The Israeli Secret Services and the Struggle Against Terrorism

Ami Pedahzur

Columbia University Press

The Israeli Secret Services and the Struggle Against Terrorism

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Pub Date: September 2010

ISBN: 9780231140430

232 Pages

Format: Paperback

List Price: $28.00£24.00

Pub Date: February 2009

ISBN: 9780231140423

232 Pages

Format: Hardcover

List Price: $85.00£71.00

Pub Date: February 2009

ISBN: 9780231511612

232 Pages

Format: E-book

List Price: $27.99£24.00

The Israeli Secret Services and the Struggle Against Terrorism

Ami Pedahzur

Columbia University Press

While Mossad is known as one of the world's most successful terrorist-fighting organizations, the state of Israel has, more than once and on many levels, risked the lives of its agents and soldiers through unwise intelligence-based intervention. The elimination of Palestinian leaders and militants has not decreased the incidence of Palestinian terrorism, for example. In fact, these incidents have become more lethal than ever, and ample evidence suggests that the actions of Israeli intelligence have fueled terrorist activities across the globe.

An expert on terror and political extremism, Ami Pedahzur argues that Israel's strict reliance on the elite units of the intelligence community is fundamentally flawed. A unique synthesis of memoir, academic research, and information gathered from print and online sources, Pedahzur's complex study explores this issue through Israel's past encounters with terrorists, specifically hostage rescue missions, the first and second wars in Lebanon, the challenges of the West Bank and Gaza, Palestinian terrorist groups, and Hezbollah. He brings a rare transparency to Israel's counterterrorist activities, highlighting their successes and failures and the factors that have contributed to these results. From the foundations of this analysis, Pedahzur ultimately builds a strategy for future confrontation that will be relevant not only to Israel but also to other countries that have adopted Israel's intelligence-based model.

Replete with detail, vignettes, and insights, this book provides a unique inside account of the Israeli intelligence and security services' sixty-year-long struggle against terrorism. It is the most comprehensive and authoritative depiction and analysis of this struggle currently available in the English language.

Bruce Hoffman, author of Inside Terrorism

A most valuable addition to the growing literature on the quest for a proper response to contemporary terrorism. Ami Pedahzur's analysis is responsible, balanced, and sober. It assesses the successes and failures of Israel against the background of manifold practical constraints and limitations, while anchoring the assessment in the most up-to-date contemporary social science theories. The result is a very fine book, which in fact goes beyond the existing parameters of antiterrorism as understood in Israel and also many other democracies.

Gabriel Ben-Dor, National Security Studies Center, University of Haifa

A succinct but thoroughly researched account of how Israel's security agencies have sought to defeat terrorist organizations from the pre-state Yishuv to events following the 2006 war with Hezbollah. After examining the historical record, Ami Pedahzur concludes that the application of defensive measures has proved more successful in deterring terrorist attacks than 'targeted killings' and other forms of warlike measures.

Leonard Weinberg, University of Nevada, Reno

Ami Pedahzur has written an astute, well-documented, and compelling analysis of Israel's reliance on the 'war model' to combat terrorism. Israel's political and military leaders were consistently unable to resist the temptation of dramatic and costly uses of force when modest defensive or conciliatory measures were preferable. This lesson should not be lost on any national policymaker confronted by terrorism.

Martha Crenshaw, Stanford University

[Pedahzur's] insights are so well reasoned and relevant that the pages almost turn themselves.

Publishers Weekly (starred review)

[A] superb examination of Israel's secret services.

Daniel Byman, New York Post

More than entertaining spy stories... this book will be a great aid to other Western countries around the world struggling to confront terror.

Jewish Book World

[Pedahzur] offers a brilliant description of Israel's fight against terrorism from 1948 to the present.

Seth J. Frantzman, The Jerusalem Post

A fascinating history of counterterrorism by Israeli security agencies... Highly recommended.


"The Israeli Secret Services & the Struggles Against Terrorism" is a fine read and solidly recommended.

James A. Cox, Midwest Book Review

the book sheds a great deal of light on the activities of counterterrorism organizations that mostly operate in the shadows and on the seemingly haphazard ways counterterrorism policy is formulated in times of crisis.

Aaron M. Hoffman, Shofar
List of Figures
1. The Emergence of Israel's Counterterrorism Doctrine
2. The Path to the Defensive Model and Back
3. Rescuing Hostages
4. The Lebanese Puzzle
5. New Challenges from the West Bank and Gaza
6. The Global Challenge of Iran and Hezbollah
7. New Rivals, Old Responses
8. A War Against an Elusive Enemy
9. The Second Lebanon War and Beyond
10. Fighting the Terrorism Plague
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About the Author

Ami Pedahzur is professor of government at the University of Texas at Austin. His books include Jewish Terrorism in Israel (with Arie Perliger), Suicide Terrorism, and The Israeli Response to Jewish Extremism and Violence: Defending Democracy.