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Posts Tagged ‘Moshe Rosenblatt’

After Yeshiva Mercaz HaRav Kook: Understanding The Horribly Human Face Of Arab Terror

Wednesday, April 2nd, 2008

Pain can sometimes be sanitized by language, but it can never be truly anesthetized. For the Arab terrorists, violence against the innocent is always a jubilant abstraction; a “purifying” ritual, even after their crimson tide has been loosed. For the victims, suffering is inevitably a deeply personal violation; stark, undimmed and always inexpressible.

History is abundantly clear on this point. Most recently, we mourn victims of the March 6, 2008 Palestinian terror attack on the Mercaz HaRav Kook Yeshiva. Significantly, for the Palestinians, both for the active murderers and for the literally tens or even hundreds of thousands of cheering sympathizers, there is really nothing new under the sun. For this savagely twisted Arab community, deliberate and barbarous assaults upon the innocent have always been its raison d’etre, its very reason for being.

“I murder, therefore I am.” This cadaverous phrase might just as well be the proud credo of Palestinian terror violence, from its defiled early beginnings all the way up to Mercaz HaRav. Consider that on January 17, 2002, a Palestinian terrorist entered a banquet hall in Hadera, Israel, opening fire (as in Mercaz HaRav) in every direction with an assault rifle. There to celebrate a Bat Mitzvah, six guests were killed, and 30 were injured. The Al Aqsa Martyr’s Brigades, an operational element of “moderate” Fatah, claimed responsibility. In Tulkarem, hundreds marched gleefully through the streets soon after the attack. Shooting wildly into the air, these “freedom fighters” sought to collectively confirm their just-completed “victory” against old women and young children.

In Hadera, six persons were killed and 30 injured in what the terrorists had termed a “military action” (the Mercaz HaRav attack was also termed a “military action” by all Palestinian communities). But what does terrorism really mean in such circumstances? What is the distinctly human face of terror in these assaults?

Here is the way in which the Hadera attack was described to me directly by Dr. Moshe Rosenblatt, a personal friend and a skilled Israeli surgeon who worked tirelessly on that earlier terror-filled day to save innocent lives:

“Dear Lou. The terrorist attack took place at the other end of my street, some 800 meters from my building. I’ve been many times in this wedding hall, so I could easily have been one of the people there. I would be dead now, and/or my wife and children. Fortunately, this time at least, it didn’t happen.

“Despite the fact that I’m the director of a surgical outpatient clinic, on these events I always go to Hadera’s hospital to help my colleagues. That’s what I did today. I ran to the operating room where I entered into an almost heroic operation to save the life of a middle-aged woman. One of the terrorist bullets had ruptured her liver, stomach, bowels and major vessels. We couldn’t stop the bleeding. So we opened her chest to cross-clamp the aorta, while undertaking direct heart massage. All in vain. She died of massive hemorrhage, blood and feces strewn everywhere.

“I then changed my surgical clothes and entered another operating room to begin, with my colleagues, another operation. This time the patient was a young guy with an abdomen full of shrapnel. We had to resect the lower part of his ruptured large bowel, but − at the end of the operation − he was still bleeding profusely through his wounded hip. I left the room while the orthopedic surgeons began to operate on his right hip. I believe he will also die. He is bleeding too much, likely because of a disastrous medical problem called DIC (Disseminated Intravascular Coagulation), which depletes all of the coagulation factors − leaving the patient bleeding everywhere. The anesthetists and intensive care teams will try to overcome the problem; I’m praying for this young man.

“Many other patients were treated by other surgeons. My surgical dress was full of blood. I took a shower and here I am, at 4:00 in the morning, writing to you, my friend. I just can’t sleep now. Although very tired, I’m too excited because after all these years of seeing blood and death on my hands, I never quite get used to it.”

“…I never quite get used to it.”

Yet, this is what Israelis are asked to endure (sometimes daily) yesterday for the ill-fated Oslo “Peace Process,” today for the so-called “Road Map.” It is still an altogether lurid and inexcusable cartography. For Israel, it is still land for nothing. For Israel, the territorial concessions will always be unrequited. For the West in general, and for the United States in particular, Israel remains the miner’s canary, a presumably instrumental sacrifice to satisfy resolute and (literally) bloodthirsty enemies. Naturally, this is not “normally” the sort of allegation that one cares to make out loud.

Dr. Moshe Rosenblatt’s unvarnished account of a single physician’s day in the aftermath of Palestinian terror wears a distinctly human face. In our shadowy world of otherwise comforting euphemisms and endurable abstractions, it is a frightful but palpable description. Only in such a boldly straightforward account may we actually understand the true meaning of “terror victim”, whether at a Bat Mitzvah in Hadera or in a Jerusalem Yeshiva.

The terrorist, too, has a discernibly human face. Much as we may wish to deny it, he or she is also human, all-too-human in fact. More often than we acknowledge, this other human face reveals the sheer voluptuousness of terrorist violence, a longed-for ecstasy that often bears no relation to any strategic or tactical advantage. This last point warrants especially careful attention, as it is plain that repeated Palestinian murders of defenseless Israelis actually undermine the stated Palestinian goal of self-determination and statehood.

Terrorism is a codified crime under international law. From the jurisprudential standpoint, anyone who deliberately targets noncombatants, and who does so with clear intent of maximizing pain and suffering, is a terrorist. Period. There is NO legal validity to the popular cliché, “One man’s terrorist is another man’s freedom fighter.” This uninformed remark, usually uttered in the contrived accents of a pretended sophistication, is always an empty witticism.

The distinctly human face of terror can be detected in both the victim and the perpetrator. The Jerusalem and Hadera attacks in Israel uncovered a very basic but still unrecognized truth about both faces: 1. Terror victims have no nationality. We are all potential victims of lawless insurgencies, and the anguished human face of terror is common to us all. 2. Terror perpetrators often terrorize for the sheer human exhilaration of bringing pain to others. Terrorists always claim to act on behalf of very precise and tangible social, political or religious objectives, but their deeper human motives would suggest very different goals.

Perhaps, once it is better understood, the human face of terror can become the starting point for more genuinely effective strategies of counter-terrorism. Heaven knows they are desperately needed before Palestinian murderers start to turn to chemical, biological or even nuclear weapons.

Copyright © The Jewish Press, April 4, 2008. All rights reserved.

LOUIS RENÉ BERES was educated at Princeton (Ph.D., 1971) and is the author of many books and articles on terrorism and counterterrorism. He is Strategic and Military Affairs columnist for The Jewish Press.

The Social Impact Of Terrorism: A Human-Centered Perspective

Wednesday, November 17th, 2004

What is the social impact of terrorism?

As scholars, we like to approach issues of Homeland Security analytically. Analytically, of course, the social impact of terrorism is contingent upon a number of factors, especially:

1. The nature of weaponry involved (WMD terrorism vs. conventional terrorism);

2. The degree to which vulnerability is generally felt;

3. The actual vulnerability of people, structures, and institutions;

4. The extent of area affected (limited/localized attacks would likely elicit more efficient governmental response and recovery);

5. The capacity of society and government to react and recover (itself contingent upon many other factors); and

6. The actual and expected duration of terror.

But, candidly, we don’t have to get too analytical to understand that the social impact of terrorism is normally captured far better by poets than by the physicists or political scientists.

We may recall with benefit a famous poem by W.B. Yeats, with its grievously prophetic imagery of horror: “The blood dimmed tide is loosed/and everywhere the Ceremony of Innocence is drowned.”

Like Yeats, Bertolt Brecht was also right on the mark. Says Brecht:

“Truly I live in dark times… The man who laughs has simply not yet heard the terrible news.”

We, here in this Purdue University assembly this afternoon, HAVE heard the terrible news. We KNOW, with little hesitation, that mega-terror is already on the way, and that there is little that can be done to prevent it altogether. Whether it be a form of bio-terrorism and/or a “dirty bomb,” our enemies are dedicated to enlarging the “blood- dimmed tide,” and their capacities to carry this out are undeniably considerable.

Here in Indiana, at the Newport facility, there is enough stored VX nerve agent to literally kill or injure a staggering number of people (some scientists even speak of millions of possible casualties). How shall we extrapolate from such unimaginable levels of lethality to questions of “social impact?”

We seek answers to precisely this question this afternoon. We who are in the Homeland Security field must continue to look for viable remedies. We have no other choice.

As someone who has worked closely for almost a quarter-century with Israeli and American intelligence communities, I know that there ARE ways to deal with even the most barbarous forms of terrorism. But these ways have various unpalatable qualities, and are difficult at times to reconcile with democratic principles and the laws of war. Moreover, as we now face instances of WMD terror, the prospective costs of terrorism are so overwhelming that distasteful trade offs between individual liberties and public safety could become irresistible and altogether necessary.

For a brief look at the true human meaning of terrorism, we have distributed copies of an Op Ed piece that I wrote especially for The Jewish Press with Chicago-area radiologist Dr. Michael Messing. Please read it closely. For another, consider these comments from a physician friend of mine in Israel, Dr. Moshe Rosenblatt (a general surgeon) about one of his many encounters with the victims of suicide- bombing terrorism. These comments were written a few years ago, after one of many Palestinian terror attacks upon Israeli women and children:

“Dear Lou,

‘The terrorist attack took place at the other end of my street, some 800 meters from my building. I’ve been many times in this wedding hall, so I could easily have been one of the people there. I would be dead now, and/or my wife and children…. ‘Despite the fact that I’m the director of a surgical outpatient clinic, on these events I naturally always go to Hadera’s hospital to help my colleagues. That’s what I did today. I ran to the operating room where I entered into an almost heroic operation to save the life of a middle-aged woman. One of the terrorist bullets had ruptured her liver, stomach, bowels and major vessels. We couldn’t stop the bleeding. So we opened her chest to cross- clamp the aorta, while undertaking direct heart massage. All in vain. She died of massive hemorrhage; blood and feces were strewn everywhere.

‘I then changed my surgical clothes and entered another operating room to begin another operation. This time the patient was a young guy with an abdomen full of shrapnel. We had to resect the lower part of his ruptured large bowel, but ? at the end of the operation ? he was still bleeding profusely through his wounded hip. I left the room while the orthopedic surgeons began to operate on his right hip. I’m sure that he will also die.

‘Many other patients were treated by other surgeons. My surgical dress was covered in blood. I took a shower and here I am, at 4:00 in the morning, writing to you, my dear friend in Indiana. I just can’t sleep now. Although very tired, I’m too distraught because after all these years of seeing blood and death on my hands, I never quite get used to it.”

So here is what lies behind the news reports of terror; behind the sanitized statistics; behind the anesthetized and hermetically-sealed calculations of the scholars.

This report concerns a very “limited” instance of terrorism, at least relative to what we now face in both Israel and the United States. And this report is from a hardened battlefield surgeon. My friend Dr. Moshe Rosenblatt has stitched up countless torn bodies in three major wars.

(To be continued)

Copyright (c) The Jewish Press, 2004. All rights reserved.

LOUIS RENE BERES (Ph.D., Princeton, 1971) is the author of ten major books and several hundred articles dealing with terrorism, war and international law. He has worked for over a quarter-century with American and Israeli counter-terrorism communities, and is current Chair of “Project Daniel,” advising Israel’s Prime Minister on nuclear security issues. His columns have appeared in such newspapers as “The New York Times”; “The Washington Post”; “USA Today”; “The Chicago Tribune”; “The Indianapolis Star”; “Haaretz” and “The Jerusalem Post.” Professor Beres is Strategic and Military Affairs columnist for The Jewish Press in New York City.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/columns/louis-bene-beres/the-social-impact-of-terrorism-a-human-centered-perspective/2004/11/17/

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