Israel Report

August 2001         

The "Cycle Of Violence" in the Middle East

By Prof. Louis Rene Beres - August 15, 2001
There is no "cycle of violence" in the present-day Middle East, only persistent Arab murders of Jewish civilians followed by carefully limited Israeli retaliations. The problem, for Israel, is that although murderous Arab attacks are entirely responsible for this unstable situation, Israeli military reprisals can never succeed by themselves. The number of would-be Palestinian murderers is simply too overwhelming; it is staggering. These twisted young aspirants cannot be stopped by proportionate or even disproportionate Israeli responses. Moreover, so long as Israel does not meekly lie down and die quietly (the American and European Final Solution for the "peace" question), the whole world will inevitably condemn the Jewish State for "aggression."

What is Israel to do? In this connection, matters are not helped by the now explicit Arab threat to escalate to biological terrorism. The Lebanon-based Palestinian weekly, Al-Manar, has just published an article titled: "Will We Reach the Option of Biological Deterrence?" Here, according to a translation by the highly reputable Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI), Palestinian terrorists plan to deploy such "death- carrying devices" near "Israeli water resources; the Israeli beaches; let alone the markets and the residential centers." The objective, for the Arabs, is " create a balance of horror in the equation of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict."

How deliriously the Palestinian leadership articulates this idea of "horror." Announced joyously, as if killing were much more than a necessary evil, the idea is savored in almost every Arab context; in family gatherings, in the schools and of course in the mosques. Whatever brings death to "the Jews" is judged to be good, true and beautiful. Violence against Israel need not be specifically purposeful or instrumental. Rather, it is always delightful (in the literal meaning of that word) in its own right.

Israel must understand all this, and take care not to assume routine military reasoning among its Palestinian enemies or its enemies elsewhere in the Islamic world. Israel, which generally assumes enemy rationality in its counterterrorism and war-planning scenarios, can no longer overlook the fact that this assumption is often just plain wrong. In the Islamic Middle East, violence within and between states is often self-propelled, generated for its own sake, for what a Fatah Manifesto calls its "healing powers among the people." For many of Israel's enemies, Clausewitz is being replaced with De Sade. For these enemies, violence against Jews is deliciously naked, tantalizing only for the sheer pain its can bring to unbelievers. The aggressivity of this violence is disinterested in strategic gains or losses. It is politically unmotivated. It wills only its own will. It is pure irrationality.

There now exists among Israel's Islamic enemies a voluptuousness of violence. It is in Israel's immediate existential interest never to lose sight of this primal inversion of normal world politics. Israel's Islamic enemies, at least on occasion, are altogether ready to disregard ordinary calculations of cost-effectiveness and military balance. Instead, they are profoundly animated by the most hideously basic human needs and expectations.

For the Palestinian leadership (PA; Fatah; Hamas; Islamic Jihad - it makes no difference), agony is infintely more important than logic; not their own agony, to be sure, but the agony they can inflict upon "the Jews." Living contentedly under the sovereignty of rancorous hatred, they often prefer the lascivious enthusiasms of cruelty to the gentle possibilities for peace. As soon as violence against the Jews beckons, these leaders dream of nothing but inferno, slaughter and paradise.

To its great credit, the Palestinian leadership has never truly lied about its hopes. Yassir Arafat and his brothers-in-arms generally harbor their exterminating sentiments openly. Indeed, the harming of Jewish innocents has become their forte, even their raison d'etre. One wonders, reciprocally, why the Jewish leadership in Israel has been so slow to listen.

What is Israel to do? There is no cycle of violence in the region, only a continuous murder of Jews on their own land. With a palpable greed for violence, with a feverish greed still unrecognized in Washington, Paris and London, the Palestinian leadership now impatiently awaits Israel's last moments. Nothing less than such an end will ever satisy them. Why are some Jews still not listening?

Demanding a Jewish apocalypse as healer for the Arabs, Arafat and Company are experts in counter-creation. Once fully aware of this expertise, Israel's leaders must immediately cease to pretend that peace with these destroyers is possible. Catastrophic war in the Middle East is now unavoidable. Israel's only choice is to fight this war in a timely and conclusive fashion, or to invite another Jewish genocide.

Louis Rene Beres (Ph.D. Princeton, 1971) is the author of many books and articles dealing with terrorism and counterterrorism. His work in these areas is well-known in American and Israeli military and intelligence communities. He is currently a Professor of International Law at Purdue University.

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