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04TELAVIV6505 2004-12-22 17:29:00 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Tel Aviv
Cable title:  


This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.
					  C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 TEL AVIV 006505 


E.O. 12958: DECL: 12/08/2009

Classified By: Pol/C Norm Olsen for reasons 1.4(b) and (d).

1. (C) Summary: Brigadier General Yossi Kuperwasser told
CODEL Talent December 6 that the war on terrorism must be
waged across no less than five fronts: the physical battle;
the efforts of society itself to endure in the face of
continued attacks; society's need to remain true to its
values rather than resorting to unsavory tactics in order to
win; maintaining legitimacy of your country's actions in your
own eyes, in those of the population, and among the
international community; and finally to "maintain the
legitimacy of the narrative," something the United States did
not initially do well in Iraq. Calling it a battle for the
hearts and minds of the Muslim world, Kuperwasser said that
it is more important to win over the five million potential
al-Qaeda supporters than it is to try and convert the 15,000
actual ones. Kuperwasser welcomed Palestinian elections,
saying that the multiple candidates, in particular Marwan
Barghouti, would provide the Palestinians with a clear choice
-- moving forward to reform with Abu Mazen, or stagnating
further by supporting the Intifada with Barghouti. End

2. (SBU) Brigadier General Yossi Kuperwasser, chief of the
Research Division at IDF Military Intelligence, met with
Senator James Talent, Military Legislative Assistant Lindsey
Neas, Legislative Fellow Lore Aguayo, and Navy Senate Liaison
Deputy Director CAPT. James Stein (USN) on December 6. A/Air
Attache and Poloff (notetaker) accompanied.


Politics Over Religion


3. (C) BG Yossi Kuperwasser, chief of the Research Division,
IDF Military Intelligence, told CODEL Talent December 6 that
terrorism emanating from Palestinian extremists is not so
much a matter of religion as it is one of maintaining Arab
pride. Palestinian youth are taught that no sacrifice is too
great, even to the point of giving one's life as a suicide
bomber. In response to the Senator's question, Kuperwasser
agreed that religion plays a role as a tool, but maintained
his point, using the latest suicide bombing (at the Carmel
Market in Tel Aviv in November 2004) as an example: the PFLP,
which claimed responsibility for the attack, are a Marxist
organization, he said, not a religious one. Groups such as
these offer the would-be bombers the chance to be a heroes,
Kuperwasser said, something that appeals to "certain weak


"It is a Battle for Hearts and Minds"


4. (C) The most limiting factor in carrying out a suicide
attack is not recruiting the bomber, according to
Kuperwasser, but manufacturing the explosive device. Warming
to his subject, Kuperwasser said the problem is not to
convince, for example, the 15,000 al-Qaeda militants to
become pro-American, but rather to convince their five
million possible supporters to choose not to support
al-Qaeda. The Senator agreed, saying it is essential to
address the underlying causes of terrorism in order to fight
it effectively. The battle is one "for hearts and minds,"
Kuperwasser said.

5. (C) Kuperwasser called the ongoing war against terror one
of words and concepts, adding that the Arab world does not
acknowledge terrorism as such, in particular on media outlets
such al-Jazeera and al-Arabiya. Regimes, Kuperwasser said,
are not really relevant when it is media that is inside a
person's home and shaping that individual's view of the
world. Palestinian presidential elections are extremely
important, Kuperwasser said, as they have great legitimacy on
the Palestinian street and will thus be an important step
forward in conferring more legitimacy on the new crop of
Palestinian leaders. Kuperwasser contrasted this legitimacy
with what he described as "much less" legitimacy among Iraqis
for January elections in that country.


Barghouti's Candidacy is a Good Thing


6. (C) Kuperwasser professed to be unhappy that the
Palestinians could not, as a society, move ahead with
elections until after Arafat had left the scene from natural
causes. That being said, the elections themselves are the
most important thing, and the GOI fully intends to provide
the Palestinians with "everything they had in 1996," to
assist in successfully holding them -- including resolution
of the Jerusalem voter issue -- to leave no excuse to blame
Israel or subsequent failures of Palestinian governance. The
election of convicted terrorist Marwan Barghouti over
moderate pragmatist Abu Mazen would leave no doubt in
anyone's mind as to the direction in which Palestinian
society was headed, Kuperwasser said. (Note: Barghouti
subsequently withdrew form the race. End Note).


A Five-Front War


7. (C) Kuperwasser said that the U.S. is already fighting
the physical war against terrorism, and has shown the
seriousness of its intent by actions in Afghanistan and Iraq.
Kuperwasser said that there are four other fronts on which a
country needs to fight if it intends to win. For example,
the IDF has killed several thousand terrorists in the West
Bank and yet there are always some 200-300 terrorists active
at any one time. Thus society's endurance in light of these
unrelenting attacks is the second essential factor,
Kuperwasser said. Senator Talent agreed, saying that the
Israeli public must believe that Israel is winning the war
against terrorism and the Palestinians must come to believe
that their tactics are ineffective. The goal is to change
the Palestinians' expectations, Kuperwasser said, and the
exchange of letters between PM Sharon and President Bush
helped to achieve a fundamental alteration in the
Palestinians' mindset.

8. (C) The third essential element or "front," according to
Kuperwasser, is the extent to which a society remains loyal
to its values. Step away from those, Kuperwasser warned, and
popular support and legitimacy will be lost. The IDF's
cooperation with Shin Bet, for example, is about trying to
"conventionalize" this war, in the hopes of preventing
civilian casualties when possible. The IDF uses Shin Bet
intelligence in order make pinpoint strikes against, for
example, Qassam rocket launchers. All of Israel's national
defense assets, Kuperwasser said, are available to the
brigade-level commander, at last providing him with real-time
ability to respond to threats while limiting civilian
casualties. Kuperwasser contrasted these efforts with the
recent killing of a 13-year-old girl in Rafah by IDF
soldiers, the tragedy of which, he said, is compounded by the
fact that the commander of the unit involved is accused of
firing excessive shots into the girl's body. (NOTE:
Currently under investigation. End Note). "We deviated from
our values," Kuperwasser said, calling the affair "more
damaging (to Israel) than a suicide bomber."

9. (C) Kuperwasser said that the fourth front to maintain is
the legitimacy of your actions, in your own eyes and the eyes
of the international community, and the legitimacy of your
leadership. Calling President Bush's re-election the
"legitimization of the (policies of the) past four years,"
Kuperwasser said that a leader's stature is exceptionally
important in the Middle East context. Finally, Kuperwasser
listed what he called the "legitimacy of the narrative," as
the fifth and final front upon which the comprehensive war
against terrorism must be waged. The United States, in
Kuperwasser's view, did not have such a narrative in the
run-up to the Iraq war, instead shifting several times its
main rationale for overthrowing Saddam Hussein. Kuperwasser
agreed with Senator Talent's assessment that action in Iraq
had been to demonstrate that American values are available to
the entire world and not just the West, but Kuperwasser
maintained that too much time was spent trying find other
justifications for the invasion, such as the search for WMD.


"Our Experience Might Not Work For You"


10. (C) On GOI counter-terrorism efforts, Kuperwasser said
that his department and the IDF overall have "great
relations" with their U.S. counterparts, sharing both methods
and experience in the fight against terrorism. Kuperwasser
stressed, however, that the culture among U.S. intelligence
agencies is vastly different from that in Israel, where
Kuperwasser said that military intelligence and Shin Bet are
"hand in glove," despite disagreements and different overall
strategic missions. Shin Bet is tasked directly with
fighting terror; military intelligence also fights terror,
but looks at the wider regional threat, and develops the
National Intelligence Assessment.

11. (U) CODEL Talent cleared this cable.

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