The Israeli Secret Services and the Struggle Against Terrorism

The Israeli Secret Services and the Struggle Against Terrorism

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by Ami Pedahzur
     
 

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While Mossad is known as one of the world's most successful terrorist-fighting organizations, the state of Israel has, more than once and on many levels, risked the lives of its agents and soldiers through unwise intelligence-based intervention. The elimination of Palestinian leaders and militants has not decreased the incidence of Palestinian terrorism, for

Overview

While Mossad is known as one of the world's most successful terrorist-fighting organizations, the state of Israel has, more than once and on many levels, risked the lives of its agents and soldiers through unwise intelligence-based intervention. The elimination of Palestinian leaders and militants has not decreased the incidence of Palestinian terrorism, for example. In fact, these incidents have become more lethal than ever, and ample evidence suggests that the actions of Israeli intelligence have fueled terrorist activities across the globe.

An expert on terror and political extremism, Ami Pedahzur argues that Israel's strict reliance on the elite units of the intelligence community is fundamentally flawed. A unique synthesis of memoir, academic research, and information gathered from print and online sources, Pedahzur's complex study explores this issue through Israel's past encounters with terrorists, specifically hostage rescue missions, the first and second wars in Lebanon, the challenges of the West Bank and Gaza, Palestinian terrorist groups, and Hezbollah. He brings a rare transparency to Israel's counterterrorist activities, highlighting their successes and failures and the factors that have contributed to these results. From the foundations of this analysis, Pedahzur ultimately builds a strategy for future confrontation that will be relevant not only to Israel but also to other countries that have adopted Israel's intelligence-based model.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly

As the U.S. has grappled with the specter and reality of terrorism, American leaders have routinely consulted with Israel's experts to fashion a similar offensive approach to extremists. But Israeli author Pedahzur (Violence: Defending Democracy) makes a compelling case for one inconvenient if underreported fact: Israel's approach hasn't worked. Dividing the potential responses to terrorism into four categories (defensive, reconciliatory, criminal -justice and war), the author tracks the development of an Israeli war model and demonstrates that rather than sending terrorists running, the approach "leads to an escalating cycle of terrorism," citing many examples in which Israel's elimination of threats has created the impetus for more violence. This book makes an excellent case that the war model "is flawed not only because it undermines civil liberties... but also because it is simply unsuitable for the challenge of terrorism and causes the security establishment to deviate from dealing with other, more imminent threats." While Pedahzur's style leans toward the dryly academic, his insights are so well reasoned and relevant that the pages almost turn themselves. (Feb.)

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New York Post
[A] superb examination of Israel's secret services.

— Daniel Byman

Jewish Book World
More than entertaining spy stories... this book will be a great aid to other Western countries around the world struggling to confront terror.

The Jerusalem Post
[Pedahzur] offers a brilliant description of Israel's fight against terrorism from 1948 to the present.

— Seth J. Frantzman

Choice

A fascinating history of counterterrorism by Israeli security agencies... Highly recommended.

Midwest Book Review
The Israeli Secret Services & the Struggles Against Terrorism is a fine read and solidly recommended.

— James A. Cox

Shofar
the book sheds a great deal of light on the activities of counterterrorism organizations that mostly operate in the shadows and on the seemingly haphazard ways counterterrorism policy is formulated in times of crisis.

— Aaron M. Hoffman

Leonard Weinberg
A succinct but thoroughly researched account of how Israel's security agencies have sought to defeat terrorist organizations from the pre-state Yishuv to events following the 2006 war with Hezbollah. After examining the historical record, Ami Pedahzur concludes that the application of defensive measures has proved more successful in deterring terrorist attacks than 'targeted killings' and other forms of warlike measures.

Martha Crenshaw
Ami Pedahzur has written an astute, well-documented, and compelling analysis of Israel's reliance on the 'war model' to combat terrorism. Israel's political and military leaders were consistently unable to resist the temptation of dramatic and costly uses of force when modest defensive or conciliatory measures were preferable. This lesson should not be lost on any national policymaker confronted by terrorism.

New York Post - Daniel Byman
[A] superb examination of Israel's secret services.

The Jerusalem Post - Seth J. Frantzman
[Pedahzur] offers a brilliant description of Israel's fight against terrorism from 1948 to the present.

Midwest Book Review - James A. Cox
The Israeli Secret Services & the Struggles Against Terrorism is a fine read and solidly recommended.

Shofar - Aaron M. Hoffman
the book sheds a great deal of light on the activities of counterterrorism organizations that mostly operate in the shadows and on the seemingly haphazard ways counterterrorism policy is formulated in times of crisis.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780231511612
Publisher:
Columbia University Press
Publication date:
03/19/2009
Series:
Columbia Studies in Terrorism and Irregular Warfare
Sold by:
Barnes & Noble
Format:
NOOK Book
Pages:
232
Sales rank:
923,800
File size:
806 KB

What People are saying about this

Gabriel Ben-Dor
A most valuable addition to the growing literature on the quest for a proper response to contemporary terrorism. Ami Pedahzur's analysis is responsible, balanced, and sober. It assesses the successes and failures of Israel against the background of manifold practical constraints and limitations, while anchoring the assessment in the most up-to-date contemporary social science theories. The result is a very fine book, which in fact goes beyond the existing parameters of antiterrorism as understood in Israel and also many other democracies.

Bruce Hoffman
Replete with detail, vignettes, and insights, this book provides a unique inside account of the Israeli intelligence and security services' sixty-year-long struggle against terrorism. It is the most comprehensive and authoritative depiction and analysis of this struggle currently available in the English language.

Meet the Author

Ami Pedahzur holds a Ph.D. in political science from the University of Haifa where, from 2000 to 2004, he served as a senior fellow at the National Security Studies Center. In 2004 he was a Donald D. Harrington fellow at the University of Texas, and in 2005 became an associate professor in the departments of Government and Middle Eastern Studies. In 2007 Pedahzur joined The Robert S. Strauss Center for International Security and Law at the Lyndon B. Johnson School of Public Affairs and currently serves as associate editor of the journal Studies in Conflict and Terrorism. His books include Suicide Terrorism and The Israeli Response to Jewish Extremism and Violence: Defending Democracy.

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The Israeli Secret Services and the Struggle Against Terrorism 1 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 1 reviews.
J_Gurewitsch More than 1 year ago
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.