Just What the Terrorists Wanted

Throwing Egypt off the world tourism map in general, and the Israeli tourism map in particular, achieves a triple strategic aim for the terrorists: harming the secular regime in Egypt, killing Israelis and sabotaging Egyptian-Israeli relations.

With all the sadness and anger, it must be acknowledged that from the perspective of the Islamist fanatics, the murderous terror attack in Sinai fulfilled the expectations. Not long ago Ayman al-Zawahri, who is considered Osama bin Laden's deputy, declared that the road to Jerusalem starts in Cairo. Public declarations and secret intelligence indicate that Al-Qaida made it its aim to damage the peaceful relations between Cairo and Jerusalem - one of the major assets of the secular regime in Egypt and an important gateway to the West. This time Israel's security services took the threat seriously and recommended that its citizens put off plans to travel to Sinai. The longing for the wide open spaces of the Egyptian desert, it turns out, is so strong that tens of thousands of Israelis ignored the risk. Many are swearing that henceforth they will not set foot on Arab land. This is just what the terrorists want.

The "supra-national" Islamic terror organizations have made it their goal to embitter the lives of the "heretics," people of Western culture, and to undermine the foundations of the democratic system. And indeed, following the terror attacks of September 11, 2001, Americans' individual freedom and their freedom of movement have been damaged. Moreover, the pressure to respond to the slaughter pushed the government of President George W. Bush into problematic battlefields in Afghanistan and in Iraq. If on November 2 the Democratic candidate Senator John Kerry defeats Bush, Bin Laden will have had a part in this change. This will be the second terror attack to have determined the outcome of elections in the "coalition countries." The terror attack in the heart of Madrid on March 11, on the eve of the parliamentary elections there, led to the transfer of the government to the Socialists, who had promised in advance to withdraw the Spanish soldiers from Iraq.

The fight against extremist Islamic terror, of the Al-Qaida variety, has its own (lack of) logic: On the one hand, every success the terrorists achieve in carrying out their nefarious plans, as in the case of the terror attacks in Sinai, encourages them to carry on. The secret of these terrorists' victory lies, therefore, to a large extent in the determination of the leaders of the countries they have targeted and in the endurance of their citizens. On the other hand, it is to be expected that a responsible government, like a reasonable parent, will not dismiss lightly any scrap of information that indicates a plot to harm their children. In many cases, the practical implication of the desire to minimize risks is knuckling under to terror. Thus, indirectly, throwing Egypt off the world tourism map in general, and the Israeli tourism map in particular, achieves a triple strategic aim for the terrorists: harming the secular regime in Egypt, killing Israelis and sabotaging Egyptian-Israeli relations. There is no cure for this terror, apart from enlisting all the sane forces in the world, including in the Arab world, in a war to the death against the murderers operating ostensibly in the name of Allah.

Islamic terror of the sort perpetrated by Hamas, the Islamic Jihad and the Al-Aqsa Brigades has a different sort of (lack of) logic. These organizations dislike the attempt to use the Palestinian issue for purposes of Islam's struggle against the West, thereby distracting the world's attention from their people's suffering. They speak and act against the Israeli occupation, initially in the territories that were occupied in 1967. Peace initiatives like the Oslo agreements and the Geneva accords have not, in their opinion, brought the end of the occupation any closer. The suicide attacks and the Israeli responses have been aimed at thwarting these initiatives, and they have indeed endowed them with a bad smell in Israeli and Palestinian public opinion.

Thus, launching rockets on Sderot has been aimed at interfering with the implementation of the disengagement plan, since it is well known that Prime Minister Ariel Sharon does not retreat under fire. And in case anyone had forgotten this, the prime minister has announced that the disengagement will be implemented only after the launching of Qassams ceases. This, as far as the Hamas is concerned, means that the bombardment of Sderot is achieving its end. So why stop? A prime minister who has decided that Israel's interest necessitates embarking on a unilateral move of getting out of the territories should have declared that no terrorist is going to stop him. Instead, Sharon and his senior advisor have chosen to declare to the last of the seekers of peace in the Gaza Strip that the Hamas is right - the disengagement plan is indeed a plot to bury the peace process.