Israel News

A collection of the week's news from Israel
A service of the Bet El Twinning Committee of Beth Avraham Yoseph of Toronto

November 2, 2001
Issue number 351

November 18-23

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The Diaspora in Crisis    By Isi Leibler

The Plenary Assembly of the World Jewish Congress opens today in Jerusalem at a time of unprecedented turbulence and tension. The Diaspora is undergoing its greatest crisis since the Holocaust. Jews everywhere are confused, destabilized and fearful.

The Arab uprising and the realization that the irreversible peace process was a cruel illusion have had a profound impact. Assimilationist inroads have weakened the Jewish identity of a new generation of Diaspora Jews. For many, the Holocaust and the struggle to establish a Jewish state are dim memories, and the existence of Israel is taken for granted. Some were influenced by post-Zionist ideas exported from Israel.

These trends were reinforced by Israeli leaders who discouraged Diaspora Jews from publicly promoting the case for Israel, telling them to leave it to the Israelis. For the sake of an illusory peace process, multiple breaches of the commitments by the Palestinian Authority were minimized and Arafat's anti-Semitic outbursts and the ceaseless incitement of hatred in the Palestinian school system were dismissed as inconsequential.

The Camp David negotiations intensified this Diaspora destabilization. The Barak concessions crossed what had until then been consensual Zionist red lines. The subsequent Arab resort to violence and terrorism unleashed a media campaign of vicious anti-Israeli propaganda which, in turn, created universal anti-Semitism unparalleled since the Nazi era.

Israel was once again delegitimized and portrayed as a cruel colonial occupier denying Palestinians their human rights; a pariah state in which apartheid, ethnic cleansing and infanticide are sanctioned; a country headed by a man demonized as an inveterate warmonger, tyrant, and a war criminal.

Overnight, Jewish communities, especially in Europe, found themselves confronted by a revival of violent anti-Semitism and terrorism. This has been particularly evident in countries in which substantial Islamic communities reside. Security had to be stepped up and many Jewish communities felt threatened.

So it is not surprising that today Diaspora Jews are less supportive of Israel than before; there are fewer expressions of Jewish solidarity; and fewer Jews visit Israel.

The shocking September 11 carnage only intensified these negative trends. At first Jews assumed that the disaster in America would at least bring about a better understanding of what Israel had endured for so many years. They had hoped to see an end to the mindless statements by Israel's American friends who indulged in moral equivalence by calling on both parties "to stop the cycle of violence," without distinguishing between victim and victimizer.

Instead, the pressure on Israel intensified. Distinctions began to be made between "real" terrorists and "legitimate resistance to occupation." This led to the current anti-Israel diatribe - that terrorist outrages are the logical outcome of the Arab rage generated by America's alleged support of Israel. Jews became fearful that if this became the accepted wisdom, not only will America exert more relentless pressure on Israel, it could also result in an upsurge of blind anti-Semitism reminiscent of times when Jews were accused of "poisoning the wells."

Diaspora Jews rightly complain about the inglorious level of many Israeli spokesmen.

Equally they are frustrated that even today the government speaks with a forked tongue - Prime Minister Ariel Sharon describing Palestinian Authority Chairman Arafat as a "murderer" and "Israel's bin Laden," and Foreign Minister Shimon Peres referring to him as "a peace partner."

However, despite these pressures, Jews throughout the world are once again being called on to support an embattled Israel. Even assuming that the scenario of Israel becoming a sacrificial lamb to appease Islamic countries does not eventuate, Jews will still face a major challenge in confronting other obscene libels being promoted against Israel. This will truly require resolute and courageous leadership.

Yet with all that, the most important challenge is to persuade Jews that as long as Israel is under siege, the Jewish state must unquestionably remain at the top of the international Jewish agenda. For there is no meaningful future for the Jewish people without the Jewish state. Warts and all, Israel is still the greatest success story of the 20th century. How to promote this convincingly is the real challenge of Diaspora leadership. There can be no equivocation. Gloom and doom is not leadership. It is defeatism.

Diaspora leaders should urge Jews to visit Israel now - not for Israel's sake but for their own Jewish self-respect.

And they should remember that we are the most fortunate Jewish generation in more than 2,000 years. Jews should be proud rather than sorry for Israel. Despite our current painful problems and daily tragedies, we are strong enough to defend ourselves. We shall endure. But not for ourselves alone. We seek the support and partnership of our fellow Jews to help realize our dreams of becoming a secure, peaceful and creative Jewish state which will one day still be recognized as or lagoyim - a light unto the nations of the world.

The writer is chairman of the Governing Board of the World Jewish Congress.     (Jerusalem Post Oct 30)

The Last of a Generation      By Jonathan Rosenblum

The eulogies of assassinated Israeli tourism minister Rehavam Ze'evi last week provide a fair measure of the dramatic ways in which Israel has changed in recent decades.

Ze'evi, an advocate of removing Palestinian refugees from the squalid camps in which they have languished for 53 years and resettling them in one of the oil-rich and sparsely populated Arab states, was considered an extremist in Israeli politics. Thus I turned on the radio after the assassination expecting to hear condemnations of the deed and formulaic, dry praises for  the deceased.

Instead I was shocked by the passion with which even MKs at the other extreme of the political spectrum, including a number of Arab MKs, spoke of a lost friend.

Opposition leader Yossi Sarid of Meretz described himself as "devastated,'' and looked it.

Politicians who wear their egos on their sleeve and spend their lives in ceaseless self-promotion could at least respect a man of unbending principle, who was accused of many things but never of opportunism.

For  Ze'evi the political and the personal were not the same. He viewed people as more than the sum of their political opinions. That attitude is increasingly rare in Israel today, as society grows more tribalized, and fewer Israelis associate with others who differ from them politically or religiously.

The society in which Ze'evi grew to manhood was hardly one free of bitter ideological disputes. Remember the Altalena.

Yet members of that generation also had something that bound them together: They were building a nation. With no such sense of a common task today - only a shared dread of what the future may bring - the Jews of modern Israel feel less and less bound to one another.

That generation still viewed themselves as Jews, albeit Jews of a new type. Ze'evi's ability to avoid pigeonholing people according to whether they agreed with him or not was, in part, an outgrowth of his belief in a common bond between all Jews.

The Jewish people - it history, its destiny, its land -meant something to him. But not just in the abstract. Each individual manifestation of our collective identity, each individual Jew, was valued. The trademark dog-tag with the names of Israel's MIAs that he always wore was an expression of that concern.

Though not religiously observant, Ze'evi identified too greatly with Jewish history not to have a high regard for the religious beliefs that sustained the Jewish people throughout that history. At a low point in his public life, he began putting on tefillin to "come closer to God,'' and continued doing so for the rest of his life.

As a boy, Ze'evi's father taught him to live every day according to the Hebrew acronym adashah, which stands for anava (humility), deveikut (devotion), simha (joy) and hitlahavut (enthusiasm).

Each term, of course, is a standard element of the Hassidic approach to divine service. In his deep affection for Jewish tradition, Ze'evi was also an increasing rarity in modern Israel.

Above all, Ze'evi loved the Land of Israel. He wrote or edited over 90 books, many dealing with the land - its history, its battles, its flora and fauna.

Prime Minister Ariel Sharon eulogized his friend and comrade of over 50 years as the land's "greatest lover - he who walked its paths, who found shelter in its crevices, who examined its shards, knew its stones, knew its thorns and citadels, whose sweat and tears it absorbed.''

Ze'evi's love of the Land of Israel thus drew forth poetry from one not generally known for his eloquence: "Today, we are bringing to the earth one who knew its history better than any of us, who was perfumed by its flowers and scratched by its briars, who flattened its weeds with his footsteps and called its bounty and fruits by name, and loved them.''

One had to wonder, listening to the eulogies, whether Ze'evi was not just Eretz Yisrael's greatest lover but its last.

Love of the Land was a staple of Zionism. But today paeans to the beauty of the land are likely to elicit bemused smiles. There is something hopelessly quaint and out-of-date about lovesongs written to the soil.

Even in the generation after Ze'evi's, many still felt an emotional connection to the land. Yonatan Netanyahu loved the solo navigational training in the army that gave him the chance "to feel the place, the soil, the mountains and valleys of [our Land].''

More than 25 years ago, I hitchhiked around northern Israel with a young Israeli my age. He knew each kibbutz, waterfall and army base, and he was typical of his generation.

That would not be true today. Hikes throughout the land were largely a thing of the past, even before we grew too afraid to walk anywhere not protected by electrified security fences. Too many young Israelis know more of the geography of the Far East than of their native land.

Not so long ago, students in an elite Tel Aviv high school could not even tell a TV reporter how the Golan Heights came into Israeli hands. Most had probably never been to the Golan, and many have never even been to Jerusalem or the Western Wall.

Yossi Beilin has already said that the Zionist movement made a big mistake by not taking Uganda, and too few young Israelis know why it did not.

Only among the settlers does the old Zionist love of the Land remain strong. Even those who view the whole settlement enterprise as a touch fanatical, and who find the settlers' willingness to place themselves and their loved ones in constant peril incomprehensible, must acknowledge a tremendous debt to the settlers.

Their passion keeps the flame burning of Jewish millennial yearning for the Land. They remind all of us that there was a reason the Zionist movement rejected the Uganda plan, and that not just any piece of real estate would suffice for the renewed national existence of the Jewish people.

Yet without some historical memory, some attachment to this place, our young will continue rushing in ever greater numbers to Los Angeles, Miami, or some island in the New Hebrides.

Rehavam Ze'evi will be missed as one of the last links to a generation that still lived with Jewish history and sought to actualize it once again in our ancient homeland.    (Jerusalem Post Oct 26)

The Anti-Semitism of the Islamo-Fascists      By Andrew Sullivan

One of the most vivid experiences of my time as a graduate student at Harvard was a seminar I took with the preeminent liberal political theorist John Rawls. The discussion centered on Rawls's later work, in which he divorced his liberalism from the claim of absolute truth. His argument was only cogent, he averred, if read and understood by people who already shared some basic premises--the need for consent, the reliance on reason, a tone of civility, a relatively open mind. With characteristic tactlessness, I asked him what his response would be if Hitler joined the debate and disagreed with him. Rawls answered that there could be no discourse with Hitler. We would have to agree that he was simply crazy, a madman at a Cambridge dinner party, a figure outside the conversation. To Hitler, Rawls had nothing to say, except please go away.

But what if Hitler refuses to go away? My mind has drifted back to that conversation recently, as we try to grapple with the reality staring us in the face: Something like Hitler is back, and it is waging war on the United States. Part of the current crisis is that many of us simply do not have a philosophy capable of countering him.

Is this a grotesque exaggeration? The argument ad Hitlerum is, after all, such a high-school debating tactic that it should be employed only with extreme caution. The reason I invoke it is not simply because we have an irrational, lethal movement stirring many people across the globe in a call to mass murder. But because one central element of that movement, which we are doing our best to ignore, but which is increasingly unignorable, is pathological anti-Semitism.

Yes, of course, the geopolitical differences between anti-Semitism in Nazi Germany and anti-Semitism in the Arab world are vast. Germany was the preeminent military power of its time; the Arab nations are decidedly not. Germany had a large, and largely defenseless, Jewish population within its borders and millions more on its doorstep; the Arab states have only Israel, which despite its tiny size is hardly defenseless. But ignoring a virulent ideology because we believe those who hold it to be weak is the kind of thinking that recently enabled the murder of 5,000 people in New York. So consider the following: According to a recent Newsweek poll, 48 percent of Pakistanis believe Jews were responsible for the World Trade Center bombing. A plurality of Egyptians agree.

This should come as no surprise. Vicious anti-Semitism is now the official doctrine of most Arab governments and their organs of propaganda. The official Palestinian Authority newspaper, Al-Hayat Al-Jadeeda, for example, regularly contains references to the "Protocols of the Elders of Zion," the loopy nineteenth-century hoax that suggests Jews run the world. As one article put it (at the height of the Oslo peace process, no less): "It is important to conduct the conflict according to the foundations which both are leaning on... particularly the Jews... such as the Torah, the Talmud and the Protocols [of the Elders of Zion].... All signs unequivocally prove that the conflict between the Jews and the Muslims is an eternal on-going conflict, even if it stops for short intervals.... This conflict resembles the conflict between man and Satan.... This is the fate of the Muslim nation, and beyond that the fate of all the nations of the world, to be tormented by this nation [the Jews]. The fate of the Palestinian people is to struggle against the Jews on behalf of the Arab peoples, the Islamic peoples and the peoples of the entire world."

Here's a summary of a gem that appeared in Egypt's Al Ahram, the largest newspaper in that country: "A compilation of the 'investigative' work of four reporters on Jewish control of the world states that Jews have become the political decision-makers and control the media in most capitals of the world (Washington, Paris, London, Berlin, Athens, Ankara) and says that the main apparatus for the Jews to control the world is the international Jewish lobby which works for Israel." It is worth noting here that every word Al Ahram prints is vetted and approved by the Egyptian government, a regime to which the United States--i.e., you and I--contributes $2 billion a year.

Or take Syria, a thugocracy whose leader indulged in an anti-Semitic outburst in front of the pope, but a state that Colin Powell nonetheless wishes to bring into his grand coalition. In 1983 Syrian Defense Minister Mustafa Tlass wrote a book entitled The Matzah of Zion, claiming that Jews murder Arab children to knead their blood into matzahs for Passover. An article about the book that appeared in Al Ahram one year ago (and was noted by the invaluable Middle East Media Research Institute) concluded with the following sentences: "The bestial drive to knead Passover matzahs with the blood of non-Jews is [confirmed] in the records of the Palestinian police where there are many recorded cases of the bodies of Arab children who had disappeared being found, torn to pieces without a single drop of blood. The most reasonable explanation is that the blood was taken to be kneaded into the dough of extremist Jews to be used in matzahs to be devoured during Passover." If this is the "most reasonable explanation," can you imagine an unreasonable one? But it gets worse. The Matzah of Zion will soon be turned into a movie. According to memri, "the producer stated that the primary goal of the film is 'to respond to all of the Zionist films distributed by the American film industry, which is backed by the Zionist propaganda apparatus. Among these films is Schindler's List, which supports the idea of the Jews' right to the land of Palestine.'" Schindler's List versus The Matzah of Zion: just a battle of ideas.

The sobering truth is that somewhere in my head, I knew all this already. It is not a revelation that large segments of the Arab world--at all levels of society--are not just anti-Israel, but fanatically anti-Semitic. Bernard Lewis wrote in 1986: "The demonization of Jews goes further than it had ever done in Western literature, with the exception of Germany during the period of Nazi rule. In most Western countries, anti-Semitic divagations on Jewish history, religion, and literature are more than offset by a great body of genuine scholarship... In modern Arabic writing there are few such countervailing elements." So why did I look the other way? Why did I discount this anti-Semitism on the grounds that these are alien cultures and we cannot fully understand them, or because these pathologies are allied with more legitimate (if to my mind unpersuasive) critiques of Israeli policy? I guess I was thinking like John Rawls. We in the West simply do not want to believe that this kind of hatred still exists; and when it emerges, we feel uncomfortable. We do everything we can to change the subject. Why the denial, I ask myself? What is it about this sickness that we do not understand by now? And what possible excuse do we have not to expose and confront it with all the might we have?   (The New Republic Oct 29)

This Is Israel's Fight Too    By Benjamin Netanyahu

The principle could not have been more clearly articulated. President Bush, addressing the American people last month, promised that his administration would make no distinction between terrorists and the regimes that harbor them. "From this day forward," the president boldly declared, "any nation that continues to support terrorism will be regarded by the United States as a hostile regime."

On the other side of the Atlantic, British Prime Minister Tony Blair was equally emphatic about the need to hold states accountable for sheltering terrorists when he issued an unambiguous warning to the Taliban regime: "Surrender the terrorists or surrender power."

But while the principle was clear, its application was not. First, there were calls to include Iran and Syria in the coalition against terror. Since the Khomeini revolution in 1979, Iran has served as an ideological beachhead for militant Islam and has sponsored international terrorism. Syria, for its part, has long been the headquarters of a dozen terrorist organizations with a global reach, affording them political and diplomatic support and allowing Syrian-controlled Lebanon to serve as a training ground. To even consider putting these two nations into a coalition against terror undermines the moral clarity that is needed to win a war against evil.

The treatment of Israel, a nation that has been fighting terror since the day it was born, by much of the free world has been equally shortsighted. It is one (arguable) thing to leave the only democracy in the region on the sidelines of the antiterror coalition so as not to offend Arab and Islamic sensibilities. It is another to try to exculpate the Palestinian terrorists attacking Israel or try to force Israel to make concessions to them.

Some policy makers even tried to differentiate between Palestinian terror and other terror, erroneously defining terrorism in terms of the underlying grievance of its perpetrators rather than the means employed to address those grievances.

Since terrorism, the deliberate killing of innocent civilians in order to achieve political goals, was not clearly defined at the outset, the term has become utterly malleable. Just as the Soviets used words such as "justice" and "freedom" to condemn the West during the Cold War, today's terrorists denounce American and Israeli "terrorism." The spokesman of the Palestinian Authority even had the audacity to liken Israel's antiterrorist incursions into Palestinian-controlled Ramallah to the terrorism that struck New York, not to mention his ghoulish comparison of Prime Minister Ariel Sharon to Osama bin Laden.

Unfortunately, amidst this moral obfuscation, an Israel that continues to face the unprecedented terrorist onslaught that Yasser Arafat unleashed last year is expected to abide by a different set of principles than those so clearly formulated in the wake of the Sept. 11 attack.

After an Israeli cabinet minister was assassinated in a hotel in Jerusalem, a reprehensible moral equivalency that equates terrorists with their victims was taken to a new level when some diplomats had the temerity to compare the assassination with Israel's targeted killing of the masterminds of Palestinian terrorism. Imagine the outrage that would follow if someone suggested that the assassination of an American cabinet secretary would be morally equivalent to the targeted killing of one of the masterminds of al Qaeda terrorism.

Yasser Arafat is perhaps the only leader in the world who is both directly responsible for terror and whose regime also harbors terrorists. The Fatah and Tanzim forces that are directly accountable to him have committed over 50% of the terrorist acts against Israelis over the past year. Hamas and Islamic Jihad, whose suicide bombings have killed and wounded hundreds of Israeli civilians since the peace process began, operate with impunity in Palestinian-controlled areas.

But rather than unequivocally supporting Israel in its battle against a terrorist regime, many voices in the free world have called on Israel to make concessions to the Palestinian Authority. Far from "calming tensions" in the region, such concessions will only embolden terrorists by sending the message that terrorism pays. Talk of a Palestinian state at a time when Arafat uses the media under his control to call for Israel's destruction is rewarding Arafat's decision to achieve through terror what he could not achieve through negotiations.

President Bush is a strong friend of Israel. Surely his administration understands that the goal of the war on terrorism must be to destroy terrorist regimes, not create them. I am convinced that if the principles the president has articulated in fighting this war against evil are adhered to, the war against terrorism will be won.

The government of Israel must deliver the same message to Arafat that the free world has conveyed to the Taliban: Surrender terrorism or surrender power. What is required of the Palestinian Authority is not merely extraditing the specific terrorists who shot Rehavam Zeevi and crushing the organization that sent them, but also rooting out the entire terrorist infrastructure that operates within its territory.

The writer is a former prime minister of Israel.  (Wall Street Journal  Oct 26)

We've Been Down this Road Before   By Joseph Farrah

An extremist group bent on world domination, and angry about a long history of perceived injustices, insists that its only real enemy is the Jews. The extremists, locked in a desperate battle against the U.S. and Britain, declare that this struggle stems solely from the disproportionate Jewish influence on those countries. If only America, England and their allies could escape Jewish domination and view the world in a more even-handed perspective, then all major powers could live in peace and harmony.

This line of argument amounted to mendacious propaganda when the Nazis advanced it 60 years ago, and it's similarly dishonest and dangerous when put forward today by radical Islam and its apologists. Despite the artful application of "Big Lie" techniques, the struggle against German expansionism wasn't "all about the Jews," any more than the current struggle against Islamic extremism is "all about Israel." To counter such pernicious nonsense it's essential to clarify both history and current events.

Unfortunately, many Americans seem to have bought into the idea that the true reason for our entry into World War II was to rescue the Jews of Europe from annihilation. Such reasoning emerged repeatedly as a justification for our dubious adventures in Bosnia and Kosovo. Leaders of the Clinton administration, and many ordinary citizens, declared repeatedly that our World War II experience taught us that we must intervene on behalf of threatened Bosnians or Kosovars, just as we intervened on behalf of European Jews.

Such arguments are historically illiterate, of course, and give Hitler a perverse posthumous victory. America's war with Germany had nothing to do with saving Jews, and neither President Roosevelt or any other leaders ever cited overcoming Nazi anti-Semitism as one of our principal war aims. The truth is that the U.S. compiled a less than admirable record in this regard, not even bothering to bend immigration restrictions in order to save threatened millions.

Above all, Americans need to remember that we didn't launch a war on Germany; Hitler decided to make war on us. Even after Pearl Harbor, FDR hesitated before entering the European conflagration, until the Germans, honoring a prior commitment to Japan, declared war on the United States on Dec. 11. In his fiery speech requesting that declaration, Hitler repeatedly cited the fact that his enemy, Roosevelt, had placed Jews "all around him," and that the President of the United States, as "an old Freemason," had long been part of the worldwide Jewish conspiracy.

Blaming the Jews for the war actually won the Germans some support among the native populations of nations they conquered, especially in Eastern Europe. This tactic also found approving echoes among many American isolationists in the late '30s, including admired public figures like Henry Ford and Charles Lindbergh, who insisted that the U.S. had no real quarrel with Germany, but that selfish, powerful Jewish interests wanted to force us into an ill-considered conflict.

The truth of the matter is that even if no Jews had ever lived in America, or even if Hitler had never expressed the slightest hint of anti-Semitism, the two nations would still have fought to the death. Nazi Jew hatred may have provided an early indication of the depravity of the regime, but the overwhelming majority of Europeans killed and oppressed by the German onslaught were Christian, not Jewish. Even without the Final Solution and its horrors, the Third Reich would have qualified by any standard as demented, deadly and profoundly dangerous.

The message of Muslim radicalism counts as similarly dangerous, and once again deceptively focuses on Jews to disguise the true depth of its threat to all of Western civilization. If Israel suddenly ceased to exist, would Osama bin Laden and his millions of supporters suddenly embrace America as a long lost friend? The very idea is preposterous, given the passion and sweep of bin Laden's clearly articulated and furious contempt for the freewheeling, secular and seductive nature of American society and culture.

Those observers who try to make the shaky case that Israel represents the one key issue dividing the West from the Islamic world, most often offer two utterly unrelated points to bolster their contention. First, they note that the vast majority of the world's Muslims suffer under conditions of appalling poverty, oppressed by corrupt, authoritarian regimes. Second, these compassionate commentators note that the unfortunate Muslims feel angered by the long-standing U.S. support for Israel.

Both these observations are accurate enough as stand-alone conclusions, but any honest analysis ought to acknowledge that they bear no connection whatever to one another. Yes, most Muslims live under dire conditions, but those circumstances in no way arise from Israel's existence or American policy in the Middle East.

Consider the angry anti-American riots that swept recently through Indonesia, the nation with the world's largest Muslim population. Indonesia is more than 6,000 miles away from Israel, and it is difficult to imagine that the existence of the Jewish State impacts the lives of ordinary Indonesians in any way. The same point applies to the similarly distant Muslims of Pakistan, or even those in Iraq, Libya, Iran, Egypt, and Saudi Arabia who live in much closer proximity to Israel. Though their wretchedly oppressive governments eagerly recycle ancient anti-Semitic canards suggesting that all their misfortunes arise from Jewish plots, it's hard to argue that any of the world's Muslims (excepting those in the Palestinian Authority and within Israel itself) would be significantly affected by Israel's existence or disappearance. The only advantage to suffering Islamic masses in the destruction of the Jewish State would be the removal of a long-standing distraction, allowing greater focus on the real problems posed by their own brutal regimes.

Like the Nazis before them, the Islamic radicals also grossly exaggerate the extent of American entanglement with "Jewish interests." The only time the U.S. ever dispatched a major Army to the Middle East, the purpose of that expeditionary force was the rescue of an occupied Muslim, Arab nation -- Kuwait. The U.S. bases no troops or planes anywhere in Israel, but it does maintain a major military presence in Saudi Arabia. America has never gone to battle in order to save Jews, but it has gone to war four times since 1990 in order to rescue Muslims -- in Kosovo, Bosnia, Somalia and Kuwait. During the fateful Arab-Israeli war of 1967, in which Israel won control of East Jerusalem, Gaza and the West Bank, President Lyndon Johnson declared that the U.S. must remain "neutral in thought, word and deed."

While it's true that the Nixon administration provided crucial re-supply to the Israeli military during the October War of 1973, the primary American involvement in the Arab-Israeli conflict over the years has involved strenuous, sometimes overbearing efforts to produce peace agreements. Those efforts resulted, most notably, in the Camp David deal between Egypt and Israel in 1978, and the Oslo Accords between Israel and the Palestinians in 1993. Of course, bin Laden and other extremists despise those peace initiatives as treachery -- and one of Osama's closest colleagues, Ayman Zawahiri, helped plot the brutal murder of Egyptian President Anwar Sadat for his role in making peace. In view of this openly and repeatedly expressed preference for continued jihad over any sort of compromise, how can any thoughtful American suggest that a new Israeli-Palestinian agreement would in any way placate the Islamic radicals?

Muslim extremists, in other words, use their focus on "the Jewish question" in precisely the same way the Nazis did: as a means of conveniently oversimplifying their cause, and hiding its true menace to the very foundations of Western society. Like Hitler, the Islamic militants don't want to alter our civilization, they want to obliterate it. They don't dream that America will change, they yearn for America to die.

This acknowledgment in no way denies the obvious fact that they feel similarly impassioned hatred for Israel -- and hope with similar intensity for Israel's imminent destruction. Nor would anyone suggest that the terrorist network that now represents such a ubiquitous threat to America and Americans, doesn't simultaneously menace Israel and all Jews. Like it or not, the survival of Israel will depend on the outcome of America's struggle against militant Islam -- just as the survival of European Jewry ultimately depended on the success of the Allied struggle against Nazism. But in neither case should this dependence be considered mutual. America would have won the war even if Hitler had previously succeeded in murdering every Jew in Europe, and the fate of the U.S. anti-terrorism campaign won't be determined by Israel's success or failure. The Jewish Question, in other words, remains a sideshow, just as it was in World War II -- one intense but tangential skirmish in the midst of a titanic, sweeping and historic battle between two irreconcilable worldviews.

The future of Israel may loom as an overwhelmingly significant issue for American Jews and committed Christians who feel a deep kinship with the Holy Land, but emotionalism shouldn't distort our vision of the present world struggle. That's especially true when such distortion validates the plans and purposes of Islamic hate-mongers and spin doctors, who also lavish a wholly irrational and wildly disproportionate level of attention on the role of Jews in this conflict.

The otherwise compelling historical parallel between today's situation and the early days of World War II does break down in one important area. Even those Americans who once accepted the German argument that opposition to "Jewish power" represented the true essence of the Nazi's fight, rejected those claims as enemy propaganda after Pearl Harbor and Hitler's declaration of war. Today, however, many Americans continue to believe that Israel and the Jews, not the United States, remain the prime enemies of radical Islam -- even after a Muslim terror assault killed more Americans in a single day than all the accumulated Israeli victims of Islamic terror in the past 50 years. If nothing else, recent events should have made clear that it's not one religious group or one U.S. policy that's been targeted by Muslim militants around the world.

It's time now that we reach the unmistakable but uncomfortable conclusion that their brutal war has been implacably aimed at America itself.    ( Oct 29)

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