Ter­ror: How Israel Has Coped and What Amer­i­ca Can Learn

Leonard A. Cole

By – November 14, 2011

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.

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.

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?