Sunday, August 06, 2006

The opponent Ishmael

I think this needs to be said in toto, I hope Avi Schneider and YNet do not mind me putting this excellent peice up here as well...
"The difficulty in confronting Ishmael lies first in the tendency to underestimate him. A unique look at the Torah’s blueprint for fighting Hizbullah and Hamas" Avi Schneider

"From the dawn of Jewish history, the Bible understood what it was that would make Ishmael the most persistent and dangerous rival for the Land of Israel the Jews would ever have. It was not Ishmael’s willingness to wage all-out war. It was his refusal to do so.
The opponent Ishmael is not what you would normally call “passive” in the traditional sense of the word. In the Bible he is even described as “wild”. Yet wild as he may have been, it doesn’t change his “passivity” as far as combat is concerned. He is passive in that his attacks, taken individually, are fleeting, without great substance.
In the Bible, Ishmael never commits himself to take a solid stance against his more committed brother, Isaac, the future Jewish Patriarch. So his attacks lack the gravity of an existential threat. However, they prove to be bothersome enough to infringe upon Isaac’s development.
Such an opponent is dangerous because if he is not dealt with early you will see an accumulation of damage over time. After a long period of allowing Ishmael to play his game you will look back and find that he has impeded your progress to a surprising degree and that you are far behind where you thought you’d be.
The tendency to underestimate the enemy
The difficulty in confronting Ishmael lies first in the tendency to underestimate him. Given that his attacks lack real substance, you may not feel it’s not worth spending the time and energy to stop them. Even if you do decide to take action it cannot be a long drawn out donnybrook for which many people feel obliged to prepare at length whenever they anticipate conflict.
The very character trait which prevents Ishmael’s attacks from being lethal also prevents an elaborate, powerful counterattack from being leveled at him; by the time you establish a strong basis for launching an attack, Ishmael has already uprooted himself and moved to another area from which to renew his harassment.
Ishmael’s strategy, in other words, is that of guerrilla warfare. Generally a guerrilla war is conducted by a small, ill-equipped force against a far larger and more powerful one. The guerrilla understands or rather believes he would be no match for such an opponent in a face-to-face battle so he aims to harass him instead. But this approach has serious deficiencies which we will soon delineate.
The guerrilla strategy is predicated on the calculation that the larger opponent will never decide that it is worth committing the necessary energy to seek and destroy the guerrilla for good. This apathy will allow the guerrilla to slowly wear his larger opponent down over time to the point where the larger opponent will come to believe he lacks the ability to stop the harassment and he will, sooner or later, give up. This guerrilla strategy requires a buffer between the guerilla and the opponent. Face to face, the guerrilla applying his strategy will surely lose. He needs space to maneuver from target to target.
The passive fighter
In martial arts, for the “passive” fighter, this lack of commitment translates as distance. It means the passive fighter, at any given time, has multiple options for an attack and if one avenue seems too well defended he can immediately shift to another. Keeping distance and not taking the time to gather significant energy/substance for each blow affords him greater speed for shifting his orientation.
This form of attack, this guerrilla threat, is one of restraining. And that is the Opponent Ishmael’s ultimate goal. Ishmael doesn’t need to defeat you with a knockout blow. Instead he needs only to harass you and thereby keep you at bay long enough for you to see your goals pass you by. This is the major mistake people make when fighting an Ishmael-like opponent.
You might feel it is not worth the effort. You might feel that fighting him is even questionable from a moral standpoint; after all, he is weaker and his attacks - you’ve convinced yourself - are not existentially threatening. Ishmael, on the other hand, is relying on the slow deterioration of your deterrent capacity (and in particular your will to deter him) leading to your total defeat.
Therefore even one goal lost to this type of opponent, one harassment that goes unanswered, should be considered unacceptable.
The solution
There's a need to attack this opponent spontaneously, ferociously and continuously with a mind toward random attacks aimed at multiple targets. Here it is quantity that is key with the aim of overwhelming your opponent, as apposed to more focused, surgical attacks on designated weak points.
The reason being: Ishmael’s lack of commitment. This is his true weak point. His refusal and/or inability to commit, to take a stand, his lack of discipline, in other words his lack of precisely those characteristics required repelling a continuing and random barrage, is what will leave him helpless before it.
Ishmael’s most prized asset – elusiveness - becomes ineffectual when he is no longer at leisure to choose the timing and ever-shifting targets of his harassing attacks so as to inflict just enough damage to avoid a severe response and to be able to retreat in time to avoid whatever response might be forthcoming.
Keeping his distance allowed Ishmael to see the big picture and know when his target was too busy to respond to minor attacks or too far off in a different direction to respond in time. A nonspecific barrage of threats to multiple targets on Ishmael thereby negates his ability to calculate.
If executed with the proper amount of ferocity and consistently leveled against Ishmael with no respite, such attacks will eventually force him to scrutinize his convictions and decide whether he truly is willing to sacrifice for them. In other words you force him to either take a stand or yield.
At this point, for Ishmael to defend himself, he will have to both find the confidence to stand against you and invest what it takes to oppose you, two things he is unlikely to find and do.
Adapt relevant strategy
So, if he does yield, you win. If, on the other hand he takes a stand, if he somehow finds the confidence and commits the energy needed to try to oppose you, than you have destroyed the characteristics that make Ishmael who he is along with his repetitive small scale attacks and everything else that accompanies an Ishmael opponent. You now face a different personality on the passive aggressive scale and your strategy must adapt accordingly.
Either way the Opponent Ishmael is destroyed.

Historically, both terrorists and genuine guerillas have employed Ishmael-like tactics. But there is a difference between the two. Terrorists specifically target noncombatants. Guerrillas do not. This is a night and day difference and should be clear to any civilized and mentally fit human being.
Unfortunately, today too many people get caught in the trap of feeling it is morally incorrect to apply the proper vigor to defeat terrorist opponents and instead invest their energy in cataloguing grievances and dissatisfactions that might justify the terrorists’ behavior. In our view this approach is both dangerously negligent and morally devoid of all merit."

Avraham Schneider is the author of the forthcoming book, Social Combat Theory, a Unique Conflict Management Tool for Business Professionals and a blackbelt candidate in Tora Dojo. He can be reached at

This sums up what I recently posted on the e-mail group I belong to, got shot down by some but maybe they will start thinking... here is my view;
"Coming back to extremism...
Yes I am an extremist when it comes to war... war is not engaged lightly and as such should not be fought lightly as we in the west have tended to do since WW2, it is always "what will the press say" or "what will the UN" say... war is a fight to the death as far as I am concerned and we in the "west" have become scared to wage war. Negotiation and diplomacy is the way to go about it, untill you see it is too late.
This could become our undoing I fear for the enemy we face at present does not fear death or war or anything else because his "religion" enthrones violence, terror, deciet and mayhem as a means to kill and enslave those that do not wish bow to their way of thinking. The only way to fight this is to eradicate it roots and all...
If anyone does not see this then I wash my hands as I have no other way of opening your eyes to the truth that is happening in all countries of the world."

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