Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Special Effects

Ynet has a timely article about the effects of the rockets on those whom they are targeting. First, an overview on the general purpose of terror.

The mission of terror is to convert violent actions into diplomatic achievements, and “terror” is all about sowing fear among the target population. We are not talking about a physical occurrence but rather, a psychological one, which does not take place in the public arena, but rather, within the perception of individuals.

Terrorism’s success secret is that by physically hurting a few people it can sow fear among many. One attack on a Tel Aviv bus may kill seven people, but it terrorizes seven million citizens. This is the terrorism chain: Converting a small physical incident into a great psychological drama, which is then converted into a historic diplomatic achievement. This is how we see a shift from the physical to the psychological, and from the psychological to the political.

Terrorism is the poor man’s weapon of choice because in order to cause psychological damage to the whole of society there is no need to hurt all of it. Rather, it is enough to hurt some individuals. People who have the ability to hurt individuals are in fact implementing the possibility of hurting the masses.
So what role do the rockets play in this scenario?
Qassam attacks are an interesting test case for this analysis. They are a weapon that sows terror in a highly effective manner. As opposed to suicide bombers, who sow limited terror, because citizens feel they are in control to some extent (they can decide not to board buses, not to enter shopping malls, and stay away from suspicious people,) this sense evaporates vis-à-vis the rockets.

The Qassam arrives from the sky, it can arrive at any given moment, and it can hurt us both at the mall and at home. Therefore, the Qassam creates the smallest physical damage yet the greatest psychological damage.
I don't care who you are or what you think - long term exposure to even the most seemingly mild form of terror is damaging. Mild terror is terror and even though the rockets are (in the eyes of some) small-time weapons, they are aimed to kill and maim. It's not a nice thought, but imagine living under the threat 24 hours a day, days and nights on end, month after month, year after year. You can try to ignore it but the jolting explosions tend to keep your attention on the morbid subject whether you like it or not.

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