Is there a solution for terrorism?
I’m going to attempt a little mental gymnastics here, and not really one I enjoy. I’m asking myself questions that on one hand need to be asked, but on the other hand are awful to even contemplate.
I’m also asking questions that may contain a fatal flaw. They assume logic. They assume the person behind the mask is thinking in a linear fashion. There’s a contemplation of results. Of cause and effect. A concern for consequences. And there’s an assumption that somewhere deep inside, the perpetrator possesses a moral compass.
If none of these things are true, then it might all just be a moot exercise. Just words. Nothing could possibly be accomplished. Or at least an entirely different approach would need to be taken.
I don’t know where this is going to go or what conclusions (if any) I’ll reach. But I feel it’s something I need to do.
The Why of Terrorism
Why would a person pick up a rifle or a bomb belt, or hop in a vehicle with murderous intent? Are terrorists inherently violent, and actually enjoy the process of murder and destruction? Or is there a deeper goal intended?
I have to believe it’s the latter. Not that I feel that anyone with a passionate goal could do unspeakably disgusting acts of violence. That’s certainly not the case. I think it is a severe human flaw to be able to harm anyone in any fashion for the sake of advancing your own cause. But that doesn’t make everyone who does have this ability absent of an agenda.
So, if there’s an agenda, what are options?
What Are They Trying to Do?
Two possible ideas come to mind. One, they believe it is a war of attrition, and every time a life is taken, they are a step closer to removing the impediment to their freedom. Israel is filled with several million of such impediments, and barring the capability of removing them en masse, they’re opting for a slow elimination of the perceived enemy.
However, a more plausible explanation is inherent in the word “terrorism”. The goal of terrorism isn’t bloodthirsty harming of human life. The goal is instilling fear and dread into those impacted by the terrorism. If we don’t want to go to a crowded movie theater for fear of acts of violence, the terrorist has won.
But even if that is true, my not seeing the latest Marvel movie at Yes Planet is hardly a worthy goal. It would seem this is a more expanded version, where the stress and profound sadness of living surrounded by death and destruction ultimately results in my deciding to abandon my ancestral homeland and return to a place without fear of shrapnel ripping through my flesh.
And thus they don’t “win” through terrorism because we are all deceased. They win because we’ve abandoned our post, and they occupy what we left.They don't 'win' through terrorism because we are all deceased. They win because we've abandoned our post, and they occupy what we left. Click To Tweet
Why Do They Want Us Gone?
But if it’s the case, it begs the question: Why? What the hell is their problem with us? Why do they hate us so much that we can’t strive for a greater reality of two nations learning to live together? Or at least side-by-side, if not as friends, at least as tolerant neighbors?
And on this is part I’m truly shaky on, and very confused.
The world media as well as social media would have you believe their profound hatred is the result of our oppression. We have spent several decades systematically stripping them of rights to the point in which anger has boiled over and they attack in fits of ire and frustration. But the Israeli media and social media presence of our friends and neighbors would have you believe that Israel is more like the guy who’s constantly trying to be nice, but for whatever reason all pleasantries are nevertheless rejected.
Empirical evidence would support both tales in many ways. Any “bad behavior” I’ve personally witnessed toward Palestinians have been minor, at best. Just an aggressive and unpleasant attitude toward people perceived at the moment to be security threats.
But beyond that, I’ve seen equal treatment in hospitals. I’ve attended a gym for years in which we all work out side-by-side. And when I drive on certain roads, it almost feels like the Israelis are the oppressed ones. Why? Because Palestinians traverse the roads freely, while we can’t exit our cars for fear of attack. Similarly, our own temple mount is freely accessed to Palestinians, yet extremely restricted to the Jewish citizens of Israel.
So what’s truth and what’s fiction? Is anger justified or just being stoked by others? In other words, is someone being impacted by propaganda, and if so, who?
Where Does the Truth Lie?
And as usual, the truth probably lies somewhere in the middle. But how in the world are we supposed to know? We’re living in a blur of media and stories being told, language is constantly being manipulated, and perspectives are skewed in every which way to support a dozen different agendas.
And it’s impossible to know what to believe.
I’d like to believe Israel is always in the right. I’d love to think we are a purely moral nation that cannot fathom wantonly or aggressively harming another people. Yet, I see the way we treat ourselves all the time. Ripping each other off, being unkind, police being unnecessarily rough. Am I to believe this behavior never spills over to the different folk living amongst us?
But the people who would be doing such aggression, or oppression, are not some “other”. They would be us. Our military is not some foreign body, off in another country, where it could hide its behavior and ignore how it acted on foreign soil. Our military is us. We are serving, and we’re doing so in our own backyards. If our behavior was consistently amoral, we would see it time and again.
And it’s not. It’s simply not what it’s being portrayed as. Is it perfect? No. Bad? Maybe. Perhaps. Really hard to say. But definitely, absolutely not obviously so. Despite a presentation otherwise.
But I feel silly even saying this. Those who agree will agree. And those who don’t will ignore every word. But I don’t care. I’ll shout it from every rooftop in the city. There are a lot of issues I have with Israel. I’ve felt the pain of some of the worst complications of living here. And I’m quite angry about what I’ve experienced. Nevertheless, my ruggedly honest approach has never led me to the conclusion that a reason to be angry with Israel is because of oppressive behavior.
So How’d We Get Here?
So why would someone shoot at innocent children? Why would someone blow themselves up in a crowded restaurant? Why would someone’s formerly friendly neighbor take up arms to fight a war that doesn’t really exist?
My only conclusion is that they have been, essentially, brainwashed by others into believing terrorism methods are the best if not only methods for accomplishing their goals.
Those doing the brainwashing are not putting themselves at risk. They are not jumping out into streets with rifles trying to harm innocent people, risking getting shot themselves. And it’s not their homes getting destroyed afterwards.
They’re filled with rage, and they put the twisted idea into the minds of perhaps would-be decent people that the only way to truly accomplish their goal is through intense violence.
And in every “war” like the one they’re fighting, this debate resurfaces. When Israel was trying to gain independence, there were many different groups, disagreeing in part as to how aggressive they thought was appropriate to accomplish their goals. Black folk during the civil rights movement had drastically different methods for how to resist those who wished for them to remain less important and far less privileged.
Is there a movement among the Palestinians for civil disobedience rather than violence? And if not, why not? Why is it absent during these struggles? Where’s the movement to not cause any harm while struggling for a better life?
I don’t know the answers to these and so many other questions.
The Ways of the Past
All I can say is: It would appear that many influential and charismatic leaders have an agenda. If I had to guess, that agenda is total regional domination. They will not settle for some type of compromise. They don’t seek peace and understanding. They are stuck in a mentality of the past that favors land dominance over tranquility and free trade. And their methods they think will accomplish this are massive violence and propaganda wars. Terrorism will get them what they want.
If they were explicit about their agenda, they would have a following of absolutely no one. No sane person would put themselves or their family at risk of getting caught or killed if they didn’t think they were doing something for a greater cause. So they are told lies and exaggerations. And they are made grandiose pomises. They could be promised fame. Martyrdom. Financial benefits for their families. Eternal rewards.
Leaders have pledged these rewards and more for committing terrible atrocities for thousands of years. The only difference between then and now is most of the world has moved on. They’ve discovered the benefits of living in peace with their neighbors. They’ve learned that land expansion or trying to control foreign nations is backwards, ineffectual, and short sighted. They want to live in a world without fear of missiles raining down upon their homes. They want their children to be safe.
A Safe World… Without Terrorism
And maybe someday our neighbors will be able to live like this as well. The old guard will change their minds or die off. The youth will come forward, inevitably educated by the endless amount of knowledge that is readily available for anyone who wants it. The new guard will meet with our leaders and forge a better path for all of our futures.
And we might actually get to live in a world free of terrorism. Free of strife between different groups. A world in which my friends and I don’t have to check the news and our phones hoping and praying we didn’t lose someone close to us.
And in place of anger and hatred, we will have a future of understanding and even camaraderie.
During my glory days hosting dozens of Couch Surfers, I hosted more guests from Germany and Poland than from anywhere else. A generation ago their grandparents may have been literally murdering my ancestors. And now we can sit together in my living room enjoying some scrambled eggs, laughing and appreciating each other’s company. The Jewish people will never forget what’s happened in the past, but that doesn’t mean the next generations can’t be better. It doesn’t mean we can’t get to a new phase in life.
I have no doubt that peace is a possibility. But it all starts with figuring out how we got to where we are now, protecting ourselves as we brave the current reality, and putting down breadcrumbs that will hopefully lead to a bright and beautiful future.
I truly believe it could happen. And I pray it happens soon.