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Terrorism, the growth industry

Terrorism, the growth industry

Author: Efraim Karsh
Publication: The Sunday Telegraph, UK
Date: November 3, 2002

Introduction: Western oppression is not to blame for the spread of terrorism, Western cravenness is says Efraim Krash.

On Friday evening, October 11, 2002, a 20-year-old chemistry student carefully tidied his backpack before leaving for the city's main shopping mall. On arrival, he cast a quick glance around before making his way to the local McDonalds's. The place was full of families enjoying a Friday night out.

A clown stood at the entrance, entertaining a group of young children. The student approached them and without further ado blew himself up with a homemade bomb hidden in his backpack, killing seven people and wounding another 100.

This was not downtown Tel Aviv but rather the Finnish city of Vantaa, near Helsinki. The homicide bomber was not a hardened terrorist fighting "occupation" or "Western imperialism" but an ordinary citizen of one of the most peaceful societies in the world. What drove the first European homicide bomber to this extreme move may never be fully known. But it is clear that the cancerous phenomenon of homicide bombing is rapidly spreading beyond its original Middle Eastern arena to become a real threat to world security.

Alan Dershowitz's latest book could not be more timely. A Harvard law professor and one of America's most prominent civil rights lawyers, Dershowitz brings his vast experience in the area of crime and justice to bear on the subject of terrorism. The result is an outstanding study that dares to think the unthinkable and to move beyond the conventional wisdom that has thus far failed Western societies in their battle against terrorism.

Dershowitz has no time for the standard line which rationalizes terrorism as a valid response to its "root causes" - oppression and desperation: "The vast majority of repressed and desperate people do not resort to the willful targeting of vulnerable civilians", he argues. His case is that the root cause of terrorism is that it is successful - "terrorists have consistently benefited from their terrorist acts".

This in turn means that terrorism will persist as long as it continues to work - for as long as the international community rewards it, as it has been doing for the past 35 years. "Global terrorism is thus a phenomenon largely of our own making", Dershowitz concludes starkly.

The main thrust of the book's scathing criticism is directed at European governments and the United Nations, though Dershowitz does not spare the US government. In a chapter entitled "The Internationalization of Terrorism: How Our European Allies Made September 11 Inevitable", he meticulously and mercilessly documents the long and shameful record of European surrender to Arab terrorism from the late 1960s onwards. He demonstrates how European governments not only failed to fight its spread on the Continent, but also constantly sought to appease and indulge the terrorists.

Far worse, the more spectacular the atrocities the more far-reaching the international concessions won by the terrorists. At the end of 1969, for example, as Palestinian terrorism was increasing, the UN General Assembly, having two years earlier, in resolution 242 - which aimed at achieving peace between Israel and its Arab neighbours - failed to mention the Palestinians at all, adopted a resolution recognising their "inalienable" rights. And in November 1974, on the heel of a string of deadly terrorist attacks on Israeli civilians, PLO Chairman Yasser Arafat became the first non-state leader to address the General Assembly.

Perhaps Dershowitz's most astonishing example of Western appeasement is the secret deal struck between the West German Chancellor, Willy Brandt, and Palestinian terrorists, just a couple of months after the massacre of 11 Israeli athletes at the Munich Olympic Games in 1972. Brandt, who wished to rid his country of the three Munich terrorists held in a German prison, conspired with the PLO to arrange for a hijacking of a Lufthansa plane from Beirut carrying 11 German men and a skeleton crew.

The German hostages were to be threatened with death unless the three terrorist prisoners were flown to freedom in an Arab country. (The Lufthansa flight had originated in Damascus with passengers and seven members and had picked up the 11 passengers and two hijackers in Beirut.) Feigning terror at the prospect of Germans being killed, Chancellor Brandt gave in to "demands" of the terrorists. Thus the Munich massacre became an unqualified success. No wonder that Arafat has been reluctant to abandon his terrorist ways.

According to Dershowitz, the only way to reverse this disturbing trend is to adopt a zero-tolerance approach toward both terrorism and its root causes". There is no "bad" and "good" terrorism. All terrorism must be condemned if condemnation of any terrorism is to have an impact. Beside, there never been a direct correlation between the degrees of injustice experienced given group and the willingness of that group to resort to terrorism.

"Our message must this," Dershowitz writes, even if you have legitimate grievances, if you resort terrorism as a means toward eliminating them we simply not listen to you."

 The consequences of failing to pay close attention to this advice - however painful in the short term - are horrendous to contemplate.

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