The price of victory?

Please don’t miss this piece in by Yossi Klein Halevi & Michael B. Oren called “Israel’s unexpected victory over terrorism.” It appears in Jewish World Review. The authors note that in the past six months:

[T]he Israeli army destroyed most of what remained of Hamas’s organization in the West Bank and a substantial part of its infrastructure in Gaza. Just last week, Israeli gunships rocketed a Hamas training camp in Gaza, killing 15 operatives. Hamas leaders, who once routinely led rallies and gave interviews to the media, don’t dare show their faces in public anymore. Even their names are kept secret. Hardly a night passes without the arrest of a wanted terrorist. Hamas’s ranks have become so depleted that the organization is now recruiting teenagers: At the Gaza border, Israeli forces recently broke up a Hamas cell made up of 16-year-olds. Meanwhile, life inside Israel has returned to near normalcy. The economy, which was shrinking in 2001, is now growing at around 4 percent per year. Even the tourists are back: Jerusalem’s premier King David Hotel, which a few years ago was almost empty, recently reached full occupancy. All summer, Israel seemed to be celebrating itself, with music and film festivals and a nightly crafts fair in Jerusalem that brought crowds back to its once-deserted downtown. Everyone knows a terrorist attack can happen at any time. Still, Israeli society no longer lives in anticipation of an attack.

How was this accomplished?

Israel’s triumph over the Palestinian attempt to unravel its society is the result of a systematic assault on terrorism that emerged only fitfully over the past four years. The fence, initially opposed by the army and the government, has thwarted terrorist infiltration in those areas where it has been completed. Border towns like Hadera and Afula, which had experienced some of the worst attacks, have been terror-free since the fence was completed in their areas. Targeted assassinations and constant military forays into Palestinian neighborhoods have decimated the terrorists’ leadership, and roadblocks have intercepted hundreds of bombs, some concealed in ambulances, children’s backpacks, and, most recently, a baby carriage.

In other words, Israel got serious. It finally ignored those who said that a major counter-offensive would only create more terrorists and alienate Europeans. But the skeptics were correct as to the latter prediction. Israel has become a pariah state whose very legitimacy is now questioned. Anti-semitism in Europe has reach the crisis stage.
The authors conclude with what they think may be the most important lesson we can learn from the Israeli example:

Perhaps the greatest danger in fighting terrorism is the polarizing effect such a campaign can have

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