America at War Again
by Herbert Druks, Ph.D.
In protest to America's attempt to isolate Israel Prime Minister Sharon said on October 5, 2001, that "We can rely only on ourselves. And from today forward, we will only rely on ourselves." In 1968 General Yitzhak Rabin observed that Israel could "depend on nobody, nobody will solve our problems for us and nobody will raise a finger to aid us." That is something that Israel has realized from the start, but even so it has sought the friendship and alliance of the U.S. There is a friendship and there is an alliance of sorts, but it is there for al long as the U.S. finds it suitable and convenient. Every once in a while Israeli leaders awake to this reality. It is something they have to learn to live with. And after Israeli leaders declare their independence they come back to the U.S. and say like Sharon said: "To my regret the metaphor [of Czechoslovakia] in my speech was not understood properly, and I regret it. President Bush has made a courageous decision to set as a goal the eradication of terrorism."
On October 9, President Bush released a list of 22 most wanted terrorists. Among those included were three Hizbullah terrorists. The Israelis were gratified that the U.S. extended its list of terrorists and terrorist organizations. As a spokesman for Sharon's office put it: the inclusion of three Hizbullah names on the 22 most-wanted terrorist list is significant, because it signals all parties that the U.S. is 'widening its net.' Placing these three on the list shows that terrorism is indivisible, and that any attempt to make a distinction between terrorism against occupation and terrorism against the Twin Towers is not possible. The Palestinians are trying to draw distinctions, but it doesn't work. You can't exonerate one organization, because then the whole war on terror will crumble."
According to a Jerusalem Post report of October 10, Sharon was likewise grateful that Secretary of State Colin Powell has let Arafat know that he had to arrest terrorists, and that if he did not the U.S. would not hold Israel back from retaliating. Sharon's government assumes that Bush has "no moral position to rebuke Israel for taking self-defense action." Israel was invoking its right of self defense just as the U.S. was doing in its war against the terrorists in Afghanistan. "What is good for the U.S. is good for us as well."
On October 12, President Bush reaffirmed his support for Israel, a Palestinian state and Arafat's "crackdown" on extremist elements operating within the Palestinian Authority. "I have met with Prime Minister Sharon," said President Bush, "and I have assured him every time we've met that he has no better friend than the United States of America." "I also stated the other day that if we ever get into the Mitchell process, where we can start discussing a political solution in the Middle East, that I believe there ought to be a Palestinian state, the boundaries of which will be negotiated by the parties so long as the Palestinian state recognizes the right of Israel to exist and will treat Israel with respect and will be peaceful on her borders." President George W. Bush added elements to his statement that his predecessors did not include. It was not enough that the Palestinian entity recognize the right of Israel to exist, but that it was obliged to treat Israel with respect and to be peaceful on its borders.
But while the President did not yet see it appropriate to meet with Arafat for "an empty photo opportunity," Prime Minister Tony Blair of Great Britain did meet with Arafat and spoke of a viable Palestinian state as part of a peace settlement.
Because of the continued Arab violence and the assassination of Cabinet Minister Rehavam Ze'evi Israeli forces entered several towns and villages inhabited by Palestinian Arabs. The State Department pressured Israel to remove its forces from those places. While Secretary Powell called on Israel to withdraw from Area A and he also called on Arafat to arrest the murderers of Ze'evi. Some members of the House of International Relations Committee challenged American policy as hypocritical, especially in view of its actions in Afghanistan.
Congressman Tom Lantos, a Democrat from California, asked Secretary of State Colin Powell if the U.S. expected to accept terror. Powell responded by saying that Israel as a democratic state had a right to defend itself "in a way that it sees fit and appropriate," but that the State Department would continue to speak out against targeted assassinations which might impede a return to peace talks.
Observers of these events like William Safire of the New York times found that by insisting that Israel withdraw from the Arab trouble spots without putting an end to the troubles, the Bush administration was undermining Israel's ability to defend itself. The American administration knew "full well that Israel cannot turn the other cheek when one of its cabinet ministers is assassinated. And it knows that at a moment when the U.S. is dispatching bombers and soldiers to kill the assassins of our citizens harbored by the Taliban in Afghanistan, it is the height of hypocrisy to demand that our ally refrain from hunting down killers harbored by the P.L.O." The consequences of appeasement diplomacy will only be to encourage further attacks on America's friends and on America itself.
It was the diplomacy of appeasement and weakness that minimized Israel and raised the importance of Arab extremists and terrorists that ultimately led to the World Trade Center disaster and the situation the world is in today. Appeasement has led to war and disaster. As Safire observed in his October 25 column, "the proper response to our ally's self-defense is to understand Israel's lonely anguish and applaud its resolve."
All this is just the start of the Anglo-American war against terrorism. How it will expand, how it will effect the American homeland and the globe we have no way of knowing at this point. In due time we will learn more. It is hoped that George W. Bush will not call it quits as his father did in the war against Iraq. Saddam Hussein remained in power and he rebuilt his stockpile of armaments. Now it is reported he has many tanks and troops as he had in 1991 and Iraq is still working on chemical, biological and nuclear weapons. It is hoped that he will not yield to those politicos that are only too ready to sacrifice Israel in order to win
Points among Arab potentates.
Perhaps Sharon's protests made an impact on President Bush. But here too only time will tell how it all will turn out. It would be the greatest of tragedies and folly if as a result of the murderous policies of Arab terrorists in Afghanistan, Iran, Syria or Gaza the State of Israel would have to yield its security and territorial integrity in order to satisfy the whims of international politicos. It would be the greatest of tragedy and folly if the only democracy in the Middle East would be sacrificed at the altar of politics by the most powerful democracy in the world.
Professor Herbert Druks, author of The Uncertain Alliance, The U.S. and Israel from Kennedy to the Peace Process, (Greenwood, CT, 2001).
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