Two Types of Terrorism and How to Stop Them

What will the United States do if it is God forbid attacked by ISIS in a Paris style terrorist attack? I think I know the answer. Or at least what should be the answer for our Commander and Chief whose primary obligation is the security of the American people. Given this assessment, why aren’t we doing that before we are attacked?

When the homeland is attacked, we must do whatever it takes to defeat the attackers. We have the most powerful and technologically advanced army in the world. Homeland Security says that an attack by ISIS is highly likely – given the promises by them to do so; their proven ability to carry them out; and willingness to do so on pain of death.

This question has been on my mind and the minds of many people ever since ISIS slaughtered 129 innocent people in Paris about 10 days ago. ISIS – and what to do about them has become the focus of both the media and political candidates on both sides of the political aisle. There are almost as many opinions about that as there are people expressing them.

But the one thing almost everyone agrees upon is that the President’s policy isn’t working. Airstrikes will do a lot of damage. But unless troops are sent in to secure the areas that were bombed, ISIS will just retake them. Nature abhors a vacuum. The world has to respond in a unified manner with joint troops on the ground.

After Paris, US leadership should be able to convince our European allies – and perhaps more importantly to have a untied allied force consisting of proportional members from every civilized nation.  We have to enter Syria; re-take and secure all the land captured by ISIS. If they are defeated to that level, they won’t be able to do much recruiting.

What to do afterwards? Good question. I have in the past suggested a Marshall Plan of the type that rebuilt a crushed Germany after World War II. It might have to be done a bit differently since Middle Eastern culture is so different from European culture. But I think it can be done if the world (including Syria’s neighbors) unite. But first things first. The status quo cannot be allowed to remain.

But this isn’t even the main purpose of my post. I bring it up in the context of the daily carnage taking place in Israel. Carnage that has been going on for months. Every day we hear of yet another random and sudden attack from individual terrorists. One or two or three killers at a time attacking innocent Israeli civilians going about their business. If one adds up the number of people killed during that time it may number as many as were killed in Paris.

And yet it is hardly a blip on the world media radar screen.  The focus on this comes mostly from the Jewish media – both secular and religious. Is it any less tragic when terror is spread out over months accumulating masses of victims than it is when it happens all at once? I think not. The victims were all killed or maimed and their families no less affected. In fact I would think that spreading out unlimited terror over time on a daily basis is even more terrifying.

I can understand why the media focuses on the kind of grand scale attack that happened in Paris and not on the daily individual attacks going on in Israel. No one will say it is less tragic. Nor do I believe it is antisemitic. It is just much scarier to see major carnage happening in one day than it is to focus on an individual being killed in Israel on the same day. Making it harder to see it from the perspective that I described. Added to that is the fear of that happening here. By contrast no one is worried that a Palestinian in America will come out of the woodwork and start stabbing people on a daily basis.

Which is why I bring it up. Despite the inclination to see Paris as a much bigger deal than Israel right now, I don’t think it should be. Ask the families of those killed.

The obvious question is what to do about it? How do we stop these knife wielding attackers? The answer to solving this problem is – in my view – exponentially more difficult than solving the ISIS problem. These attacks are generated by on factor. And it isn’t ‘the occupation’. It is plain and simple rabid Jew hatred.

Arabs in all of Israel’s neighboring countries and beyond have been indoctrinated to hate Jews. Decade upon decade of hate has been instilled into every Arab man, woman and child in the Middle East. They see us as infidel usurpers of their land, coming from Europe under the pretext of a Holocaust that – to many of them – never happened. And even if it did, it isn’t their fault. Why should they give up their land? Our grievances should be to Europe, not to them. Why should they suffer because of what Europe supposedly did to us? They are of the variety that would just as soon exterminate us as look at us.

I don’t see how we can just change hearts and minds now, no matter what we do. This is no doubt what fueled young teenage girls to attacked innocent shoppers in Jerusalem’s Machane Yehuda open air market. One of those attacked was an Arab innocently shopping there. Those teenagers thought he was a Jew.

At this point it doesn’t really matter anymore what precipitated all these attacks. Success breeds more success. So they are no doubt going to continue attacking us this way. So rabid is their hatred of us that they don’t care what happens to them – knowing full well that they may very be killed themselves by police or civilians carrying guns. They don’t care – as long as they succeed in terrorizing us.

How do you fight something like this?

Which brings me to the following. One of the more heart rending murders reported in the Jewish media is that of 18 year old Ezra Schwartz of Sharon, Massachusetts. He was a was a gap year student at a yeshiva in Bet Shemesh. Can it be that every single Muslim is so heartless to the point of cheering his death? This often seems to be the case among Arabs of he Middle East.

They see every successful attack against us as a victory for Islam. Who will forget the cheering Palestinian masses on the West Bank as they heard of the successful attack against the World Trade Center. I will never forget those images anymore than I will forget the images of those twin towers coming down.

But they are not all like that. There are some like Abdul Rahman Ahmad the Imam of a mosque in Sharon. His condolence letter to the Schwartz family was so poignant that is actually gives me some hope. It can be read in its entirety in the Forward,  who said about it that ‘It was a heartfelt and genuine gesture that did not feel forced or fake’. I agree. We need a lot more Imams like this. And a lot less Imams or Muftis like the far more common 40s type Mufti, Haj Amin al-Husseini.

And therein lies the problem. This is not the first time I have seen a Muslim leader express sincere regrets over what fellow Muslims are doing to the Jewish people. Nor is it that uncommon to find isolated pockets of cooperation and even love between Arabs and Jews in Israel. Haddasah Hospital comes to mind. They are blind to ethnicity and religion there.

Sharei Tzedek Hospital is another. Who can forget the lifesaving operation performed by an Arab surgeon there on a young Jewish American woman who was seriously injured on a bus blown up by a Muslim suicide bomber? They created a bond to each other that no doubt exists to this day.

I don’t know. Maybe it’s something about the nature of hospitals that can break through the hatred. But at least we know it can and does happen. The only problem is that it is so rare, that it is seems to be the exception that proves the rule. Which is the  extreme hatred of the Jew by indigenous Muslims of the Middle East.

The real key to solving the problem there has little if anything to do with settlements. It is all about the over 100 years of hatred passed on from one generation to the next. That has to be changed. How we do that is a mystery to me. But that is the solution. And in my view the only one that will really work.

About the Author
My worldview is based on the philosophy of my teacher, Rabbi Aaron Soloveichik , and the writings of Rabbis Joseph B. Soloveitcihk , Norman Lamm, and Dr. Eliezer Berkovits from whom I developed an appreciation for philosophy. I attended Telshe Yeshiva and the Hebrew Theological College where I was ordained. I also attended Roosevelt University where I received my degree in Psychology.