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The Hidden Costs of Terrorism

Dec. 22 2016

Responding to those who argue that concerns over terrorism are overblown—one philosopher pointed out that, on September 11, 2001, an estimated 30,000 children across the globe died of hunger—Spencer Case writes:

Fatality statistics, first of all, don’t account for the possibility of unprecedented terror events. We may yet witness attacks in which terrorists poison the water supply of a major city, detonate a nuclear bomb, or release a weaponized pathogen at an international airport. A cyberattack on the electric grid could cause power outages that last for months and span several states. Affected areas would immediately be plunged into a total breakdown of civil order and could suffer from mass starvation within days. . . .

[But numbers alone] fail to reflect the broader costs of terrorism. . . . Chess master Aron Nimzowitsch famously said, “The threat is stronger than the execution.” Terrorists use literal executions as a means to generate an atmosphere of perpetual threat. . . . In 2013, Islamists in Bangladesh circulated a “hit list” with the names of 84 people whom they found troublesome. As of this writing, nine of those people are dead, as are dozens of others, due to grisly terrorist attacks in which victims were often dispatched with machetes. Soon after the targeted killing commenced, Ananya Azad, a blogger on the list, quit his job as a columnist, stopped blogging, and now rarely goes outdoors. (His father, litterateur Humayun Azad, had been gravely wounded in a 2003 machete attack). Doubtless many others whose names we don’t know are being intimidated into silence. . . .

The shadow of fear extends into the Western world, too. Behold how our leaders reacted with panic in 2011, when the Florida pastor Terry Jones proposed to burn a copy of the Quran. (He eventually did so, and violence predictably erupted.) Or the fact that the cartoonist Molly Norris has been in hiding for five years, at the FBI’s recommendation, because she suggested that there be an “Everybody Draw Muhammad Day.” . . .

And then there are the economic consequences of terrorism. The New York Times estimated [that] $55 billion worth of physical damage and an additional $123 billion in economic damage to various industries [were] caused by 9/11.

Read more at National Review

More about: Bangladesh, Politics & Current Affairs, Terrorism

Putting Aside the Pious Lies about the Israel-Palestinian Conflict

Jan. 23 2018

In light of recent developments, including Mahmoud Abbas’s unusually frank speech to the Palestinian Liberation Organization’s leadership, Moshe Arens advocates jettisoning some frequently mouthed but clearly false assumptions about Israel’s situation, beginning with the idea that the U.S. should act as a neutral party in negotiations between Jerusalem and Ramallah. (Free registration may be required.)

The United States cannot be, and has never been, neutral in mediating the Israel-Palestinian conflict. It is the leader of the world’s democratic community of nations and cannot assume a neutral position between democratic Israel and the Palestinians, whether represented by an autocratic leadership that glorifies acts of terror or by Islamic fundamentalists who carry out acts of terror. . . .

In recent years the tectonic shifts in the Arab world, the lower price of oil, and the decreased importance attached to the Palestinian issue in much of the region, have essentially removed the main incentive the United States had in past years to stay involved in the conflict. . . .

Despite the conventional wisdom that the core issues—such as Jerusalem or the fate of Israeli settlements beyond the 1949 armistice lines—are the major stumbling blocks to an agreement, the issue for which there seems to be no solution in sight at the moment is making sure that any Israeli military withdrawal will not result in rockets being launched against Israel’s population centers from areas that are turned over to the Palestinians. . . .

Does that mean that Israel is left with a choice between a state with a Palestinian majority or an apartheid state, as claimed by Israel’s left? This imaginary dilemma is based on a deterministic theory of history, which disregards all other possible alternatives in the years to come, and on questionable demographic predictions. What the left is really saying is this: better rockets on Tel Aviv than a continuation of Israeli military control over Judea and Samaria. There is little support in Israel for that view.

Read more at Haaretz

More about: Israel & Zionism, Israeli-Palestinian Conflict, Mahmoud Abbas, Peace Process, US-Israel relations