In yesterday’s Jerusalem Post, Evelyn Gordon quotes the chief of Israel’s Shin Bet security service, Yuval Diskin, who has unleashed a scathing attack on the government’s failure to build Israel’s deterrence against Palestinian and Hezbollah terror. What’s interesting here is his distinction between physical deterrence (i.e., having a more powerful army than your enemy) and psychological deterrence (i.e., controlling the interpretation of events such that your enemies are too scared to attack). Here is the passage that caught my eye:

According to repeated polls, 70 to 85 percent of Palestinians believe that Israel quit Gaza due to anti-Israel terror. And with reason: In 2000, no Israeli government would have considered withdrawing from Gaza unilaterally. Yet a relatively low casualty level Gaza-based terror accounted for less than 15 percent (some 150 people) of Israel’s intifada-related fatalities over the ensuing five years sufficed to reverse this stance. Thus, clearly, terror worked.

Never mind the absurdity of the causal links: To suggest that low rates of service in the IDF are the result of suicide bombings is to fundamentally misunderstand how Israeli society works–Israelis are much more likely to serve during periods of terror and military threat, as proven by the remarkable rate of reserve participation during both the 2002 Operation Defensive Shield against the Palestinians, and during the 2006 Lebanon war. What is interesting is the fact that Palestinians perceive such a link–which in terms of deterrence is exactly what counts.