Enough. There has to come a time where a nation realizes that its citizens’ lives are not to be dismissed as acceptable casualties of war; that the responsibility for terrorism rests not just on those who wield weapons but even more so on those who create the climate, justification and incitement that leads to violence.
There is no such thing as “lone wolf” terrorists.
Terrorists are no more a product of spontaneity than any other criminals. It takes culture, socialization and some calculus, no matter how clumsy, of risk vs. reward to produce criminals. So too with terrorists.
People become terrorists because there is a benefit in it, the reward exceeds the costs, or so they’ve been convinced by those ever-willing to send someone else’s children to their death.
Conflicts can fester from generation to generation, and the situation in Northern Ireland probably epitomized that. Officially the “troubles,” as they were known, ended in 1998, and there has been a political solution. But as in nearly all instances where terrorism was part of the calculus of decision making, not everyone was satisfied with the political solution.
And so, the Irish Republican Army is making a comeback, and with it, so is terrorism.
For Israel, the situation is far worse. The Irish speak the same language and laugh at the same jokes; finding a physical distinction between Protestants and Catholics is impossible. Not so for Israelis and Palestinians. Their identities, not just the bases of their nationalism, are different.
For the Palestinians, there is only one solution to the problem: for the Jews to leave, preferably to walk into the sea, but not before they apologize for forcing the Palestinians to kill them. This is the solution you can commonly hear from progressives and the anti-Israel advocates on any college campus, albeit with some variations. One is that Jews whose families can trace their roots back to 1948 will be permitted to stay as dhimmis in the fantasy democratic secular state of Palestine.
The Israelis, unable to accustom themselves to the idea that a political solution is impossible, still believe in the mythical two-state solution. It is not going to happen because if it were possible, it would have happened by now.
So is there a solution to this conflict? Of course there is, and one for which there is ample precedent: separation.
It is the solution that Turkey implemented in Northern Cyprus. South Sudan separated from Sudan. Pakistan separated from India and Bangladesh separated from Pakistan. South Vietnam once separated from North Vietnam. Ireland separated from the United Kingdom. Eritrea separated from Ethiopia.
The Czech Republic and the Slovakian Republic separated from each other. The former Yugoslavia devolved in to different ethnic-based republics.
Devolution, which is separation, is the way in which incompatible ethnic tensions are dampened.
Israel needs to separate from Palestine. Let it draw boundaries, build walls, and cease to import a fifth column of laborers. Let Arabs loyal to Israel remain and those whose loyalty is to Palestine go live in the country to which they are devoted. The current spate of violence has been conducted by Arabs who are Israeli citizens and availed themselves to the benefits of that citizenship. There is nothing reasonable that will placate them.
The world will object, but the world has not seriously objected to Turkey’s separation of Northern Cyprus from the rest of Cyprus and its expulsion of 200,000 Greeks from Northern Cyprus. The world has tepidly condemned Russia’s retaking of the Crimea, and those objections will attenuate further when Europe needs oil and natural gas this winter.
Once there is separation, the Palestinians can decide their own destiny. They can call themselves a state or whatever they choose. They can create a relationship with Gaza or not create one.
As for the security problems a Palestinian state might present, Israel is strong enough to prevent a Palestinian state from creating a military threat and can respond to provocations for which a Palestinian state could be held directly responsible.
The Israelis must confront the reality that their neighbors are not Westerners but people whose culture is rooted in and honor and shame and for whom hatred is the great unifier. Let them hate, in their own enclave where their hatred will be less of a threat.
Abraham H. Miller is an emeritus professor of political science, University of Cincinnati, and a senior fellow with the Salomon Center for American Jewish Thought. This article originally appeared in The Jerusalem Post and is reprinted with permission of the author.