It's Israel, stupid? OR What really increases terrorism?

Washington Post, may require reg.

I question the increased terrorism argument that you hear tied to every proposed US action in the Middle East. I think recruiting for terrorism is more tied to the situation in Israel. Is it a simple example of ego centrism that we think every US action magically transforms the so-called “Arab Street”? Don’t all the polls suggest that the real concern on the street is a settlement of the situation in Israel?

On the issue of al Qaeda, that is more about troops in the holy land and a desire for a clash of cultures than Israel. I would still wager that a huge percentage of the al Qaeda recruits would cite the situation in Israel as their motivating influence. Or, am I wrong?

**To summarize: what really increases terrorism?

Could it be that we all just feel better if we think we can control what others do with our own behavior? In other words, don’t terrorists have their own - long standing - reasons for doing what they do? Destruction of Israel, or its ally the US, springs to mind. **

I’ve got an Israel-Palestine timeline here, and it looks like it’s pretty much “business as usual” on both sides of 9/11.


FW that’s W.

I think anti-American terrorism is a complicated beast without any single cause. I think it’s also important to distinguish between the hard-core nutcases like OBL and the average Muslim on the street. I think the former is more interested in issues like American troops like Saudi Arabia though Israel also is in there probably. For the average Muslim Israel is probably the number 1 issue and the more bloody the repression in the West Bank the angrier they get. These people may not directly commit terrorist acts but they can make it more difficult for their governments to co-operate with the US and can create an atmosphere of anti-Americanism which probably does help breed terrorism.

If the US managed to push through a serious peace deal with a Palestinian state in most  of the occupied territories including East Jerusalem, I think it woud transform its relationship with the Muslim world. They wouldn't become friends overnight but they would become much less hostile.

OTOH if it ignore the Palestinian issue, implicity gives the go-ahead to the Israeli crackdown and settlements, makes idiotic statements like calling Sharon “a man of peace” it will be hard to reduce anti-Americanism in the region and defeat OBL and his lot.

I agree with what you said.

However, in the spirit of my OP, I wonder how much the US can do to force either side to the table with the violence so ongoing and intense. Given the history of serious bombing attacks, seemingly every time a peace deal is considered, maybe it’s not even worth the cost in lives to try. Sure, we can always force the parties to talk. Negotiating is another thing.

Israelis don’t believe that they are dealing with and honest broker in Arafat. Can’t say that I blame them. When the Palestinians put forward a negotiator that convincingly concedes Israel a right to exist in public, and especially in private, I think the Israelis will move quickly for an agreement.

To be fair, the Palestinians don’t trust Ariel (Sabra and Shatila) Sharon. I would not either were I them. I’m not a Sharon fan. But, if I lived in Israel, I can’t say that I would not vote for someone of his political persuasion. What evidence does the anti-settlement faction have to present that terrorism can be negotiated away? None that I know of. In fact, I think, the only lull in suicide bombing I can remember came under Benjamin Netanyahu(sp?).

Also, unless the philosophy of driving Israel back into the sea is overcome, a two state solution will only ratchet up the violence. It won’t solve anything. Insert balancing criticism of radical expansionist Zionists, here.

Did anyone else see this news report today? Sorry for the sketchy details, but it’s all I remember. I believe it was an internet poll (not a random poll) done in Moslem countries. People were asked if they agreed with the Al Qaeda position that the US needs to get it’s troops out of Saudi Arabia. Respondents overwhelmingly agreed. Something like > 60%. The reporter was careful to point out that the question clearly asked if the respondant agreed with “the Al Qaeda” position. Kind of scary.

Sounds like furtile rcruting ground.


It appears that there are a large number of intransigents on both sides of the Israeli/Palestsinian issue that it cannot be resolved even with a 2 state solution. Too many people on both sides want only one state, and no compromise is possible.

BTW, I think you did spell Netanyahu correctly. Better to just call him Bibi as the Israelis do. Did I spell that correctly?

John Mace, I’m sure that’s true. I doubt that most people have the strength of feeling about the issue that UBL does. Most of them probably have the classical “over paid, over sexed, over here” attitude that the Brits had about US pilots in WWII.

Those are the fertile recruting grounds, I agree. What I contend though, is that is true regardless of what the US does. However, the plan is to get out of Saudi Arabia as soon as Saddam is gone, so, maybe the message is getting through. Why piss anyone off unless it is absolutely necessary?

I do think a comprimise is possible. What I wonder is whether it can happen under the present leadership. In Israel at least, if the situation on the ground changes, the political leadership can change quickly. Finding someone who can broker and enforce a deal on the other side is more difficult.

From now on, to me, that Likkud former PM is "BN." I refuse to search the internet for the spelling of one name. That’s where I draw the line.

Well Binjamin Nethanyahu was in power before the start of the al-Asqua intifada, so I don’t think you could attribute that to his policies (particularly as his line on a Palestinian state, possibly a semi-autonmous region, but independance, never).

His views are pretty extreme, much more than even Sharon, If he ever became prime minister again it could be a diaster.

Also Beagle it is worth mentioning that Yasser Arafat did publically and formally recognize The right of Israel to exist before the Oslo negoiatations and removed those parts of the PLO charter that are inconsistent with this:


You have seen a definitive statement from the US gov’t that troops will be withdrawn from S.A. as soon as Saddam is gone? I missed that one. No matter, though. We’ll have troops in Iraq for anywhere from 2-5 yrs (those are the estimates I’ve seen). Maybe we won’t be dispoiling the Moslem “holy land”, but we’ll be occupying an Arab country. Still a great cause for OBL to rally supporters around.

I hope the US does not become like Israel-- suicide bombing on a near daily basis. The Israelis are some of the smartest, toughest guys around. Not sure we can do better in deterring terrorism than they can if enough people are determined to carry it out.

There is only one way to spell Netanyahu, and that is nun-taf-nun-yood-hay-vav. Any other way, I wouldn’t worry about getting it right so much. You should see what the Israelis do to English…

I think that Israel is certainly a piece of aggravation for the “Arab Street.” I don’t think that the US can do very much about it though. I think that there is a lot of truth in what some Israelis claim about the situation: people like Saddam, Bashir Assad, and the House of Saud are much more interested in expoiting the Israel-Palestine situation to focus their populace’s grievances away from their own brutally repressive regimes than in having it solved. With peace in Israel, people like the House of Saud will have to start doing a lot of explaining.

Perhaps I am cynical, but at times like these, I honestly believe that any peace plan fronted by the US, even if it calls for sweeping concessions by Israel, will be interpreted as anti-Arab and anti-Muslim and pro-Israel. Distrust towards the US is at a huge level. The only hope the US has for advancing a peace plan is through the “Quartet” or through an Arab go-between (like Prince Abdallah of the House of Saud who introduced a peace plan last year). And even that is not a sure-fire way to change a lot of minds.

I think the US would be much better off supporting things that would directly make Mohammed Q. ibn Public’s life better. I think this will have a direct effect on increasing US credibility, which we can then use. We need to convince the bulk of Arabs that we are on their side. This will have a much more directed effect than convincing Arabs we are on the Palestinians’ side so we must at least care for some Arabs. I mean, they kind of overlook the whole Kosovo thing where we went to war for Muslims, and they are glad to spew the whole “US is declaring war on Islam” line. I don’t think that helping a bunch of Palestinians would be the most effective way to convince starving unemployed Egyptians, Syrians, Saudis, and Iraqis that we really cared deeply for Arabs. And, really, if we want to make that area of the world better, we have to start caring deeply for all Arabs. Support free press, free elections, increased freedoms, decreased corrpution, all of the good things without lining the pockets of the oppressors. That will get them on our side.

al-Qaeda is filled with Saudis and Egyptians. The way to decrease their numbers is to increase the opinion of America amongst Saudis and Egpytians. The primary way to do that is not to help Palestinians, it is to help Saudis and Egyptians.

John Mace, World Tribune!, it must be true. No, I have no idea what the World Tribune is. I’ve heard it other places, can’t remember where.

MC, Do you think Arafat has really renounced violence? I know that this is a topic unto itself. Based on what I’ve seen, from far away, I don’t think that letting Israel survive is a politically saleable idea throughout the Palestinian areas. Of course, most people must see the reality that Israel is not going anywhere. But, politics can work outside of reality.

Edwino, Good analysis. Jumping to the end, how can the US help those people? Aren’t we between a rock (perceived to be Infidels) and a hard place (trying to encourage reforms)? Also, I don’t think the public will go for many more ‘regime changes.’

Israel certainly seems to be the overwhelming issue for most Muslims, and anti-western, partic anti-US opinion largely stems from US favouritism towards Israel, although the British and French sharing of the Middle East and subsequent creation of Israel is the root of the problem.

Unfortunately Palestine looks like a near irreconcilable mess. Then again, Northern Ireland looked that way till recently, and historically the Jewish and Muslim peoples of Palestine got on comparatively well during the Byzantine then Ottoman empires.

Well Beagle, Arafat hasn’t totally renounced violence, but neither has Israel. There is no reliable evidence to suggest that Arafat is in anyway involved in the current wave of suicide bombings.

Quite frankly Arafat is the most moderate leader that could lead the Palestinians. If Israel and the US got rid of him the chances are a hardliner would fill the power vacuum as any Israeli or US appointee would be seen as little more than a Quisling.

Also it’s worth mentioning that Arafat is the democratically elected leader (with 90% of the vote, in an election that was monitored by international observers) of the Palestinians who still maintains popularity among the Palestinians (though many, particularly the hardliners, see him as just a figurehead and do not obey him).

Certainly right there, not simply on rising hardliners, but also the figurehead notion. Arafat cannot act fully against Hamas et al without the very real danger of splintering the Palestinian people, amongst other things. It does seem that people like Sharon and Netanyahu simply enjoy using him as a scapegoat, a focus for vengeance - very much like the Two Minutes Hate sessions against Goldstein’s opposition to the Party in Orwell’s “1984”.

Everyone looks to America to sort out the conflict - Israel really is the only one with a position to begin reconcilliation, and the massive funding of Israel means there are very real strings that can be pulled. But this is rarely done. And so we continue with rabid Israeli politicians promising more violence - supposedly to bring peace. And the protestant Americans get their nice little apocalypse preparation - and all the while the EU simply utters empty words, afraid of stepping onto the toes of US foreign policy.

Another thread that reminds me of this kind of statement:

*Senator Fullbright, Chair of Senate Foreign Relations Committee: 10/07/1973 on CBS’ “Face the Nation”. *
“I am aware how almost impossible it is in this country to carry out a foreign policy [in the Middle East] not approved by the Jews… terrific control the Jews have over the news media and the barrage the Jews have built up on congressmen … I am very much concerned over the fact that the Jewish influence here is completely dominating the scene and making it almost impossible to get congress to do anything they don’t approve of. The Israeli embassy is practically dictating to the congress through influential Jewish people in the country”

… and that was 30 years ago, only 25 years after Israel was created.

London_Calling hits the nail on the head. Do most Americans realise that donations to Israel being tax deductable is a unique concession - sort of gives an idea of the degree of influence the Zionist have in the US.

On top of that Israel is amongst the highest recipient of aid from the US government (along with Turkey, Egypt and Colombia I recall - count the numbers of “US cops on the block” that list includes).

As the regime change in Indonesian proved (another big US recipient of aid and assistance) over East Timor - change can be very quick indeed for US puppets when the US pull the carpet from under them and insist on change. Israel would turn around immediately if pulled - but who controls whose foreign policy?? I think the evidence points only one way…