Terrorism, unlike “ordinary” criminal actions, is political and ideological in its nature. It serves, first and foremost, a mobilising function within the society that terrorists seek to dominate; it is geared to the need to generate an impact on “world opinion”; and only then, in the order of priorities, it is also designed to de-moralise the target societies. From this analytical point of departure, the seminar will look at the origins of modern political terrorism, the totalitarian causes served and the methods used, and stories of success and failure in counter-terrorism. It will discuss the new international norms banning terrorism. Against this background, the seminar will focus upon Islamist terrorists, their purposes and the path leading to mobilisation and explore options for defeating Islamist totalitarianism.
Despite intense effort to defeat and de-legitimise it, particularly after 9/11, terrorism is still a pervasive feature of modern political realities. To understand it – and thus, to be able to fight it and contain its impact more effectively – we need an insight into the purposes of terror and the ideologies the terrorists seek to serve.
True, in some places, Anarchists, Marxists or Maoists are still involved in terrorism, so are White Supremacists in The U.S. and Europe. But the bulk of terror-related events and conflicts since the Soviet Union collapsed is related to the internal struggle for the soul of Islam.
In a seminar delivered from an Israeli perspective, there will be space given to the specific cases of Hamas and Hizballah (as well as Iran’s proxies in Gaza, Palestinian Islamic Jihad) purposes, modes of action, and points of strength and weakness.
Dr Eran Lerman is currently the Vice President of The Jerusalem Institute for Strategy and Security and a lecturer at Shalem College. Between 2009 and 2015, he had served as Deputy National Security Adviser to the Prime Minister; prior to that, he has been for eight years the Director, Israel and Middle East Office, American Jewish Committee; and on and off for 26 years, served in the I.D.F. Directorate of Military Intelligence (AMAN), rising to the rank of colonel in charge of political and strategic analysis. He holds a PhD from L.S.E. (1982) and a Mid-Career M.P.A. from the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard (1996). The author of numerous research and policy papers, his book on Anglo-Egyptian relations in the 1940s, has recently been accepted for publication in a British academic press.
The reasons that turned terror into a major policy challenge for many nations, its political impact, and the ways its rising salience related to modern politics- and the mass media. The political purposes of terrorism mobilising support and recruiting cadres from within the terrorists’ own societies. By doing that – escalating the costs of neglection and de-moralising the current “enemy”.
The meaning of totalitarian politics and Paul Berman’s analysis of the late 19th-century crisis of liberalism. The role of terrorism in the anarchist, Bolshevik and Fascist/Nazi movements and in power, and the importance of terror to a totalitarian takeover. The part of state-sponsored terrorism in the Cold War era and the connections to the Palestinian case.
Focusing on the origins of Islamist totalitarians. We’ll Explore the crisis of the late 1920s that included western colonial domination, new and dramatic European models such as Nazism and Fascism, for example, the abolition of the Caliphate by Ataturk and its immediate and long-term results and other crucial events across the 20th century.
How did Hizballah take over the Shi’a community in Lebanon and became more potent than the state? Lebanon south and the Dahia (West Beirut): a complex Palestinian legacy. The roots and history of Hamas, its rule in Gaza and the impact of the 1987 Intifada.
The Algerian Civil War as a decisive battlefield, the Egyptian case, the radicalisation in other parts of the Muslim world, and GWOT – the global war on terror.
New modes of terror, new security measures – the collapse of the old organisational charts; “lone wolves”, copycats and other social network animals; the challenge of intelligence collection vs privacy, due process and human rights. The other two prongs – C.V.E. and socio-economic solutions: generating a stake in stability and other avenues of participation.