Violence is physical and terror is psychological. The experience of adversarial violence against Israel has abated in part because of the success of Israel’s security forces in defense, deterrence and dissuasion. The experience of adversarial violence against Israel has subsided in part because the adversary has sought non-physical means to attack such as cyber. The experience of adversarial terror by Israel has increased. Israel needs to win the hearts and minds of the adversary and its own population to attain total victory.
Terror has been a tool of wars since war became an instrument of the struggle of man against man. It is not a weapon of the weak, but a weapon of barbarism among warriors who have relinquished the fear of civilization. Terror is fear. Both citizens and soldiers without discrimination know this fear.
This is the political discourse of terrorism. The fear is not the act of violence. The dead remain the dead. The wounded live in fear of the next act of violence based upon their experiences of the previous act of violence. The next act of violence may never happen, but the fear lives on.
In ancient times terror came after battle had ended. The victor never had absolute victory, but the loser had absolute loss. The loser would face the enslavement of the men, the rape of the women and the castration of the boys. Prior to the nuclear age violence prevailed once the military force had ended. There was the fear of losing that brought about wars and victory till the death on the battlefield. The true threat came once fear of acts of violence no longer existed on both sides. Anarchy became the alternative to civilization.
The advent of the nuclear age resulted in nuclear terror. The fear of mutually assured destruction meant that those with nuclear weapons were terrorized into not using the weapons or fighting each other directly. Nuclear terror prevented large wars; and instead the nuclear powers fought proxy wars; and fought wars of terror where the world slumbered nervously on the precipice of destruction.
In contemporary terror times, the information warriors and the mass media create a narrative of fear to those who have not been present at the act of military force or that of violence. Those experiencing an information warfare attack or watching the mass media also fear the next act of violence based upon their perceptions of the previous act of violence, which might never happen.
Time is a double-edged sword. Paranoia can set in as time progresses where there has been no further act of violence. Similarly the longer the time after an act of violence, the less vigilant a population becomes. The longer the time after an act of violence, the greater the paranoid a states security forces become. The longer the time after an act of violence, the more apathetic a states politicians become. The longer the time after an act of violence terrorists can succeed as an asymmetrical network, in changing the texture of a society.
Israel now faces this situation. There are those who believe that a lack of war and violence means that terror is over. There are those who believe that a lack of war and violence means that Israel is now at peace with her former adversaries. There are those that believe that it is now possible to withdraw from the territories of the 1967 Six Day War; only because the last war with Lebanon was in 2006, the last Intifada ended in 2005, the last attack on a bus was on 21 November 2012 and the last rocket from Gaza was on 22 November 2012. There are those that confuse a lack of war and violence with an absence of terror.
I say take a step back and consider the reality. Israel is now in a state of diffidence. It would be delusional to believe that the situation in Syria and the instability in Egypt, Jordan and Lebanon is not a threat to Israel. It would be delusional to believe that terrorist organizations such as Hamas and Hezbollah have stood down from their goals of total destruction of the State of Israel. Israel is on the precipice of war and violence. This is the foundation for dread.
There is only one way to end terror and achieve peace. Israel needs to win the hearts and minds of the adversary and its own population to attain total victory. There is only one way to achieve peace. The adversary must be convinced in their own hearts and minds that Israel has a right to exist. There is only one way to end terror. Israel’s population must be convinced in their own hearts and minds that despite the cycles and waves of war and violence; the interlacing lulls are not a cause for trepidation. Peace is between people and not between politicians; and only once people are alleviated of any distress in their own hearts and minds.
Glen Segell, FRGS, is Researcher at The Institute for National Security Studies Tel Aviv, Lecturer at Bar-Ilan University and Senior Researcher for the Ariel Research Center for Defense and Communication