Over the past several years, many have doubted whether Israel can survive–have doubted, in effect, whether a tactic so foul and brutal as a sustained and determined campaign of terrorism can be defeated. This morning, Charles Krauthammer writes that while terrorism in Israel is not over, the Intifada is, and Israel has won:
While no one was looking, something historic happened in the Middle East. The Palestinian intifada is over, and the Palestinians have lost.
For Israel, the victory is bitter. The past four years of terrorism have killed almost 1,000 Israelis and maimed thousands of others. But Israel has won strategically. The intent of the intifada was to demoralize Israel, destroy its economy, bring it to its knees, and thus force it to withdraw and surrender to Palestinian demands, just as Israel withdrew in defeat from southern Lebanon in May 2000.
That did not happen. Israel’s economy was certainly wounded, but it is growing again. Tourism had dwindled to almost nothing at the height of the intifada, but tourists are returning. And the Israelis were never demoralized. They kept living their lives, the young people in particular returning to cafes and discos and buses just hours after a horrific bombing. Israelis turned out to be a lot tougher and braver than the Palestinians had imagined.
What has happened…is an end to systematic, regular, debilitating, unstoppable terror — terror as a reliable weapon. At the height of the intifada, there were nine suicide attacks in Israel killing 85 Israelis in just one month (March 2002). In the past three months there have been none.
The overall level of violence has been reduced by more than 70 percent. How did Israel do it? By ignoring its critics and launching a two-pronged campaign of self-defense…First, Israel targeted terrorist leaders….Second, the fence. Only about a quarter of the separation fence has been built, but its effect is unmistakable. The northern part is already complete, and attacks in northern Israel have dwindled to almost nothing.
Yasser Arafat started the intifada in September 2000…Arafat failed, spectacularly. The violence did not bring Israel to its knees. Instead, it created chaos, lawlessness and economic disaster in the Palestinian areas. The Palestinians know the ruin that Arafat has brought, and they are beginning to protest it. He promised them blood and victory; he delivered on the blood.
Israel’s victory is good news in its own right, of course; it is also a hopeful sign for Americans. If they can defeat an organized, systematic campaign of terror, so can we.