Right now, I bet the family of Ms. Hassan, as well as many others around the world, are asking whether there is a god. She, who dedicated her life to helping others, has apparently been killed by her captors after they held her for weeks and forced her to beg for her life on camera.

Terrorism is very successful in sowing fear and dread. It is also very successful at creating moral complexities and imbalances for people who would otherwise seek to stay away from a violent approach to resolving differences.

With one beheading, broadcast internationally countless times, the terrorists successfully engage us in a form of sohisticated yet brutally primitive communication. We are to understand that they will stop at nothing to win and they hope that this revelation will force us to rethink our objectives and actions. Even if they don’t succeed in getting us to change our goals, they succeed in transforming us as people with certain moral codes and conduct because they successfully change the “values” of the conflict and bring them closer to their values.

In doing that, they achieve a small victory. Fortunately, we have so far, in Israel and in the US, been able to continue to win the war.

About the author



  • Typical Arabs.
    They’ll stop at nothing until the whole of the western world is dead.

  • I’ve known plenty of chill Arabs who didn’t want to crush the world under the might of the caliphate…

  • I didn’t say we have won it. I do think we are winning it. Whether this will continue into the future is another matter, but if you just compare the stats in Israel from 2002 to now, you’ll see a marked difference.

  • It depends, I guess, on how you define “win” in terms of what’s happened in Israel since 2002. Yes, there are far fewer terror attacks inside Israel. But the price has been so high that I often wonder if it’s worth the results: we have this horrible, ugly barrier that looks like something dreamed up by a medieval warrior on acid; we have IDF soldiers dying on a regular basis in the occupied territories; we can only dream of peace, because those with whom we will ultimately have to negotiate a settlement hate us more than ever now. I just can’t see all that as steps toward victory.

  • Lisa, the alternative is defeat. Defeat smells like 125 Israelis/Jews getting killed monthly by suicide attacks and snipings. It smells like losing confidence in the viability of a Jewish state.

    I don’t think you can completely eradicate terror. It doesn’t seem all that difficult to find ways to blow things up or to kidnap an innocent person, hurt them and make a video. However, you can temper and minimize it. Have you heard much about the Red Brigades or the Baader Meinhof gang recently? Of course not. They still have supporters out at large, but the movements are effectively moribund.

    Israel is not there yet, but they have managed to put the terrorists on the defensive and to minimize attacks on Israelis. This terror, however, can and will have a political solution and at that point, it will become very worthwhile for the Arabs to try to contain the terrorists. In order to get there, however, it seems they need to be crushed because their ideology is bent on destroying Israel altogether.

    I don’t think there is a single Palestinian who will say they are now better off after 4 years of this war of terror on Israel. In fact, this war has proven to be a massive failure and they are taking stock of this. Don’t be fooled by high polling numbers for Hamas, they don’t have to govern or lead and it’s always easy to criticize and find fault with those who lead. To me, this suggests they are losing the war. Haaretz has run stories about families who demand that terrorists not launch attacks or even prepare materials for harming Israelis in or around their house.That also indicates a serious undermining of confidence in these thugs and terrorists by the average Palestinian.

    As for the barrier and the high price…that is my point above. I am trying to say that terror usually succeeds to some degree because it forces change upon the complexion of a society. I believe Israel would be a far less military-oriented society if it weren’t for these wars, and I believe it would discriminate less against its Arabs and people might feel far less fear and hatred towards Arabs in general if it weren’t for the terror. Hanan Ashrawi always likes to say that the Palestinians are a mirror reflection of the Israelis and have learned their ways from the Israelis. I’m afraid to say that the opposite is true: much of the Israeli mindset with respect to the Palestinians and Arabs in general stems from the violent attacks, terror, and unrelenting march to war to which they have exposed us in the past century.

  • TM – At the risk of turning the Jewlicious comments into a political sounding board, I’m going to respond to your long and thoughtful comment with a couple of observations/thoughts.
    For me, the separation barrier is a tragic symbol of defeat. I see it as a populist gesture designed to ameliorate fear and cater to the popular demand that the government “do something” against terror. It cost tons of money to build – money that could, IMHO, have been far better spent on relieving the misery of impoverished Israelis living inside the Green Line. There are Israeli children going hungry to school, there are single mothers who work full time – as teachers, for example – but are unable to support their children on their small salaries, and there are pensioners whose national insurance benefits have been cut so severely that they are reduced to sifting through the garbage at shuk haCarmel because they can’t afford to buy food. The government says there is no money to help these people, yet it found the budget to build the barrier.
    Even at the height of the suicide bombings in 2001-2002, the number of civilians killed never topped the number who died – and continue to die – in senseless car crashes caused by unbelievably bad drivers. If there were a budget for setting up cameras to catch speeding drivers at intersections, a lot of those tragic accidents could be avoided through traffic law enforcement.
    And finally, I am not convinced that the dramatic reduction in the number of attacks is due to the barrier. I think the real reason is improved intelligence work and efficient operations against terrorist cells. Supporting evidence for my theory: the Shin Bet said after the Be’er Sheva bus bombing that the attack had been carried out by a Hebron-based terror cell that they simply had not been able to crack. They have, since then, succeeded in locating and arresting the leaders of that cell. Also, I have personally seen (and photographed) people scaling the wall at Abu Dis in less than a minute. If it’s so easy to climb the wall, then how come the suicide bombers aren’t simply strapping on an explosive built and climbing over? I bet it’s because they get stopped by undercover agents before they even get to the wall.
    I don’t dispute that Palestinians living in the territories are exhausted by the conflict and sick of the local “shebaab” drawing IDF fire on their homes and farms. I don’t believe, however, that we will see a popular uprising aginst the terrorists/militants/whatever- you-want-to-call -them. The pressure to support the “cause” is too strong, and the brainwashing goes too deep.
    As they say, “I’m just saying.” (even though you might think I’m wacky).

  • Even though I am loathe to agree with TM, I am forced to in this case.

    Israel has all but won the intifadah. To ignore the success of the fence (a very, very small percentage of it is the “horrible, ugly barrier” you make reference to) is ignorant. The very people who intiated these attacks have been forced to reroute them as a result of it – by their own admission. Your own example proves this point. How many attacks have there been in Afula, or Netanya since those sections of the fence went up? Now we have them in Ashdod, Jerusalem, and Beer Sheva. If it were a matter of improved intelligence, we would see the same improvement in all areas. Are you saying we’re better at cracking terror cells in Jenin than in Hebron? I don’t buy it.

    I too am concerned about the poor Israelis who are unable to get adequate nutrition, but I would much prefer to stay alive than to stay full every day. Life is more important than hunger, Lisa.

    PS: I don’t think you’re wacky, but I do think you’re whacky.

  • Lisa:

    Not only do I not find what you write w(h)acky, but I agree with much of it. I agree about the improper use of resources by the Israeli gov’t caused, not in small part, by poor judgement regarding priorities.

    I certainly agree about the govt’s crime of not managing traffic and traffic accidents better.

    We are in complete agreement that terror attacks are down because of better intelligence and the work of some very capable IDF soldiers.

    But I disagree about the barrier/fence.

    First let’s look at cost. The barrier/fence has 7.5 billion shekels earmarked for it and construction was supposed to conclude in 2006. Let’s put aside the fact they are late in constructing it and focus on the 2.5 billion shekels cost per year. That $500 to $600 million per year is a fraction of the Israeli gov’t’s $75 billion annual budget. This amount will not feed Israel’s indigent and will not clothe them either.

    Second, the barrier/fence has significant potential for cost savings. Theoretically, you will need fewer soldiers on both sides of the fence, you will have greater security, and you will definitely be restrained in spending any funds on settlers beyond the fence. I’m willing to bet that this is worth at least $500 million a year in savings to Israel, if not more.

    Third, it may be ugly or unpleasant to see in some places, but it serves a very functional purpose, not unlike the fence that runs along the Israeli Jordanian border. It is a border like in so many other places around the world. Some see it as a prison for Israelis and some see it as a prison for the Palestinians. It is neither, it is simply a physical line separating the two enemies from each other. Now I admit that there are areas with pillars that are quite nasty looking, but think of all the unborn Israeli and Palestinian graffiti artists who will get to have some fun.

    Fourth, this idea of a barrier crosses party lines and truly represents the democratic will of most Israelis. Allow me to point out that the idea originated with Barak. After Camp David II, he publicly spoke in favor of a fence that leaves 25% of the West Bank in Israeli control. This 25% would be the key to further negotiations with the Palestinians because if you build a fence, said Barak, next to the ’67 Green Line, you end up foregoing leverage in future negotiations. Polls consistently show a majority of Israelis supporting the barrier. Some people call this populist notions and thinking. I call it democracy. If you disagree, it’s up to you to educate Israelis otherwise.

    Fifth, the fence was opposed by Sharon and the Likud for a very long time. Sharon had to be pulled, kicking and screaming, into building it by the perception of Israel’s population that the fence/barrier offers protection. They got this idea, by the way, from the IDF which has stated repeatedly that the fence/barrier is effective in diminishing the number of attacks upon Israelis.

    However, the key reason Sharon and the Right opposed the fence/barrier is that it will probably create a de facto border and they are going to be forced to give up their dream of a Greater Israel. At this point, the border is not really yet a border, but it is clear to many observers, and I’m willing to bet Sharon is among them, that this fence will demarcate the majority of the land that will belong to Israel and the rest of it which will belong to the Palestinians. It is no mistake that there are numerous lawsuits, political and civil opposition, massive Palestinian and Arab anti-fence rhetoric, and ongoing debate among all the parties involved about the fence/barrier – everybody instinctively understands that this is a border. As the Israelis like to say, this establishes facts on the ground.

    Sixth, the fence offers a serious potential solution to Israel’s problem with the settlers who will seek to torpedo a peace deal that will have Israel forfeiting significant chunks of the West Bank/Judea Samaria. Very simply, they will end up on the wrong side of the fence, and on the day the IDF terminates its presence beyond that line, they will have the option of moving into Israel’s territory, or remaining to live under Palestinian rule. What do you think most of them will choose? This is a much more elegant resolution to the problem of some of these settlers raising arms against IDF soldiers than fighting them or begging them to leave. Most will leave on their own because of the fence/barrier.

    Finally, if Israel can achieve peace and a true end to this war and this presence of our soldiers in the heart of the Palestinian population, Israel will begin to thrive again. Tourists will come in droves, companies will build factories and invest, Israelis and Palestinians will figure out how to make trade work so it benefits both sides, Israel will be able to begin talking to Arab states about economic cooperation, and Israel will be able to save vast sums of money that they spend on settlements and the IDF presence over there. The impoverished Israelis you mentioned will have a far better opportunity of finding work and income in that environment than in this ongoing war without the fence which is sucking the economic life (not to mention the hope for peace) out of Israel as we write.

  • Neocon, why are you loathe to agree with me? 😆

    You know, I also use the phrase “I am loathe” but have never checked whether it is gramatically correct. Does anybody here know?

  • Super Copyeditor Woman here! The correct phrase is: “I am loath” without the e.

    Loathe is the verb, loath is the adjective.

    Ain’t English fun?

  • Anne,

    My websters says that either is acceptable. I agree with Rabbi Yonah that God exists, and answer Jim R in this way:


  • Hi Neocon:

    I looked up “loath” and “loathe” in Webster’s New World dictionary (the bible for AP Style enthusiasts), Merriam-Webster’s (ditto for Chicago style fans) and the OED online.

    Only M-W lists “loathe” as a variant of “loath,” which means it’s acceptable but not as popular.

    CK, however, has thrown hissy fits about using British spellings, so we should probably defer to the Oxfordians on this. They don’t list any variants.

    Not that this has anything to do with terrorism, of course.

    And yes, I do need a life.