What if Israel ran the Global War on Terror (GWOT)?
On the wall of his office Meir Dagan had an old black-and-white photograph of his grandfather about to be shot by a German in Russia during the Second World War. Must be some German soldier’s snap-shot, something he could keep as a trophy or send home to his girlfriend. I don’t know where Dagan got it. Probably did a lot of looking through the picture collection at Yad Vashem. This may not be psychologically healthy. Perhaps he should have considered grief counseling. On the other hand, Dagan was the head of the Israeli foreign intelligence service, the Mossad. He could look at it anytime he wanted during the day while he tried to figure out how to deal with Israel’s enemies.
One of the units under Dagan’s command was called “Kidon.” That’s the Hebrew word for bayonet. (Actually, it probably means “dagger” or “six inches of honed bronze” because Hebrew is a language from the many days ago before Bayonne even existed.) You go to Barnes and Noble, you’ll find a bunch of books about American snipers with 500 “kills” or sumshit like that. Kind of FPSy if you ask me. I don’t think I’ve run across books about sticking a blade in somebody, feeling it grate on a rib, inhaling the coppery smell of blood, hearing the guy gasping for breath like it’s sex. Nothing FPS about that. Kidon typifies Israel’s response to terrorism.
After the 1972 Munich Olympics, Kidon launched “Operation Wrath of God.” (See: “Munich.”) The Israelis killed eleven PLO terrorists believed to have been involved in the attack. It took seven years. Apparently, they’re tenacious and patient.
At least once, in Lillehamer, Norway, they killed a complete innocent. In front of his pregnant wife. Apparently, they don’t get thrown off-track by remorse over errors.
After Hamas rose to power in the Gaza Strip in 1993, it sent many suicide bombers into Israel. The Israelis didn’t take this lying down. In 1996 they palmed off a “burner” filled with explosives on Yahya Ayyash, the really talented chief bomb maker for Hamas; in 1997 they tried to kill Khaled Meshal, a Hamas leader, by injecting poison into his ear; in 2004 they killed the founder of Hamas, Sheikh Ahmed Yassin, with an Apache gunship; in 2008 they put a bomb in the headrest of a Hamas leader’s car in Damascus. In January 2010 they suffocated the chief contact between Hamas and Iran in his luxury hotel room in Dubai. Apparently, they focus on the enemy leadership. Just keep mowing the lawn.
When Hamas took full control of Gaza in 2007, it fired thousands of rockets into Israel. Israel responded by blockading Gaza: it will not allow in cement, steel, cars, computers, and lots of ordinary food; its navy will not let fishing boats proceed more than three miles from shore; it will not allow any Palestinians out of Gaza. From December 2008 to January 2009 Israeli forces bombarded the Gaza Strip. Anything big (police stations, factories, government buildings, schools, hospitals) got blown up; 1,300 people got killed; tens of thousands got “dishoused”—as the RAF used to describe the result of the area bombing of German cities. Apparently, they don’t care much about making a bad impression on world opinion.
At the same time, Israeli leaders began to talk about doing a deal with Syria for the return of the Golan Heights. Syria is the chief supporter of Hamas. Probably, the price of the Golan for Syria would include helping eliminate the ability of Hamas to engage in attacks on Israel—before the Syrians get back the Golan. (See: “Michael Collins.”) Apparently, they adapt to changing circumstances and will talk to their enemies.
So, tenacity, patience, focus, a thick hide to criticism, and adaptability are keys traits. The enemy hasn’t gone away, but neither have the Israelis. They live with a long struggle.