Thursday, June 21, 2012

Reading :: The Israeli Secret Services and the Struggle Against Terrorism

The Israeli Secret Services and the Struggle Against Terrorism
By Ami Pedahzur

According to Pedahzur, counterterrorism is usually pursued under three models—"the war model, the criminal-justice model, and the reconciliatory model" (p.1). Each suggests a different set of responders—the military, the police and state legal system, and the politicians and diplomats. And "standing in the background is the defensive model, which does not deal directly with the terrorists or their grievances but rather protects the targets of terrorism" (p.1).

Of these models, the defensive model tends to be quite effective, and the war model tends not to be very effective at all. Yet, Pedahzur argues, the war model has been most readily used during Israel's history—not because it is effective at stopping terrorism, but because it is effective at making citizens feel protected, therefore winning elections.

Pedahzur makes his case by reviewing the entire security history of the state of Israel, discussing different operations with their successes and failures, the inter-agency rivalries that have made coordination so hard, and the political circumstances that led politicians to focus on the war model with its targeted killings, commando actions, and reprisals. He argues that terrorism is not a threat to the state itself, and treating it as such means undermining civil liberties while drawing the security establishment's attention away from more credible threats.

In all, a well written and gripping book.

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