Notes on terrorism

History stands at the beginning stages of Islam’s latest attempt to dominate the world.

That’s a very broad statement, of course. Do I mean political subjugation and occupation, as in the Arab conquests of the 7th century? Do I mean some kind of ideological domination and political control, as with the Soviet empire?

Actually, both. Islam is both a religion and a political ideology, an ideology that is essentially expansionist, one that wants to expand dar al islam (the lands of Islam) at the expense of dar al harb (the lands of the sword; and they mean that literally). This struggle for domination, violent or not, is called ‘jihad’.

Is there a ‘radical Islam’ and a ‘moderate Islam’? Not really. To quote Turkish PM Erdoğan, “There is no moderate or immoderate Islam. Islam is Islam and that’s it.” Of course there are radical Muslims who try to achieve their goals by means of war or terrorism, and there are others that prefer more civilized means such as persuasion, propaganda, infiltration/subversion, migration, politics or demography. The latter are the ‘moderates’. But there are none who do not believe that it would be better if everyone in the world were Muslim.

There are two main headquarters of the worldwide jihad today: Iran and Saudi Arabia lead the Shia and Sunni factions respectively. Iran’s tactics are radical, including terrorism and war, while the Saudis are more moderate, mostly using their petrodollars to buy influence. There are also autonomous and semi-autonomous groups. The Islamic State (Da’esh) practices the most radical form of jihad, conquering territory by force and coercing the inhabitants to become Muslim by violent means (when they don’t just kill them for the effect).

While there are doctrinal disagreements between those waging jihad, most seriously between the Sunni and Shia branches, they often cooperate and support each other against their common enemies (Shia Iran helping Sunni Hamas is an example).

Although it’s impossible to find a single hand coordinating the worldwide jihad, we can see various tactics being applied in various places:

  • In Iraq and Syria, Da’esh and Iran are both attempting to conquer territory and subjugate the inhabitants by force.
  • In Israel (but also Europe and North America) terror groups are inciting ‘decentralized’ acts of violence, inspired and incited – but not directly controlled – by them. These are almost impossible for security forces to prevent, because the perpetrators (often young people) have no records and few direct connections to known organizations.
  • In Europe, the mass migration of Muslims, few of whom are actually ‘refugees’, is combined with murderous terrorism, both organized and spontaneous.
  • In the US, terrorism continues, much or all of it decentralized. In addition, tactics of infiltration, subversion and propaganda are employed to prevent the authorities from responding and to open the doors for additional migration. The very Muslim-friendly Obama Administration almost seems to be cooperating to facilitate the jihad.

Terrorism is the deliberate murder of noncombatants to achieve political goals. In this post, I would like to take a closer look at terrorism as a tactic of jihad.

How does stabbing a few Jews on the street or shooting up a concert or a meeting at a government agency advance the goal of jihad? Actually, quite a lot. Terrorism has multiple objectives:

  • It provokes responses from the authorities which can be used to justify more terrorism and to impugn the victim in world opinion.
  • It attracts attention to Muslim grievances and prompts concessions to them.
  • It intimidates the population. The psychological effect is to cause someone to seek safety for himself by identifying with the terrorists. Recent well-publicized terrorism in Paris and California coincided with a spike in Americans calling for an increase in immigration of Muslim ‘refugees’, and undoubtedly an increase in those seeking to convert to Islam, as happened immediately after 9/11. I can’t prove it, but I speculate that there is a connection.
  • It damages confidence in governments and authorities and destabilizes them. The pressure to “do something” about terrorism turns the public against their leaders.
  • It accumulates ‘honor’ for Muslims, who often feel that they have been humbled by Western colonialism and economic and technological superiority.
  • It encourages jihadists – violent and non-violent – to redouble their efforts.

In the case of Israel, jihadists believe that they can make life unpleasant enough for the Jewish ‘colonists’ to get up and ‘go back to where they came from’. This is a serious misunderstanding of Israeli attitudes, especially of those of Mizrachi descent, who are not prepared to go back to Morocco or Iraq, for example, or for those whose parents survived the Holocaust.

In the past, terrorism persuaded some Israeli politicians that they should make concessions to the Arabs, whom they foolishly expected to respond by stopping it. So the Oslo accords followed the first Intifada, and the withdrawal from Gaza (the ‘disengagement’) followed the second. Unfortunately, concessions only facilitated and encouraged more pressure and more terrorism.

The Israeli electorate has learned its lesson, and will not vote for this type of politician in the future. Somewhat ironically, since it is becoming generally known that the Palestinian Arab leadership is not interested in any outcome in which a Jewish state continues to exist, terrorism is less effective at extracting concessions to them.

Israelis are also much harder to intimidate than Europeans or Americans, since several generations have grown up with terrorism as a daily companion. Nevertheless, there are still some cases – especially in the shrinking Israeli Left – of the so-called “Oslo Syndrome,” which causes sufferers to internalize the anti-Jewish attitudes of their persecutors. For examples, see anything by Gideon Levy in Ha’aretz.

The recent wave of terrorism has definitely caused a great deal of criticism of the Netanyahu government, which has struggled to contain decentralized terrorism with little success. So in this respect, it is achieving its goal. On the other hand, nobody thinks the Opposition has any better ideas.

In Europe and the US, it seems that the use of terrorism to promote concessions and to intimidate has been much more effective. In Europe, political leaders have welcomed Muslim immigration and blamed Israel for Muslim terrorism. In the US, the Attorney General has suggested that the threat of a backlash against Muslims is more worrisome than that of actual Islamic terrorism (two words that the President is unable to bring himself to say).

The policies of the US and most European governments are inconsistent and ineffectual. They do not inspire confidence in their ability to overcome the Islamic jihad. In many cases they aren’t even able to define their problem and name their enemy.

Israel is on the ‘seam line’ between Islam and the West, and therefore is a prime target of terrorism. As I’ve suggested, Israel is the single nation best adapted to fight terrorism and to deal with its effects. But unfortunately its jihadist opponents have been remarkably successful with their propaganda aimed at Europe and the US, falsely portraying Israel as a colonialist oppressor, war criminal and apartheid state. Europeans and left-wing elements in the US (including the Obama Administration) have become convinced that Israel, rather than a bulwark against Islamic jihad, is a ‘problem’ that needs to be solved by forcing it to surrender to the jihadists.

As a result, Israel is unable to be a source of support for Europe and the US, and indeed needs to devote considerable resources to counteracting their efforts to push it into the hands of its enemies.

This is stupid, self-defeating behavior on their part. If the democratic West wants to survive, it must cooperate with all those who are also targets of the jihad, especially the one country that probably has the best intelligence in the region and the most experience in dealing with their common enemy.

Even if that country is the Jew among nations.

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