Sunday, November 18, 2012

Terrorism Is Not Random

As I write this highly civilized Israelis are flying over Gaza bombing various things and people, reportedly with the President's approval. Israel's attacking Gaza right now follows the usual pattern of violence and political insecurity lining up. Palestinians are at the UN this year asking for state recognition, Netanayahu's elections are coming up, and reports now are saying that a peace deal not only was on the table, but the Palestinian who was to be involved, was killed. This is significant for a reason.

I first developed an understanding of terrorism as I studied civil wars and assassinations in the US. But more recently, I found other people who discovered the same thing. They weren't bloggers either.

Some months back (my memory doesn't deal with timelines well) there was a massive rise in antiSemitic attacks across the world. My neighborhood was hit with graffiti and broken windows. It was worse in Europe, particularly France and UK.

Two explanations were possible. One was that this violence was chaotic and unpredictable -- a very scary option. The other is that terrorism is predictable. Every time there was political uncertainty between Israel and the Palestinians, serious violence broke out. I recall Glenn Beck disagreeing, citing the more scary version, but according to the people being hurt, who for their own interest have to figure out why, a different reason is available.

The first has one useful quality -- it easily parallels in justifications for more violence. If someone is choosing targets randomly, it's a greater more pressing threat, and deserves more effort, because more people will be hurt. That is to say some particular belief of a person is the problem, and they cannot be dealt with. This is already a predatory mindset, and I question whether it should be ever used on higher mammals, let alone people. If there was a reason why people seem to be acting stupid, I would put it on this. They have to be ignorant in order to justify violence.

There's another theory, and one does not have to rely on testimony from violent people. A study done by the group CRIF, the leading group of Jewish civil society in France, while cautioning that this evidence alone was not enough to confirm an exact parallel, confirmed that more reports of antiSemitic attacks occurred during the times of year when political insecurity in Israel/Palestine was greatest. It turns out there is quite possibly a reason for the terrorism, not a just cause at all, but an undeniable pattern.  It was traceable not just on a timeline but in the acts themselves. Graffiti in France named Israeli figures. This second theory is something I think any reasonable person can understand and apply. It suggests that terrorism, or violence against civilians in order to establish a political goal, can be predicted.

I think getting everyone on the same page about this is a good step. In my next essay I will outline strategies to stop political insecurity. These will include popular organizing, establishing rapport with people who work for powerful interests, and demanding accountability.

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