Introduction In 2006, a high school textbook used in Australia sparked controversy for informing students that ‘throughout history, most terrorist acts have been carried out by nation states’. The textbook referred to various cases of state terrorism, including the United States in Nicaragua during the 1980s, as well as ‘other examples of state-run terrorist campaigns . . . in Russia (in Chechnya most recently), Turkey (in Kurdistan), Israel (in Palestine), Indonesia (in Aceh, West Papua and East Timor most recently)’ (Heinrichs 2006). The national education minister demanded the withdrawal of the book from school curriculums, declaring ‘it is inconceivable that information is being taught in schools which claims Australia is “reaping the harvest” of our foreign policies and our “Western imperialism” ’ (Heinrichs 2006). The minister’s response to the textbook encapsulated a closely guarded tenet of Australian public discourse that ‘the West is always the innocent victim of terrorist attacks, never its perpetrator’ (Burchill 2006). Any notion to the contrary – that the counter-terrorism measures of democratic governments worldwide need to be open to the same criticisms and analytical groundwork as the terrorist actions of non-state groups – is indeed rejected routinely by Western governments. Yet, in a period of international relations dominated by a War on Terror, the artificial distinction drawn between terrorism and democratic governance offers the reassurance of moral certainty but ultimately reinforces and masks the global imbalances which clearly underpin contemporary conflicts. As Thomas Kapitan argues, the term terrorism ‘is the expression of choice for illegitimate violence, exempting states from being agents of terrorism yields an unfair rhetorical advantage to established governments, especially since states usually inflict greater harm upon civilians than do non-state agents’ (emphasis added ) (2004: 178). In this chapter, I take my cue from Kapitan’s above observation and I examine the use of terror tactics by the state of Israel in its response to a crossborder attack by Hezbollah in 2006. On 12 July 2006, the Lebanese group Hezbollah or ‘Party of God’ launched a series of rockets against northern Israeli towns and simultaneously attacked two

Israeli army vehicles, patrolling the Lebanese border. Three Israeli soldiers were killed, two were wounded and another two were abducted in the assault. The Israeli response was immediate and forceful, but hardly proportional. Using naval and aerial bombardments, as well as a ground offensive, the Israel Defence Forces (IDF) targeted the communal centres of Hezbollah’s support in the mostly Shia localities of the Beqaa Valley, southern Lebanon and Beirut. The IDF also targeted Lebanon’s civilian infrastructure including main roads, bridges, water and sewage plants, petrol stations and airports. In turn, Hezbollah carried out guerrilla-style campaigns against Israeli soldiers and launched thousands of rockets against northern Israeli communities, including the major port city of Haifa. The July War or the Second Lebanon War, as Lebanese and Israelis refer to the conflict respectively, lasted 34 days and resulted in the deaths of more than 1,000 civilians, mostly Lebanese people.1 The intensity of the Israeli response to Hezbollah followed a distinct logic of deterrence. By displaying their military might and the will to use it, Israeli leaders purportedly aimed to pressure Hezbollah into releasing the Israeli hostages but, in the long term, they sought to deter the group from engaging in future operations against Israel. As Nadav Morag, a political scientist and former Israeli foreign policy advisor, maintained, ‘the Israeli wars with Hezbullah [sic] in Lebanon and with the Palestinians in Gaza must be seen in the context of the pressing Israeli need to re-establish some semblance of a deterrent capacity’ (Morag 2006). Such deterrence clearly uses terror to achieve its objectives: a point best illustrated in the Israeli case by the deliberate bombing of civilian targets in order to dissuade the Lebanese population from supporting Hezbollah. In spite of its terrorist qualities, the strategy of deterrence is a popular military measure employed by governments around the world. Its popularity, I argue below, relates to the ways in which deterrence draws on notions of a strong national identity and images of an undifferentiated enemy, who is conceived of as unable to dialogue outside a relationship of violent domination.