out of basic supplies. Most ministries lack the foreign financial grants they have long depended on to continue with their duties.


It's now one year since Israel
withdrew from the Gaza Strip, ushering in hopes of restarting the peace process, but poverty is rising, and Palestinians express little confidence that a peace agreement will be reached any time soon.


``The authority is a facade, basically," said Ali Jirbawi, professor of political science at Birzeit University
in Ramallah. ``Society is moving by its own inertia. People for the past six months haven't got their salaries and still they go to work, but what do they deliver?"


At the Palestinian Legislative Council headquarters on Wednesday, about two dozen council staff members sat at their desks reading newspapers or surfing the Internet. Others smoked and drank tea in the office of one of the jailed lawmakers.


The council chambers are themselves a protest on behalf of the jailed lawmakers, the empty council seats crowded with photographs of the missing lawmakers. ``We can't do anything. Everything has stopped,"
said Aisha Naser, 35, director of the planning and development unit for the council. She spends her days studying for a graduate degree in economics, she said.


One of the few government offices that still appears busy is the Ministry of Education, where officials are preparing for the opening day of school in September. But ministry officials worry that they might not be ready to provide students with classrooms, teachers, or books.


``It's really a mess," said Basri Saleh, a spokesman for the Ministry of Education. 




Statement on Gaza by United Nations Humanitarian Organizations - August 3 2006



Gaza humanitarian crisis - call for action July 27, 2006,+2006+7095.twl




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From Tikkun / July 13, 2006


Understanding Israel in Gaza and Lebanon


Views on how to end the crises, along with analyses by Tanya Reinhart, Yitzhak Frankenthal, Michael Rubin, David Horowitz, Arik Diamont (of Courage to Refuse,) Robert Fisk, and others.


The views we print in Current Thinking do not necessarily represent the views of Tikkun, the Network of Spiritual Progressives or The Tikkun Community.

Unlike many other publications on the right, left and center, we believe in John Stuart Mill's view of the deep value of
conflicting views in the marketplace of ideas--because we think truthis most likely to emerge from that perspective. In Tikkun magazine as well we print views which we find offensive, but nevertheless stimulating and forcing us to think about ideas that we might otherwise ignore. In fact, we believe that without this kind of exchange, people fall into an intellectual deadness that ensures that their ideas become stale and irrelevant. So, if you want the positions of Tikkun, read our Core Vision and read the editorials by Rabbi Michael Lerner in the magazine, and in his books like Healing Israel/Palestine and The Left
Hand of God, and in the works of Peter Gabel (particularly his articles in the magazine). But to get other views, read our articles in the magazine and some of what we put on our website. So you will see below that the views being presented are in conflict with each other--and that is what is needed at this moment to help all of us think through the current realities.




Ending the crisis without killing anyone

Gershon Baskin, Hanna Siniora, Khaled Duzdar, Yossi Ben Ari


Thursday, July 13, 2006


The most desired end of the current crisis would be a return of the Israeli kidnapped soldiers from Lebanon and Gaza, the release of prisoners in Israeli jails, an end to cross border attacks, including rockets in both directions on the Israeli-Gaza border and the Israeli-Lebanese border, and the strengthening of moderates and the weakening of extremists.


The current strategy to end the crisis employs extreme long-term violence and escalating threats against civilians that may or may not end with the release of the kidnapped soldiers and prisoners in Israeli jails.  It may or may not end the cross border attacks; it will most likely strengthen extremists and weaken moderates and will cause vast damage and human suffering.


At times when anger rules, it is difficult to think logically, nevertheless; there is a more rational course that could be advanced that might have a better chance of achieving the desired results written above. Our proposal is as follows:


Prime Minister Olmert will immediately meet publicly with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and tell him the following:


1. Once Corporal Gilead Shalit is released from Gaza, Israel will immediately release all of the women and children prisoners in Israeli jails (without blood on their hands).


2. Israel will declare a ceasefire including the end of all shelling in Gaza, all targeted killings, and all arrest campaigns in the West Bank.
If the Palestinians adhere to a ceasefire on their side, effective for all of the factions, after one month of full ceasefire, Israel will release all of the Palestinian prisoners incarcerated in Israel since before September 1993. If the ceasefire holds for another month, another several hundred prisoners will be released, etc.


3. Olmert will also tell Abbas that if the two Israeli soldiers kidnapped by Hizballah will be released, Israel will release all of the Lebanese prisoners being held in Israeli prisons.


According to this plan, there are no negotiations and there are no mediators. Israel can take the initiative, strengthen Mahmoud Abbas, weaken Nasrallah and Mashal, bring the soldiers home and achieve a ceasefire.  It is cheaper than any military plan, it doesn't kill anyone, and it has the chance of ending the crisis faster than any other possible way.





Tanya Reinhart


A shorter version of this article was scheduled to appear Thursday, July 13 in Yediot Aharonot, but postponed to next week because of the developments in Southern Lebanon. (*)



Whatever may be the fate of the captive soldier Gilad Shalit, the Israeli army’s war in Gaza is not about him. As senior security analyst Alex Fishman widely reported, the army was preparing for an attack months earlier and was constantly pushing for it, with the goal of destroying the Hamas
infrastructure and its government. The army initiated an escalation on 8 June when it assassinated Abu Samhadana, a senior appointee of the Hamas government, and intensified its shelling of civilians in the Gaza Strip. Governmental authorization for action on a larger scale was already given by 12 June, but it was postponed in the wake of the global reverberation caused by the killing of civilians in the air force bombing the next day. The abduction of the soldier released the safety-catch, and the operation began on 28 June with the destruction of infrastructure in Gaza and the mass detention of the Hamas leadership in the West Bank, which was also planned weeks in advance. (1)


In Israeli discourse, Israel ended the occupation in Gaza when it evacuated its settlers from the Strip, and the Palestinians’
behavior therefore constitutes ingratitude. But there is nothing further from reality than this description. In fact, as was already stipulated in the Disengagement Plan, Gaza remained under complete Israeli military control, operating from outside. Israel prevented any possibility of economic independence for the Strip and from the very beginning, Israel did not implement a single one of the clauses of the agreement on border-crossings of November 2005. Israel simply substituted the expensive occupation of Gaza with a cheap occupation, one which in Israel’s view exempts it from the occupier’s responsibility to maintain the
Strip, and from concern for the welfare and the lives of its million and a half residents, as determined in the fourth Geneva convention.


does not need this piece of land, one of the most densely populated in the world, and lacking any natural resources. The problem is that one cannot let Gaza free, if one wants to keep the West Bank. A third of the occupied Palestinians live in the Gaza strip.  If they are given freedom, they would become the center of Palestinian struggle for liberation, with free access to the Western and Arab world. To control the West Bank, Israel needs full control Gaza. The new form of control Israel has developed is turning the whole of the Strip into a prison camp completely sealed from the world.


Besieged occupied people with nothing to hope for, and no alternative means of political struggle, will always seek ways to fight their oppressor. The imprisoned Gaza Palestinians found a way to disturb the life of the Israelis in the vicinity of the Strip, by launching home-made Qassam rockets across the Gaza
wall against Israeli towns bordering the Strip. These primitive rockets lack the precision to focus on a target, and have rarely caused Israeli casualties; they do however cause physical and psychological damage and seriously disturb life in the targeted Israeli neighborhoods. In the eyes of many Palestinians, the Qassams are a response to the war Israel has declared on them. As a student from Gaza said to the New York Times, “Why should we be the only ones who live in
fear? With these rockets, the Israelis feel fear, too. We will have to live in peace together, or live in fear together.” (2)


The mightiest army in the Middle East has no military answer to these home-made rockets. One answer that presents itself is what Hamas has been proposing all along, and Haniyeh repeated this week - a comprehensive cease-fire. Hamas has proven already that it can keep its word.  In the 17 months since it announced its decision to abandon armed struggle in favor of political struggle, and declared a unilateral cease-fire(“tahdiya” - calm), it did not participate in the launching of Qassams, except under severe Israeli provocation, as happened in the June escalation. However, Hamas remains committed to political struggle against the occupation of Gaza and the West Bank. In Israel's view, the Palestinians elections results is a disaster, because for the first time they have a leadership that insists on representing Palestinian interests rather than just collaborating with Israel's demands.


Since ending the occupation is the one thing Israel is not willing to consider, the option promoted by the army is breaking the Palestinians by devastating brutal force. They should be starved, bombarded, terrorized with sonic booms for months, until they understand that rebelling is futile, and accepting prison life is their only hope for staying alive. Their elected political system, institutions and police should be destroyed. In Israel's vision, Gaza should be ruled by gangs collaborating with the prison wards.


The Israeli army is hungry for war. It would not let concerns for captive soldiers stand in its way. Since 2002 the army has argued that an “operation” along the lines of “Defensive Shield” in Jenin was also necessary in Gaza. Exactly a year ago, on 15 July (before the Disengagement), the army concentrated forces on the border of the Strip for an offensive of this scale on Gaza. But then the USA imposed a veto. Rice arrived for an emergency visit that was described as acrimonious and stormy, and the army was forced to back down (3). Now, the time has finally came. With the Islamophobia of the American Administration at a high point, it appears that the USA is prepared to authorize such an operation, on condition that it not provoke a global outcry with excessively-reported attacks on civilians.(4)


With the green light for the offensive given, the army's only concern is public image. Fishman reported this Tuesday that the army is worried that "what threatens to burry this huge military and diplomatic effort" is reports of the humanitarian crisis in Gaza. Hence, the army would take care to let some food into Gaza. (5) From this perspective, it is
necessary to feed the Palestinians in Gaza so that it would be possible to continue to kill them undisturbed.







Yitzhak Frankenthal

The Arik Institute For Reconciliation, Tolerance and Peace,In Memory of Arieh Zvi Frankenthal. (הי"ד)


Seeking peace; forced to fight.



Lebanon, by abducting two Israeli soldiers, firing at Israel and killing eight Israeli soldiers, has this morning declared war. Such attacks, when carried-out from within Lebanese sovereignty, can be seen as nothing but a declaration of war.


A distinction must be made here, between Lebanon and other sovereign states, and the Palestinians. The Palestinians are fighting occupation, the worst form of terror, and the occupier. If I was a Palestinian I would undoubtedly be struggling for my independence and vigorously opposing the occupation. To do so is the natural duty of every Palestinian. Opposing the occupation and struggling for independence can be done in numerous different ways, however. Personally, I would have chosen to oppose it by massive demonstration (hundreds-of-thousands' of Palestinians), without letting up until Israel ceased its occupation of my lands and my people. I would not use force of arms or suicide bombers for a number of reasons, not the least of which being:

a. Israel is incomparably stronger, especially in contrast to the Palestinians.

b.  Terrorizing Israel will not force Israel into surrender, as no nation can afford to give in to terrorism. Palestinians as well, cannot afford to despair and surrender in the face of Israeli terrorism.

c.       Those who take part in terrorist activities inevitably reduce themselves to the level of those who they are fighting with just cause – ultimately placing themselves in the wrong.

d.      Terror aimed at civilian populations is justly perceived by the world as an illegitimate form of warfare. Without support from the free world, establishing a sovereign state is impossible.

True, in this regard we can see a great degree of hypocrisy in the world: despite Israel's incessant terrorizing of the Palestinian population, the world does not look upon Israelis as terrorists. When Palestinians terrorize Israel on the other hand, they are unjustly equated to fundamentalist Muslim terrorists such as Bin Laden.


The events which occurred this morning on the Israeli-Lebanese border are an act of war. Israel has an obligation to retaliate and defend itself. Lebanon, unlike the Palestinian population, is an autonomous country. The Hezbollah in this case is of no interest to me. Only the Lebanese government, which cannot control the armed factions within it, is of interest to me - a government that cannot control the armed forces within-it is nothing but a government of puppets.


reason, I would be willing to do anything to achieve peace. As an Israeli, however, I cannot tolerate a self-governing country attacking mine. If I was the Prime Minister of Israel today, faced with the events of this morning, I would give Lebanon an ultimatum by which to return the abducted Israeli soldiers to Israel - alive and in one piece. If they failed to fulfill this deadline, I would begin bombing infrastructures in Beirut, starting with the electricity. If the soldiers are still not returned, I would destroy every bridge in Lebanon - and if the Lebanese government remained stubborn, I would have Lebanese soldiers, dignitaries and Hezbollah operatives captured - only to be released in return for the Israeli soldiers.

I am not playing games… As much as I want peace, I want my fellow Israelis to live securely in their country. No more fooling around with Lebanon.


Gentlemen, peace is realized in order to live peacefully. We have had no quarrels with Lebanon for the past few years. The ruthlessness and belligerence of the various terrorist organizations there do not interest me. I don't recognize the Hezbollah. It does not interest me. What interests me is the Lebanese government, as it is solely responsible for
maintaining peace along its borders.


I cannot emphasize enough the fact that there is a significant difference between the Lebanese government and the Palestinian population - the Palestinians are justified in their battle against the occupation and the occupier. The Lebanese/Hezbollah are nothing but a gang of brutes which Israel has an obligation to defend itself against.


I would not be surprised if Syria is backing the Hezbollah. Syria has a right to fight Israel in order to re-possess the Golan Heights, which were occupied by Israel – especially in light of the fact that the Syrian President has repeatedly addressed the Israeli government calling for peace, given the return of the Golan Heights to Syria. For Syria to attack Israel via Lebanon, however, would be a first-class case of malevolence. The Lebanese have suffered more than enough and if
they controlled the terrorist enclaves in their own territories, deserve to live in peace and quiet.


summary, I think it is entirely possible that we will go to war with Lebanon over what happened this morning. It would be a very
unfortunate, a very regrettable war, but an entirely justified one. We cannot let terror - be it Lebanese, Israeli or Palestinian - win.


To be
able to differentiate between the different varieties of terror we must be able apply a healthy dose of common sense. I hope that wisdom will soon reach our region – we all deserve to live in peace and security.


Yitzhak Frankenthal



Mailing address:

4 Hameyasdim St.,

Jerusalem 96224,


Tel: +972-2-643-7248

Cell: +972-546-602369

Fax: +972-3-725-6236






Political Strategies to Counterterrorism

by Michael Rubin and Suzanne Gershowitz

The Evolving Threat: International Terrorism in the post 9-11 Era

July 12, 2006


Terrorism is a growing threat. The September 11, 2001 attack on the World Trade Center and subsequent attacks on Madrid's Atocha train station and the London underground signaled that 21st century terrorism was not a problem that could be localized to the Middle East and South Asia. As the terror threat grows and groups like Al-Qaeda and Hezbollah demonstrate worldwide reach, democracies fumble not only for an effective political strategy to combat terrorism, but also for a definition. In order to protect pet interests or excuse specific groups, diplomats and officials complicate what should be a simple
definition. Whether in Berlin or Beirut, the definition should be the same: Terrorism is the deliberate targeting of civilians for political gain. Any nuance or justification of the targeting of civilians for political gain merely undercuts efforts to eradicate terrorism.


To combat terrorism effectively, political leaders and diplomats should look not at the terrorists' goals, but rather at their success. After all, terrorism is only a tactic. Adversaries commit terrorist acts when they win more than they lose. Some commit terrorism for publicity, others for ransom, and still others for concession. The key to defeat of terrorism is not through diplomacy, but rather through strategies more forceful and less compromising. Terrorism will only cease to be a useful tactic only when its costs become too great for terrorists and their sponsors to bear.


Is Terrorism Ever Legitimate?


Terrorism should never be legitimate. While European politicians, conflict resolution specialists, and some journalists counsel diplomats to address root causes, any group utilizing terror, regardless of their goal, makes their cause illegitimate. The greatest handicap to defeating terrorism today is the assumption that addressing root causes will mitigate the problem. Many seek to twist counter-terror efforts to their own pet cause. Some, for example, say poverty breeds terrorism.
This is false. Mali, one of the world's poorest nations is, according to Freedom House, the most democratic Muslim country. It does not produce terrorists.


Nor does lack of opportunity cause terrorism. Most of the September 11, 2001 hijackers were well-educated. Many were engineers. Many suicide bombers likewise have received high school and, in some cases, even university education. Indeed, a twenty-first century Modest Proposal might interpret data collected about perpetrators of suicide bombings to suggest that stymieing rather than creating educational opportunities could better inhibit recruitment of terrorists.


A third root cause cited by diplomats and scholars is the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The lack of a final status peace accord, the argument goes, is what causes terror. This too is disingenuous. Terrorism has spiked every time negotiators appear on the brink of Arab-Israeli peace. It was during a declared Palestinian truce, for example, that terrorists sought to import 50 tons of Iranian weaponry, a shipment only stopped when the Israeli navy intercepted the Karine-A.
Likewise, Usama Bin Laden started planning the September 11, 2001 attack on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon just before the Camp David II summit, at a time of great optimism in the peace process.


Discussion of root causes can blur the immorality of terrorism and actually encourage the act. No where was this more evident than when, on April 15, 2002, France, Belgium and four other European Union members endorsed a UN Human Rights Commission resolution condoning "all available means, including armed struggle" to establish a Palestinian
state.[1] While publicly declaring their opposition to terrorism, six EU members joined the 57-nation Organization of Islamic Conference to legitimize suicide bombing, at least in certain circumstances.


Political adversaries take advantage of the Western obsession with root causes. Terror sponsors extend an olive branch on one hand, but seek to advance their own goals by terrorist proxy on the other. In the midst of Arab-Israeli negotiations in 1993, the Syrian government encouraged Hezbollah to attack Israeli forces in Southern Lebanon.[2] While Iranian president Muhammad Khatami won plaudits in Western capitals for his talk of civilization dialogue, for example, his government continued to fund proxy groups like Islamic Jihad and Hezbollah which worked to advance the Islamic Republic's desire to export revolution
and undermine the Middle East peace process.


Legitimizing Terror


Too often Western powers try to make negotiating partners out of dictators and terrorists. Seldom does this curb terrorism. Prior to the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, senior State Department official Robin Rafael, for example, counseled the U.S. government to accommodate the Taliban.[3] Diplomatic promises are as ephemeral as terrorists' sincerity. The Taliban embraced engagement to entrench. The Palestinian Authority embraced engagement to rearm. Meanwhile, the Taliban's regime
facilitated al-Qaeda and Palestinian Authority leader Yasir Arafat equipped his proxy militias with far more lethal weapons, explosives, and missiles.


The refusal of Arafat to acknowledge agreements made by his negotiators further showed the fallacy of embracing dictators and terror sponsors. The Palestinian Authority made no secret of its willingness to win concession through terror. While Western powers trained the Palestinian police to keep order and prevent terrorism, Palestinian Police Commander Ghazi Jabali told the Palestinian Authority's official newspaper, "The Palestinian police will be leading, together with all other noble sons of the Palestinian people when the hour of confrontation arrives…."[4] On the month anniversary of the collapse of
Camp David II, Palestinian Authority Justice Minister Freih Abu Middein, demanding further Israeli concessions, declared, "Violence is near and the Palestinian people are willing to sacrifice even 5,000 casualties."[5]


Some in the international community risk replicating the mistake with outreach to Hamas. Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan's decision to receive a senior Hamas delegation prior to that group's renunciation of terrorism legitimatized both Hamas and its tactics. Indeed, the Kurdistan Workers Party [PKK], as vicious in its targeting of civilians as Hamas, seized upon the precedent established by Erdoğan. "Is it not blood that is shed in the fighting between the Turkish army and the Kurdistan freedom movement, just like the Palestinian-Israeli conflict?" asked senior PKK commander Murat


Erdoğan's decision has both undercut both the Turkish government's own fight against terrorism as well as Ankara's diplomatic leverage should officials in Athens, Nicosia, or other European capitals seek to engage the PKK. He not only legitimized terrorists as negotiating partners, but reaffirmed that the path to political recognition was through the
murder of civilians.


The U.S.-led Coalition's willingness to negotiate with terrorists in Iraq has likewise backfired. Between April 6 and April 30, 2004, U.S. Marines surrounded the hotbed town of Fallujah. European officials and human rights groups condemned the U.S. siege. Facing growing international pressure, U.S. forces compromised: They empowered insurgent leaders into a Fallujah Brigade. U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell explained, "We want peace in Fallujah, not war in Fallujah. And we won't have to take this to a military climax." Islamists interpreted events differently. Minaret-mounted loudspeakers lauded "victory over the Americans." Rather than bring peace, the decision to compromise sparked an upsurge in violence. The Jihadists learned that violence brings concession. While there were five car bombings during the siege, in the same period following its lifting, there were 30. For the car bombers of Fallujah, the gains of their terror far outweighed its cost.


A Western desire for compromise can also backfire for the simple reason that, while Western officials see their intercession as central to almost every conflict, terrorists do not. At times a groups' decision to engage in terror is due as much to local power politics as outside grievance. During the Second Intifada, groups such as Force-17 and Tanzim took the lead in launching attacks against Israeli targets. The reason was not enhanced grievance relative to other terror groups, but
rather a desire for local legitimacy. While the first Intifada raged, Yassir Arafat's Palestine Liberation Organization remained in Tunisian exile. Many West Bank and Gaza Palestinians subsequently resented Arafat's henchmen as illegitimate interlopers imposed on them by outside powers. Arafat used the second Intifada to win local legitimacy through a contest to draw Israeli blood.[7]


A similar dynamic is at work with Hamas now. Hamas rose to popularity in the Gaza Strip and the West Bank as a result of its terror attacks. While some diplomats may also point to its Saudi-subsidized social service network, the fact remains that non-governmental organizations which operated similar programs did not win populist support because of
their failure to bomb buses. Hamas terrorism was meant not only to kill Israelis, but also to bolster its own popularity vis-א-vis its rivals. The movement craved publicity, and it received it. It is loathe to lose its populist card.


Rewarding Violence


Further undercutting the fight against terrorism has been Western officials' desire for a peaceful solution regardless of provocation. Even Jerusalem's no-nonsense approach to terrorism has frayed in the face of equivocation and compromise.[8] Any solution short of a violent response to terrorism is akin to rewarding it.


Rewarding violence always backfires. On May 25, 2000, the day after Israel withdrew from southern Lebanon, Shaikh Hassan Nasrallah, the secretary-general of Hezbollah declared, "The road to Palestine and freedom is the road of the resistance and the intifada!"[9] While European and U.S. officials hoped and predicted that withdrawal would curb violence on the south Lebanon-Israeli border, the reality was far different. Hezbollah refused to accept the UN ruling that Israel was in
full compliance with UN Security Council Resolution 425 and, instead, simply added new demands.[10]


More importantly, the precipitous withdrawal demonstrated that Western democracies were weak and would concede to violence. Two months after Israel' pullback, Arafat turned down Israel's offer of a Palestinian state with its capital in Jerusalem, on 97 percent of the West Bank and Gaza and three percent of Israel proper and launched a war designed to strike not only in the West Bank and Gaza, but also in Israel. And so was born the second Intifada. The impact of the Israeli withdrawal from
southern Lebanon went beyond Israel and its neighbors, though. The willingness of a Western democracy to make concessions to improvised explosive devices and mortar attacks has subsequently inspired terrorists in Iraq, Turkey, and India.


Unfortunately, the West has not learned its lesson. While Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon argued that Israel's unilateral disengagement was a move for peace, various Palestinian and terrorist groups portrayed Israel's withdrawal as a victory. Former Palestinian Authority security chief Mohammed Dahlan explained, "Hizbullah turned Israel's retreat from
southern Lebanon into victory. The withdrawal of the Israeli army from the Gaza Strip and some West Bank settlements is one of the most important achievements of the Intifada."[11] Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri similarly proclaimed, "All the Israeli statements about a withdrawal from the Gaza Strip are due to the Palestinian resistance operations. We are completely confident that as the Hezbollah Organization managed to the Israeli forces out of Lebanon, the Palestinian resistance will kick them out of the Palestinian territories, and we will continue our resistance."[12] Hamas put a video on its official website which showed footage of the Israeli withdrawal from Gaza accompanying singing of "The army of the Jews has been defeated. The home and homeland is returning through blood. Not through negotiations, surrender or promises." The "homeland is
returning" is sung over a photo of Haifa.[13]


Indeed, like the aftermath of Israel's withdrawal from Lebanon, the Israeli army's Gaza evacuation promises to spark more violence. Already Hezbollah has set up a forward base in Gaza from which to operate cells in the West Bank.[14] On March 2, 2006, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas raised concern of al-Qaeda infiltration into Gaza and the West Bank.[15] Indeed, while some U.S. and European officials believe that Israeli occupation of disputed territories is a root cause of terror,
the fact is that their prescription of more concession and/or withdrawal will increase rather than decrease international terrorism.


While terrorists consider Israel vulnerable, they realize that its defeat will require protracted struggle. From the Palestinian perspective, Israel's surrender in Gaza occurred after 35 years of constant struggle. Terrorists see Israel as vulnerable, but recognize that the Jewish state still has a residue of strength. Not so Europe. In the wake of the Atocha station bombing, the Spanish electorate ousted Prime Minister Jose Maria Aznar. Their perceived ability to swing an election convinced terrorists that Europe was both weak and malleable. The decision of Aznar's successor Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero to withdraw
immediately from Iraq guaranteed Europeans to be in terrorist crosshairs for years to come. Islamists use terrorism because it works. Zapatero demonstrated that at very little cost, terrorists could win tremendous result.


Just as damaging was Philippine President Gloria Arroyo's July 2004 decision to comply with terrorist demands to evacuate Filipino troops from Iraq in exchange for a Filipino truck driver's life. Terrorism and hostage-taking subsequently skyrocketed. Foreign workers are dead because Arroyo's decision to comply with the kidnappers' demands convinced terrorists that their aims could be achieved through violence.


Ransom and Hostage-Taking


Hostage-taking has become a particularly effective tactic. Terrorists crave an audience. With the spread of terrorism in the late twentieth century, audiences became inured to violence. Suicide bombings which might once have garnered headlines and commentary for a week now pass with bare mention. For a bombing or slaughter to win significant public
attention, it must target children (the Palestine Liberation Organization's slaughter of school children in Ma'alot in 1974 or
Chechen Jihadists' seizure of a Beslan school thirty years later); shock (Black September's 1972 massacre of the Israeli Olympic team or the 2006 bombing of the Askariya mosque in Samarra); or result in several thousand casualties, such as occurred on September 11, 2001. Planning and execution of such attacks is difficult and costly. As audiences become increasingly inured to violence, the ability to shock and achieve aims through terror becomes harder. Each incident must surpass the last or it will simply fade into background static. While the Western media once covered every car bombing in Iraq, explosions which claim several dozen lives now seldom get more than a brief mention on television or a couple lines of newspaper print.


Kidnapping allows terrorists to bypass this dynamic. Hostage-taking extends media attention and allows reporters to humanize the victim. For journalists, an assassination or bombing is anti-climatic; the press only begins its coverage after the operation has ended. But uncertainty about whether a hostage remains alive creates the suspense necessary for a good story. Terrorists have repeatedly used videos of hostages pleading for their lives in order to seize headlines. The plight of freelance journalist Jill Carroll captivated audiences as each video is released and deadline passed.


While negotiating may successfully address the short-term objective of freeing the hostage, without exception, it causes terrorism to proliferate. Dialogue is dangerous. The very act of negotiating, whether directly or through intermediaries, legitimizes the perpetrators and the act. On the twenty-fifth anniversary of the U.S. embassy seizure in Iran, many former hostages reflected upon their ordeal. According to David Roeder, one of the captives, "If we had done something other than just walked away [from Iran at the conclusion of the ordeal], I keep thinking maybe, just maybe, we wouldn't have planted the seed that terrorism is a profitable thing."[16] Terrorism has been very profitable. Kidnapping of Westerners in Lebanon increased
in the 1980s after the U.S. and Iran entered into secret talks to win their release.[17]


Governments have made matters worse by engaging hostage-takers and, in some cases, even paying ransom. The Philippines had previous experience with high profile hostage seizure. In March 2000, for example, Libyan leader Muammar al-Qadhafi paid an estimated $25 million ransom to win the release of priests, teachers, and children seized from a school on
Basilan Island. While the ransom may have solved a short-term problem, it compounded the long-term terrorist threat. Within months of receiving the ransom, Abu Sayyaf expanded from a couple hundred to more than a thousand members. The group used the influx of cash to upgrade their equipment. The ransom paid for speedboats and weapons used in subsequent kidnappings.[18]


The pattern is international. In April 2003, Ammari Saifi, the "Bin Laden of the Desert," seized 32 European vacationers in the Algerian desert, holding them captive for 177 days. He released them only after the German government paid a five million euro ransom. Rather than settle for peace, Saifi used the money to buy new vehicles and better weapons.[19] He remains at large and a threat to stability across the Sahel.


In Iraq, hostage negotiation has sparked a kidnapping industry. The French and Italian government's decision to ransom its hostages has encouraged further hostage taking. In August 2004, the Iraqi Islamic Army seized two French journalists. Contradicting official denials, a high official in the Direction Gיnיrale de la Sיcuritי Extיrieure, France's secret service, confirmed that ransom had been paid.[20] Serge July, editor of left-leaning Liberation questioned whether the cost of Chirac's
political gestures was too high.[21] The Italian government did little better. While the Italian government denied the payment of any ransom for kidnapped Italian journalists Simona Torretta and Simona Pari, Gustavo Selvo, the head of an Italian parliamentary foreign affairs committee, said that there had been a payment of $1 million. He told France's RTL radio, "The lives of the girls was the most important thing. In principle, we shouldn't give in to blackmail, but this time we had to."[22] The terrorists rightly calculated that European leaders were weak. They were right.


How then should Western governments respond to the seizure of hostages? With firmness calculated to defend the long-term safety of both their own citizens and Iraqis. Terrorists do not employ ineffective tactics. The key to defeating the scourge of kidnapping is to make it unprofitable. Sometimes long-term victory trumps short-term tragedy.


The Importance of Ideology


The belief that engagement can moderate terrorists is naive, for it ignores the importance of ideology. Too often, political correctness undercuts the war on terrorism. It has become fashionable to suggest that religion does not motivate terrorism.[23] The statements of many terrorists--and the last will and testament of the 9-11 hijackers--undercuts such a belief. While foreign policy realists pride themselves on their practicality, they often adhere blindly to the belief that diplomacy and negotiation can resolve any conflict. They may be sincere, but their analysis is undercut by mirror imaging. When
Islamist terrorists kidnapped and later beheaded Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl, their goal was to humiliate, not negotiate. Sheer brutality is effective. The video of the beheading of U.S. traveler Nicholas Berg circulated around the world shocking the Iraqis and Westerners alike. There were no demands for his life.


Often terrorists are either unwilling to compromise upon ideology. Sheikh Omar Abdel Rahman, mastermind of the first World Trade Center bombing, declared, "There is no truce in Jihad against the enemies of Allah."[24] In other instances, the price of accommodation is too high. In a video tape aired on January 23, 2005, al-Qaeda-in-Iraq leader Abu Musab al-Zarqawi declared "We have declared a bitter war against democracy." To engage Zarqawi would be counterproductive. No government should be willing to sacrifice democracy for peace. Still, many in the West try, especially when the negotiating chit is not their own society. This too backfires. Engaging ideologues not only legitimizes extremism, but may actually encourage it. If the natural inclination of Western diplomats is to compromise with any demand, why not stake out even more extreme positions?


What does Hamas believe? Article 13 of its Charter makes clear:


[Peace] initiatives, the so-called peaceful solutions, and the international conferences to resolve the Palestinian problem, are all contrary to the beliefs of the Islamic Resistance Movement. For renouncing any part of Palestine means renouncing part of the religion; the nationalism of the Islamic Resistance Movement is part of its faith, the movement educates its members to adhere to its principles and to raise the banner of Allah over their homeland as they fight their Jihad.


It should simply never be acceptable to open negotiations with any group whose goal is the destruction of a state or a people. Unfortunately, the willingness to engage Hamas politically--or, in the case of Jacques Chirac's government -- financially[25] has undercut the moral clarity of the fight against terrorism and encouraged more. Unfortunately, here Hamas is more the rule rather than the exception. European governments and self-described peace activists still continue to engage Hezbollah, even after the group's leader, Sheikh Hassan Nasrallah, declared, "If they [the Jews] gather in Israel, it will save us the trouble of going after them worldwide."[26] It does not make sense to excuse an organization that stands by such principles in the midst of a battle against terror and a fight for peace.


Effective Counterterrorism


How then can governments counter terrorism? Ideologues ultimately must be marginalized to the point of impotence, isolated, or eliminated. If Western officials, diplomats, and self-described progressives engage with terrorists, they empower them. Rather than be treated as powerbrokers, Nasrallah and Hamas political bureau chief Khalid Mishaal should be international pariahs. Likewise, engagement with Arafat increased rather than diminished Palestinian terrorism.


Terrorists, whether secular or religious, engage in terrorism for a simple reason: They find it a useful tactic. If the West is to defeat terror, it must raise the cost of terrorism beyond the endurance of terrorists. In this, diplomacy and compromise can be counterproductive. The second Palestinian intifada was sparked by Israel's willingness to engage in diplomacy and withdrawal from southern Lebanon. It was ended because of Jerusalem's willingness to engage in targeted assassination.


Such forceful measures work on a number of levels. In the short-term, they can disrupt planning for specific attacks. When the Israeli military assassinated Hamas official Umar Sa'adah in July 2001, he was planning a major attack at the Maccabiah Games, the Jewish Olympics. His death foiled the attack.[27]


In the long-term, disrupting leadership weakens terrorist organizations. When terrorist leaders are eliminated, leadership struggles ensue. Rather than spark a cycle of violence, a desire for revenge can exhaust it. After Israel began targeting terrorist leaders, their deputies began rushing revenge attacks. Many of these were ill-prepared and accelerated the exposure and elimination of terror cells.[28] The Israeli government raised the cost of engaging in terrorism beyond what
Palestinian supporters could bare. Only with unilateral disengagement did the cost of engaging in terrorism again become worthwhile.


The same logic works on a state level. Libyan leader Mu‘ammar Qadhafi reduced terrorism--at least that directed against the West -- after President Ronald Reagan launched an air strike against the North African state in response to a Libyan-sponsored Berlin disco bombing. The Syrian government ceased sheltering PKK leader Abdullah after the Turkish military staged exercises along the Syrian border. Likewise, a 1999 Turkish air strike on the Iranian border city of Piranshahr convinced Tehran that using PKK fighters as leverage against the Turkish state might not be in Iran's national interest. President
George W. Bush's willingness to oust the Taliban prevented attacks on the U.S. mainland not only by denying al-Qaeda a safe-haven, but also by giving pause to other potential terror sponsors.


Still, many governments are afraid to take action. They fear a cycle of violence. Terrorists do not need a reason to attack. The Clinton administration's failure to respond to the 1996 Khobar Towers bombing did not prevent the 1998 East Africa embassy bombings, nor did its inaction against al-Qaeda after the 2000 USS Cole bombing convince Bin Laden to call off the World Trade Center attack. Indeed, terrorists feed off of diplomatic hand-wringing and fear of a cycle of violence to
amplify the cost effectiveness of their attacks.


It may be difficult for democracies to take effective counter terror measures, but it is necessary. Terrorists may exploit public opinion. As Israeli Major General Dan Halouts said, "Israel's democracy is particularly sensitive to the humanitarian aspects of the conflict, and is far more exposed to the media than the regimes of its opponents."[29] The same
holds true in the United States, Great Britain, or France. Political leadership should be about protecting national security, not just winning popularity in the weekly opinion poll. Ultimately, investing in short-term force can win long-term security and contain the terrorist scourge. Democratic nations must not forget, though, that they are up against an international community that accommodates terrorists and blames the victims--Western democracies and Israel--for terrorists' actions. If democracies do not defend their own legitimacy, no one will.


Michael Rubin is a resident scholar at AEI. Suzanne Gershowitz is a foreign policy and defense studies researcher at AEI.


This paper is published as a chapter in The Evolving Threat: International Terrorism in the post 9-11 Era (Rome: Globe Research, 2006), Nicola Pedde, ed.




Moment of Truth

by David Horowitz, Front Page


Americans need to take a hard look at what is going on in the Middle East because it provides the clearest picture possible of the war we are in. On one side are al-Qaeda, Hamas, Hizbollah, Syria and Iran and their allies: Russia, France, Greece, and the UN majority. On the other is the only democracy in the land of Muslim and Arab terror. The origins of this front in the war on terror are crystal clear: the desire of the Muslim terrorists -- the elected majority among Palestinian Arabs and
the occupying Shi'ite army in Lebanon, backed by Syria and Iran -- to destroy Israel and push the Jews into the sea.


The war reveals the impossibility of a Palestinian state and the necessity of a civilized occupying force in a region that is populated by a people who have been terminally brainwashed into an ideology of hate, which makes their self-government a crime waiting to happen.


There were 10,000 Jews living in Gaza until recently. They were so creative that while representing less than one percent of the population they accounted for 10% of the entire gross national product of the country. Productive and law-abiding as they were, their existence in Gaza required a Israeli army presence to protect them. So uncontrollable is the genocidal hatred of Palestinians for Jews (more than a million Palestinians on the other hand live peacefully in Israel enjoying more
rights than any Arabs or Muslims living in their own countries). The Israeli army in Gaza was also necessary to prevent genocidal
Palestinians Jew-haters from lobbing rockets into Israeli schoolyards.


Eventually, the Israeli leadership made a decision to capitulate to Arab Jew hatred and uproot the Jews living in Gaza, and to withdraw the forces that protected Israel from being attacked by Arab criminals . In the months that followed, the Arabs did nothing to improve their new homeland, which they now controlled completely. Instead, they elected genocidal terrorists to govern them. They destroyed the horticulture industry the Jews had created and that provided 10% of their GNP. They lobbed 800 or so rockets into Israel. During all this mayhem no word of condemnation for the Gaza aggressors came from the UN, France, Russia and rest of the Jew-hating, terrorist-appeasing and terrorist-supporting international community.


Consequently, the Hamas army command, based in Syria, authorized a further aggression -- a tunnel into Israel and the kidnapping of an Israeli soldier. For good measure, Palestinians in the West Bank executed an 18-year old Jewish hitch-hiker for the crime of being a Jew. Still no condemnation of the Palestinians from the Jew-haters in France, Russia and at the UN. This support encouraged Iranian-sponsored Hizbollah to initiate another aggression, this time from the north.


The goal of the United States and Israel and all freedom-loving and civilized people in this war must be the destruction of the Hamas and Hizabollah leadership, their military infrastructure and capabilities.If there was a UN worthy of the name, it would expel Syria and Iran from its body, and send a Security Council armed force to the West Bank and Gaza to institute an occupation whose duration should not be less than a generation. During this occupation, the hate schools of the West Bank and Gaza should be revamped so that the children of Palestinian Arabs are taught basic rules of civilized behavior -- tolerance instead of ethnic and religious hatred, condemnation of suicide bombers instead of reverence for them as martyrs, and such
common decencies as regarding monsters like Samil Kuntar, a Palestinian terrorist who took a father and child hostage and smashed the child's head against a rock and who is regarded as a hero and official model for Palestinian children as the monsters they are.


The world will not be a safe place or a decent one until the present regime in Gaza, the West Bank, Syria and Iran are gone. This is a war all Americans must support.




Hundreds of Palestinian 'suspects' have been kidnapped from their homes

and will never stand trial

Arik Diamant,2506,L-3271505,00.html



It's the wee hours of the morning, still dark outside. A guerilla force

comes out of nowhere to kidnap a soldier. After hours of careful

movement, the force reaches its target, and the ambush is on! In

seconds, the soldier finds himself looking down the barrel of a rifle.


A smash in the face with the butt of the gun and the soldier falls to

the ground, bleeding. The kidnappers pick him up, quickly tie his hands

and blindfold him, and disappear into the night.


This might be the end of the kidnapping, but the nightmare has just

begun. The soldier's mother collapses, his father prays. His commanding

officers promise to do everything they can to get him back, his comrades

swear revenge. An entire nation is up-in-arms, writing in pain and worry.


Nobody knows how the soldier is: Is he hurt? Do his captors give him

even a minimum of human decency, or are they torturing him to death by

trampling his honor? The worst sort of suffering is not knowing. Will he

come home? And if so, when? And in what condition? Can anyone remain

apathetic in the light of such drama?


Israeli terror


This description, you'll be surprised to know, has nothing to do with

the kidnapping of Gilad Shalit. It is the story of an arrest I carried

out as an IDF soldier, in the Nablus casbah, about 10 years ago. The

"soldier" was a 17-year-old boy, and we kidnapped him because he knew

"someone" who had done "something."


We brought him tied up, with a burlap sac over his head, to a Shin Bet

interrogation center known as "Scream Hill" (at the time we thought it

was funny). There, the prisoner was beaten, violently shaken and sleep

deprived for weeks or months. Who knows.


No one wrote about it in the paper. European diplomats were not called

to help him. After all, there was nothing out of the ordinary about the

kidnapping of this Palestinian kid. Over the 40 years of occupation we

have kidnapped thousands of people, exactly like Gilad Shalit was

captured: Threatened by a gun, beaten mercilessly, with no judge or

jury, or witnesses, and without providing the family with any

information about the captive.


When the Palestinians do this, we call it "terror." When we do it, we

work overtime to whitewash the atrocity.




Some people will say: The IDF doesn't "just" kidnap. These people are

"suspects." There is no more perverse lie than this. In all the years I

served, I reached one simple conclusion: What makes a "suspect"? Who,

exactly suspects him, and of what?


Who has the right to sentence a 17-year-old to kidnapping, torture and

possible death? A 26-year-old Shin Bet interrogator? A 46-year-old one?

Do these people have any higher education, apart from the ability to

interrogate? What are his considerations? I all these "suspects" are so

guilty, why not bring them to trial?


Anyone who believes that despite the lack of transparency, the IDF and

Shin Bet to their best to minimize violations of human rights is naïve,

if not brainwashed. One need only read the testimonies of soldiers who

have carried out administrative detentions to be convinced of the depth

of the immorality of our actions in the territories.


To this very day, there are hundreds of prisoners rotting in Shin Bet

prisons and dungeons, people who have never been – and never will be –

tried. And Israelis are silently resolved to this phenomenon.


Israeli responsibility


The day Gilad Shalit was kidnapped I rode in a taxi. The driver told me

we must go into Gaza, start shooting people one-by-one, until someone

breaks and returns the hostage. It isn't clear that such an operation

would bring Gilad back alive.


Instead of getting dragged into terrorist responses, as Palestinian

society has done, we should release some of the soldiers and civilians

we have kidnapped. This is appropriate, right, and could bring about an

air of reconciliation in the territories.


Hell, if this is what will bring Gilad home safe-and-sound, we have a

responsibility to him to do it.


Arik Diamant is an IDF reservist and the head of the Courage to Refuse





Ad in Ha'aretz from the Israeli peace organization Gush Shalom:


Those who refused

To talk with

The Palestinian government

And declared a blockade

On the Palestinian people -

Got a conflagration in

The Gaza Strip.


Those who refused

A prisoner exchange

And sent tanks

Into Gaza -

Got a conflagration

Both In the north

And in he south.


Those who refuse

To talk even now -

May get a conflagration

Throughout the Middle East.


And in the end,

In spite of everything -

They will talk.


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