Tuesday, September 21, 2004

How Israel is Destroying the Intifada - And What We Can Learn From it

This post explains what Israel is doing to win its own war on terror, and what we can learn from it. Some highlights: (all emphasis mine)

For those who claim that fighting terrorism creates more terrorists:

At every phase of Israel's counteroffensive, skeptics have worried that attempts to suppress terrorism would only encourage more of it. They warned that Israel couldn't close Orient House, the Palestinian Liberation Organization's de facto capital in East Jerusalem, without provoking an international backlash and strengthening Yasir Arafat's hold there. They warned that, by isolating and humiliating Arafat, Israel would only bolster his stature at home and abroad. They warned that, by reoccupying Palestinian cities and targeting terrorist leaders, Israel would only deepen Palestinian rage and despair.
In fact, Israel shut down Orient House in August 2001 with relative impunity, and today, few even recall where it was. Not only has Arafat been confined to the ruins of his Ramallah headquarters for the last two years, but he has become a near-pariah figure even among many European foreign ministers and the target of a revolt in the territories against his corrupt rule. In late August, German Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer visited Jerusalem, but not Arafat's headquarters in Ramallah...

For those who act as apologists for terrorism, asking "What did we do to make them hate us?":

Though Israelis would continue to disagree about how to solve the Palestinian problem, they now agreed with Sharon that Israel must not try to solve that problem until terrorism was defeated. Even Shimon Peres appeared on CNN to defend the counteroffensive. Here was another lesson Israelis had finally internalized: Addressing terrorists' grievances before terrorism is defeated only encourages terrorism and makes those grievances harder to resolve.

The final point:

Americans would be wise to study this final lesson, too: Perhaps the greatest danger in fighting terrorism is the polarizing effect such a campaign can have — not just internationally, but domestically. To avoid this pitfall, a strong political consensus for military action is necessary. That means the president must actively reach out to domestic opposition. But American leaders must also heed Sharon's other lessons. That means an ability to endure criticism from abroad and even to risk international isolation, a willingness to define the war on terrorism as a total war, and a commitment to focus one's political agenda on winning, not on divisive or extraneous concerns. Fulfilling those conditions does not guarantee success. But it does make success possible — as Israel is, at great cost, showing the world.

Do yourself a favor and read the whole thing.


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