A High Price: The Tri­umphs and Fail­ures of Israeli Counterterrorism

  • Review
By – February 7, 2012
Israel is at the fore­front of the inter­na­tion­al war against ter­ror. The Jew­ish state’s prowess in this on-going bat­tle is well known. In A High Price, Daniel Byman, pro­fes­sor at the School of For­eign Ser­vice at George­town Uni­ver­si­ty and senior fel­low at the Saban Cen­ter for Mid­dle East Pol­i­cy at the Brook­ings Insti­tu­tion, traces the his­to­ry of Israeli coun­tert­er­ror­ism — the spec­tac­u­lar suc­cess­es, the dis­mal fail­ures, and the water­shed events in Israel’s strug­gle to defend her­self against ter­ror­ists.

Byman’s main cri­tique of the Israeli coun­tert­er­ror­ism estab­lish­ment is that it has no long-range plan, no real under­stand­ing of the future. He sug­gests that because the Israelis deal only with imme­di­ate threats, they are inured to dam­age and reper­cus­sions. The dam­age, he is con­vinced, not only has neg­a­tive effects on Israeli pol­i­tics and cul­ture; the defense depart­ment also suf­fers and a fer­tile envi­ron­ment is cre­at­ed for the fur­ther­ance of hatred.

Byman con­duct­ed hun­dreds of inter­views for this insight­ful book, includ­ing many with peo­ple who were involved in the deci­sions and oper­a­tional activ­i­ties in Israel’s war against ter­ror. Most of the inter­vie­wees were bru­tal­ly hon­est in their eval­u­a­tions of the events in which they were involved. This book is not only an inter­est­ing read, it is an impor­tant read.


Mic­ah D. Halpern is a colum­nist and a social and polit­i­cal com­men­ta­tor. He is the author of What You Need To Know About: Ter­ror, and main­tains The Mic­ah Report at www​.mic​ah​halpern​.com.

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