L. Neil Smith's
THE LIBERTARIAN ENTERPRISE
Number 45, May 1, 1999
Israel's Answer to Eliminating School Terrorism
Copyright © by By Dr. David Th. Schiller
P.O. Box 1363, D-56373, Nassau, Germany
name is Dr. David Th. Schiller, currently residing in the little
town of Nassau, 70 km northwest of Frankfurt. I work as
editor-in-chief of VISIER, a 168-pages strong general interest gun
magazine which I started eleven years ago in Stuttgart and which has
now grown to be the most influential and best selling gun magazine in
all of Europe. Of course with a gun magazine published in Germany,
politics are at the forefront of our editorial work, and we have an
eye toward the past.
was born in (West) Berlin in '52 in Germany, moved to Israel in '72
and served in the Israel Defense Force's Airborne, which means I am
now a veteran of the '73 war, the Lebanese war, and a number of
border raids and actions in the occupied territories. Wounded in 1973
on Suez canal, I later studied political science at West Berlin's
Free University and mastered with a thesis on the origins of the
Civil War in Lebanon and a Ph.D. in '82 with a work on the
Palestinians' "love affair" with terrorism and paramilitary activity.
When I returned to Germany in '74-'75 for studies I was called upon
by the Berlin Police department to consult and teach their SWAT team,
which just came into being after the Munich massacre during the
Munich Olympics. Over the years this extended into a whole series of
work obligations with various police departments in Germany and other
places in the world. Due to my work in the Israel Defense Force (IDF)
as a drill instructor and weapons specialist and through my academic
interest, I had something to teach to these people. I also worked
some years for the terrorism research department of Santa Monica's
RAND Corporation, and have continued my academic pursuits.
the years I published a number of books on shooting, police,
terrorism, military history etc., most of these under the pseudonym
of "Jan Boger". You probably might find a photographic journal of
mine in English on the IDF, called "To Live in the Fire...",
published in 1977 by the John Olson Publishing Co. in New Jersey.
you can see, I experienced violence and gun control from both ends
of the barrel, one might say. And of course, I grew up to be a strong
believer in the personal right to self defense, especially as I spent
my childhood in the Berlin equivalent of the Bronx.
for Colorado and the US gun control laws in regard to schools:
back in 1973 - '74 I lived in a Kibbutz in Northern Israel,
called Ramat Yochanan. During Passover week in '74 we in Galilee
experienced the first of a number of specific PLO attacks targeting
specifically schools and children houses, kindergartens, school buses
and the like. It started with an infiltration in Quiriat Schmoneh on
the Passover weekend, where the perpetrators found the school empty
and locked (of course during the holidays!) and took over a nearby
residential building, shooting people and in the end blowing
themselves up. A few weeks later the worst of this series of
incidents took place in Maalot on May 15th: Three PLO gunmen, after
making their way through the border fence, first shot up a van load
full of workers returning from a tobacco factory (incidentally these
people happened to be Galilee Arabs, not Jews), then they entered the
school compound of Maalot. First they murdered the housekeeper, his
wife and one of their kids, then they took a whole group of nearly
100 kids and their teachers hostage. These were staying overnight at
the school, as they were on a hiking trip. In the end, the deadline
ran out, and the army's special unit assaulted the building. During
the rescue attempt, the gunmen blew their explosive charges and
sprayed the kids with machine-gun fire. 25 people died, 66 wounded.
this a controversial debate erupted in Israel in regards to
guns, self defense etc. We heard of course the same dumb arguments by
some good people, you always hear on these occasions like " We do not
live in the Wild West here!" Or: "Guns don't solve problems!" or
similar silly things.
the help of some smart people, not the least the then
Commander-in-Chief, Northern Command Paratroop General Raful Eytan,
all the reservists on the settlements were issued their personal
weapons, and whoever had a clean track record could get a concealed
weapons permit. I for instance had and still have one.
and kindergarten nurses now started to carry guns, schools
were protected by parents (and often grandpas) guarding them in
voluntary shifts. No school group went on a hike or trip without
armed guards. The Police involved the citizens in a voluntary civil
guard project "Mishmar Esrachi", which even had its own sniper teams.
The Army's Youth Group program, "Gadna", trained 15 - 16 year old
kids in gun safety and guard procedures and the older high schoolboys
got involved with the Mishmar Esrachi. During one noted incident, the
"Herzliyah Bus massacre" (March '78, hijacking of a bus, 37 dead, 76
wounded), these youngsters were involved in the overall security
measures in which the whole area between North Tel Aviv and the
resort town of Herzlyiah was blocked off, manning roadblocks with the
police, guarding schools kindergartens etc.
problems with gun safety there, as most kids in Israel grow up
used to seeing guns on the street (in the hands of army personnel on
leave, every soldier takes his/her gun home when on leave!). When the
message got around to the PLO groups and a couple infiltration
attempts failed, the attacks against schools ceased. Too much of a
risk here: Terrorists and other evildoers don't like risks.
what does all that teach us?
(A) schools/kindergartens make for very attractive targets for
the deranged gunman as well as for the profit-oriented
hostage gangsters or terrorist group, because:
(1) everybody sane will cave in to the demands of the evildoers
(even somebody as hard-nosed as Golda Meir, may she rest in
peace, said during the Maalot incident, that one does not
make politics on the backs of one's children). Nobody wants
to play the principles-game when kids are involved. Kidnapping
has thus often resulted in the paying of ransom demands.
(2) if you crave media attention, as for instance the PLO did
in the 70's, nothing will catch the headlines better than
an attack on a school-full of kids.
(B) Now THAT is the underlying "reason" behind each and every
incident that involved killing sprees in schools... from
Maalot to Dunblane to Jonesboro. Only recently the French
had a hostage/barricade incident in a kindergarten: the
guy wanted money, and the French authorities solved that
problem very neatly with a stealth-type approach by one
of their special teams and a .357 bullet in the head of
the perpetrator, when he refused to surrender. No follow
up imitations occurred in France.
you do not have to be a prophet to foresee, that we will see more
school-shooting incidents in the U.S. or other western nations, where
media attention is focused on these things and where every incident
is replayed second by second umpteen times on the tube, thereby
creating in the minds of certain viewers examples to follow...
can we stop the media from playing out these scenarios in full
color and gruesome details for hours and hours, again and again?
Certainly not. We in the terrorism research field have argued for
decades that it was exactly the media coverage that spurred more and
each time more violent and extreme terrorist incidents. Could we stop
the media from advertising the terrorist message? Certainly not.
is apparently one price we have to pay living in a worldwide
infotainment society. The airplane hijackings in the 70's and 80's
are a case in point.
only thing we can do is protect possible victims...And laws
written in some books will not achieve that. Never have, never
will...Enough said. I rest my case.
"I don't care if you want to hunt. I don't care if you think it's
your right. I say: 'Sorry, it's 1999. We have had enough as a nation.
You are not allowed to own a gun, and if you do own a gun I think you
should go to prison.'" -- Rosie O'Donnell, 4/26/99
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