Arab Terrorists Imitating Jews?

In an outrageous Op-Ed in the October 18, 2002 Boston Globe, HDS Greenway blames Jews for Arab terrorism. He and his quoted source, Caleb Carr, claim that Arabs turned to terrorism only after being “inspired” by the “murderous efficiency” of Jewish terrorists.

Greenway relates Carr’s theory:

the “vicious terrorism that the Irgun had bred into the Israeli character would never be removed,” according to Carr. “Worst of all,” he writes, “‘it would inspire vengeful imitation among the Palestinian Arabs.” The PLO “took as one of their organizational and operational models the Irgun… Had they not witnessed over many years the murderous efficiency of the Irgun, the Palestinians might have been tempted to choose a different path; but anger, desperation, and impatience took them down the same road.…”

In fact, Arab terror against Jews began in 1920, almost 20 years before the few terrorist attacks perpetrated by the Irgun. And Arab terror has changed little since the Arab terror attacks of 1920, 1929, and 1936…the methods are similar, although the scale of attacks has increased. The only innovations — hijackings, suicide bombers — were introduced to the region by the Arab side and had nothing whatsoever to do with following a so-called Jewish model.

Jewish Terror

In retaliation for deadly attacks against Jews, the Jewish Irgun splinter group did perpetrate 3 terrorist attacks against Arab civilians in 1938, including placing bombs in milk cans in a Haifa market which killed 23 Arab shoppers. These tactics were condemned by the mainstream Jewish community. In 1946, the Irgun bombed the British military headquarters in the southern wing of the King David Hotel. This target was not a civilian one, but rather the site of the British military command and criminal investigation division. The bombers issued three warnings to enable evacuation — to the hotel, to the French Consulate and to the Palestine Post. The British chose to believe the calls were a hoax.

Arab Terror Precedes Jewish Terror

It is ludicrous to say that Arabs learned terrorism from the Jews, since there were scores of Arab terrorist attacks against Jews prior to 1938, killing more than 200 Jews and wounding hundreds.The numerous different methods of terror used by the Arabs then still continue until today. For example:

Organized Arab Terrorism Begins in 1920

March 1,1920:

In an attack by large numbers of Arabs from the village of Halsa, 8 Jews were killed at Tel Hai, including Josef Trumpeldor.

April 25, 1920:

Following the murder by Arabs of a Jewish settler, the whole settlement of Bnei Yehuda (east of the Sea of Galilee) was abandoned.

Other settlements attacked by Arab terrorists in March and April 1920: Ayelet Hashahar, Mishmar HaYarden, Mahanayim, Rosh Pina, Sharona, Kfar Tavor, Degania, and Menahemya.

As a result of repeated attacks by Arab terrorists in 1920, a number of other Jewish agricultural settlements were evacuated, including Metulla, Kfar Giladi, and Hamara.

Attacks Continue in May 1921:

May 1921: Arabs attack Jews in Rehovot, Jerusalem, Jaffa, Petah Tikva and Haifa.
May 1921: Arabs attack Jewish Quarter of the Old City

Widespread Arab Attacks August 23 – 26, 1929

On August 23, 1929, over a thousand Arabs in three main groups emerged from the old city of Jerusalem and attacked any Jew they could catch in several of the Jewish quarters of the city, and in its suburbs. Attacks on Jews quickly spread throughout Palestine. By nightfall of August 26, 133 Jews had been killed and 339 wounded, including:

In Hebron, 59 Jewish men, women and children were killed on August 24. In one house alone, 23 were killed and then dismembered; many others were tortured and maimed.

20 Jews killed in Safed — mostly children and old people. 32 wounded, several tortured.

7 Jews killed in Hadar Hacarmel.

In Motza, 6 Jews killed, including 2 children and a rabbi.

In Tel Aviv, 6 Jews killed. 2 Jews killed in Beer-Toviya. Settlement looted and then set on fire.

Settlement of Ekron looted and then destroyed.

Beit HaKerem attacked.

1 Jew killed in Hulda.

Onslaught of Arab Terror, 1936:

April 15, 1936: 2 Jews in Tulkarm killed by Arabs.
April 19: 9 Jews in Jaffa killed by Arabs.
April 20: 5 Jews in Jaffa killed by Arabs.
April 22: Jewish woman in Jaffa killed by Arabs.
April 26: Jewish houses in Nazareth and Beit Shean burned by Arabs.
April 26: An Arab mob beats up Jewish boy in Jerusalem.
April 28: 4 Jewish farm workers in Migdal injured by Arabs.
April 29: Arabs burn down a Jewish forest in Balfouriya.
April 29: Arab mob forms in Jerusalem, but British police break it up before Jews harmed.
May 1: 2 Jews in Haifa killed by Arabs.
May 3: Arab mob burns down Jewish timber yard in Haifa.
May 4: Jewish orchards in Mishmar Ha-Emek burned by Arabs.
May 4: Arabs destroy 200 acres of wheat in Ramat David.
May 5: 500 orange trees uprooted in Tel Mond by Arabs.
May 7: Arabs fire on Jewish bus in Beit Dagan.
May 10: Arabs burn crops and haystacks in Givat Ada.
May 10: Arabs uproot newly planted olive grove in Zikhron Yaakov.
May 11: Arabs burn Jewish crops in Ramat David.
May 12: Arabs burn threshing floor in Zikhron Yaakov.
May 13: 2 elderly Jews murdered by Arabs in Old City.
May 13: Jewish shops in Haifa stoned by Arabs.
May 13: More orchards burned in Mishmar Ha-Emek.
May 16: 3 Jews in Jerusalem shot dead by Arabs while coming out of a cinema.
May 19: Arabs kill a Jew in the Old City of Jerusalem.
May 20: 2 Jews wounded during Arab attack on bus.
May 24: Arabs severely wound a Jewish guard at Majd el Krum.
May 25: Arabs kill a Jew at Hebrew University.

From May 30 – June 13, 1936, in more than 11 attacks, the Arabs destroy over 15,000 trees planted by Jews, as well as many crops and barns.

May 31: Jew at Givat Shaul killed by Arabs.
June 1: Jewish bus passenger killed by Arab rifle fire.
June 5: 5 Jewish passengers injured when Arabs threw bomb at bus in Haifa.
June 6: Jewish girl severely injured by Arab fire while traveling on bus.
June 8: Arabs attack Jews on their way to the Dead Sea Potash works.

In the third month of terror (June 16 – July 17) campaign, 9 Jews were killed, mostly in Arab ambushes on buses, and 75,000 trees planted by Jews were destroyed.

From mid-July to Sept 22, attacks increased. In over 27 attacks, 33 Jews were killed, several hundred wounded, many in ambushes while driving unarmed. Other attacks include:

July 23: 9 Jewish children injured in Arab bomb attack on religious school in Jerusalem.
August 13: Jewish father and his 3 children killed by bomb thrown by Arabs through window of their home in Safed.
August 17: 2 Jewish nurses and young Jewish girl killed by Arabs in Tel Aviv.
September 19, 1936: Arab bomb kills 7 year old Jewish child in Tiberias.

[Above data on Arab terrorism came from Martin Gilbert’s Atlas of the Arab-Israeli Conflict. Information on Irgun came from Mitch Bard’s Complete Idiot’s Guide to Middle East Conflict.]

Greenway omits in his explanation for Arab terrorism the indoctrination of the Arab population by leaders such as Haj Amin el Husseini, who fed his followers a steady diet of anti-Semitism and incitement to violence, and who organized the first Arab terrorist attacks against the Jews.

[In the original alerts, action items were listed here.]

Below is the Greenway op-ed, and below that is a review of Caleb Carr’s book by Elliot Jager, who points out the severe flaws in several of Carr’s theories.

The Boston Globe

Do terrorists ever win?
By H.D.S. Greenway
October 18, 2002

Can terrorism, defined as an assault on civilians to achieve political ends, ever be successful? Those who study terrorism are of a mixed opinion. Caleb Carr, the military historian, says no. His new book is entitled “The Lessons of Terror: A history of warfare against civilians – why it has always failed and why it will fail again.”

“Warfare against civilians, whether inspired by hatred, revenge, greed, or political and psychological insecurity, has been one of the most ultimately self-defeating tactics in all of military history,” Carr writes. “Terrorism will be eradicated not when we come to some sort of accommodation with its agents, nor when we physically destroy them, but rather when it is perceived as a strategy and a behavior that yields nothing save eventual defeat for those causes that inspire it.”

Other students of terror are not so sure. Although Paul Wilkinson, director of the Center for the Study of Terrorism and Political Violence at St. Andrews University in Scotland, concedes that “the overall track record of terrorism in attaining major political objectives is abysmal,” he writes that in some cases, terrorism has been “effective as an auxiliary weapon in revolutionary and national liberation struggles.” He argues that there have been examples where terrorism played “a major part in bringing about sweeping political change,” and one such example is the role of Jewish terrorists in forcing the British out of Palestine in the 1940s. There were extenuating circumstances that made the British antiterror efforts ineffective: the “humanitarian and judicial restraints” binding the British that prevented Draconian crackdowns, the communal power struggle between Arabs and Jews that rendered a peaceful diplomatic settlement impossible, and the “massive if not solid support” for what was viewed as an anticolonial struggle within the Jewish community which made “an almost impenetrable barrier” for the intelligence forces to penetrate.

In Palestine, the mainstream Jewish armed struggle against the British was carried out by the “Haganah,” a group not known for terrorist attacks against civilians. But such restraints were not observed by the Irgun and the Stern Gang, led respectively by Menachem Begin and Yitzhak Shamir, both of whom were considered terrorists even by many Jews. Both rose to become prime ministers of Israel.

Certainly both men believed that terror had worked for them. Eric Silver, Begin’s biographer, wrote, “It is clear from the British documents and debates that Jewish terror played a significant part in undermining [British] will to stay in Palestine.” And the tactics the British government took against Jewish refugees trying to get to Palestine became so objectionable that Winston Churchill rose from the opposition benches to denounce the government’s “squalid war against the Jews.”

Carr, however, considers the terrorist activities of the Irgun and the Stern gang to have been ultimately counterproductive. He says their “murderous ways” turned the British, “once the Jews’ most powerful protectors in the region,” against the Jews. And once the British had gone, the extremists lost in a confrontation with the newborn government of Israel, which had never been comfortable with Jewish terror tactics against civilians. “Menachem Begin still believed that murdering civilians and hurling bombs into crowds of Arab shoppers would somehow break the Arabs’ spirit and provoke sympathy for the Jews among the world community. He continued to be mistaken,” according to Carr.

Not only did the Irgun and the Stern Gang not achieve their political goals – they wanted a “Greater Israel” to include both sides of the Jordan River – but the “vicious terrorism that the Irgun had bred into the Israeli character would never be removed,” according to Carr. “Worst of all,” he writes, “it would inspire vengeful imitation among the Palestinian Arabs.” The PLO “took as one of their organizational and operational models the Irgun…. Had they not witnessed over many years the murderous efficiency of the Irgun, the Palestinians might have been temp ted to choose a different path; but anger, desperation, and impatience took them down the same road, and inevitably, the results of their decisions were also similar.”

There can be little argument that the terror tactics of the Palestinians have cost their cause dearly, whereas the images of boys armed only with stones facing Israeli troops in the first Intifadah of the 1980s gained them sympathy. But, as Carr writes: “Warfare against civilians must never be answered in kind. For as failed a tactic as (terror) has been, reprisals similarly directed at civilians have been even more so – particularly when they have exceeded the original assault in scope.”

And there you have the tragedy of the Middle East, where revenge follows upon revenge until terror and counterterror become the only form of dialogue.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Jerusalem Post

Living in a world where everything is terrorism
By Elliot Jager
March, 27 2002

(March 27) – Book Review of: The Lessons of Terror by Caleb Carr – Random House.

The good news, military historian Caleb Carr says, is that terrorism is doomed to fail. The bad news — Israelis are the terrorists.

These days, any book that promises to set out “the lessons of terror” has my undivided attention. Maybe it’s wishful thinking, but shouldn’t a volume subtitled, “A history of warfare against civilians: why it has always failed and why it will fail again,” offer hope to Israelis?

To cut to the chase: Caleb Carr does tell us — actually, this book is aimed at American, and not Israeli, decision-makers — what not to do, and for the most part his advice is sound. But he doesn’t tell us what to do to break the back of terror, beyond suggesting approaches that Israel is already pursuing: the use of special forces where possible; assassinations of enemy military leaders; preemptive strikes against enemy targets (presumably not empty buildings), a willingness to act alone (who’d join our coalition anyway?) and the element of surprise (not always easy here, given the number of yentes in the kitchen cabinet).

Readers may wonder if Carr, the military historian and strategist, has any connection to Carr, the bestselling novelist. They are one and the same. Carr’s first love is not fiction, it’s military strategy. He has written several little-noticed military books, but his fiction pays the bills.

In The Alienist, a brilliant 1994 blockbuster set in 1896 Manhattan, psychiatrist Laszlo Kreizler and his team — including two Jewish brother detectives — set out to capture a lunatic serial killer. The fun is in how they use “revolutionary” psychological and forensic methods. A decent sequel, The Angel of Darkness was published in 1997.

Then, two years ago, came the terribly disappointing Killing Time. Carr left the past and turned to the future in this novel, set in 2023. While criminal psychiatry plays a minor role in the book, the science fiction storyline focuses on two brilliant siblings who manipulate history and news to save the world.

Killing Time showed Carr in a paranoid light. The book is a rant against misinformation brought on by media manipulation. Israel’s “obsession” with the Holocaust comes into play and the key bad guys include the “highly violent” Dov Eshkol and the Mossad.

In The Lessons of Terror, Carr declares that terrorism — “warfare deliberately waged against civilians” — is mostly conducted not by groups but by states, and has been part of history since Roman times.

This elastic “state terrorism” definition of anti-civilian warfare allows Carr to indict — and lump together — a cast of characters that amazes: Menachem Begin and the IRA’s Michael Collins; US Civil War heroes Thomas “Stonewall’ Jackson and William Tecumseh Sherman; Yasser Arafat; Sir Frances Drake; Louis XIV; Napoleon; and Britain’s general Herbert Kitchener. Lenin and Stalin (who could disagree?) but also Woodrow Wilson; and WWII lieutenant-colonel James Doolittle (for leading retaliatory bombing runs on Tokyo in WWII).

All of these players, Carr says, waged all-out war in which civilians were fair game — terrorism, by his definition.

Carr’s non-terrorist heroes — those who engaged in strategies of limited war in which special effort was made to steer clear of civilians — are Frederick the Great of Prussia (1740) and the 18th century Swiss jurist Emmerich de Vattel, who argued that the only way to evaluate the justness of a combatant’s cause derives from behavior in battle. Meaning, if the plan of battle doesn’t eliminate the possibility that civilians may be hurt — it is “terrorist.”

For Carr, chivalry isn’t dead. Following his logic, when a Red Crescent ambulance is delayed at a checkpoint and the patient dies before reaching hospital, that’s terrorism. Chivalry would require the IDF to wave the ambulance through, ignoring the fact that the enemy has used such vehicles to transport suicide bombers.

Attacks on civilians — whether offensive or retaliatory, intentional or collateral — rob the attacker of any claim to justice, regardless of the cause involved, Carr says, invoking Vattel.

Carr argues that terrorism is doomed to fail, and that targeting civilians inevitably backfires. This analysis might offer Israelis some hope, were it not for Carr’s open-ended definition of “terrorism.” But it is hard to argue with his posture on retaliation: “Warfare against civilians must never be answered in kind,” he advises.

Yet if terrorism always fails, how would Carr explain the historic UN Security Council vote three weeks ago to endorse a Palestinian state? Does he really think that 38 years of PLO anti-civilian warfare didn’t wear down the international community?

When will the siege of terror be lifted from civilization? As far as Carr is concerned, “Terrorism will be eradicated not when we come to some sort of accommodation with its agents, nor when we physically destroy them, but rather when it is perceived as a strategy and a behavior that yields nothing save eventual defeat for those causes that inspire it.”

That is, not anytime soon.

The book also argues — sometimes convincingly — that whenever civilians are targeted as a matter of policy (by a state or nonstate), the “terrorists” — those who pursue unlimited warfare — never win.

For instance, the unintended result of the launching of the Crusades in 1066 against the Muslims was that by 1588 no “great power could genuinely call itself Catholic.” Whether right or wrong, Carr takes so long a view of events that his assessments are of no value to the living.

The case Carr makes against “retaliatory terror” — that it is simply self-defeating — is also largely convincing. It is an idea that Israelis and Palestinians can intuitively appreciate: unlimited war, strategic bombing, applying the sword, spear, torture or starvation against non-combatants “galvanizes rather than breaks people.”

The chapter on the Middle East i s terribly disappointing because Carr is conspicuous in his animus toward the Zionist cause. The first hint comes in a chapter that covers WWII, when Carr makes short shrift of the Holocaust — arguably a classic war on civilians — with a single sentence: “That Russians, Jews and otherwise, were being slaughtered on the spot or deported in massive numbers was known to every German army officer who served during the eastern campaign…”

Carr is no fan of Yasser Arafat. He agrees with his aims, but doesn’t like his tactics. The Carr narrative of the Arab-Israel conflict is pretty close to the one taught in Palestine Authority schools: The Jewish return to this land is “illegal.”

The European colonialists betrayed the indigenous Arabs, and that naturally bred violence ever since.

Carr astounds with the malicious charge that “it was the Jews who brought organized, paramilitary terror into the region” with the establishment of the Irgun and Lehi, ignoring the organized nature of previous Arab violence such as the attack on Tel Hai in March 1920, not to mention the Hebron massacre in August 1929. More than 400 Jews were killed in anti-civilian attacks between 1929 and the start of WWII.

Next, Carr repeats the misleading charge that Begin’s Irgun blew up the King David Hotel. He doesn’t bother telling the reader that the southern wing — the one blown up — had been taken over to house British military headquarters, that it was a fortified military installation, and that an Irgun operative called in a warning.

Incidentally, the operative also placed a call to The Palestine Post switchboard repeating what she told the British: “Evacuate the whole building! Bombs have been placed in the King David Hotel and the people there have been told to evacuate the building.”

In a burst of historical revisionism, and a frontal embrace of Arab propaganda, Carr writes: “Had they not witnessed over many years the murderous efficiency of the Irgun, the Palestinians might have been tempted to choose a different path; but anger, desperation, and impatience took them down the same road, and inevitably, the results of their decision were similar.”

With its moral equivalency, antipathy toward Israel, adherence to the naive idea that war can be a rationally played game, and an absurd “long view” that offers nothing to those of us who want to make it through our next meal at a cafe, the lessons that Israelis can possibly garner from The Lessons of Terror are minimal.

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