How Liberal Democracies Can Shield Themselves from Terrorism

News Abroad

Dr. Judith A. Klinghoffer is a senior research associate in the department of Political Science at Rutgers University, Camden. She is the co-author of International Citizens' Tribunals: Mobilizing Public Opinion to Advance Human Rights and the author of Vietnam, Jews and the Middle East: Unintended Consequences. Click here for her HNN blog.

It would be funny, if it were not so tragic. But Moslem radicals and their supporters insist that they have the right to enter societies they consider their mortal enemies, benefit from the liberties they seek to undermine and, then, proceed to destroy them from within. Lenin quipped that the capitalists will sell their enemies the rope with which to hang themselves. Current Jihadists dream of not only buying the rope from the Western countries they seek to destroy but of making the money needed to buy the rope by studying and working in them. It is imperative that Western countries block the scheme and prove that freedom is not a suicide pact by closing their gates to those who seek to hang them. Nor should Western countries prevent Israel from doing the same.

In his book Who Killed Daniel Pearl? Bernard-Henri Levy quotes from one of the dozens of similar letters addressed to the convicted murderer of Daniel Pearl, Omar Sheikh which arrives weekly at the Pakistani prison where he is held:

My name is Skander Ali Mirani. I live in Larkana. I admire your fight. You are in my eyes and in the eyes of my friends a modern-day prophet of Islam. And to this prophet, this saint, I want to reveal my doubts, my difficulties and my sacrifices - and I want to ask also for his help. You are from a rich family, yes? Your father has business in England? Then please ask him to help me immigrate to London. Use your influence to help me to study, like you did.

Indeed, just as Pol Pot was the product of the French intellectual elite, Omar Sheikh was the product of the British intellectual elite. It was in the London School of Economics (LSE) that he listened to the lectures of radicals like Fred Halliday and learned the "merits" of going "all the way with his principles." It was there that he learned to become a kidnapper and a cold blooded murderer of hostages. It was a school which first specialized in producing Trotskyites, then Maoists and currently at least 3 known Al Qaida members. But do not hold your breath waiting for the school to do any soul searching. When asked for an interview to discuss the Sheikh's connection to LSE, its headmaster, Anthony Giddens, told the reporter: "I don't want to see you or speak to you. I don't want to know anything about this Omar Sheikh who is ruining my reputation. Let's forget it happened."

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But aren't Omar Sheikh and his admirer Skander Ali Mirani the exception rather then the rule? Haven't most Muslim immigrants come to the West simply to improve their earthy lot? I am no longer sure. In a September 7 New York Times op ed, Muqtedar Khan, the author of American Muslims: Bridging Faith and Freedom writes that "the word that best summed up the Muslim sense of self" prior to 9/11 "was 'Fateh' - a conqueror.' In other words, the goal of many Muslim religious and community leaders was not to become Western Muslims but to transform Western countries into Islamic states through "immigration and conversion" not to mention, by studying how to go "all the way." Just as importantly, their message resonated in their communities.

Why? Because it worked! That is the conclusion reached by Robert A. Pape of the University of Chicago who carefully analyzed suicide bombings from 1980-2001 worldwide. He published his findings in the August 2003 issue of American Political Science Review article entitled "the Strategic Logic of Suicide Terrorism." Robert A. Pape writes: "In contrast to existing explanations, this study shows that suicide terrorism follows a strategic logic, one specifically designed to coerce modern liberal democracies to make significant territorial concessions. Moreover, over the past two decades suicide terrorism has been rising largely because terrorists have learned that it pays." Islamists dreamt not of merely recovering past Muslim territories like Spain, the Balkans, Israel and India, but of "conquering" the entire Western world.

9/11 ended that dream, writes Muqtedar Khan: "There is no more talk of making America an Islamic state. Any reminder of this pre-9/11 vision generates sheepish giggles and snorts from Muslim audiences." It was not the incineration of 3000 innocent civilians which led to a reassessment of the culture of death that produced the mass murderers. Khan makes no reference to those deaths. It was not horror or regrets that "shattered some dreams" but the "passage of the USA Patriot Act and other anti-terrorism measures," not to mention, the rise of "hostility and prejudice in many corners of society." For the first time, Khan goes on, "many Muslims in this country have come to acutely understand the vulnerabilities of minorities and the importance of democracy and civil rights." If so, Western Muslims should dismiss their Jihadist leadership and help democratize their home land. In the meantime, we should not question the right of democracies to keep out those who seek to destroy them.

Nowhere is that right more in jeopardy than in Israel. There, the Palestinians are yet again pledging their undying loyalty to Yasser Arafat who asserts that "all Palestinians are dreaming of being martyrs." What should a democracy neighboring such a society do? Israel is trying to build a fence to prevent these "dreamers" from blowing themselves up in the midst of her buses, markets and Pizza parlors. "Israeli Wall will compound economic woes," argues Kamlesh Trivedi in the September issue of Gulf News. So? Is it the responsibility of Israel to protect the Palestinians from the "economic woes" brought about by the suicide terrorism (or intifada) their "chosen leader" declared on the Jewish state? After all, it was that war, not the "occupation," which has caused the Palestinian "economic woes." This is the message of the recent IMF report according to Karim Nashashibi, the resident representative of the IMF in Palestinian Authority and one of the authors of the report. He found that "the pre-Intifiada years were largely characterized by high GDP growth" with the exception of "a significant slowdown in growth in 1995 and 1996 as a result of the frequent border closures imposed by Israel" following Hamas and Islamic Jihad bus bombings. Indeed, the best of times and "the heaviest trading was registered during the 15 months prior to the Intifada".

In other words, the Palestinian leadership did not go to war because they were desperate just like the Jihadists did not blow themselves up because they had nothing to lose. The "economic woes" Palestinians experience in 1995-1996 demonstrated to their leadership that access to the Israeli economy was important to their people's economic well being and that terror was sure to undermine it. So why did Arafat dismiss Barak's Camp David's offer and fill the heads of his people with dreams of martyrdom? Because as I demonstrated in my previous articles, "Is the Problem with Arafat that He's a Dictator?" and "Can You Really Make Peace with Somebody Like Arafat?" Arafat's interests do not necessarily coincide with those of his people. Why do some of his people continue to follow him? Perhaps it is because they, too, see themselves as "fateh"s - conquerors.

After all, who could erase the image of an American secretary of state named Madeleine K. Albright chasing Yasser Arafat in high heels to beg him to return to the negotiating table or her complementing the North Korean butcher, Kim Jong Il for the "disciplined" dancing of his people: "It was amazing. I have nover seen a hundred thousand people dance in step - I guess it takes a dictator to make that happen."

Suicide terrorists prefer employing their strategy against democracies, explains Pape, because they consider them "soft," less likely to respond with "disproportionate force," easier to organize and publicize and, most importantly, ready to pay the ransom demanded by the highwaymen. Be that as it may, "the aftermath of Sept. 11 may have shattered some dreams," writes Muqtedar Khan, "but it has also forced us to reconnect with reality and empower ourselves." The best way to encourage such reconnection is by "demographic separation," argues Pape. That means stringent immigration laws in the West and the completion of an effective separation fence in West Bank and Kashmir. After all, nothing less than the avoidance of a bloody Clash of Civilization depends on demonstrating to both Muslim leaders and their communities that the time has come to construct more productive, tolerant and inclusive dreams.

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Derek Catsam - 9/27/2003

I received enough positive feedback on my Israel writing that I do not need your validation. Plenty of others found it to be well written, reasonably insightful, and at least based on an observers first pertson accounts. I find it interesting that your ideology and what parts of my work you like coincide so well.
Again, I am not defending Pipes, as he is too shrill for my tastes, but what I am sdaying is that it is an odd curiosity that poeople who claim that historians might not want to be bothered with writing an article nonetheless linfger on the comment boards. So you are too respectable to submit an article, but not so respectable that you won't write a comment? Talk about splitting hairs.
As for who pays my salary, what that has to do with what I write and in what venues I do that writing is, frankly, beyond me. It is neither germane nor especially important (at least to anyone other than me and my landlord).

Jesse Lamovsky - 9/27/2003

What I should have said was that contemporary Israel is not a Jewish ghetto in a medieval German city. That clarification made, my point stands: my point being that the Jewish people and the State of Israel are not victims here, that they, and we, are in control of our destiny, and that peace, or war, is the choice of the Israeli government.

Jake Lee - 9/27/2003

"Israel in 2003 clearly is not some medieval German city. It goes back to a simple point that is important to inject into the Israel/Palestine debate- that the State of Israel is a powerful country, the Palestinians are very weak..."

I am not a medievalist, but, compared to their Jewish populations, weren't the ruling elites of city statelets like Nuremberg also, relatively speaking, quite powerful ?

Jesse Lamovsky - 9/27/2003

"The difference being, presumably, that unlike medieval and early modern Europe, the Jews this time will be the perpetrators as well as the victims of the confining walls. Another good reason to study history, if there weren't enough reasons already."

Though the essence is correct, I might add that it may be a good illustration as to how knowledge of history should not be used. After all, Israel in 2003 clearly is not some medieval German city.

It goes back to a simple point that is important to inject into the Israel/Palestine debate- that the State of Israel is a powerful country, the Palestinians are very weak, and thus, it is up to the government of Israel to be proactive and take positive steps toward an equitable solution.

Sally Dean - 9/26/2003

"I was seeking to illustrate, from a Jewish standpoint, my own belief that the building of the Fence means ghettoization for the Israelis as well as the Palestinians."

The difference being, presumably, that unlike medieval and early modern Europe, the Jews this time will be the perpetrators as well as the victims of the confining walls. Another good reason to study history, if there weren't enough reasons already.

Jake Lee - 9/26/2003

When it comes to Israel and Palestine, HNN's choice of articles is neither diverse nor informative, and is wildly biased. If no credible historians other than Juan Cole, and even he with decreasing frequency, is willing to contribute something from a non-Likud point of view, that may well be because such historians don't want to be used a token pawns for a propaganda-oriented website. Yes, Carpenter is a shrill left wing cub scout, and I actually enjoy his rhetorically witty, if often ill-informed, contributions, and I think they are being used as smokescreen to cover an agenda that is not balanced. But I'm not sure. All I know for sure is that on the Mideast there is no balance here at all. There is no defense for 37 articles by Pipes and 17 by Klinghoffer unless the website is called something such as Likud Man-of-Peace Network, and it doesn't matter how many times you try to evade that reality (for what reason I cannot fathom, doesn't Wisconsin or Minnesota or wherever, pay you a teaching salary ? Yes I know you wrote a piece on Israel, with all due respect, it wasn't very historical or very informative, you are much better at the race and civil rights topics). I am not Jewish, but if I were I would go to the holy day ceremonies with little uncertainty about who to ask God to forgive and which hypocrites to smite.

Derek Catsam - 9/26/2003

Since I do most of my work on race, it would depend on who else writes on that website beyond Farrakhan. But you point out the people who write here. What about people like me, or Ralph Luker, or Mary Dudziak or Jeff Herf or P.M. Carpenter (whose work I do not endorse, but you present your shrill neocons -- Carpenter, as shrill as they get and a lefty to boot, has a regular gig here too)? These people cover the range of the ideological spectrum. Look at the bloggers here -- do you really see ideological conformity -- I recall one is called "Confessions of a Left Wing Cub Scout"? I just dispute your very premise that there is but one ideology presented here, and you can try to take a part or you can punt. But if you punt it seems rather unfair to sit on the sidelines and snipe.

Jesse Lamovsky - 9/26/2003

Ms. Dean,

Both of your points are valid, particularly in regards to the advocates of "transfer" and of sole Israeli sovereignty over the whole of the land west of the Jordan. Accomplishing this goal would indeed entail ethnic cleansing and all the atrocities- destruction of towns and villages and mass executions- that accompany such actions.

I was seeking to illustrate, from a Jewish standpoint, my own belief that the building of the Fence means ghettoization for the Israelis as well as the Palestinians.

Sally Dean - 9/26/2003

At the risk of over-stretching a stretched analogy, let me at least try to clarify it: Sharon's wall is part of a strategy for ghettoization. The "Eretz Israelites" desire for sole possession of the entire West Bank would, to be achieved, require a degree of ethnic cleansing that might very well come shockingly close to genocide.

Richard Kurdlion - 9/26/2003

(Since I said I would shut up and ought to):

Would you submit articles to a website that had previously run 37 articles by Lewis Farakhan and 17 plus a blog by David Irving ?

Jesse Lamovsky - 9/26/2003

Ms. Dean,

I'm not entirely sure what the point of your comment was, but in your title, you may be on the money.

Supporters of the "fence" speak of their overriding concerns about the security of Israelis. It is a land grab, yes, but it should be noted that there are right-wing "Greater Israel" proponents that are opposed to the building of the fence, for the simple reason that it would imply a de facto border, one that does not sit on the "natural border" of Eretz Israel: the Jordan River. It's not just a land grab. It does have something to do with security; or at least, the perception of security.

What proponents of the wall are doing is proposing an updated, high-tech, militarized version of the ghetto inhabited by Jews in medieval Europe- a walled-in place where Israelis can mind their own business and conduct their own affairs, separated from hostile neighbors. Its building is brutal, arbitrary, and unjust for the Palestinians, absolutely. It is also an approach rooted in a cold past, one that should not be applied in this case, for Israelis as well as Palestinians. But it is not genocidal. The Nazis hunted Jews. They did not wall themselves in against them.

Jesse Lamovsky

Derek Catsam - 9/25/2003

Much of what you say is correct, but if people make bad arguments, misstate history, and so forth, that is a problem. My taking issue with what people say on the comment boards (inevitably more interesting than the articles that spawned them) is exactly that. Pipes and Klinghoffer being shrill and bombastic is rather beside the point. I wrote an article on Israel here too, and within days was branded a fascist, a nazi, and (my favorite) a bible thumper, inter alia. Very few of the writers on HNN actually engage with the people who comment on their pieces, and so in many ways, these comment boards are we the hoi palloi speaking to one another. That's not bad. But many of the responses to Pipes are just as bad as Pipes himself, and people don't get a free pass to say foolish things, especiially when those things are wrong or are meanspirited or carry their own agenda.
Finally, you know how to correct the bias you see? Write your own piece. It's really rather simple. Most of the work that appears here originally (as opposed to those pieces that are picked up from outside sources) come from people who submit their own work. I have written 2-3 artidles on here that I submitted. They were not commissioned. So if people could stop whining for a day about HNN's alleged bias and write their own damned piece rather than just criticize those who actually take the time, put in the work, and expend the intellectual effort to do so, maybe their viewpoint would be represented. But it will need to be reasonably well written, will need to show a modicum of originality, and will need to be rigorous. It may, in the minds of the armchair quarterbacks, be wrong, but it at least will be out there.
So hop to it! And in general, good writers don't need italics, boldface, or caps locks to denote emphasis. It should be clear in the writing. Funny too that no respectable historian should want anything to do with what is going on here, (why historians? Is it ok for political scientists, journalists and scientologists, but not for historians?) and yet loads of respectable historians do write on HNN and respond to comments, and what do you know, here you are too. Something about glass houses, stones, and so forth springs to mind.

Richard - 9/25/2003

First, re Caps lock: when there is a way to use italics as historians often do, or boldface, I will stop using caps to denote emphasis.

We both agree and never disagreed that there is "plenty to criticize about Sharon". My objection was to Kinghoffer's discussing the wall without mentioning the prime minister by name, without giving the slightest hint of their being any opposition to him or the wall within Israel, and without pointing out that the "separation" is between parts of the West Bank and other parts of the West Bank, not between the West Bank and Israel. As though the wall on its currently planned route is some manifestation of general will, with settlers working shoulder to shoulder with Peace Now to erect it.

It is furthermore a tiresome staple of this brand of writing that anything any Israeli leader ever does is always totally in the interest of the United States. That might sound like an extreme criticism on its surface. Find a single sentence in the 17 HNN articles by Klinghoffer or the 37 HNN articles by Pipes that even hints otherwise, and I'll retract that statement. In similarly biased fashion, Klinghoffer and Pipes rarely if ever mention the Likud by name but always support its positions. I don't think the phrase "Labor Party" has yet found its way in any of these articles, and if Rabin's Nobel Prize and assassination have been so much as mentioned in passing, it escaped my notice. There is nothing historical or objective about these propaganda pieces, and I really wonder why you feel such a compelling need to sugarcoat them. If Hamas and Islamic Jihad had blogs and weekly columns on HNN, would you intervene again and again in comment boards to find little nuanced errors in the comments of those who oppose these Palestinian extremists ? I am totally against them, by the way, but you are forgiven if you might have thought otherwise, for how could you possibly know ? When was there ever a chance to criticize or challenge them ? 54 articles promoting Israeli extremists here on HNN in little over two years, and next to nothing from Palestinians "left" "right" or "center". The blatant bias here is truly disgusting and nothing any real historian should want to be associated with. The thrust of my initial comment was therefore probably unnecessary and I will now shut up.

Derek Catsam - 9/25/2003

Richard --
As you well know from following hnn discussions not just here but elsewhere, there is an element that jumps all over anyoone who says anything at all favorable about Israel. To call it "unkosher baloney" is, beyond a rather clunky metaphor, to be unaware of the unfortunate dynamics of HNN. Nuance, alas, is rarely welcome and is usually caricatured.
If you read my first sentences of my post, you'll see that I say that there is plenty to criticize about Likud and Sharon, and so your resorting to the Caps Lock key is unpersuasive. But there are many in the current dialogue who simply see the wall, see Sharon behind it, and thus associate any wall with Likud and thus with an ardent brand of conservatism, when it is quite clear that the wall's genesis is anything but conservative. So it is quite one thing to criticize the Wall, and another to criticize the implemenatation of that wall.
I am glad that people will avail themselves of what sources are available. But if they are reverting to almanacs for their history perhaps they ought not to be criticizing othrs on the topic and certainly they should not be making claims as to what is good and what is bad history.

Bill Smith - 9/25/2003

Judith badly misinterprets Muqtedar Khan's piece in NY Times. When Muqtedar says that Muslims in America felt like conquerors and that the west will become Muslim what he meant was that Muslims believe that their religion is simple, reasonable and true which means that when the west is properly exposed to Islam, the large masses will convert to Islam. This has nothing to do with the use of force or violence.

The optimism here is the same as the belief of any true believer (whatever the religion) who believes that any reasonable person would convert to his more "reasonable" faith when properly exposed. I am sure the evangelist feel this way (that the world will be won for Christ), the mormons believe this, etc. For the muslims the optimism had reached a zenith because a vast portion of the African American had converted to Islam, and they (naively) believed that something similar would happen to rest of America.

9/11 as Muqtedar's writes put them on the defensive and deflated their original optimism.

Richard Kurdlion - 9/25/2003

Who is defending Israel's "right to protect itself" ?
Who is attacking that right ?

Enough of this unkosher baloney.

Prior proposals to build a wall ON THE BORDER are totally different from what Sharon is doing.

A gerrymandering wall snaking throughout the West Bank has nothing to do with "protecting Israel" and everything to do with protecting the terrorist occupied settlements, whose raison d'etre is the permanent destruction of the two state solution which is still (officially anyway) AMERICAN policy.

When one is at the level of uninformedness claimed by "TC", which is fairly typical on this website, an almanac is better than nothing, and a reasonable place to start gaining a rudimentary historical knowledge. More reliable than surfing the web at any rate.

Derek Catsam - 9/24/2003

Let's be clear, however. Criticize how Sharon is dealing with the Wall question if you like. Sharon certainly leaves himself open for criticism. But the idea of a wall of separation, far from being a Likud brainstorm has actually been the favored idea of much of the Israeli left for quite some time. Anyone who says anything favorable about Israel on this site and defends its right to protect itself is accused of being Likudnik, which is rather bizarre given that Likud did not ever gain power until after the 1973 war. That is to say, 1973 and 1967 and a good number of other events that are so contested happened under Labor's watch. This is the problem here on HNN -- and I am not saying that my hands are clean -- but people are not allowed to make an earnest point without being attacked. And when most of us are attacked, we respond in kind. Thus if you claim that you lie on the Labor side of the debate but still believe in israel's right to defend itself, someone is going to call you a conservative Likudnik, even though many liberal Democrats/Laborites feel precisely this way. And most people I know have a real serious problem with having their politics defined for them, and so they respond harshly.
While I sympathize with Mr. Lee's assertion that rarely is one side 100% wrong (though I'm giving al Quaeda the 100% total) I will assert that going to the Information Please Almanac as your chief or preferred source of history is, to say the least, a bit problematic.

Alvin W. Brinson - 9/24/2003

Yes, I know the point of the article ultimately was to show why the "wall" in Israel is a good thing, but to be honest, I don't believe that point was ever really made sufficiently.

Alvin W. Brinson - 9/24/2003

Reading this article, I find myself in both agreement AND disagreement with the author. Our fears of losing our freedom, and of losing our nationality and traditions to external influences are offset only by the fears of losing those same things to internal reactions to those external influences. In many of these cases, such as the Patriot act, it seems like were are cursed if we do and cursed if we don’t.

To be honest, I’m not quite sure what the point of Klinghoffer’s article really is. My response is to see that she’s blaming certain things for our problems and praising other things as solutions. Academia is to blame for nurturing extremists such as Pol Pot, Trotskyites, Maoists and Al Quaeda members, and shirking responsibility for it. Democracy, according to Klinghoffer, is to blame for leaving gaping holes that are exploited by these groups to exploit and destroy that which is different from what they like, and these holes are the fault of – well something about democracy that is inherently “weak”. The 9-11 attacks seem to be portrayed as a good thing, in that it woke up the West to these weaknesses and prompted a whole rash of reactions to block further intrusion, such as the Patriot Act, which is spoken of here as a very laudable change in Western policy toward those nefarious outsiders that seek to tear everything down.

I could go on and on. In Texas, we have two words for what this is: Bull Sh*t.

However, I sympathize with the fears that this author is expressing and many people have expressed in recent times. There are truly those that *DO* take advantage of the freedoms we’ve become accustomed to to try to tear down western society from the inside. To let them continue to do so unabated seems so wrong in so many ways. Why should we provide these people with the very things they need to destroy us?

The answer is that Freedom is a hard burden to carry. It is never easy to be free – it is much easier to be enslaved. When you are free, you have responsibility for your actions. A free person cannot shrug his shoulders and point to someone else, neither can a free nation shrug its collective shoulders and point to another country and say “They made us do it”.

Saying freedom is a hard burden does not mean simply that it is hard because we have to fight for it. On the contrary, sometimes the burden is knowing how to keep the freedom when fighting will no longer serve to preserve it.

Do we leave our society wide open to subversion? This, then, is our burden. It seems that the only way to stop the subversives is to curb the freedoms with which they can subvert. But, doing so impedes on our own freedoms, as we cannot clearly identify a subversive. Sure, they’re Muslim now. Some. Maybe… We think… Not quite sure, but any Muslim has to be bad right? Okay…. Tomorrow? Koreans…. Okay…. Thursday? Mormons?

The answer is not as easy as it seems. Am I wise enough to know the answer? If I was, you’d see me right up there screaming it from the rooftops in D.C. (and then being hauled off as a madman).

All I know is that freedom in the Western society is truly threatened, but the Muslim extremists are not the greatest of these threats. A wise man once said in a time of trouble that we have “Nothing to fear but fear itself”. It is, however, not that the fear itself will destroy us, but rather the things that fear makes us do.

Now, in our fear, we are deconstructing our carefully constructed freedoms. We are impeding the cherished personal and individual rights and personal liberties that we once declared were inalienable to us. We are redefining, where we can, those things that once meant one thing and now mean another. No longer does freedom mean what it once did, now it means something else. We live, we are told, in a different world, and that it requires a different kind of war.

The only difference in the world today, however, is that we live under a shadow of fear. That fear, itself, is what we should fear. To uphold freedom, we must never give in and succumb to that fear. We must remain steadfast in our convictions that every person is created equal. To do otherwise, will lead us to our Pyrric victory.

Jake Lee - 9/24/2003

TC says "I do not understand".

Okay, let's simplify a bit.

1. There are two groups of people, living together in the same region, sometimes peacefully, more often not, for many centuries. Like U.S. and Mexico, in some ways, but over a much longer time and with even more overlap and mixing between the two groups.

2. Both sides, like all peoples everywhere and in all history, have their heroes and villains, brave sacrificers and cowards, compromisers and fanatics, peace-makers and terrorists.

3. Like many situations involving different peoples in the same place, there are disagreements between the two peoples and their coexistence becomes a protracted series of fights between two sides. During this recent history of extensive fighting, one side is weaker at first, but is granted international recognition as a country. The other side is stronger at first, but is divided, and unable to win meaningful recognition. Both sides resort to extreme violence and terrorism in periods of acute desperation and brutal struggle, which occur frequently.

4. A website is formed. Of the subset of articles on that website which concern the two sometimes peaceful but more often violent peoples, most propound a view that all the blame for the lack of peace is to be put on only one of the two sides. It happens to always to be the same one of the two sides.

The first of the three paragraphs above are a tremendously summarized over-simplification, but read any decent account, such as the history of Israel in the Information Please Almanac and you can already see this general picture. You probably would not then decide to blame each side equally 50-50, but no fair-minded person, whether a professional historian or a professional piano tuner, or an amateur stamp collector, would come to a conclusion, from the basic factual chronology, that blame for failure to achieve lasting peace ought to be allocated 100% and 0%. The fourth paragraph above can be readily verified by going to the website, which, since you are already at that website, means going to the "archives". Try a search for Daniel Pines or Judith Klinghoffer. Compare what they say in their articles to the Information Please Almanac or some similar generaly history. Then we can discuss further, if you like. If you still don't understand what building a "border fence" through the middle of another country means, well, that makes two of us.

TC - 9/24/2003

How has the author "horribly distorted" what you admit to be true about Muslim Terrorism? I'm not an expert on the Middle-East by any means, but it seems that all Israeili citizens were vulnerable before the construction of the wall/fence and before the "war criminal Likud" government, which although I'm not a professional historian, strikes me as a bit much. What is your take on the upswing in the Palestinian economy during the thaw? Perhaps I am wrong. As for Mexico building a wall in Colorado, how is this relevant? What are the connections? Have innocent Mexican citizens been destroyed by American suicide terrorists recently that I haven't heard about? Has Mexico taken US territory after beating back American Armed Forces to provide a buffer zone for their citizens? I do not understand. But then, I'm not a professional historian. What do "real historians' think?

Sally Dean - 9/23/2003

European historians (a great rarity on HNN) are still of several minds as to the role played by Hitler's "intentions" in World War II (not what the intentions were, but how important they were). Notwithstanding this disparity of view, nearly all knowledgeable historians agree that Hitler's self-described "Final Solution" (genocide) was just that: the ultimate in a series of different "solutions". The earlier "solutions", which long pre-dated the Nazis, mostly involved some form of herding together, some version of involuntary ghettoization forced upon the scapegoated victims.

It was the American Jewish playwright, Arthur Miller, who remarked that "even the Jews have their Jews".

Without in any way, shape, or form endorsing the one-to-one correlation between Israel and Nazi Germany popular among some Palestinian demonstrators, it is hard avoid noticing that Ariel Sharon's new "separation fence" promises to be about as closely related to Israeli security as the Auschwitz "showering" rooms were to bodily cleansing.

Richard Kurdlion - 9/23/2003

Without getting into the smokescreen of legal nitpicking, the UN and practically everyone in the world recognizes Israel's borders to be those actually prevailing on the eve of the 1967 war. Every atlas I've ever seen in my long lifetime shows those borders. The wall being built is not on those borders, not even close. By the way, in the pictures, at least, it looks much like the old Berlin Wall than like a "fence".

Jesse Lamovsky - 9/23/2003

Dr. Klinghoffer, of course, fails to mention the obvious regarding Sharon's Wall: the Israelis can built a border fence if they like, being a sovereign country, but the key word here is BORDER. There is no internationally recognized border between Israel and the Palestinian territories. Why not? Because the Israeli Government has no interest in creating one, because that would mean giving up the territories and the settlements, and cutting an equitable deal with the Palestinians.

Someone should say it to Dr. Klinghoffer really slowly: if you don't have a border, you can't have a border fence. You can't run roughshod over people, steal their land, demolish their houses, bulldoze their olive groves, and kill them in the streets, and wall yourselves in against them at the same time. It simply doesn't work that way. The Israelis have the right to build a fence between themselves and the Palestinians, but they have to leave Palestine first for this to be politically legitimate, and physically effective. As of now it is neither.

Richard Kurdlion - 9/23/2003

Warn you colleagues and friends about this Likud website. The "diversity" of articles here range from Daniel Pipes one week to Judith Klinghoffer the next.

Much of what is said here about Moslem terrorism is indeed true, but horribly distorted so as to be shoe-horned into a prefabricated pro-Sharon agenda. Take a look at any of several Israeli websites showing where Sharon and his thugs actually plan on building their new "separation wall". Calling it "separation" is pitiful lie because its obvious purpose is to carve the West Bank into a set of unworkable Bantulands. Exactly the sort of "indefensible borders" under which Israel itself had to suffer before occupying Golan, and making peace with Egypt, and before the Likud war criminals took over and began deliberately inciting Palestinian terrorism (so that now all Israelis are vulnerable despite borders, and, in their fear, less inclined to challenge Likud's hypocrisy). It would be as if Mexico built a "border wall" to separate itself from the USA, and put that wall through middle of the Colorado Rockies and across Ohio River basin.