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Responding to Terrorism: Israel Must Realize They are Engaged in Total War

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In the face of the murder of three Israeli teenagers, Israel must prevent future episodes like this. Terrorism will persist as long as there is a benefit.

Palestinian protestors throw stones toward Israeli police during clashes in the Shuafat neighborhood in Israeli-annexed Arab East Jerusalem, on July 2, 2014, after a Palestinian teenager was kidnapped and killed in an apparent act of revenge for the murder by militants of three Israeli youths. AFP PHOTO / AHMAD GHARABLI AHMAD GHARABLI/AFP/Getty Images

The heart-wrenching discovery of the bodies of three kidnapped Israeli teens - Gilad Shaer, Eyal Yifrach and Naftali Frankel - should remind everyone that people will commit acts of terrorism as long as they achieve results, and that terrorists survive and function, not in isolation, but amid an infrastructure. As Mao said of his guerrilla fighters, they must move among the people as a fish swims in the sea.

In the wake of the horrific discovery of the unconscionable murder of three innocent Israeli teenagers, American Jewish organizations are drawing meaningless distinctions between the Palestinian Authority and Sunni terrorist group Hamas, while indulging their politically-correct delusions that the act is solely a consequence of the new Palestinian unity government.

NEW YORK, NY - JUNE 16: People gather for a vigil for the three missing Israeli teens outside of the Israeli Consulate on June 16, 2014 in New York City. According to the Israeli defense Forces (IDF), Gilad Shaar (16) Naftali Frenkel, (16) and Eyal Yifrach (19) have been missing since late Thursday or Friday and were last seen around Gush Etzion. Israeli soldiers have detained over 150 Palestinian suspects in the search for the three teens. Spencer Platt/Getty Images People gather for a vigil for the three missing Israeli teens outside of the Israeli Consulate on June 16, 2014 in New York City. According to the Israeli defense Forces (IDF), Gilad Shaar (16) Naftali Frenkel, (16) and Eyal Yifrach (19) have been missing since late Thursday or Friday and were last seen around Gush Etzion. Israeli soldiers have detained over 150 Palestinian suspects in the search for the three teens. Spencer Platt/Getty Images

The inconvenient reality for American Jews is that the Palestinian Authority also used such tactics.

In 2006, Eliyahu Pinchas Asheri, an 18-year-old high school student from the town of Itmar, was the victim of a Palestinian Authority orchestrated kidnapping. Three of the kidnappers were members of the Palestinian Authority linked Al Asqa Martyrs Brigade and took refuge in the main police station in the capital of Ramallah. Israeli security forces surrounded the police station and a three-hour standoff ensued before the murderers capitulated.

The difference between Abbas and Khaled Mashel, Hamas’ chief politburo officer, is that Abbas knows how to spin for the Western media, and Mashel, who is on a mission to kill Jews for Allah, speaks his mind. Of the two, Mashel, at least, is far more honest.

In the days and weeks ahead we will see the hand-wringing of the American Jewish progressives who suffer not just from ordinary delusions but also from battered-wife syndrome. There will be cries to end the settlements, to give the Palestinians more land, and to take down the checkpoints. With the psychological clarity of a battered wife, these progressives will proclaim that if only Israel was kinder to the Palestinians, they would learn to love Jews rather than want to kill them.

Having listened to so many of these “battered wives,” the contrasting pronouncements from Mashel about killing Jews are as refreshingly direct as they are, at least, real.

If Israel wants to end terrorism, it needs to stop taking cues from the organized American Jewish community, and it needs to stop being influenced by an American administration that has brought chaos and suffering wherever it has tried to influence events in the Middle East.

Israel needs to end the benefit in the cost/benefit terrorist scenario. That means it does not trade thousands of convicted killers for hostages. If the Palestinians seize hostages, than Israel retakes prisoners released from previous hostage deals as having violated the spirit, if not the terms, of the agreement. Attempts to intimidate and murder settlers will not lead to fewer settlements but to more settlements. Palestinian women who seek honor by publicly endorsing their children’s suicide bombings or other acts of terrorism should lose their property and be exiled. There is no honor in poverty.

Palestinian protestors throw stones toward Israeli police during clashes in the Shuafat neighborhood in Israeli-annexed Arab East Jerusalem, on July 2, 2014, after a Palestinian teenager was kidnapped and killed in an apparent act of revenge for the murder by militants of three Israeli youths. AFP PHOTO / AHMAD GHARABLI AHMAD GHARABLI/AFP/Getty Images Palestinian protestors throw stones toward Israeli police during clashes in the Shuafat neighborhood in Israeli-annexed Arab East Jerusalem, on July 2, 2014, after a Palestinian teenager was kidnapped and killed in an apparent act of revenge for the murder by militants of three Israeli youths. AFP PHOTO / AHMAD GHARABLI

Compassion in the Biblical meaning means to share in the suffering. Palestinians can learn true compassion by understanding the suffering they have caused.

The kidnapping of the three Israeli high-school students were not just the act of those who perpetrated the kidnappings but of an entire infrastructure that aided and abetted them. It inundated hotlines with bogus calls to obstruct the search. It greeted Israeli search teams with a deluge of rocks and stones. It taunted those who went to the Temple Mount to pray for the kidnap victims with the derisive and obnoxious three-finger salute. Even the ambulance that carried the bodies of the three teens was set upon with stones.

When does a nation state say "enough" to its enemy? When does it realize, as the allies did in World War II, that it is engaged in a total war?

Terrorists swim in the sea of the people because their doctrine teaches that if the government must get through the people to get to the terrorists, the people will become alienated from the government and join with the terrorists. That doctrine does not quite work. Frequently, the people become angry with the terrorists for causing the government to dislocate their daily lives and put them in harm’s way.

When the people are of a different religious or ethnic group the alienation already exists. It is difficult to imagine that the Palestinians could hate Jews more than they already do. And if so, what atrocity remains to be committed? Have they not blown up pizza parlors and nightclubs where young people congregate? Have they not slaughtered people attending religious festivals? Have they not slaughtered whole families, including infants? What act of wanton violence should one worry about their escalating next?

Tamam Masoud, 70, mother of Omar, 40, who was arrested in May 1993 for killing an Israeli lawyer, greets her neighbors while holding a banner in front of her family house at Shati Refugee Camp in Gaza City, Tuesday, Oct. 29, 2013. Masoud is one of 26 Palestinian prisoners Israel approved to release, in the second batch to be freed since August under the terms of renewed US-brokered peace talks. It is the second of four planned releases of the longest-serving Palestinian prisoners held by Israel in the coming months. The Arabic on the banner reads, "On the 20th anniversary of his arrest, PFLP (the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine) salute comrade prisoner Omar Masoud, Freedom for prisoners." (AP Photo/Adel Hana) Tamam Masoud, 70, mother of Omar, 40, who was arrested in May 1993 for killing an Israeli lawyer, greets her neighbors while holding a banner in front of her family house at Shati Refugee Camp in Gaza City, Tuesday, Oct. 29, 2013. Masoud is one of 26 Palestinian prisoners Israel approved to release, in the second batch to be freed since August under the terms of renewed US-brokered peace talks. It is the second of four planned releases of the longest-serving Palestinian prisoners held by Israel in the coming months. The Arabic on the banner reads, "On the 20th anniversary of his arrest, PFLP (the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine) salute comrade prisoner Omar Masoud, Freedom for prisoners." (AP Photo/Adel Hana)

Therefore, getting at terrorists through the sea of the people should not be a concern. The terrorists put their human infrastructure in harm’s way.

Terrorist attacks must result in costly counterattacks on high-value targets. These should not only include holding the organization’s current leadership accountable but also the seed that comprises their future leadership. An organization hiding from retaliation is an organization unable to surface the tactical resources and decision making for the next attack.

The reciprocal response to terrorism only ensures that there will be more terrorist attacks. The self-righteous will soon speak in the fatuous cliché of the cycle of violence. Short of marching into the sea, there is nothing the Israelis can give the Palestinians that will end this conflict.

Land for peace has only meant giving the enemy new tactical advantages from which to pursue its unending war of attrition. Give the Palestinians the high ground in Judea and Samaria, and Israel will never again be able to land a civilian aircraft, confidently, at Ben Gurion Airport.

Westerners believe in the need for an imminent solution to problems, no matter how complex. Westerners look to the solution of contemporary problems as the way to the ineluctable achievement of a better future. However, Eastern cultures look to a glorified past, whose re-creation in the form a caliphate or some other manifestation of a divine order on earth is the fulfillment of both their political and theological eschatology. It is for that reason that Osama bin Laden prominently mentioned the Islamic claim to Andalusia in his statement about Sept. 11, 2001.

The Palestinians will continue to wait, for the future is less meaningful than recreating a glorified past. Israel’s very existence dishonors the Palestinian past. The Palestinians specifically and Muslims generally cannot be permit Israel to exist. The Palestinians will continually try to eliminate the Jewish state, no matter how many of its generations they will have to sacrifice. To think this conflict is only about land and settlers is to think as someone who does not understand Palestinian culture.

The Palestinians were quick to bask in the triumph of the death of three innocent high school students. The celebrations have begun. It is not possible to negotiate with a culture that celebrates the death of innocents. Israel must teach the Palestinians that kidnapping and murdering innocent high school students is costly beyond imagination, beyond any previous Israeli undertaking, and that the consequences will be more horrific than the teenagers’ deaths. Hamas’ leaders must leave their homes always wondering whether today is the day that death will fall on them from the sky. The Obama Administration’s fatuous admonitions for the Israelis to exercise restraint should follow the American example of restraint in invading Afghanistan after 9/11.

If Israel lacks the resolve to do that, it should consider moving in mass to some area of the planet where it will not live under the constant and unending threat of extinction. I continually hear, from Arab nationalists, that Israel must look to the Arab world and not the West if it wants to survive. That is good advice. Israel should consider how any Arab state would deal with these tragic murders, for the Palestinians will respect that kind of response.

Abraham H. Miller is an emeritus professor of political science, University of Cincinnati. He also served on the faculty of the University of California, Davis and the University of Illinois, Urbana.

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