Terrorists Hit London Again; It's Time to Learn from Israel

(Wall Street Journal) Editorial - * The second attack in London in as many weeks means the Israelization of the war on terror may now be upon Britain and, sooner or later perhaps, Europe and America, too. By "Israelization," we refer to the steady stream of bus, cafe, grocery, mall, and street bombings to which Israeli civilians have been wantonly subjected these past several years. * In a country as small as Israel, nearly everyone had a personal connection to one of the 1,000 Israelis murdered in terrorist attacks over the past five years. * Yet "Israelization" also means the methods Israelis have refined over the years to contain the terrorist threat. Chief among Israel's innovations - since adopted by the Bush Administration - has been to treat terrorism as something different from criminal behavior, and to respond to it as something more than a law-enforcement problem. In some instances, this has led to actions that make civil libertarians uneasy, particularly the round-up and imprisonment of hundreds of Palestinians deemed security risks, although this has been key to reducing the number of terror attacks by more than 90%. * Last year, Britain's Law Lords ruled as unconstitutional a 2001 antiterrorism law that gave the government the right to detain indefinitely terrorist suspects who were not British nationals, provided they could not be returned to their home countries. This raised the question of what, if anything, Britain could seriously do about suspected foreign jihadists living in its midst other than set them free. As we have learned in recent days, it is precisely such attitudes, along with a laissez-faire approach to all forms of "political" speech, including speech that incites to violence and sedition, that turned London into the European haven of choice for Muslim extremists. * Whatever one thinks is the best legal framework required to deal with domestic and foreign terrorist threats, what the bombings in London make clear is that the old legal tool kits no longer work. And the sooner we learn to "Israelize" our approach to terror - both in Europe and the U.S. - the better the chances our lives won't be Israelized in turn.

2005-07-22 00:00:00

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