How to Recruit Terrorists

Israel is currently doing a wonderful job at recruiting the next generation of Palestinian terrorists, as the front page video from El País demonstrates.* By wounding and killing Palestinian children all over Gaza, Israel is sure to inspire legions of young Palestinians with a virulent hatred that will extend the conflict for many years to come. Ehud Barak, Israel’s Defense Minister, has jokingly stated that the current war aims at total elimination of the terrorist threat. We would take Barak seriously if he were not pursuing methods that run directly contrary to that aim. I suppose the present initiative could be a step towards genocide, but it rather seems to be a meaty bone thrown to the terrorists–the strengthening of martyr cults, the rage stoked by senseless injustice, the displacement of peoples into the poverty and landlessness which breeds violence. Barak’s sense of irony, of course, is not merely an Israeli trait, but can also be discerned in American campaigns in Iraq and Afghanistan and in the recent Sri Lankan “victory” over the Tamil stronghold, Kilinochchi.

*I’m guessing the audio in the El País video is messed up, but it’s perfect: a digital audio hell for an ersatz war.



  1. 1
    otto guboven Says:

    Did Hamas think they could keep on attacking Israel causing death and suffering for years and never receive retaliation in kind and then some?

    • 2
      elcaballo Says:

      Of course not. There is an irony in all violence, and we should certainly apply our critique to terrorists as well: terrorism is a really great way to encourage state-led pogroms. My point here is that there is a symbiosis between state violence and terrorism. Both Israel and Hamas are foolish to think one will overcome the other.

      That said, there is a gross disproportion between recent anti-Israeli violence and Israel’s response. We can look at the death tolls of this war or of the recent war with Lebanon. Or we can look at the living conditions of Palestinians in Gaza and the West Bank. None of this justifies terrorism–not even to the slightest degree–but it does call us to be rather harsh when discussing the Israeli state.

  2. 3

    @Otto: I’m going to guess no. People generally engage in violence with the idea that they will be retaliated against. Retaliation justifies their self-image as oppressed and alienates the other, which increases public support and the will to violence.

    Or was that a rhetorical question?

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