William J. Bennett:"To Israel With Love!"
by Gad Nahshon
"I want to put it positively. Our essential human kinship with Israel is something like our kinship with Great Britain, but it is also more particular and less blood-related than that. It is a deep-rooted feeling of linked destinies, a feeling that echoes back to our founding and to the earliest conceptions of the American experiment itself, that new birth of freedom which our fathers identified with the biblical Israelites' emergence from the darkness of bondage. And I believe it also has to do with an understanding, almost religious in nature, that to our two nations above all others has been entrusted the fate of liberty in the world. That - the survival of liberty - is precisely what our efforts to eradicate terrorism are all about," stated William J. Bennett, one of America's most distinguished scholar, intellectual, educator, and a great patriots in his new book, Why We Fight - Moral Clarity and the War on Terrorism (Doubleday, New York, 2002).
It is a small great illuminating book which radiates a cry-out for the defense of the best American values. Those values that fanatic Arabic-Muslim's 19 terrorists attacked on September 11, 2001.
Bennett felt an urge to state his belief in a new era in the life of America: no more pro-isolation feelings, no more belief that it is possible to be an innocent by-stander who wishes to enjoy splendid isolation. Suddenly, America's sense of national survival in the era of globalization was confronted with the threat of international terrorism, with the threat of bio-terrorism. Suddenly, Americans woke up to learn that the enemy lives among us. I feel that 9-11 was the first time that America had to taste the sense or feeling of genocide!
It is only natural for patriotic people who carry the flag with pride such as Bennett, always an innovative educator, a leader, ex-secretary of education and author of so many books on education and other national issues, to see the common values and the common threats that Israel and the U.S. have shared. Bennett loves Israel. He understands the fact that Israel is America's wall of defense. The Israeli front also means the western civilization front. Israel's history of non-stop counter-terrorism is also the history and the future of America-Western civilization counter-terrorism.
As an educator, Bennett knows that we always need an educational campaign in order to learn about these facts whose moral imperative is: never, ever let Israel down! The survival of Israel for Bennett is also an American moral responsibility. Israel should thank people such as Bennett who radiates love to Israel when the world (Europe / Muslim world) tries to isolate her and outcast her from the human society as a leper. Bennett pointed out: "Israel itself is a model we need to contemplate. It is 'a nation that has been fighting terror since the day it was born,' observed its former prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu in late October. We may never know how much time Israel bought for us in our decades of negligence, how many American lives it saved by its long-kept refusal to negotiate with or capitulate to terrorist murder and extortion, its resolve to use every means to track down, confront, and undo those who captured and killed its citizens, its crystalline message of defiance."
Bennett calls on Americans and Christians to support Israel. This act from his vantage point is the same as to express support for America. To be an American patriot is to say: "I must guarantee forever the survival of Israel." He quoted Bayard Rusten, the famous socialist-Afro-American supporter of Israel, who wrote: "I am certain that for years and years to come, perhaps even a thousand years from now, when people are confused and frightened, and they are dispossessed of their humanity and feel there in no way to go except to face death and destruction, someone will remember the story of Yoni at Entebbe. That story will be told to those despairing people, and someone will move into a corner and begin to whisper, and that will be the beginning of their liberation."
Bennett is hawkish on Israel. He does not believe in compromises with terrorists and Arab countries which help or tolerate terrorism. They say: America suffers because of its pro-Israeli posture. But perhaps Israel suffers because of its pro-American posture. Indeed most Americans do support Israel. Only a minority believe that pressing-betraying Israel will stop terrorism.
Bennett even argues that America does not need any coalition with Arab countries in order to accomplish its interests in the Middle East. He also calls on America to combat anti-Semitism around the world. Why We Fight is not a book about Israel, it is a cryout, a personal protest of an American patriot whose values have been attacked by a large camp of writers, intellectuals, educators, media stars, who view the American traumatic national experience of 9-11 as a 'wake-up call' for a new revisionist discussion about America's crimes, shames, mistakes, betrayals, imperialism, exploitations of other people, and of course, the crime of American military-economic support of Israel.
Bennett was shocked by the fact that these critics of America, Americans mostly on the left, used 9-11 as a tool to propagate their original self-hate ordeal. He was shocked to learn, for example, that one mother prohibited her daughter to put a flag in the window - an act of patriotism. In his book Bennett also exposed another aspect of low standards of patriotism: the response of the Muslim communities in America to 9-11 and the issue of international terrorism, Muslim terrorism and, of course, to the 'new martyr' Bin-Laden. Are these Arab Muslims, people of the Koran, turning out to be the strangers among us? Are they a threat to American democracy? When we try to learn this issue these people blamed us for what Bennett defined in Why We Fight as prejudiced people who suffer from hate, from Islamic phobia, so to put us in a posture of defense from a human rights point of view. Are we really victims of Islamic phobia?
Bennett exposed a sense of anti-Americanism among many Muslims in America. There are around 3 million Muslims in America. One should not generalize about them but many of them do support terrorist organizations such as the Hamas. He exposed anti-Americanism in some Muslim schools. Also many Muslims and Arabs still argue that 9-11 has nothing to do with Bin-Laden or Al Qaeda. They tend to blame others such as the Israeli Mossad... Muslims and their leaders still deny the fact that the 19 terrorists were Arabs mostly from Saudi Arabia. They argue that the Koran stands only for peace. They blame America for crusading against poor innocent Muslims or Arabs. They present themselves only as a persecuted minority, victims of F.B.I. harassment. Only a few Muslim leaders call on Islam to face the phenomenon of Muslim Fundamentalism or extremism, the seeds of international Muslim terrorism.
But Why We Fight is first of all, a discussion of the new challenge to American patriotism. The peace camp, the camp which spread doubt, which blames America for its trouble, for its wrong doings, is the major theme of this book. A must for those who cherish the American democracy. This pro-left camp can even divide America into two nations. Why? Bennett explained: "...those who are un-patriotic are culturally the most influential among us. To measure the success of the anti-American critique one needs to monitor the attitudes of those who espouse this critique in all its particulars but of those who may or may not accept any of its particulars... It turned a simple and noble impulse love of country into a suspect category..."
Bennett wrotethis book as an answer to these dangerous tendencies. He understands that inside America now there is a "...battle of public opinion." This book is an important contribution to this battle. America must protect its own soul. It is not enough to win the military battle against terrorism. America must re-influence its sense of patriotism as a democratic super-moral value. We need 'civic devotion' and more national unity as well.
The highlights of Why We Fight are the following:
A look at some of the most common questions facing the nation after September 11. These questions include: Were we justified in replying to force with force?; Is our culture "better" than others?; Why do they hate us, and who exactly are "they?"; Were we dragged into this war by our "one-sided" support for Israel?; Is there something suspect - something jingoistic - about old-fashioned patriotism.
An analysis of the motivations feeding the "peace party" movement. Here Bennett explores the notion that, while this movement espouses moral objections to war, it is truly fueled by anti-American hostility. He notes, "Where armed conflict is concerned, the arguments of today's peace party are basically rooted in period of the Vietnam War and its aftermath. It was then that the critique of the United States as an imperialist or colonialist power, wreaking its evil will on the hapless peoples of the third world, became a kind of slogan on the Left." Bennett proceeds to examine the paradox behind pacifist thinking, highlighting the fact that nonviolent protest succeeds only in democratic societies. The notion of winning the war against extremist Islamics by means of nonviolence is, according to Bennett, both "laughable" and simply unrealistic.
A look at the meaning of the word "evil," and the controversy surrounding its usage. Bennett points to President Bush's use of the phrase "evil-doers" to describe the September 11 assailants, and the ensuing criticism from the 'tolerance police.' Bennett writes "[Bush's] statement, meant to place our response on an unassailable moral footing, had also drawn a line in the cultural sand, and our resident custodians of what is culturally permissible were quick to step up to it." He uses this example as a lens through which to view the pervasive moral and cultural relativism preached in today's society. Bennett argues that flexible definitions of concepts like "evil" and "terrorist" contributes to our lack of national purpose, and the constant skepticism surrounding once stalwart tenets like patriotism and heroism.
An exploration of "Islamaphobia," a growing phenomenon that places blame on Americans and their failure to understand Islamic culture as the root problem. Bennett points to the startling and disturbing images of Muslims celebrating the September 11 attacks; he notes that many defenders of Arab traditions "proceeded to reverse field and invoke a different culprit altogether... Had not war been declared by Osama bin Laden against the infidel West? No, we were told, it was the other way around." Here Bennett examines the misguided reasoning behind "Islamaphobia" and comes to the simple yet essential conclusion that each one of us, Muslims and Americans alike, are responsible for our own actions.
Why We Fight concludes with a moving series of anecdotes answering Bennett's simple question: Why do we fight? From the chilling and ominous recordings of Osama bin Laden calling on Muslims to "kill the Americans and plunder their possessions," to the clarion call of "Let's Roll" on doomed American Airlines Flight 92, Bennett uses these brief vignettes to illustrate the causes of conflict in this age of unrest. Both heartbreaking and revealing, these snapshots of life before and after September 11 remind us of the need to reclaim patriotism as the bedrock of the ongoing war on terrorism. As Bennett concludes, "We have to understand that not only our strength of arms but our character is being tested, and so is our mettle, our staying power... We can never allow ourselves to forget why it is that we fight; why we must fight."
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