Moshe Arens, the Likudnik who was thrice Israel’s defense minister, has a bracing op-ed in Haaretz in which he reminds those who insist that terrorism cannot be defeated by military force that they are forgetting (very recent) history:
As long as Israel seemed unable to find an effective answer to Palestinian terror [during the second intifada], the defeatists in our ranks claimed that terror could not be defeated by force, while the more cautious argued that terror could not be defeated by the use of force alone. The implication was that Israel had no choice but to concede to at least some of the terrorists’ demands–that they must be given a “political horizon.”
But once the Israel Defense Forces and the security services began to seriously tackle Palestinian terror, following the massacre at the Park Hotel in Netanya in the spring of 2002, it quickly became clear that terror could be defeated by force. As a matter of fact, it could be defeated only by the use of force. The terrorists view any hints of Israeli willingness to give in to a portion of their essentially limitless demands as a sign of weakness, which only serves to encourage further acts of terror.
But Israel’s victory over Palestinian terror, which put an end to the daily bouts of suicide bombings, also induced amnesia in the minds of some of Israel’s leaders. The lesson was quickly forgotten.
Exactly right. The extent to which Israel’s military victory in the intifada is simply not acceptable for discussion in enlightened quarters is amazing as a matter of cultural psychology. But this refusal also has a crippling effect on Israeli politics, as the military option against Hamas is continuously framed as a foreordained failure. Arens concludes:
A truce with the terrorists, meaning that Israel would cease its attacks against organizations in Gaza whose leaderships are pledged to Israel’s destruction, is ludicrous and self-defeating. It has not worked with Hezbollah, it will not work with Iran, and it won’t work with Hamas. Until such time as Israel adopts the only strategy that works in the war against terror — attacking the terrorists until they are soundly defeated — Israel will continue to be weakened, and its citizens will continue to be casualties of terrorist acts.