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September 5, 2015 / 21 Elul, 5775
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Staying Alive: Israel In An Age Of ‘Martyrdom’

Louis Rene Beres

Louis Rene Beres

The truest source of global influence is always power, but the highest expression of power is not, as conventionally believed, superior military force. It is, rather, a perceived triumph over mortality. For Iran, and also for that proposed government (Hamas, Fatah, it makes little difference) of executioners now battling each other for control of some emerging Palestinian state, killing Jews – killing Israel itself – offers an incomparable fusion of private ecstasy and personal survival.

Sometimes, truth may emerge through paradox. Yet again, sworn enemies of Israel are convinced that in killing Jews, and, even more grand, in “killing” Israel, they will overcome their own insufferable mortality. For the Islamist “martyr,” whether as a terrorist murderer, or as a murderous terrorist writ large (as a suicide state), killing Jews and killing Israel is the ideal affirmation of a meritorious life.

Israel will remain standing. This is certain. Still, we must inquire, softly but also soberly, at what expected cost?

About the Author: Louis René Beres (Ph.D., Princeton, 1971) is professor of political science and international law at Purdue University and the author of many books and articles dealing with international relations and strategic studies.


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