International Legitimization of Terror Groups: Lessons from Israel's Experience

Introduction

Islamic warfare against the West has exploited strategies and tactics that it also has used in its war against Israel. Twenty-first century Islamic terror campaigns combine conventional terror operations with cyber-attacks, diplomatic and economic pressure, and propaganda campaigns.

Israel has accumulated nearly seven decades of counterterrorism experience that arguably affirms its place as one of the world’s most resilient nations in confronting a variety of Palestinian and Islamic terror groups. However, Palestinian and Islamic terror organizations such as the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO), Hamas, and the Iranian regime proxy Hizbullah, present a double counterterror challenge to Israel and by extension, to the West.

These terror groups execute conventional terror assaults while simultaneously acting as de facto governments that conduct international relations with states and international organizations and institutions. These terror organizations also engage in public diplomacy with nongovernmental organizations (NGOs), and the international media.

The international community has validated these terror groups to varying degrees, in part by endorsing a moral equivalence between Israel and the terror organizations sworn to its destruction. International support for these terror groups – whether out of ideological sympathy or fear of terrorist retribution – has failed to protect the West against terror attacks. In fact, there is ample reason to assess that international validation of Palestinian terror groups and some radical Islamists organizations fighting Israel has helped energize radical Islamic terror against the West. 1

As this article assesses, Islamic terrorists do not distinguish between terror in Jerusalem and terror in Western cities such as Paris, Brussels or Berlin. PLO terror groups, the Muslim Brotherhood’s Hamas, and Iran’s Hizbullah proxy organization are committed to destroying Israel and establishing Islamic sovereignty across the Middle East, as are the Salafist Islamic State and al-Qaeda terror groups that are committed to destroying the West and imposing a global Islamic Caliphate.

International Validation of Terror Groups

Ironically, international legal institutions have legislated a strong framework to support the validation of Palestinian and Islamist terror groups. Article 1(4) of the 1977 Protocol I(4) of the Geneva Conventions gives legal rights to “people fighting against colonial domination and alien occupation and against racist regimes in the exercise of their right of self-determination.”2 This legislation was born out of an effort to accord an element of legitimation to those groups struggling to end the South African regime’s Apartheid system.3 However, international terror groups such as the PLO perverted the legislation’s intention and distorted its usage by drawing a false and misleading parallel between the Apartheid regime and Israel, a free democratic nation state and UN member, to further the PLO and Hamas’ stated goal of destroying the nation state of the Jewish people.4

Palestinian and other terror organizations have become emboldened by supportive international institutions and organizations. In 2004, the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) condemned Israel’s anti-terror barrier, and the International Court of Justice (ICJ) affirmed that Israel’s security barrier was illegal.5 Subsequently, in 2012, the UNGA voted to upgrade the PLO’s status in the UN to that of a non-member state observer. In December 2016, the UN Security Council (UNSC) approved a PLO-engineered resolution condemning Israel, which passed when the United States chose to abstain on the vote.6 Additionally, the UNSC and European Union (EU) endorsed the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) diplomatic agreement with the terror-supporting Iranian regime.7 This UN-sanctioned agreement legitimized Iran internationally, allowing it to increase its materiel support for terror groups such as Hizbullah and Hamas.8

Palestinian terror organizations have exploited their growing international legitimacy as de facto state governments in order to commit acts of terror while demonizing, delegitimizing, criminalizing, and isolating Israel internationally. This dual strategy has attempted to isolate Israel, demoralize the Israeli body politic, undermine public confidence, and cause the unraveling of the state from within.

This dual terror strategy that combines conventional terror assaults with international political and legal warfare has succeeded in the West because of the willingness of some Western government officials, bolstered by a sympathetic media, to justify Palestinian terror in support of the establishment of a Palestinian state. It has even become common among some Western leaders to differentiate between Palestinian terror and international jihadism.

A prominent example created waves in Israel. Just weeks after al-Qaeda’s September 11, 2001 attacks and a day after a deadly Hamas terror attack in Israel, then French ambassador to Israel, Jacques Huntzinger, told senior Israeli journalists that Hamas terror against Israel fundamentally differed from al-Qaeda terror against the United States. “Terror here is connected to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict,” Huntzinger said, “It is completely irresponsible politically to make that comparison.”9

However, despite statements to the contrary, the evidence reveals fundamental similarities between Palestinian jihadist terror attacks against Israelis and jihadist attacks against the West. In both cases, terrorists declared, “Allahu Akbar,” (God is greatest in Arabic). This religious exclamation reflects a Muslim’s loyalty to Islam and the Koran. Palestinian and international Sunni and Shiite terrorists co-opted “Allahu Akbar” as a “death cry” while murdering enemies. Terrorist intentions are reflected in their Koran-rooted battle cry, demonstrating the religious motivation behind their acts of terror.

In 2014, an Islamist terrorist declared the “Allahu Akbar” motive in Dijon, France, before running over eleven pedestrians with a van.10 A 2015 article published in the Washington Post described a Hamas terrorist training camp for 17,000 Gazan children, where Hamas drill instructors indoctrinated them with the Allahu Akbar cry.11 An ISIS-affiliated terrorist shouted Allahu Akbar before killing 39 people in a terror attack at an Istanbul nightclub in late December 31st, 2016. One of its victims was an Arab-Israeli.12 An eyewitness to the 2016 shooting at Tel Aviv’s Sarona market that killed four, said the Palestinian terrorists expressed their religious motivations for terror by declaring Allahu Akbar before opening fire on Israeli civilians.13

Islamist terrorists have targeted Europeans with the same Islamist motivations that have been used to target Israelis. The jihadist declaration of destroying “the Zionist-crusader alliance” is a common refrain. Abdel Hamid Abaaoud, the mastermind of the November 2015 Paris terror attacks that killed 130, said in an interview with the ISIS magazine Dabiq months before the attack, “May Allah release all Muslims from the prisons of these crusaders.”14

Al-Qaeda’s 1996 and 1998 fatwas, (Islamic legal decisions) signed by Osama Bin Laden and other top leaders of the terror group, used similar language, referring to Westerners as “crusaders,” reflecting radical Islam’s war of civilizations with the West.15 These fatwas called for the destruction of the ‘crusader-Zionist’ alliance. Palestinian jihadists have been referring to Israelis as Zionists and Christians as “crusaders” for decades; these terms feature prominently in the 1988 Hamas Charter.16

In March 2012, French-Algerian terrorist Mohammed Merah killed three French soldiers and four civilians, including three children in an attack on a Jewish school in Toulouse. Merah, a self-declared member of al-Qaeda, pronounced that he hoped to die a jihadist.17 In August 2014, members of a Dutch ISIS affiliate in The Hague chanted “Death to the Jews” and other slogans calling for murder and terror in the West.18

Despite a growing body of evidence illustrating ideological similarities between Palestinian and Islamist terror targeting the West, international validation of terror groups targeting Israel has remained a common practice. The following assessment illustrates how international validation of three terror groups – the Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO), Hamas, and Hizbullah – has compromised the West’s battle against Islamist terror.

1. The Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO)

The international legitimization of Palestinian terror as an ideological and political weapon was evidenced as early as 1974 when PLO Chairman Yasser Arafat was invited to speak to the United Nations General Assembly. Arafat declared, “I have come bearing an olive branch and a freedom fighter’s gun. Do not let the olive branch fall from my hands.” The UN-provided platform for one of the world’s acknowledged terror leaders fully validated Arafat’s call for the destruction of Israel and its replacement with a Palestinian state. Arafat received a standing ovation from nearly all UN member nations.19

Following Arafat’s speech, the PLO was granted observer status at the United Nations General Assembly.20 The PLO also applied to be a member nation of the United Nations in 2011. This move was rejected because of a veto by the United States in the UN Security Council. However, a Palestinian delegation represented by the PLO was accepted into UNESCO that year, and a PLO-led Palestinian delegation received non-member observer state status in the UN the following year.21 Although the PLO has continued to sponsor, incite, and perpetrate terror attacks since its founding in 1964, it has never been formally condemned by the United Nations. Rather, the PLO delegation in the United Nations has seen their status rise in UN organizations.22

The legitimization of Palestinian terror took many forms in Europe in the 1970s and 1980s. During these years, senior government officials in Switzerland, France, Italy, and Germany reached political understandings with Palestinian terror groups to prevent future attacks on their soil.23

Israel and the United States also reached understandings with the PLO in the 1990s, for which Israel would pay a high price in human lives lost to Palestinian terror. Israel negotiated with the Palestinian Liberation Organization beginning with the 1993 Oslo Exchange of Letters and the establishment of the Palestinian Authority in 1994, followed by the Oslo Interim Agreement in 1995. These particular negotiations allowed the PLO to win international validation, establishing it as the ruler of the pre-state Palestinian Authority.

The 1994 Nobel Peace Prize was awarded simultaneously to PLO Chairman Yasser Arafat, Israeli Prime Minister Yitzchak Rabin, and Foreign Minister Shimon Peres. Both the Oslo Exchange of Letters, followed by the awarding of the Nobel Peace Prize, helped inaugurate a parity of international legitimacy between Arafat’s PLO and the State of Israel. It also essentially erased Arafat’s 30-year record as the leader of one of the twentieth century’s most notorious terror organizations.

Arafat skillfully maintained the PLO’s terror bona fides and its international diplomatic profile. He conveyed a message of violent revolution to Arabic speaking audiences while branding the PLO’s new agreement with Israel, the “Peace of the Brave,” in English to Western audiences.

As noted above, Israel’s recognition of the PLO terror organization and its ill-fated attempts to negotiate a peace agreement have cost the Jewish state dearly in human life, international legitimacy, and national security. From the outset, Israel’s diplomatic approach, as a hesitant peace partner of the PLO, was to back the Palestinian leadership and its fledgling pre-state Palestinian Authority. This was consistent with Foreign Minister Shimon Peres’ investment in Arafat as a repentant terrorist turned legitimate leader.

Oslo created high expectations in Israel and internationally for a final peace deal between Israel and the PLO. However, Israel suspected PLO complicity in suicide bombings from 1994-1996 that had been attributed to Hamas. PLO collusion was subsequently proven in documents captured in IDF raids of the Palestinian Authority’s headquarters in 2002. Nonetheless, by late 1995, Israel and the PLO remained diplomatic partners. The Oslo Interim Accords established Palestinian Authority offices, a parliament, security forces, media, and more than 100 PLO diplomatic missions around the world.

The PLO’s dual role as a terror group and diplomatic actor made it difficult for Israel to condemn or delegitimize the internationally validated Palestinian leadership, especially given the fact that Israel recognized the PLO as a negotiating partner and a signatory to the Oslo Accords. However, more than two decades after the signing of the Oslo Interim Accords, the Palestinian leadership has continued to support terror despite its “moderate” international diplomatic profile. Israel has come to realize that it has been deceived by the PLO, which proved to be a terror-supporting entity.24

Since Arafat’s death in 2004, the member nations of the European Union and other countries in the West have praised the Palestinian Authority in a variety of statements and reports, despite its continued support for terror.25 The Israeli Foreign Ministry noted in response to the stalled peace process with PLO negotiators that the EU “ignores the responsibility of the Palestinian Authority for… incitement that feeds the wave of Palestinian terrorism.”26

In 2014, the EU, U.S., and China also welcomed a proposal for a Palestinian unity government co-administered by the PLO and Hamas in Ramallah, effectively recognizing two terror groups as de-facto state governors.27 The PLO has not recognized Israel as the nation-state of the Jewish people, while Hamas has never recognized Israel’s right to exist at all. Moreover, the Hamas Charter calls for the genocide of all Jews.28 Yet, a 2014 EU statement praising the Hamas-PLO announcement stated, “We welcome … the declaration by President Abbas that this new government is committed to the principle of the two-state solution based on the 1967 borders, to the recognition of Israel’s legitimate right to exist.”29

Some Western officials, in particular in the European Union, have expressed understanding of Palestinian terror assaults against Israelis, sourcing Palestinian terror to Israel’s establishment of settlements.30 Western understanding served to energize Palestinian terror organizations. Between 2000-2005, Palestinian jihadists carried out 26,000 terror attacks, killing 1,100 Israeli civilians and wounding more than 6,000. Simultaneously, the PLO leadership petitioned international courts against Israeli counterterror actions. Israel assumed that the international community would understand its need for erecting a security barrier to prevent suicide bombings following more than 120 suicide attacks between 1993 and 2002.31

However, Israel’s assumption of international support for its self-defense was proven incorrect. The PLO accused Israel of building an “apartheid wall” before the UN and the International Court of Justice at The Hague. The Palestinian campaign succeeded at the UN. The ICJ referred to the fence as a “violation of international law.”32 The ICJ advisory opinion, reinforcing the earlier politically charged UN General Assembly vote, ignored the Israeli Supreme Court ruling, which weighed Palestinian terror against Israeli defensive moves in constructing the barrier.33

Arafat’s successor, Mahmoud Abbas, the current PLO and PA Chairman, has pursued a policy of support for terror. This new form of “popular” Intifada has been operationalized not in suicide attacks but rather in a wave of knifing, car ramming, and shooting assaults carried out by individuals, incited through public and social media, against Israeli civilians since 2015. Additionally, the Palestinian Authority’s 2015 budget allocated more than $300 million to Palestinian terrorists and their families as part of an officially sanctioned incentive program to support and encourage terror attacks against Israelis.34 While European sympathy for the Palestinian statehood project has extended to their understanding for Palestinian terror, the Palestinian leadership has reiterated their Islamist motivations to kill Israelis.

Abbas told Palestinian television in September 2015, “We welcome every drop of blood spilled in Jerusalem. This is pure blood, clean blood, blood on its way to Allah. With the help of Allah, every Shaheed (martyr) will be in heaven, and every wounded will get his reward.”35

Similar to Arafat, despite Abbas’ status as the leader of the Palestinian non-state actor, he has lobbied international organizations such as the UN, ICJ, and the ICC to charge Israel with genocide and crimes against humanity. In 2016, the Palestinian leadership successfully waged legal, political and diplomatic warfare against Israel at the United Nations and the European Union.

In June 2016, Abbas addressed the European Parliament, where he evoked a historical anti-Semitic blood libel. He stated, “Certain rabbis in Israel have said very clearly to their government that our water should be poisoned in order to have Palestinians killed.” He received a standing ovation from parliament representatives. Abbas soon after retracted his accusation.36

The October 2016 UNESCO decision erasing any Jewish connection to Jerusalem’s holy sites and the subsequent UNSC censure of Israel’s “illegal” presence in eastern Jerusalem and the disputed West Bank have also encouraged more terror assaults combined with intensified Boycotts, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) warfare.37 The PLO leadership’s campaign has also incentivized and even helped mainstream other radical Islamic terror groups such as Hamas and Islamic Jihad. They issued triumphant press releases after the UN Security Council’s Resolution 2334 on December 23, 2016, which passed following the U.S. abstention from the vote.38

Despite the PLO’s public commitment to support and incentivize terror, its international legitimacy has remained intact. U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry continued to endorse Abbas and the PA leadership as a peace partner for Israel at the high-profile Saban Policy Conference in Washington D.C. in December 2016, just a month before completing his term as Secretary of State.39

2. Hamas

Since its victory in the 2006 Palestinian parliamentary elections and its takeover of the Gaza Strip from Fatah in June 2007, the Hamas terror organization has succeeded in winning greater international validation. While the United States and the EU boycotted the new Hamas government, official Hamas delegations were received in Russia, Bulgaria, Switzerland, Turkey, and several Arab countries. In 2015, in South Africa, senior officials from the African National Congress, including President Jacob Zuma, welcomed a delegation of senior Hamas officials.40

These countries, some of which have faced vicious Islamic terror assaults, have failed to protest or even question Hamas’ founding Charter, which declares, “Israel will exist and will continue to exist until Islam obliterates it, just as it obliterated others before it.” The text of the Charter includes clauses such as “The Day of Judgment will not come about until Muslims fight Jews and kill them.”41

International silence regarding the Nazi-like character of Hamas’ charter has weakened Israel’s international legitimacy in defending its citizens against Islamic terror.42 It also weakens Europe’s fight against terror.

International sympathy for or engagement with Hamas legitimizes the Muslim Brotherhood and its affiliate chapters, including Hamas, who were established with the vision of creating a global Islamic caliphate. This mission has remained unchanged since the Muslim Brotherhood was founded in 1928.43

The international media has also mainstreamed Hamas leaders, rendering them integral and validated players in the international debate on Israel. In 2012, Hamas’ political bureau head Khaled Mashal was invited to give a prime-time interview to Christiane Amanpour on CNN. He exploited the interview as a platform for propaganda warfare, accusing Israel of massacring Palestinian children.44 In 2007, former Hamas Prime Minister in Gaza, Ismail Haniya, was invited to publish op-eds in the New York Times.45 That year he was also featured together with former Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert in “dueling” op-eds published in The Guardian.46

Declan Kearney meets with Dr. Musa Abu Marzouk

The Irish political party Sinn Féin’s Declan Kearney meets with Hamas representative, Dr. Musa Abu Marzouk in Istanbul in November 2016. (Sinn Féin)

Even the United States under President Barack Obama had accepted Hamas’ growing status as a legitimate de-facto government. The Obama administration recommended that Israel cooperate with Qatar and Turkey, the latter a NATO Member, to mediate a ceasefire to the 2014 Gaza conflict. This proposed mediation essentially assigned moral equivalence between a free democracy and the radical Islamic terror organization bent on destroying it. Following Israel’s refusal to accept Turkish and Qatari mediation offers, former U.S. President Barack Obama, who had supported then Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood President Mohammad Morsi, even proposed the United States mediate a ceasefire between Hamas and Israel in the 2014 conflict.47

Hamas’ political hub in London is perhaps the most salient feature of its growing acceptance in some western circles. Senior Hamas activists such as Mohammed Sawalha, Zaher al-Birawi, and Professor Azzam Tamimi established high profile non-governmental organizations in London, such as British Muslim Initiative, Palestinian Return Center, Viva Palestina and Interpal. Sawalha, a former senior Hamas commander in the West Bank, even received British citizenship.48 These Hamas activists have attracted thousands of supporters across London and other cities to protest against Israel.49

Despite the UK’s designation of Hamas as a terror group, the NGOs mentioned above serve as virtual extensions of Hamas’ foreign office.50 These pro-Hamas lobbying groups also served as correspondent agencies for Hamas’ Gaza-based Justice Ministry “Al Tawthiq,” which together with these NGOs successfully filed charges of war crimes against Israel with the British Justice Ministry, under the laws of universal jurisdiction. “Al Tawthiq” associates petitioned for the arrest of Israeli government leaders such as former Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni, former Prime Minister Ehud Barak, and Defense Minister and former Chief of Staff Moshe Yaalon.51 Only direct intervention by Britain’s former Foreign Minister William Hague enabled Livni to visit London in 2011.52

Pro-Hamas NGOs also petitioned the UN Human Rights Council and the International Criminal Court, charging Israel with war crimes, crimes against humanity, and genocide. Hamas’ Gaza leadership and its London representatives and lobbyists have also fueled the global boycott, divestment, and sanctions campaign against Israel that has intensified the prospect of EU sanctions against Israel.53

Hamas has also received legitimacy in the UK Labour Party, since the election of its leader Jeremy Corbyn in 2015. While British Prime Minister Theresa May has been outspoken against Palestinian terror, Corbyn has called Hamas and Hizbullah “friends.”54 In September 2016, Corbyn spoke at an event alongside Anas Altikriti, a Hamas supporter and spokesperson for the Muslim Brotherhood in the UK.55

3. Hizbullah

Hizbullah’s challenge to Israel and the West on the international stage derives from its position as the main terror proxy of the Iranian regime. Iran has received a major boost of international legitimacy since the signing of the JCPOA agreement with the five permanent members of the UN Security Council and Germany in July 2015. Iran’s validation by the West as a newly reengaged member of the international community also empowers its role as the world’s leading state sponsor of terrorism. This allows Iran’s Shiite leadership and its Revolutionary Guard to support Hizbullah and other Iran-sponsored Shiite militias without Western objection.

Iran’s patronage and upgraded international standing have served Hizbullah well. The United Kingdom held discussions with Hizbullah leaders on behalf of the United States.56 Hizbullah’s increased legitimization in the West has occurred in stages. Former British MI6 operatives such as Alistair Crooke, through UK-based organizations such as Conflicts Forum and Forward Thinking has met with Hizbullah and Hamas leaders since the mid-2000s. British interlocutors have held that Hizbullah counterparts are key to any diplomatic arrangement that could bring Middle East peace.57 Hizbullah officials also participated in events at the Italian parliament.58 French Foreign Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault met with a Hizbullah political delegation in Lebanon on July 12, 2016.59

The UN helped establish Hizbullah as a central political force in Lebanon. Hizbullah Secretary-General Hassan Nasrallah met with former UN Secretary General Kofi Annan publically in Beirut in 2000.60

The European Union declined to designate Hizbullah as a terror organization until 2013. It then only listed its military wing but not its political section as a terror organization, also bolstering Hizbullah’s international standing.61 However, Hizbullah Secretary General Hassan Nasrallah has issued genocidal statements including, “If they (Jews) all gather in Israel, it will save us the trouble of going after them worldwide,” and “If we searched the entire world for a person more cowardly, despicable, weak and feeble in psyche, mind, ideology and religion, we would not find anyone like the Jew. Notice, I do not say the Israeli.”62

Western validation of Hizbullah as a political force made Israel’s battle against the group more complex both in low-intensity conflicts and in wartime. Hizbullah’s strategy of using human shields and civilian homes as cover for storing and firing rockets at Israel’s cities and towns largely went unhindered by international organizations, NGOs, and the media. In short, similar to the confrontation with Hamas, Western moral equivalence in wartime between Hizbullah and Israel has compromised Israel’s international legitimacy in its battle against the Islamic terror group.

Ironically, Hizbullah has also enjoyed the support of some international human rights organizations.63 The Washington-based Middle East Policy Council praised Hizbullah for its “extremely sophisticated network of health and social-service providers.”64 Additionally, during the 2006 Second Lebanon War, reports by the NGOs Christian Aid, B’tselem, Oxfam, and the International Commission of Jurists implied a moral equivalence between IDF troops and Hizbullah terrorists.65 In particular, a Human Rights Watch report accused Israel of being at fault for the conflict. Of eight statements issued by human rights NGOs during the war, seven criticized Israel, and only one highlighted human rights violations perpetrated by Hizbullah.66

Western media, human rights organizations and Western countries have remained neutral regarding the Iranian regime’s investment of hundreds of millions of dollars reestablishing Hizbullah’s terror capabilities since its 2006 war with Israel.67 Moreover, neither the UN nor other international organizations have expressed alarm by the well-known reports of Hizbullah’s possession of 150,000 rockets pointed at Israel, according to Israeli intelligence reports.68

Western understanding for Hizbullah has not helped the West avoid being a target of Hizbullah terror. In 1983, Hizbullah bombed the U.S. Embassy and U.S. Marine barracks in Beirut, killing 304 Americans. Another attack against a French military compound in Beirut that year killed 58. Hizbullah bombings, kidnappings, and hijackings have also targeted Spanish and Argentinian civilians, killing hundreds in Latin America and Europe.69

How International Legitimization of Terror Groups Has Backfired

Terror groups Hamas, Hizbullah, and the PLO have pioneered strategies and tactics that have been adopted in part by international jihadi groups, both Sunni and Shiite. For nearly three decades, Palestinian terror groups carried out bombings, hijackings, suicide attacks, vehicular assaults, and other forms of terror against Israel without facing unequivocal international condemnation. More recently, global Islamist terror networks have employed some of these assault tactics against Western states and other civilian targets, in cities such as Berlin, Paris, Brussels, Madrid, and Copenhagen.

More recently, Western “homegrown” terrorists have pledged allegiance to and trained with global terror networks such as al-Qaeda and ISIS. Examples include the Tsarnaev brothers 2013 Boston Marathon bombing, the January 2015 Charlie Hebdo and Hyper Cacher attackers in Paris, and the ISIS cell that carried out the November 2015 Paris attacks, and others.70

Jihadi attacks against innocent civilians send shock waves through Western countries, particularly because Western societies have been hard-pressed to justify or even explain Islamist terror against them other than to accede to the jihadist ideological, religious, and civilizational denunciation, dismissal, and elimination of their victims. This phenomenon of demonization and delegitimization mirrors Israel’s experience in confronting Palestinian terror groups such as the PLO, and Islamic terror groups such as Hamas and Hizbullah.

Conclusion

International validation of terror groups such as Hizbullah, Hamas, and the Palestine Liberation Organization has energized the Islamist terrorist threat to the West and Israel. Many Israelis wonder how these terror groups continue to enjoy international validation. This question has become even more critical given similar jihadist attacks that have claimed hundreds of innocent lives in European cities such as Paris, Brussels, Berlin, Copenhagen, London and Madrid.

As this article has illustrated, similar jihadi motivation, declarations, and justification for terror against the West mirror Islamist terror against Israelis of all religious and ethnic backgrounds. The war against terror that the West has been forced to prosecute against Sunni and Shiite jihadist terrorists and Islamist terror are rooted in the same publicly declared ideology that targets Israel. This ideology espouses destroying Israel and the West and establishing Islamic sovereignty across the Middle East, and ultimately throughout the world.

To defeat this strategic threat, international condemnation of all terrorist groups must be uncompromising. Only by condemning terror equally and unequivocally, whether carried out by Palestinian terror groups, radical Islamic groups, or by global Sunni and Shiite jihadist terror organizations, can the international community unite to confront and defeat radical Islamist terror wherever it attempts to strike.

* * *

The author thanks Jamie Berk, our Research Coordinator, for her important work on this article.

* * *

Notes

1 Moshe Yaalon, Forward, “Iran’s Race for Regional Supremacy: Strategic Implications for the Middle East,” Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs, 2008. pp. 6-12.

2 https://ihl-databases.icrc.org/ihl/WebART/470-750004

3 http://legal.un.org/avl/ha/cspca/cspca.html

4 Mutaz M. Qafisheh, “The issue of Palestinian political prisoners and the Israeli-Palestinian political process,” United Nations International Meeting on the Question of Palestine, April 3-4 2012.

5 “Legal Consequences of the Construction of a Wall in the Occupied Palestinian Territory (Request for advisory opinion),” International Court of Justice, July 9, 2004.

6 https://www.un.org/press/en/2016/sc12657.doc.htm

7 http://www.ecfr.eu/article/commentary_what_palestinians_can_expect_from_europe331

8 Alan Baker and Yossi Kuperwasser, “Vital Points on the Iran Deal: Major Flaws and Positive Elements,” The Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs, August 27, 2015.

9 The Author was one of a group of Israelis interviewing Ambassador Huntzinger, see also: Robert Owen Freedman, The Middle East Enters the Twenty-first Century, Gainesville: University of Florida Press, 2002, P. 253.

10 http://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-30571911

11 William Booth, “Here’s what a Hamas training camp for teens looks like,” Washington Post, January 29, 2015.

12 http://www.timesofisrael.com/attacker-yelled-allahu-akbar-as-he-fired-says-israeli-survivor-of-turkey-terror/

13 http://www.cbsnews.com/news/harsh-retaliatory-move-by-israel-after-tel-aviv-terror-attack/

14 https://www.theguardian.com/world/2015/nov/16/abdelhamid-abaaoud-suspected-mastermind-of-paris-terror-attacks

15 Bernard Lewis, Professor emeritus of Islamic and Near East at Princeton University and Professor Samuel Hunton of Harvard University have referred to Islam’s war against the West as a “clash of civilizations.” See http://public.wsu.edu/~appleton/gened111/coc.pdf

16 http://avalon.law.yale.edu/20th_century/hamas.asp

17 http://edition.cnn.com/2012/03/21/world/europe/france-shooting-suspect-profile/

18 http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-4557201,00.html

19 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7L1oVlbCL8Q

20 http://www.cfr.org/palestine/arafats-speech-un-general-assembly/p13823

21 http://palestineun.org/status-of-palestine-at-the-united-nations/

22 https://www.gatestoneinstitute.org/9772/un-bigotry-israel

23 Manfred Gerstenfeld, “Terrorism and European democracies: Then and now,” The Jerusalem Post, March 27, 2016.

24 Yossi Kuperwasser, “Incentivizing Terrorism: Palestinian Authority Allocations to Terrorists and their Families,” Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs, 2016.

25 https://unispal.un.org/DPA/DPR/unispal.nsf/0/FF1AD6B63366FCBF852575A100650D06 see also; https://www.maannews.com/Content.aspx?id=769877

26 http://www.timesofisrael.com/eu-softens-statement-but-lays-line-between-israel-and-settlements/

27 http://www.jpost.com/Diplomacy-and-Politics/EU-says-open-to-working-with-Palestinian-unity-government-355252

28 http://avalon.law.yale.edu/20th_century/hamas.asp

29 http://www.reuters.com/article/us-palestinian-unity-eu-idUSKBN0EE1NW20140603

30 Ronald Tiersky and John Van Oudenaren, European Foreign Policies: Does Europe Still Matter?, Plymouth: Rowman & Littlefield, 2010. P. 116. See also; Manfred Gerstenfeld and Jamie Berk, “

False Moral Equivalence as a Tool to Demonize Israel,” Gatestone Institute, April 18, 2016.

31 Yoram Schweitzer, “The Rise and Fall of Suicide Bombings in the Second Intifada,” Strategic Assessment, Vol 13, No.3, October 2010.

32 http://www.icj-cij.org/docket/index.php?pr=71&code=mwp&p1=3&p2=4&p3=6

33 Ibid.

34 Yossi Kuperwasser, “Incentivizing Terrorism: Palestinian Authority Allocations to Terrorists and their Families,” Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs, 2016.

35 http://www.wsj.com/articles/abbas-we-welcome-every-drop-of-blood-spilled-in-jerusalem-1445209820

36 http://www.jta.org/2016/06/23/news-opinion/israel-middle-east/netanyahu-accuses-abbas-of-spreading-blood-libel-in-eu-speech-that-earns-standing-ovation

37 http://www.timesofisrael.com/outrageous-as-it-may-be-unescos-jerusalem-vote-has-a-silver-lining/

38 http://www.un.org/webcast/pdfs/SRES2334-2016.pdf

39 https://www.state.gov/secretary/remarks/2016/12/264824.htm

40 http://www.timesofisrael.com/jerusalem-fumes-as-south-africa-hosts-hamas-chiefs/

41 http://avalon.law.yale.edu/20th_century/hamas.asp

46 https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/volokh-conspiracy/wp/2014/08/25/leftists-hamas-and-nazis/?utm_term=.6c54c4137996

43 http://edition.cnn.com/2013/07/03/world/africa/egypt-muslim-brotherhood-explainer/

44 http://cnnpressroom.blogs.cnn.com/2012/11/21/hamas-political-leader-to-amanpour-on-israels-right-to-exist-i-need-recognition-not-the-israelis/

45 http://www.nytimes.com/2007/06/20/opinion/20yousef.html

46 Dan Diker, “Why Israel Must Now Move from Concessions-Based Diplomacy to Rights-Based Diplomacy,” The Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs, July 1, 2007. http://jcpa.org/article/why-israel-must-now-move-from-concessions-based-diplomacy-to-rights-based-diplomacy/, see also: http://honestreporting.com/a_sickening_mor/

47 https://newrepublic.com/article/119022/2014-gaza-war-why-obama-and-kerry-have-failed-end-it

48 http://www.terrorism-info.org.il/data/pdf/pdf_11_339_2.pdf

49 http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/home-news/israel-gaza-conflict-thousands-protest-in-london-for-end-to-massacre-and-arms-trade-9659180.html

50 “Building a Political Firewall against the Assault on Israel’s legitimacy: London as a Case Study,” Reut Institute, November 2010. http://www.reut-institute.org/data/uploads/PDFver/20101219%20London%20Case%20Study.pdf

51 Dore Gold, “The Challenge to Israel’s Legitimacy: Trends and Implications,” Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs, 2010.

52 https://www.theguardian.com/world/2014/may/13/israel-tzipi-livni-diplomatic-immunity-uk

53 See Ehud Rosen, What is the Real BDS End Game? The Elimination of Israel, Jerusalem Issue Brief, Vol 14, No 3, Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs, February 12, 2014. http://jcpa.org/article/what-is-the-real-bds-endgame/ Source http://www.jpost.com/Diplomacy-and-Politics/EU-envoy-Israeli-participation-in-Horizon-2020-rests-on-pragmatic-settlement-guidelines-330290

54 http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2016/05/01/jeremy-corbyn-under-pressure-to-denounce-friends-hamas-and-hezbo/

55 http://www.jpost.com/Middle-East/Jeremy-Corbyn-set-to-speak-alongside-Hamas-supporter-Anas-Altikriti-467344

56 http://www.jpost.com/Middle-East/Report-London-is-mediating-indirect-secret-talks-between-US-and-Hezbollah-333245

57 According to British Journalist and commentator Melanie Phillips, in a meeting with the author, Jerusalem February 12, 2014.

58 According to a senior former Italian government official, in a meeting with the author, Rome, December 15th 2016.

59 http://www.worldtribune.com/israel-angered-by-french-foreign-ministers-meeting-with-hizbullah-leaders/

60 http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/middle_east/798470.stm

61 Freddy Eytan, “Will Europe Define Hizbullah as a Terrorist Organization?” Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs, February 18, 2013.

62 http://www.camera.org/index.asp?x_context=7&x_issue=11&x_article=1158

63 Gil Troy, Moynihan’s Moment: America’s Fight against Zionism as Racism, Oxford: Oxford UP, 2013 Print.

64 http://www.mepc.org/journal/middle-east-policy-archives/hezbollahs-social-jihad-nonprofits-resistance-organizations

65 http://www.ngo-monitor.org/reports/_overkill_ngo_responses_to_the_israel_lebanon_conflict_/

66 Gerald M. Steinberg, “NGOs that Take Sides,” The Jerusalem Post, July 30, 2006.

67 Iran’s Race for Regional Supremacy, The Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs, 2007, p. 26. Since the 2013 JCPOA agreement with the P5 plus one, the Iranian regime has invested at least 200 million dollars annually to bolster Hizbullah’s capabilities. http://jcpa.org/text/iran2-june08.pdf

68 http://www.timesofisrael.com/israel-raises-hezbollah-rocket-estimate-to-150000/

69 http://www.camera.org/index.asp?x_context=2&x_outlet=118&x_article=1148

70 https://www.nytimes.com/2015/06/25/us/tally-of-attacks-in-us-challenges-perceptions-of-top-terror-threat.html

Dan Diker

Dan Diker is a foreign policy fellow at the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs and a research fellow at the International Institute for Counter-Terrorism at IDC Herzliya.

He can be reached at diker@jcpa.org