Terror: How Israel Has Coped and What America Can Learn

Indiana University Press  2007


Terror is one of the most important links connecting the United States and Israel. 9/11 taught Americans the lesson that Israelis had learned many years before.

In this book Leonard Cole, a professor at Rutgers University, makes the horrors of terror personal. Cole presents inspiring tales of Israeli victims, the families of victims, the medical professionals and emergency teams who respond to the wail of terror, and sets them against the background of history and world politics. And then Cole tells the tales of suicide bombers, of their handlers and of their supporters.

Statistics become stories. Headlines turn into real people with lives that are lost or forever altered. Cole writes in an engaging style. A born teacher, he gently feeds his readers crucial information necessary for understanding the world of terror.

Discussion Questions

1. Despite being targets of repeated terrorist attacks, Israelis have demonstrated remarkable resilience. What are the ingredients of their resilience and is this phenomenon instructive for Americans? 

2. Novel methods of rescue and care for victims of terrorism in Israel have given rise to the field of terror medicine. How can the lessons of this discipline, which has saved many lives, best be shared with Americans?

3. Terrorist assaults have also prompted new ethical questions. For example, would treating a moderately injured victim of an attack ahead of a severely injured terrorist be unethical? 

4. Profiling in the U.S. based on race or ethnicity is disparaged, though in Israel it is broadly understood to enhance security at airports and other public places. Should profiling be employed in the U.S.? 

5. Mandatory military service in Israel is essential for national defense, but it also deepens a sense of community and shared appreciation for the nation. Should national service (military or otherwise) be required of young Americans? 

6. Many observers contend that one person’s terrorist is another person’s freedom fighter. Can terrorism—i.e., violent acts deliberately aimed at innocent individuals--ever be justified? 

7. The separation barrier that Israel has constructed in the West Bank has sharply reduced the number of terrorist assaults against Israelis. Yet critics describe the barrier as an infringement on Palestinian rights and the International Court of Justice has deemed it illegal. How should Israel respond? 

8. Schoolchildren in Israel are taught cautionary measures, such as the possibility that an unattended package could be dangerous and should be reported immediately. Should similar instruction be part of the American school curriculum? 

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