Honor and deterrence

Nadia Matar

Nadia Matar

Nadia Matar is co-chairperson of the Women In Green organization, which affirms the “central role of Eretz Israel for the future of the Jewish People.” The group calls for the application of Jewish sovereignty over Judea and Samaria, and often takes direct but non-violent action against Arab encroachment on Jewish land in the territories. Need I add that she is considered by some to be a dangerous extremist?

But there are things that she understands much more clearly than they do. For example, here is a recent news item. Note the part that I emphasized:

Dozens of Efrat residents, along with activists from the Women in Green group, demonstrated Wednesday afternoon at the northern entrance to Efrat in Gush Etzion. The protest, part of the effort by Judea and Samaria residents to “take back the roads” and make them safe from terrorist rock-throwers and gunmen, was attended by dozens of people who have had enough of the ongoing attacks on drivers, a spokesperson for the protesters said. …

Speaking at the event, Women in Green head Nadia Matar said “Arab rock-throwing is not just a physical danger, but also damages the honor of the Jewish and Israeli people. The Arabs’ purpose is not just to kill the driver they are throwing rocks at, but also to sow fear into the hearts of Jews and prevent us from using the roads of the Land of Israel altogether. The IDF must respond in a way that is going to make it clear that Israel will not accept these attacks.”

More generally, the ongoing struggle to keep the Jewish state is not only a physical struggle, but a struggle for the honor of the Jewish people. If you find that way of speaking off-putting, consider Richard Landes’ concept of ‘cognitive warfare’:

All asymmetrical wars take place primarily in the cognitive arena, with the major theater of war the enemy’s public sphere. The goal is to convince your far more powerful enemy not to fight. In defensive cases, from the Maccabees to the Vietnamese, this has meant getting imperial powers to “go home.” But Islamists who want to spread Dar al Islam [and Palestinian Arabs who want to replace Israel — ed.] conduct an offensive campaign: how to get your targets to surrender on their own home ground? In this seemingly absurd venture, they have had remarkable success.

Honor is a concept that is paramount in non-Western cultures. Sometimes it seems that the West has no clue about that. It applies both to oneself and to one’s enemies: if you lose your honor in your own eyes, you lose your will to fight; and if you lose it in your enemy’s eyes, he is not afraid of you. In the latter sense, honor is closely related to deterrence.

A powerful military capability is not sufficient to deter an enemy if he does not believe that you have the will to use it properly. A nation without honor, no matter how powerful it appears to be, makes itself a target. This is what Nadia Matar understands — and Barack Obama doesn’t.

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2 Responses to “Honor and deterrence”

  1. Shalom Freedman says:

    She is of course correct. The issue is not however confined to rock- throwing but touches upon a very wide range of different kinds of attacks against Jews. This even touches upon the police and the military who have often been in situations where the restraint demanded of them has led to their humiliation. We have seen soldiers fleeing rock- throwers and other similar kinds of humiliation.
    It is important and no doubt more should be done to deter those who engage in any kind of violence against Israelis. But we also should remember that overall we are the ones with the real power and the real control of the territory. The problem is however we often wait until the provocation becomes injurious, and even fatal, before taking appropriate response. The Park Hotel in Netanya in Pesach is perhaps the classic example of the other side going too far and then soon coming to know a response by us which decisively changed the situation for years to come.

  2. Vic Rosenthal says:

    “We have the real power.” … But every time we are humiliated we lose a bit of it.