THE ACHILLES' HEEL OF THE ACHILLE LAURO WARRIORS
The great ship slid gracefully through the gentle swells. A thin wisp of white smoke curled from a smoke stack. An emerald pennant undulated under the fierce blue Mediterranean sky.
On an upper deck an old man sat in his wheelchair. The sun shone warm on his wan face. It was a last caress.
Then angry words, two shots and the 79 year old was picked up, wheelchair and all, and hurled over the railing. He gyred helplessly. It was a long way down until the punctuating splash. Then he was gone. The deed was done. That fall marked the ascent of world terror.
The sky continued blue. The ship steamed on. The horizon remained empty. The silence, the engine's soft vibration, the relentless, slithering swells, nothing stopped. The four hundred passengers and crew journeyed on. Only now, that modern vessel, those blamelss vacationers, that holiday cruise had become the instrument of Palestinian gunmen.
They were soldiers of God. Nothing intimidated them. They longed for Paradise. Whether they would get clean get away to a secure haven in Lebanon, or meet death and martyrdom and Heaven, they had won.
That state of affairs persists. Men to this day claim the right to throw overboard whomever they please. They feel themselves imune, confident that their god approves. That primitive mindset - waving modern weapons, yet has us at its mercy. The silence, the empty horizon, the indifferent sea, our impotence - continue.
Why? Why, after 20 years, is that cruise not over? Why do we remain helpless? Why have we found no answer?
Is it because no solution exists, because nothing can curb fanatics? Is that the reason? Because there is no taming men, unafraid of death? Do terrorists lack an Achilles' heel?
No! They can be controlled. They can be made afraid. They too have an
Achilles' heel. Not to be afraid of death is not equivalent to lacking all fear. Even fanatics have an unprotected weakness.
Had we today a telephone line to Abu Abbas' men as they are about to murder that invalid, what could we say that would give them pause?
Threaten to defile Mecca or Medina?
No! ... It is true, Muslims would recoil from the sin and obloquy of provoking such a calamity. And yes, the West has the ability to punish those cities, at least as ferociously as Osama bin Laden defiled Manhattan and Madrid, indeed much harder. But such retaliation would be disproportionate. Klinghoffer's murder was not a nuclear event. Punishing sacred sites is not the way to protect a man in a wheelchair. The Achille Lauro incident exemplifies the many small acts of terror which require a measured reply.
There is something however, in the tenor of that approach. That direction holds the solution. The terrorist is fallible where his noblest and deepest emotions reside: his piety, his devotion to his cause, his loathing of his foe. There the most hardened jihadist is tender.
Touch that and he can be made afraid even before he commits a violent act. He can be put in dread, though in no danger of being observed, or identified or captured. He can be constrained and enjoined while anonymous and invisible in the darkest cavern. Because he cannot escape himself.
His exertions, his valor, his readyness for self-sacrifice, can be turned against him. The terrorist is capable of becoming his own enemy.
We cannot prevent a fanatic from doing what he pleases. But we can give his deeds consequences that will displease him.
When his exploits wound his cause, appal his friends, delight his enemies, offend the Almighty, then God's Warrior will be immobilized.
Leon Klinghoffer would not have been thrown into the sea had his killers known that their action would divert a $20 million grant, scheduled for a Palestinian village, to an Israeli kibbutz. They would have restrained themselves rather than have the Arab world that evening watch on television the faces of disappointed Palestinians, and those of gleeful Jews thanking the heroes of the Achille Lauro.
In short, the loathing Israel evokes is of value. It can be enlisted. It will transform the battlefield. No militant Muslim wants to benefit his bete noire. The very idea repels him. Moreover, it violates Islam. Far from opening the doors of paradise, terror acts will become sins blocking entry. Furthermore, while the West is unable to control fiery sermons inside the mosques, the mullahs cannot control TV broadcasts showing celebrating Jews profiting from the exertions of aspiring martyrs.
The war winning stratagem therefore, is to capitalize the hate Israel inspires with a multi-billion dollar fund. Reward Israel massively for each terror event with a Middle Eastern connection. Publicize every such award with an intense media spotlight. That will paralyze jihadists.
The fund can be stocked with the $2.8 billion presently awarded Israel annually, and the $2 billion now received by Egypt. The aid flowing to Palestine from the EU and Japan needs to be run through this kitty as well. The Palestinians and Egyptians would continue to receive their monthly allocations, except when terror attacks divert their money to the Jews.