Jewish National Fund - We Only Have ONE ISRAEL

Washington: Do As I Say...

By Daniel Pipes

The U.S. government has a habit of seeing the same military moves very differently, depending on whether Israeli or American forces carry them out. This inconsistency results from a misunderstanding of the nature of the Arab-Israeli conflict.

For example, "targeted killings" (executing would-be terrorists before they have a chance to organize or act) are "unhelpful" when done by Israeli troops but "very good" when done by Americans.

Thus, State Department spokesman Richard Boucher condemned Israel's September 2002 attack on Mohamed Deif: "We are against targeted killings. We are against the use of heavy weaponry in urban areas, even when it comes to people like Mohamed Deif, who have been responsible for the deaths of American citizens. We do think these people need to be brought to justice."

A few weeks after this incident, however, U.S. forces deployed an unmanned plane to drop a bomb on an Al-Qaeda operative, Mi Qaed Senyan al-Flarthi, as he traveled by car in Yemen. A Pentagon official praised this as "a very successful tactical operation" to "keep the pressure on" Al-Qaeda. No talk here about bringing Harthi to justice.

When asked about the apparent contradiction, Boucher insisted that U.S. policy on Israeli targeted killings "has not changed," adding for good measure that justifications for the U.S. action in Yemen "do not necessarily apply in other circumstances."

Commenting on this particular performance, Max Boot wrote in the Weekly Standard that "whatever Richard Boucher is paid, it's not enough. His ability to advocate a nonsensical State Department line, with a straight face, time and again, is a credit to the diplomatic profession." Others in Washington should probably get a raise too:

Then there is the invisible assumption that Israel is engaged in a peace process while the United States is fighting a war. Richard Boucher hinted at this as he flailed about condemning Israeli targeted killings: "we all understand that the situation with regard to Israeli-Palestinian issues and the prospects of peace and the prospects of negotiation and the prospects of the need to create an atmosphere for progress."

Translation: Israel has already won its war vis-�-vis the Palestinians by getting them to accept its existence, so a diplomatic solution is on track and Jerusalem must not spoil this prospect. In contrast, the United States still has a war to win, so it can and must use real force. Unfortunately, the past decade has shown Boucher' s analysis to be faulty: the Palestinians have not accepted Israel's existence, as shown by evidence ranging from children's television shows to mosque sermons. Boucher's "prospects of peace" will remain distant until Palestinians undergo a change of heart and that's best achieved by condoning Israeli self-protection.

Daniel Pipes (www.DanielPipes.org) is director of the Middle East Forum and author of Militant Islam Reaches America (W.W. Norton).


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