A collection of the week's news from Israel
A service of the Bet El Twinning Committee of Beth Avraham Yoseph of Toronto
A collection of the week's news from Israel
October 5, 2001
Issue number 347
Terrorism is Terrorism Jerusalem Post Editorial
Here we go again. By the time the security cabinet met Saturday night to assess the latest cease-fire, the Palestinians had racked up 50 acts of violence - including the mortar attack on Tekoa - since the Peres-Arafat meeting on Wednesday morning. It was decided to give Yasser Arafat another 48 hours to do what he had pledged to do "immediately": issue clear instructions to prevent terror, arrest terrorists, end violent activities and attacks, and end incitement to violence and terrorism.
Security officials reportedly noticed that the relative calm that preceded the Shimon Peres-Yasser Arafat meeting quickly deteriorated after the meeting took place, indicating that once Arafat had what he needed, he loosened the reins on violence and terrorism a few notches. Arafat's Gaza security chief, Muhammad Dahlan, has already stated that no Palestinian on the list of 108 terrorist suspects handed over to the Palestinian Authority will be arrested, despite Arafat's agreement to do just that.
A pattern, to put it mildly, seems to be emerging here. Whenever Arafat is under pressure, such as following the particularly horrific suicide bombings at the Dolphinarium and Sbarro and now post-September 11, he has agreed to "cease-fires" and urged his Hamas and Islamic Jihad allies to temporarily hold back. Whenever the pressure eases, the "cease-fire" melts away, until the next time Arafat fears international wrath and isolation.
The conclusion should be that what determines Arafat's behavior is not whom he meets with and what he agrees to but his perception of what he can get away with. Arafat's clear objective, if he can get away with it, is to get Israel to accept a "low level" of attacks, which will continue as Israel offers him further diplomatic concessions.
Just as Arafat is attempting to get Israel used to the idea of negotiations and funerals at the same time, he is exploring how much he can attack Israel and still remain off America's post-September 11 "bad guys" list. We can assume that Arafat is offering America intelligence goodies that may or may not be useful in fighting Osama bin Laden's al-Qaida network in tacit exchange for not pressing him to the wall.
Some might be offended by the thought that America would even consider a Faustian bargain with Arafat along these lines: You let me kill just a "few" Israelis and I'll help you get bin Laden. Yet the alternative explanation for the seeming American eagerness to see Israel negotiate with Arafat even if there is no real cease-fire is even worse: that the US wants to define violence and terrorism against Israel as quiet, even if it is not getting any direct benefit from Arafat.
We would sincerely like to believe that neither the Faustian bargain nor the Faustian giveaway is the case. We want to assume that Secretary of State Colin Powell meant it when he said that the US would "go after terrorism wherever we find it in the world" and that America would not limit its war against terrorism to bin Laden, but would fight groups "that have conducted attacks previously against US personnel, US interests, and our allies." But barring evidence to the contrary, it is hard to believe that the US has decided to hold Arafat to the standard of "zero tolerance" of terrorism, as if his terrorism were not against Israel, but the United States.
The US should say to Arafat in no uncertain terms: zero terrorism, or you go on our terrorism list. If the US holds him to such a standard, Arafat will explain to his people and allies, as he has in the past, that the "supreme Palestinian interest" is to return to the negotiating table. If, on the other hand, the US lets Arafat be the exception to the war on terrorism, that war will be lost from the beginning.
To concede the acceptability of terror anywhere is to concede it everywhere. (Jerusalem Post Oct 1)
Ally We Would Rather Not Mention By Daniel Finkelstein
The extremist Islamic suicide bombers have struck again. A building lies in rubble and innocent people lie dead and dying. A democratic nation mourns, crying tears of sorrow and anger.
Naturally there will have to be retaliation, for terrorism of this sort cannot go unpunished. Training camps will have to be obliterated and terrorist leaders eliminated. The action will be as careful as possible, but the reality is that more innocent people will die.
Yet this democratic nation will not hear its national anthem played at Buckingham Palace nor find the countries of NATO rallying to its flag. This nation will be told by the world not to let itself be provoked and its military action will be widely condemned. For this nation is not the United States of America, it is the state of Israel.
Since the attacks on New York and Washington, a consensus has grown up about the role of Israel in the war on terrorism. During his visit to recruit the treasurers of Hezbollah into the fight against terrorism, Jack Straw has shown that he accepts this consensus, or at least that he is utterly unprepared to challenge it. However, in most cases the consensus view is not only untrue, but the exact opposite of the truth.
Take, for example, the idea that America was attacked largely because of its support for Israel. The idea, in other words, is that America and Britain are fighting Israel's war. The truth is the exact opposite. It is Israel that for many years now has been fighting America's war, the democratic world's war. For many years Israel has faced almost daily attack from the same sort of people who attacked the World Trade Centre, indeed perhaps from the hijackers themselves.
What these extremists hate about Israel is not its appropriation of a tiny sliver of Arab land, it is the siting of a Western style, nonIslamic democracy in the Middle East. As the Egyptian daily newspaper Al-Akhbar put it: "The conflict that we call the Arab-Israeli conflict is, in truth, an Arab conflict with Western, and particularly American, colonialism." In school textbooks published by the Palestinian Authority's Ministry of Education young children are told that Islam "will defeat all other religions and it will be disseminated, by Allah's will, through the jihad fighters". In such a war American liberalism and Israeli Judaism are equal enemies.
The refusal to acknowledge the desperately awkward fact that Israel is fighting the same war as the democratic world, on the same side, helps to shore up another wrongheaded notion. As part of the effort to assemble the broadest possible coalition, it is hoped that Yassir Arafat and the Palestinian people will form part of the front against terrorism. Yet Arafat is the father of modern Arab terrorism and the Palestinian people its enthusiastic supporters.
The response to the New York attack from Al hayat al Jadida, a newspaper funded by the Palestinian Authority, was that "the suicide bombers of today are the noble successors of their predecessors. These suicide bombers are the salt of the earth, the engines of history . . . they are the most honourable among us". Last November polls showed 73 per cent of Palestinians in support of suicide missions against American interests in the Middle East.
On hearing news of the American deaths, thousands of Palestinians in Nablus ran into the street chanting, "God is great". Associated Press Television News filmed the demonstration, but the film was never shown. The cameraman was told by Arafat's Cabinet secretary that if it was shown his life could not be guaranteed.
The Palestinian Authority need not have bothered issuing this threat. Few people in the West want to hear about Palestinian support for Islamic extremism. Few want to be forced to answer difficult questions about whether it makes sense for the West to help to create another left-wing terrorist state in the heart of the Middle East.
Most people simply want a peace of some kind since they share the conviction that victory in the war against terrorism is possible only if, first, there is peace in the Middle East. And here they make the final big mistake, for once again the truth is quite the opposite. There will be peace in the Middle East only if, first, there is victory in the war against terrorism. (The Times of London Sep 26)
Just Don't Be Silent By Esther Wachsman
There exists in this world pure evil, and evil must be fought by evil. There could be no "sitting down and discussing things" with the Nazis, and the same is true of terrorists.
At the UN conference in Durban, we (the Jews - not necessarily Israelis) were victims of a verbal pogrom. Anti-Semitism, in the guise of anti-Zionism, has always lurked just below (and sometimes above) the surface, but it has now clearly "come out of the closet."
I was recently in New York and a taxi driver, a charming fellow from Argentina, began to discuss Middle East affairs with me. In a well-mannered and polite way, he nonchalantly said: "Well, I guess you Jews are paying for what you did 2,000 years ago." I was shocked into speechlessness, a rare occurrence.
Many of my friends and acquaintances are now buried under the rubble of the Twin Towers. The option heard recently in our country of leaving for safer shores is buried with them. My dentist, who vacationed with friends in Scandinavia, was beaten up by a bunch of Arabs in the middle of the street in broad daylight. Swastikas and anti-Jewish slogans and graffiti are appearing everywhere in the world. Have Jews ever been safe anywhere in the Diaspora?
Those who do not learn from history are doomed to repeat it.
Shimon Peres, who huffily left Durban because he "would not participate in an anti-Semitic festival," is practically begging the greatest arch-terrorist in our area to meet with him. He also favors international observers, and we all know how unbiased they are in our area.
Hatred, incitement and revenge continue to pour out of mosques, schools, youth movements and the Palestinian media; a whole new generation is growing up with this ideology. What must we do?
As Samuel Johnson once said, "If you're not part of the solution, you're part of the problem." My silence in that taxi was unforgivable. What has happened to the People of the Word, whose voices should be reverberating 24 hours a day, around the world, on every media station possible? They should be reminding the world what happens as the result of the verbal pogrom of the international community at Durban.
They should be repeating the famous words of Abba Eban, "The Palestinians never miss a chance to miss a chance." They should be teaching the world about the Jerusalem mufti's collaboration with the Nazis, about the UN proposal for the partition of Palestine into a Jewish and Palestinian state - answered by war.
They should be shouting from every rooftop about how we "conquered" the West Bank and Jerusalem in the Six Day War after begging Jordan not to join the attackers. Why didn't they establish a state then, with east Jerusalem - which they ruled - as their capital?
They should be explaining to the world how we were attacked on Yom Kippur, our holiest day, an act of such malicious hostility that even the Israelis, with our superior military intelligence, were unprepared.
They should be reminding everyone how the Palestinians danced on the rooftops during the Gulf war, when their leader, Yasser Arafat, made his unholy alliance with Saddam Hussein. And of course, though Arafat tried to suppress it, those same Palestinians and their offspring sang and danced and reveled with joy, when those cursed airplanes smashed into the Twin Towers and the Pentagon.
Where is our hasbara - "propaganda"? Why is the world seeing a one-sided picture of the oppressed Palestinians, when Jewish blood has been filling our streets for the last year and longer?
We, who are believers, say "May God avenge their blood." But in these times of darkness and evil, I believe that man, too, has a very important role to play. (Jerusalem Post Sep 28)
U.S. Wants Israel to Embrace Terrorists By Don Feder
Is Israel being served to the wolves to shore up Arab support for the anti-Osama alliance? It won't be the first time the Jewish state has been a pawn in misguided Middle East diplomacy.
The Bush administration put enormous pressure on Jerusalem to negotiate the latest fictitious cease-fire, one-week old and fading fast -- another opportunity for Arafat to display his cynicism.
After each truce -- one was arranged by the CIA in June and another proclaimed on Sept. 18 -- Arafat makes impossible demands while allowing the violence to simmer. In the past week, Israeli troops have faced dozens of attacks.
You'd think that after the horror of Sept. 11, we would stop mechanically intoning that "both sides must sacrifice for peace." Yet, this administration continues the deluded chorus of its predecessors.
Sacrifice for peace? Israel has sacrificed territory, security and the lives of its citizens. After Olso, it gave Arafat 40 percent of the West Bank and all of Gaza. It even armed his 40,000-man paramilitary force.
At Camp David, the Barak government offered Arafat a state on 90 percent of the territories, with part of Jerusalem as his capital.
In return, he unleashed a wave of terrorism (stonings, drive-by shootings, sniper assaults, suicide bombings, mortar attacks) that has claimed almost 200 Israeli lives to date.
To solidify the latest truce, Arafat demands a permanent Israeli redeployment, an end to the targeting of Palestinians who orchestrate atrocities and a lifting of the security blockade. At the same time, he flatly refuses to hand over Hamas and Islamic Jihad capos.
History is on automatic replay.
During the Gulf War, the administration of the elder George Bush sold out Israel for its grand anti-Saddam alliance. Secretary of State James Baker pressured Jerusalem not to respond when Baghdad's Scuds hit residential neighborhoods in Tel Aviv.
After the war, as a payoff to the Saudis for graciously allowing U.S. troops to protect them, Baker twisted the arm of then-Prime Minister Yitzhak Shamir to get him to negotiate with Palestinians in Madrid -- the first step on the road to Olso and the fatal handshake with Arafat.
In hot pursuit of a Nobel Prize, Bill Clinton drove the peace process over a precipice. During his tenure, Arafat practically took up residence in the White House. Reflecting Clinton's mindset, National Security Adviser Sandy Berger called Arab violence a "blessing" as well as a curse, because it might spur negotiations.
Camp David was the culmination of Clinton's diplomacy. When Arafat saw what Israel was willing to give up, he turned to guns and bombs to up the ante.
Administrations change; policy disasters live on. Secretary of State Colin Powell's favorite words to describe Israel's military response to Arafat's carnage are "excessive" and "disproportionate." When at last we go into Afghanistan, will the operation be restrained and balanced?
White House spokesman Ari Fleischer called the latest paper peace "an important step forward in restoring confidence." Confidence in what? Arafat's word? The Palestinians' longing for peace?
"Let the Americans know the meaning of death," Palestinians chanted in the streets of Nablus on learning of the Manhattan massacre. On the day 7,000 Americans died, Arafat's official newspaper ran an editorial calling the killers of Israeli civilians, "noble successors of the Lebanese suicide bombers, who taught the U.S. Marines a tough lesson."
Students at Al-Najah University in Nablus recently opened Jihad World -- an exhibit celebrating the slaughter of women and children, which includes a recreation of the Aug. 9 attack on a Jerusalem pizzeria (15 dead), complete with fake body parts. In a late September poll, 85.3 percent of Palestinians said they supported a continuation of Arafat's jihad.
And the administration wants Israel to have confidence in Arafat and the lynch mob he leads.
Washington says there will be no negotiations with the Taliban over bin Laden's surrender, but it constantly prods Israel to make concessions to a creature every bit as evil. We speak confidently of a war on terrorists thousands of miles from our shores and want Israel to embrace terrorists in its backyard. (Townhall.com Oct 3)
America the Target By Mike Evans
On a September evening in 1980 in Tel Aviv, I sat with former Mossad chief Isser Harel for a conversation about Arab terrorism. As he handed me a cup of hot tea and a plate of cookies, I asked him, "Do you think terrorism will come to America, and if so, where and why?"
Harel looked at his American visitor and replied, "I fear it will come to you in America. America has the power, but not the will, to fight terrorism. The terrorists have the will, but not the power, to fight America - but all that could change with time. Arab oil money buys more than tents."
As to the where, Harel continued, "New York City is the symbol of freedom and capitalism. It's likely they will strike the Empire State Building, your tallest building [he mistakenly thought] and a symbol of your power."
With my Western mind-set I replied that America was dedicated to fighting terrorism. Harel smiled and said, "You kill a fly and you celebrate. We live with flies daily. One dies and 100 flies come to the funeral.
"If 'land for peace' happens," Harel continued, "I think it will mean America gets peace for a season, as the West pressures Israel into giving Arafat our land. But once you let the genie of appeasement out of the bottle, he will grow and eventually turn on you. In time America itself will be in the crosshairs.
"Hitler first killed Jews, then he killed Christians. Our culture and our democracies are the root of [the terrorists'] rage. If we're right, then they are wrong."
Twenty-one years later, the first part of Harel's prediction came true; except, of course, that the twin towers of the World Trade Center were much taller than the Empire State Building. However, it was the second part of his doomsday prediction that came true much earlier.
IT WAS 1982 and Israel had declared its own war on terrorism by invading Lebanon to root out Arafat's terrorist infrastructure. I was summoned to New York by then prime minister Menachem Begin's aide, Reuven Hecht, for a meeting with Begin prior to his meeting with then president Ronald Reagan. Hecht had just met in Washington with then secretary of state Alexander Haig, who had told him that America had changed its mind: it would no longer support Israel's war against terrorism in Lebanon.
Begin was in shock. The West - whose planes had been blown out of the sky, its diplomats, soldiers, and civilians murdered by terrorists - was now fighting to save the primary organization responsible for these vile acts. In the end, American pressure prevailed and Arafat's 10,000 PLO terrorists, rifles in hand, were escorted out of Beirut to safe bases in Tunisia and other Arab lands. The cries of Israeli mothers whose sons had died in Lebanon and who stood outside his apartment screaming "Murderer!" were more than Begin could bear. He resigned a depressed and broken man.
Since then hundreds of Israeli civilians have been killed and thousands wounded by terrorists recruited, trained, and equipped in territory controlled by Arafat's Palestinian Authority. Osama bin Laden's cells operate in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, as does Hizbullah - all with Arafat's blessing.
Now that America has declared its own war against terrorism, Arafat has summoned the press to photograph him giving blood ostensibly for the victims of the attacks on America. Meanwhile, his Palestinian Police threatened journalists who filmed Palestinians dancing in the streets to celebrate the same attacks. All this supposedly in aid of encouraging Islamic states to join the anti-terrorism coalition.
Even Arafat's Hamas protege has announced it is willing to suspend suicide attacks inside Israel "unless it is provoked." Can one imagine bin Laden saying "I will suspend suicide attacks against America unless I am provoked - now let me join the anti-terrorism coalition"?
Israel and America share the same democratic values that terrorists despise and seek to destroy. For Americans to think that Arafat, the godfather of Islamic terrorism, does not continue to support it is a prescription for more terror in America. A war on terrorism that categorizes some terror as good and some as bad is a guarantee of failure; a cruel spectacle in the theater of the absurd.
The writer is most recently the author of The Jerusalem Scroll (Thomas Nelson, Nashville, 1999), a novel in which Osama bin Laden and the Taliban help smuggle a stolen Russian nuclear weapon to Iran.. (Jerusalem Post Sep 30)
Campaign Against Jihad By Uri Dan
It is highly probable that those who planned the terrorist attack on the United States also planned additional attacks in the US, Europe and Israel. This must form the working assumption of the various intelligence agencies, including those of Israel, when attempting to prevent further attacks.
It may be assumed that when the planners of the criminal attacks on the WTC twin towers and on the Pentagon prepared the suicide teams, apparently during the last five years, they also checked the possibility of attacking other targets, not only in the US. Consequently it must be taken into account that other terrorist teams are waiting for an opportunity to act.
The danger presented to the world by fundamentalist Muslim terrorism is therefore very real. The massacre in New York proves that all the intelligence experts cannot descend so deep into the sewers running through the minds of the terrorist commanders of the jihad being waged by the various organizations. It must be admitted that these commanders of the suicide bombers planned the acts of mass murder in the US in a simple, precise and thorough way - just as the followers of Adolf Hitler did the unbelievable, and constructed the first gas chambers and crematoria.
Consequently there is certainly room for apprehension that the jihad organizations, from Cairo, through Algeria, Saudi Arabia, Iran, Iraq and Lebanon, to Afghanistan, are liable to try and employ chemical, biological, or other weapons of mass destruction.
At the moment the accepted leader of the jihad front is Osama bin Laden, and tomorrow there may appear another leader of these fanatical groups, which have set themselves the task, in the cause of Islam, of destroying Western civilization, and first and foremost the US.
It is true that a distinction must be made between Islam in general and the jihad organizations of perverted Islam. Hundreds of millions of Muslims wish to live in peace and tranquility, like the believers in other religions. But none of the terrorists of the Muslim jihad front asks their opinion. Just like the Crusaders, the jihad terrorists are now waging a Muslim crescent campaign, "in order to wipe out the crusaders (Christians) and the Jews," as bin Laden himself declared on Algerian TV.
This is a plague that is not only threatening democracy, but is also creating tremors under the regimes in Egypt, Saudi Arabia, and other Arab countries.
Naturally this also presents a threat to Israel. Islamic Jihad, Hamas, and Hizbullah have turned Israel into an experimental laboratory for their suicide bombers for nearly 20 years, ever since 1983, when Shiite suicide bombers blew up the headquarters of the US Marines and French soldiers in Lebanon, in two separate attacks.
Consequently, in the light of the catastrophic proportions of the Islamic attack on the US, Israel must revolutionize its intelligence services in order to overcome the danger, both for itself and to aid the world campaign led by the US. A special intelligence staff must be set up at once in Israel to combat jihad terrorism, just as is certainly being done now in the US. The intelligence methods employed by Israel and the US up till now have lost their effectiveness. This has been demonstrated by the fact that neither of these countries, nor any Western European countries, were prepared to realize that the international jihad front would perpetrate such a massacre in the US.
In the local and global covert war that must now be waged there is no room for compromise. It is a sick joke to hear the empty talk of Western diplomats, who are attempting to recruit countries that themselves support or provide shelter for terrorism, such as Iran, Syria and Lebanon, for the international coalition against terrorism. The same degree of blindness is required to recruit for such a coalition Paelstinian Authority Chairman Yasser Arafat.
It was therefore disappointing to see President George W. Bush's blunder, when the State Department in its monumental stupidity encouraged him to award a prize to Arafat and renew the idea of establishing a Palestinian state. It therefore came as no surprise when a few hours later, in the settlement of Elei Sinai, the Palestinians murdered two more Israelis, and wounded another 15.
Anyone who cold-bloodedly murders innocent civilians in the US, Israel, Russia, Spain or Kashmir is not a "guerrilla" or a "freedom fighter," but simply a terrorist. No ideal can justify the massacre of civilians. If the US differentiates between "good" and "bad" terrorists, this will only increase the danger to its security and that of the world. (Jerusalem Post Oct 4)
Pressure Arab 'Moderates' Jerusalem Post Editorial
US President George W. Bush has managed to develop a political style and ideological niche distinct from his father's legacy. Unfortunately, Bush the son seems to have a similar problem with what his father awkwardly described as "the vision thing." Bush's statement that a Palestinian state is part of his "vision" for the Middle East is problematic precisely because it is a misguided attempt to kowtow to Arab states, rather than part of a coherent vision for the region.
Asked to comment on leaked reports of a major speech on Middle East policy that was in the works before September 11, Bush replied, "The idea of a Palestinian state has always been a part of a vision, so long as the right of Israel to exist is respected." The idea that the United States supports the idea of a Palestinian state is hardly news, given that American policy has been oriented in this direction for decades. The significance of the statement is not in what it says, but in whom it seeks to please.
It has been widely reported - and we assume, loudly echoed in the US State Department - that "moderate" Arab states are hinging their participation in the coalition against terrorism on a "more active" US approach toward the Palestinian problem. It has become part of the conventional wisdom that Bush must accede to this pressure, even at Israel's expense. Nothing could be further from the truth.
"Moderate" Arab states, such as Egypt and Saudi Arabia, bear no small amount of responsibility for fertilizing the soil that has nurtured America's enemies. These countries ruthlessly repress any Islamic fundamentalist threats to their own regimes, while tolerating vicious incitement against America, Israel, and the peace process.
America just suffered the worst terrorist attack in history. America has a right to make demands of any country that harbors, encourages, or permits a supportive climate for the terrorists who carried out such an unimaginable massacre.
The "moderate" Arab states know that the temperature of the Arab-Israeli conflict has nothing to do with the fundamentalist threat to their regimes. The Bin Laden's of the world, after all, do not accuse the Saudi and Egyptian governments of being pro-Israel, but of being corrupt and pro-American.
In any case, the Arab pressure on the US to "do something" about Israel and Palestinians should be turned on its head. The "moderate" Arab states are largely responsible for the current Israeli-Palestinian impasse; it is the United States that should be demanding Arab help in steering the Palestinians away from terror and back toward the negotiating table.
By asking the US to step in, the Arab states recall the classic definition of chutzpa - a man who kills his parents than pleads for mercy on the grounds that he is an orphan. "Moderate" Arab states, rather than pressing the Palestinians to negotiate a peace deal with Israel when they had the chance, or to abide by the many cease-fires Yasser Arafat has committed to, have more often done the opposite. They have become a cheering section for the attack against Israel.
Bin Laden was busy plotting and attacking the United States and Arab regimes when the peace process was in its heyday. If Israelis and Palestinians were to start hugging each other tomorrow, it would not influence the Saudi decision to refuse its bases for a US operation in Afghanistan one iota.
America, on the other hand, has a right to demand that Egypt and Saudi Arabia stop complaining about the heat while fanning the flames. America and Israel are allies, which means that the Arab states fomenting of anti-Israel hatred - such as the scandalous role played by Egypt at the anti-Israel hatefest in Durban last month - should be considered an unacceptable assault on US interests.
Rather than looking for ways to appease Arab mischief-making, the Bush administration should be signaling that it will demand the Arab world end its cold and hot wars against Israel. Rather than acting as if Israel must be pressed into accepting a Palestinian state, Bush should repeat his father's call at the 1991 Madrid Conference for a peace based on "territorial compromise" and for the "secure and recognized boundaries" envisioned by UN Security Council Resolution 242.
Post-September 11, it is more critical than ever that the centerpieces of Bush's Middle East vision be a region free of outlaw regimes that support terrorism, and an Israel living in peace and security. Creating a Palestinian state would do nothing to mollify Arab radicalism, but beating Arab radicalism could make a Palestinian state much more feasible. (Jerusalem Post Oct 4)
A Time to Choose By Frank J. Gaffney, Jr.
Among the most memorable passages in President Bush's extraordinary address to the joint session of Congress on Sept. 20 was the challenge he posed to others around the world: "Every nation, in every region, now has a decision to make. Either you are with us, or you are with the terrorists. From this day forward, any nation that continues to harbor or support terrorism will be regarded by the United States as a hostile regime."
The New York Post reported on Monday that Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon has asked that the United States formally include Hamas, Islamic Jihad and Hezbollah on its list of targeted terrorist groups in the wake of the Sept. 11 attacks in New York and Washington. Such a step would establish that the governments of Iran, Syria and Lebanon and the Palestinian Authority -- all of which "harbor or support" one or more of these groups -- would be deemed to be "hostile regimes."
Colin Powell's State Department is adamantly resisting this step, however. In fact, it is actively seeking to enlist the aforementioned (among other unsavory regimes, such as those of Sudan, Cuba and Algeria) as members of the anti-terrorism coalition. Just last Friday, Secretary Powell wrote members of the U.S. Senate opposing draft legislation aimed at imposing sanctions on the Palestinian Authority's access to weapons if it does not meet its commitments to fight terrorism. His letter claimed that, "The Palestinian compliance legislation ... would be counterproductive to our coalition-building and peace process efforts and we would like to see it withdrawn." In other words, even if you are not "with us," you can continue to benefit from American legitimation and assistance.
This is all the more extraordinary - and insulting to Israel -- since the State Department issued on Sept. 12 a report condemning these groups and the aid and comfort they receive from the Palestinian Authority. As noted in Sunday's editions of the Israeli newspaper, Ha'aretz: [The] half-yearly report stated that the PA was not preventing incitement and was even engaged itself in incitement. [It] added that, although the Palestinian Authority continued to adopt an official line opposing terrorism, organizations affiliated with the PA ... were responsible for attacks against Israelis [and that] the evidence would suggest that they were aware of the involvement of [such organizations] ... in the attacks but did little to restrain them.
Israel is not the only nation to have suffered from terrorism at the hands of such groups, though. As Salon Magazine reported earlier this month, the State Department has also determined that "Hezbollah is known or suspected to have been involved in numerous anti-U.S. terrorist attacks." Hamas has killed American citizens in its war on Israel. (For that matter, Yasser Arafat is personally implicated in the murder of two American diplomats in Khartoum more than two decades ago.)
It is, therefore, extraordinary indeed that the Bush administration has been courting organizations in this country that have refused to condemn the likes of Hamas and Hezbollah -- some have even publicly applauded those terrorist groups. The president himself has met twice in as many weeks with leaders of American-Muslim organizations that have defended Hamas and Hezbollah. For example, in a November 2000 rally held in Lafayette Park, the then-executive director of one of these organizations, the American Muslim Council, declared "We are all supporters of Hamas. I wish they add that I am also a supporter of Hezbollah." When he asked those present whether there were any other supporters of Hezbollah among them, the crowd roared its approval.
As it happens, even as Mr. Bush was meeting for the second time with representatives of the American Muslim Council and other self-appointed "leaders" of that community to express his solidarity with law-abiding people of the Islamic faith in this country, the American Muslim Council web site prominently featured a statement telling its members "Don't talk to the FBI." This warning, authored by the National Coalition to Protect Political Freedoms -- a conclave of largely hard-left organizations that includes the American Muslim Council, the Council on American Islamic Relations and other Muslim groups -- declared: "The FBI is looking for information to use against you, your family and/or your community. The FBI has a history of harassing and harming minority and immigrant communities. Some people are spending a long time in jail because they or their friends talked to the FBI."
It is hard to believe that Mr. Bush wants to be legitimating such views of U.S. law enforcement or discouraging, even implicitly, Americans of any faith or community from cooperating fully with the war on terrorism. It is equally improbable that he wants to communicate in any way that those who support terrorists -- whether by endorsing their activities, providing them with financial assistance and/or harboring their organizations -- can really be on our team.
If not, the president will have to make a choice, too, by insisting at a minimum that those who want the honor of meeting with him or otherwise being deemed on the right side in the war against international terror must first publicly renounce and convincingly end all associations with terrorist organizations and their supporters. (Townhall.com Oct 3)