Fanaticism and Contempt

02/09/2009 05:12 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

Once the master of revolutionary war, Israel cannot seem to grasp the essential nature of asymmetrical warfare.

In the eyes of so many, the detestable Hamas militants firing the rockets are the brave Davids struggling to protect their families and villages from the overwhelming force of the American-backed Israeli Goliaths. Yesterday's attack by Israel on a UN school, which killed at least 40 civilians -- many of them children -- has shocked even this Middle Eastern democracy's most ardent supporters.

In asymmetrical warfare, the fanatacism of the weaker attacking force, invariably triggers the kind of massive retaliation that makes the contemptuous mighty responders appear much more fanatical then their antagonists. During World War II, Japan's frenzied embrace of suicide tactics, especially the use of suicide bombers, led directly to the intentional targeting of innocent civilians by the U.S., hundreds of thousands of whom were burned alive by our attacks.

Israel has misinterpreted its enemy and its national interest. The rocket-launching militants will never overthrow Israel. But the killing of so many women and children, by tanks and aircraft paid in part by America -- and built in part by American corporations -- threatens to derail Israel's international support. And should American support fade, Israel's destruction becomes a real possibility.

Asymmetrical warfare is unlike all other types of fighting. In the current conflict, the militants are not trying to kill Israelis. Hamas, knowing Israel cannot be beaten on the battlefield, has opted instead to goad Israel into a disproportionate, fanatical response. If the Israelis continue to kill women and children, foreign support will surely fade. Israel will be left isolated, and the Hamas terrorists will have won.