Terrorism persists because it works…writes Alan M. Dershowitz

May 24, 2017 by Alan Dershowitz
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Every time a horrendous terrorist attack victimises innocent victims we wring our hands and promise to increase security and take other necessary preventive measures.  But we fail to recognise how a friends and allies play such an important role in encouraging, incentivising, and inciting terrorism.

If we are to have any chance of reducing terrorism, we must get to its root cause. It is not poverty, disenfranchisement, despair or any of the other abuse excuses offered to explain, if not to justify, terrorism as an act of desperation.  It is anything but.  Many terrorists, such as those who participated in the 911 attacks, were educated, well-off, mobile and even successful.  They made a rational cost-benefit decision to murder innocent civilians for one simple reason:  they believe that terrorism works.

And tragically they are right.  The international community has rewarded terrorism while punishing those who try to fight it by reasonable means.  It all began with a decision by Yasser Arafat and other Palestinian terrorist groups to employ the tactic of terrorism as a primary means of bringing the Palestinian issue to the forefront of world concern.  Based on the merits and demerits of the Palestinian case, it does not deserve this stature.  The treatment of the Tibetans by China, the Kurds by most of the Arab world, and the people of Chechen by Russia has been are at least as bad.  But their response to grievances has been largely ignored by the international community and the media because they mostly sought remedies within the law rather than through terrorism.

The Palestinian situation has been different.  The hijacking of airplanes, the murders of Olympian athletes at Munich, the killing of Israeli children at Ma’alot, and the many other terrorist atrocities perpetrated by Palestinian terrorists has elevated their cause above all other causes in the human rights community.  Although the Palestinians have not yet gotten a state – because they twice rejected generous offers of statehood – their cause still dominates the United Nations and numerous human rights groups.

Other groups with grievances have learned from the success of Palestinian terrorism and have emulated the use of that barbaric tactic.  Even today, when the Palestinian authority claims to reject terrorism, they reward the families of suicide bombers and other terrorists by large compensation packages that increase with the number of innocent victims. If the perpetrator of the Manchester massacre had been Palestinian and if the massacre had taken place in an Israeli auditorium, the Palestinian authority would have paid his family a small fortune for murdering so many children.  There is a name for people and organisation that pay other people for killing innocent civilians:  it’s called accessory to murder. If the Mafia offered bounties to kill its opponents, no one would sympathise with those who made the offer.  Yet the Palestinian leadership that does the same thing is welcomed and honoured throughout the world.

The Palestinian authority also glorifies terrorists by naming parks, stadiums, streets and other public places after the mass murderers of children.  Our “ally” Qatar finances Hamas which the United States has correctly declared to be a terrorist organisation.  Our enemy Iran, also finances, facilitates and encourages terrorism against the United States, Israel and other western democracies, without suffering any real consequences.  The United Nations glorifies terrorism by placing counties that support terrorism in high positions of authority and honour and by welcoming with open arms the promoters of terrorism.

On the other hand Israel, which has led the world in efforts to combat terrorism by reasonable and lawful means, gets attacked by the international community more than any other country in the world.  Promoters of terrorism are treated better at the United Nations than opponents of terrorism.  The boycott divestment tactic (BDS) is directed only against Israel and not against the many nations that support terrorism.

Terrorism will continue as long as it continues to bear fruits.  The fruits may be different for different causes.  Sometimes it is simply publicity. Sometimes it is a recruitment tool.  Sometimes it beings about concessions as it did in many European countries.  Some European countries that have now been plagued by terrorism even released captured Palestinian terrorists.  England, France, Italy and Germany were among the countries that released Palestinian terrorists in the hope of preventing terrorist attacks on their soil.  Their selfish and immoral tactic backfired: it only caused them to become even more inviting targets for the murderous terrorists.

But no matter how terrorism works, the reality that it does, will make it difficult if not impossible to stem its malignant spread around the world.  To make it not work, the entire world must unite in never rewarding terrorism and always punishing those who facilitate it.

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Twitter: @AlanDersh

Alan M. Dershowitz is the Felix Frankfurter Professor of Law, Emeritus, at Harvard Law School and author of Taking the Stand: My Life in the Law and Electile Dysfunction: A Guide for the Unaroused Voter.

This article was originally published by Gatestone Institute



One Response to “Terrorism persists because it works…writes Alan M. Dershowitz”
  1. Marta Mikey Frid says:

    Yes, it works because we keep on reinforcing it. Nothing new. Ask Adam how he got away from God’s punishment for disobeying Him. Who did the rewarding if not God himself by His silence?
    What chance did Eve have?

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