Two of Israel's leading experts on international terrorism said today that the United States appears to have adopted the Israeli method in dealing with terrorism, and they urged further U.S. military strikes against Libya.
Urging continuous U.S. pressure on Libyan leader Muammar Qaddafi, Ariel Merari, of Tev Aviv University's Jaffee Center for Strategic Studies, said, "The most important statement Ronald Reagan made was that if necessary he would do it again. Qaddafi has to know that this is more than public relations."
Another leading Israeli expert on terrorism, Haim Shaked, of the Dayan Center for Foreign Policy at Tel Aviv University, also called for continued U.S. pressure on Libya, saying, "I think the United States has adopted Israeli tactics. These are not perfect, but they have an impact."
Shaked added, "Israel was the first hijacking victim, and everybody in the West hoped then that it would be limited. They have since discovered that it cannot be. After so many years, Israel is not alone in the battle."
Washington's decision to launch concentrated air strikes against Tripoli and Benghazi, Shaked said "is the kind of method which until now has been identified exclusively as the 'Israeli method.' "
Prime Minister Shimon Peres said today that there were indications of "some infighting" inside Libya, adding that an uprising against Qadaffi might help the battle against international terrorism.
Peres, speaking to a delegation of the American-Israeli Friendship League, said an attempted coup d'etat would serve as a warning to other states that support terrorism. "Now, I believe, the fact that an attempt to reduce it terrorism , to bring an end to it, will make many countries more careful, to have second thoughts, and the center of violence will be cut to size," Peres said.
Both Merari and Shaked said in interviews that Qaddafi's strategy in harboring and aiding terrorist organizations stems from a carefully considered doctrine of maintaining his country's political revolution by actively participating in what he views as national liberation movements.
"The key is that Qaddafi isn't crazy. He wants to survive, personally, and he wants his regime to survive. Had he believed the United States would go this far, he would have been more cautious in the past," Merari said.
Shaked, in a separate interview in the daily Yediot Aharonot, elaborated on his view that only further U.S. military pressure on Libya would forestall an escalation of terrorism backed by that country.
Qaddafi "couldn't help but be badly harmed [politically] by the American attack," Shaked said. "He will therefore increase his efforts to strike at American and Israeli targets -- actually, at everyone he identifies as a friend of the Americans.
"It is possible that the American initiative hasn't yet reached its completion. However, the Americans' ability to act in this direction depends on the president's readiness to face the heavy pressures which will be exerted by the Russians and America's European allies."
While neither Merari nor Shaked addressed the question of whether the U.S. air raids could lead to an escalation of hostilities and a worsening of the security situation in the Middle East, Israeli officials continued to contend that without such strong measures, increasing terrorism would, by itself, lead to a deterioration in the region's security.
"We hope the lesson will be learned," said a senior official, who stressed that Israel, while supporting the U.S. action, did not initiate it or know about it in advance.
Israeli public opinion, as reflected by a broad political spectrum of the Hebrew press, appeared solidly behind the U.S. raids.
The conservative afternoon daily Maariv editorialized today, "We hope that the United States will continue to pressure Qaddafi until he no longer exists. Washington stands almost alone in this campaign. It needs help."
Yediot Aharonot said in an editorial: "Israel, the prime target for many years of terrorist attacks, cannot but praise the American action in Libya. With this operation, the United States has become the first country in the world to adopt the Israeli position, according to which it is impossible to overcome terrorism without taking drastic measures against the 'crazy countries' that aid terror and give shelter to those who carry it out."