September 16, 2019 | 62° F

COMMENTARY: United States learning from Israel how to combat terrorism

According to a Fox News Network article published in March 2016, deaths due to terrorism have increased eight-fold over the past decade and violence in Europe is expected to increase over the next two years as extremists continue to take advantage of the European Union’s immigration system. Analysts predict that global terrorism will not only increase in 2016 and beyond, but that it will also expand in countries like Thailand, the Philippines and India. These findings are extremely frightening and show that this is a vital time for the global community to improve its strategies for combating terrorism.

A persuasive speech about improving global communication standards and practices I had to write for my public speaking class last semester prompted me to look further into the topic of how the United States is responding to the rise in terrorism and what it is doing to ensure it is well prepared to prevent and respond to it. Since I wrote this speech, there have been several more terrorist attacks — including the recent attacks in New York, New Jersey and Minnesota.

My research had led me to Israel, a country that is smaller than the size of New Jersey, yet has been capable of surviving constant terrorist attacks since its creation in 1948. Due to its placement in the most unstable region on the planet — perfectly surrounded by the Middle East and Egypt and the rest of Africa on the West — Israel’s existence has been depending on highly developed counterterrorism and intelligence practices. Out of necessity, Israel has created a cutting-edge security industry that consists of advanced counterterrorism technologies. According to, since last October there have been 41 Israelis and Americans, one of whom was 18-year-old Ezra Schwartz who planned to attend Rutgers this year, murdered in civilian areas. Israel’s experiencing every form of terrorism, including suicide bombings, vehicle rammings, stabbing attacks and rockets, has resulted in its being far ahead of the rest of the world when it comes to security.

For years, Israel has been assisting the United States government and the private sector by sharing its techniques and technologies for homeland security and counterterrorism. The American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) lists several of the many ways Israel has been lending a helping hand to the United States when it comes to security. American aviation security has improved drastically since the U.S. Transportation Security Administration began working with world-renowned security experts at Israel’s Ben-Gurion International Airport. The Israeli-developed Screening Passengers by Observation Technique (SPOT), a behavior observation and analysis program designed to provide a means of identifying suspicious persons by focusing on behaviors indicative of high levels of stress, fear, or deception —  is one of the many practices Israel has shared with the U.S. Additionally, Israel has helped America to improve its preparedness. American observers from the Federal Emergency Management Association (FEMA) and the National Guard travel to Israel annually to participate in Israeli homeland security drills. Border security has also been improved. The U.S. Department of Homeland Security hired Israeli defense firm Elbit Systems to build surveillance towers for the Arizona-Mexico border equipped with radar and cameras to detect human movement. Israeli company NICE Systems is being used on the Port of Miami to improve its monitoring equipment. Police cooperation has also benefited. Israel has provided counterterrorism training techniques, security procedures and means of mass casualty emergency preparation to multiple American law enforcement agencies.

Mass transportation, emergency management, bomb detection — you name it. Israel has been helping the U.S. improve its counterterrorism practices and standards in every sector.

The benefits of this cooperation have even hit close to home. Next time you travel from Newark and JFK Airports, keep in mind that the American Verint video surveillance security system functioning there is made possible by the company’s extensive assistance from and operations in Israel.

Deborah Shamilov is a School of Arts and Sciences junior majoring in biology. She is a Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting (CAMERA) Fellow.

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Deborah Shamilov

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