PUBLISHED : Saturday, 07 December, 2002, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 07 December, 2002, 12:00am

In your editorial on November 30 ('Terrorists won't win') you put forward an understandable but oversimplistic reaction to the terrorist attacks in Mombasa.

It has been said before and it must be said again that most so-called terrorism is not just the action of a few crazy individuals with suicidal tendencies who 'can never win'.

It is usually an extreme and ugly symptom of a deep-rooted problem, of a sense of injustice that has been allowed to appear precisely because the root problem has been ignored or exacerbated by those whom the terrorists now target. These terrorists may not win (though many, re-defined as freedom fighters, have) but neither will the 'coalition' as long as such root problems exist.

The Palestinian question is the root that currently unites most terrorist groups as well as a large number of non-terrorist sympathisers worldwide. Many - Muslim and Christian, Arab and Jew - who abhor violence can still find the terrorists' actions 'comprehensible', if not at all 'justifiable', when they think of Israeli actions in Palestine, also often against civilians. As long as Israel refuses to give Palestinians a modest 30 per cent of their original country free of all settlements (which at the moment dominate the landscape in the West Bank and Gaza) and with a shared capital in Jerusalem, then the terrorists will have at least one indisputably just cause.

Resolving this root problem with a coalition of forces and resolutions, similar to that backing disarmament in Iraq, would not be appeasing terrorists, but removing roots from which they grow. Not to do anything is to appease an already over-powerful Israel, and reinforce its radical right, as the US and much of Europe have been doing for the last half century.