India and Israel should lead the fight on terrorism

Each country’s unique approach to counterterrorism would make a perfect combination.

A MAN climbs a pole during Benjamin Netanyahu’s visit to India in January 2018 (photo credit: REUTERS)
A MAN climbs a pole during Benjamin Netanyahu’s visit to India in January 2018
(photo credit: REUTERS)
Repeated terrorist attacks on democratic countries continue to raise questions on their ability to unite against militant Islamic terrorism. While it’s true that democracies are not the only targets of terrorist groups, their Islamist leaders openly show their disdain for democracy, as they see this idea as a serious threat to their core concept of world domination. In a scenario where one group is fighting for a common cause and the other is not even able to develop a common consensus, it seems that this clash is going to exist for much longer than the civilized world anticipated.
In 1984, at the “2nd International Conference on Terrorism” organized by the Jonathan Institute, a group of political leaders, parliamentarians, scholars, security officials and senior journalists from the United States, England, France, Italy, Germany, Japan, Australia, Israel and other countries, gathered in Washington to discuss the growth of global terrorism.
In the conference, the historian and father of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, the late Benzion Netanyahu, raised a serious concern about the attitude of democratic countries toward terrorism, saying, “Our attitude toward terrorism and the way we treat it, the way we are getting conditioned to its horrors, and above all our reactions to the dangers of enslavement represented by the terrorists and their masters, indicate that we are struck with a serious moral sickness that debilitates our capacities to act as free men.”
It is an unpleasant reality that after more than three decades, the topics discussed in that conference are still relevant, and the “serious moral sickness” hinted at by Benzion Netanyahu has grown exponentially.
Terrorism has evolved from a national security challenge for some countries to a threat to the entirety of human civilization. Against the thriving evolution of terrorist ideologies and their continuous improvisations, there is a long track record of unsuccessful attempts by the victims of terrorist nations to even develop a mutually agreed definition of terrorism.
In one of his recently published articles, “An International Definition for Terrorism,” International Institute for Counter-Terrorism founder & executive director Prof. Boaz Ganor mentioned that the lack of a universal definition for the term “terrorism” enables some states to say they stand against it, while in practice they support it.
He further states, “International counter-terrorism cooperation efforts are dangerously stunted by the lack of global consensus regarding what constitutes the threat. Such consensus is necessary to effectively block terrorist funding sources, disrupt related money-laundering schemes, and foil recruitment efforts.”
Over the years, the invention of some clever terms, such as “Islamophobia,” “demonization of Islam,” and “anti-Muslim prejudice,” etc. has created a new kind of chaos. The word “terrorism” itself is becoming more and more complex, and those parts of the world which earlier provided the launching bases to international terrorism are now attempting to reshape the fight against it. Terrorism thrives on hypocrisy.
In 2015, the international hypocrisy reached a new height when the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia announced the creation of an Islamic Military Counter Terrorism Coalition (IMCTC), which they declared as “a unified pan-Islamic front against terrorism.” The IMCTC’s primary objective, as mentioned in the official document, is to protect Muslim countries from all terrorist groups and terrorist organizations. When this inter-governmental military alliance was announced, some 34 Islamic nations – including the Palestinian Authority and Pakistan – joined the league. As of November 2017, its membership is 41, and most of its participants are the members of Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC).
On January 6, 2017, Pakistan’s former chief of army staff, Gen. Raheel Sharif, was appointed IMCTC’s first commander-in-chief. This is the same general who in 2016 gave a threat to “wipe Israel off the Map.” These kinds of anti-terrorism efforts are a serious concern as these can take the fight against terrorism on a different path and can redefine terrorism and global counter-terrorism policies in their own terms.
India and Israel both have suffered a lot due to the international hypocrisy and definitional fuzziness, and both are tackling it in their own unique ways. Israel sees terrorism as a cause which originates mainly from Iran, with a quest for world domination and threats to wipe off Israel from the world map. India considers terrorism a threat to humanity and rejects the idea of an artificial distinction between any of its forms.
Israel has a rich experience, and over the years has developed some crucial operational capabilities in counter-terrorism, which today every country seeks to learn from it. On the other hand, India’s rich diversity, plurality, and unique culture of co-existence have enabled it to acquire a wider acceptance, even in the Muslim world, and strengthened its voice in the international forums, which is equally crucial in the fight against radical Islamist ideologies.
According to Prof. Ganor, every counter-terrorism strategy must address two variables – motivation and operational capability. And an effective counter-terrorism strategy is one which has the desire to reduce motivations underlying the phenomenon of terrorism, as well as reduce its operational capabilities. As he mentioned in one of his articles, “Only the correct combination of these two variables and a parallel coordinated struggle can bring the phenomenon of terrorism to its knees, or at least reduce its scale.”
India’s philosophical traditions – some of which it is pursuing to date in its diplomacy, such as “vasudhaiva kutumbakam,” which means the world is one family – and its conflict avoidance approach, have the potential to defeat the idea of terrorism. India to a large extent can help some Muslim-majority nations in their process of deradicalization. Meanwhile, Israel’s proven capabilities and rich experience of counter-terrorism can help in effectively limiting the operational capabilities of terrorist regimes. Together, both countries make a perfect combination which is needed to deal with the global menace of terrorism.
A major part of the world is a victim of terrorism, and they are looking for the right direction in their counter-terrorism efforts. It will be interesting to see whether in their next governments India and Israel will explore some possibilities in this direction.
The writer promotes advanced technologies, start-up ecosystems and the Indian government”s business and technology-related initiatives.