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Posted September 30, 2009
Ami Pedahzur's well researched and technically well written book is a fascinating yet critically flawed look at Israel's counter-terrorism efforts over the last 61 years. He clearly delineates 4 distinct counter-terrorism models (Defensive, War, Reconciliatory, and Criminal Justice) and attempts to map out Israel's experiences with implementing them at various times during its history.
The author brings very selective instances to try to prove his thesis that neither the War nor the Criminal Justice models are effective. Many of these instances of "failures" were (as pointed out in the text) not strategic, tactical, or policy failures, in fact they were technical failures brought about by faulty equipment, bad communication, insufficient training, or just bad luck. Pedahzur fails to take into account that Israel has never in its 61 year history, ever relied on any one of the four models he identifies exclusively. Israel has always relied on a multi-tiered approach towards terrorism in order to better fight the threat while also attempting to identify opportunities for negotiation. The author's thesis is flawed from the outset and even if one accepts the thesis, it cannot be proven because of A: Israel's multi tiered approach and B: undocumented successes and still secret operations obviously cannot be taken into account. The book, almost in its entirety, reads like a "leftist, Peace-Now" propaganda piece which it clearly was not meant to be.
Pedahzur does effectively expose some of the structural flaws in the Israeli military's hierarchy of commando units, and the obvious growing pains that these units (most notably Sayeret Matkal) had during their development. Here, he makes a strong case that a clearer and more distinct doctrine is needed to govern the Israeli Government's military and paramilitary responses to terrorism. This aspect of the book is very effective and provides insightful criticism of the inner-workings of the Israeli military.
Overall, while this book is technically well written and obviously well researched, it is ultimately a poorly executed attempt at pointing out the flaws in the Israeli government's attempts to battle terrorism. I would not recommend this book.
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