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

October 19, 2001
Issue number 349

News...

PM Sharon's Speech to Special Knesset Session in Memory of Assassinated Minister Rechavam Ze’evi

Following are Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's remarks at the special Knesset session Wednesday in memory of Tourism Minister Rechavam Ze’evi:

"Former President Ezer Weizman, Former Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and his wife Sarah, Friends of Gandhi,

This morning, our fellow minister and MK Rechavam Ze’evi, Gandhi, may God avenge his blood, was murdered in Jerusalem by Palestinian terrorists.

From his youth until the day of his death, Minister Ze’evi took an active part in the campaign for the establishment of Israel - and in this campaign he fell.

Rechavam, a sixth generation Jerusalemite on his mother's side, fell in the line of duty in Jerusalem, our eternal capital.

Minister Ze’evi's achievements on behalf of the State of Israel were many: From his days in the Palmah that he joined in his youth; through  his service in the IDF in which he served for over 25 years, reaching the rank of major-general; and through his service as an MK and a minister.  The head of the 'Moledet' movement loved his homeland.  His path was marked with milestones in the establishment of Israel and its struggles.

Ze’evi was one of the IDF's greatest staff officers and commanders. Afterwards, he continued to contribute to Israel's security and served as the late Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin's adviser on counter-terrorism and intelligence.

First and foremost, he was a consummate Zionist.  I did not know anyone who had such a vast knowledge of the Land of Israel and its history as him.  His contribution to settlement in the Land of Israel was considerable.  Ze’evi was an outstanding parliamentarian for 13 years and a minister in Yitzhak Shamir's government and in the current national unity government.  In all of his public posts, he persistently and admirably fought for his positions and beliefs.

This is a severe loss to the people and State of Israel.  For me - it is also a personal loss.

Gandhi was first and foremost a comrade: A comrade-in-arms and also a comrade to the belief in the nation of Israel's unequivocal right to its historical homeland.

Only despicable terrorists can dream of assassinating an elected official in a democratic state.  Only a regime that wants to subvert the State of Israel and deeply opposes peace can give shelter and support to murderers of this kind.  The full responsibility falls squarely on Arafat, as someone who has controlled, and continues to control, terrorism, and as one who has not - to this day - taken even one serious step to prevent terrorism.

He knew that not taking steps against organizations such as Islamic Jihad would lead to terrible acts of murder and the responsibility is fully his.  We want peace with the Palestinian people, but there will be no compromises with terror.  Never.

Minister Ze’evi's legacy is holding fast to the soil of our historic homeland, and the determined, uncompromising war for the existence and security of Israel.  We will wage all-out war on the terrorists, those who collaborate with them and those who send them.

His legacy we will fulfill; may God avenge his blood.

Gandhi will be sorely missed by myself, and by everyone.

I would like, on behalf of everyone, to express our condolences to Gandhi's great and special family.

May his memory be blessed.   (IMRA Oct 17)

Commentary...

What Sept. 11 Means  

By Rehavam Ze’evi

Shalom LaYehudim.

September 11, 2001 will go down in modern history not only as a day of  memorial for thousands of people who were killed in the New York and Washington, and not only as the day of a terrorist attack of unprecedented proportions, and not only as the day that opened the eyes of the Americans in their fight against Islamic terrorism - but also as the day of a total change of values for the West.

 From this day on, there actually is a military solution to terrorism.

And from this day on terrorist leaders are obviously no longer negotiated with, but are rather sought out in order that they be destroyed.

This day marked the end of the media taking wanton advantage of the concept of "freedom of knowledge" -because it is now understood that the victory over the enemy is more important.

From this day on, the "right of the public to know" is not more important than the safety of our armed forces.

 From this day on the rights of the individual are set aside in the face of the security interests of the society.

And from this day on, suspects can be arrested and interrogated as necessary.

 From this day on, the defense establishment leaders are consulted seriously, and from this day the opposition is quiet and gives its support to those who run the war.

And from this day countries that want to protect their citizens are not deterred from carrying out certain acts of personal liquidation of terrorists.

THE CHANGE HAPPENED THERE - NOT HERE

All this and more did not happen here [in Israel], even though we have now been involved in the current edition of our long war with the Arabs for 14 years.  These changes happened, instead, in the great United States, the

democracy, the lone remaining superpower.  The American President asked the TV stations not to broadcast the announcements of Bin Laden - and they agreed.  But here, the spokesmen of the Palestinian enemy are the favorites of the news editors, and they fill the newspapers and airwaves.  They and those who send them, the Arab Knesset Members, are given free voice to make their case in generous portions.

Back in 1989, the American Supreme Court ruled that the burning of the flag of the US is protected under the right to freedom of speech.  But after Sept 11, there will no longer be rulings of that nature.  Now in America, there are not enough national flags to meet the demand, and the American flag waves proudly in every home and in every business.

But what is understood in Washington is apparently not understood here.  Prime Minister Sharon, who himself fought for many years against Arab terrorism, is not strong or consistent enough in this fight during his tenure as Prime Minister.  In order to keep Shimon Peres in the national unity government, he gives in to Peres' dictates and allows him to continue talking with the top brass of the evil Palestinian Authority, which is a terrorist headquarters in every sense.

Peres conducts diplomatic negotiations, while the Palestinians continue to shoot at our communities and on Jews - and he is doing all this just in order to revive the Oslo process, which brought catastrophe upon us and could, in the end, lead to the collapse of the State of the Jews.

Peres is doing this possibly because he believes in it - or possibly because he wants to save his place and reputation in history.

In the United States of "after September 11," there is a change of values.  But by us, this change has not yet come.   (Arutz 7 Oct 16)

Tourism Minister Rehavam Ze'evi, who was murdered outside his Jerusalem hotel room early Wednesday morning by one or more Palestinian terrorists,  broadcast a weekly opinion piece on Arutz-7 Israel National Radio for several years.  He delivered this piece only hours before his death. Maj.-Gen. (res.) Rehavam Ze'evi was a two-time Israeli Government Minister, former IDF Commander of the Central Command, Knesset Member for 13 years, editor of dozens of books, lover of the Land of Israel, and a father of five.

America's Arab Friends    Jerusalem Post    Editorial

    At the request of Iran, the 56 nations of the Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC) gathered in Doha, Qatar last week for an emergency session to discuss America's war on terror. Fearful of accusations that they are engaging in a war of civilizations, both the United States and Great Britain have gone out of their way to repeatedly emphasize that the current operation is a war on terror and not a war on Islam itself. As the OIC is the largest Muslim organization in the world, consisting of both Arab and Islamic countries, it was with a great deal of anticipation that many in the West were waiting to see what would emerge from the gathering, hoping that those in attendance would refrain from criticizing the military campaign already underway in Afghanistan.

    As expected, the OIC delicately avoided criticizing the United States, instead expressing its rejection of "targeting any Islamic or Arab state under the pretext of fighting terrorism" and voicing concern over the death of Afghan civilians as a result of American military action. Just the fact that the OIC refrained from explicitly condemning America was enough to earn it the quick praise of US Secretary of State Colin Powell. 

    Such praise, however, is highly unwarranted. For while the OIC did denounce terrorism, it qualified its denunciation by stressing that the term does not apply to "the right of the Arab and Islamic countries, including the Palestinian and Lebanese peoples, to resist occupation." In other words, as far as the OIC is concerned, Israeli blood is apparently less red than that of others. This is precisely the type of distinction - between so-called good terror and bad terror - that the United States and its allies must seek to fight against. As Prime Minister Ariel Sharon has sought to remind the world in recent weeks, all forms of terror are evil, and no amount of bluster can justify the killing of innocents in the name of a political cause.

    Needless to say, many of those participating in the OIC conference could not resist the opportunity to score some political points at Israel's expense, with some even parroting Osama bin Laden's attempt to inject the Palestinian issue into the current crisis. Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak told reporters, "We call on the United States as it fights terrorism [to] start taking strong measures to solve the Palestinian question, because we believe that it has great importance in the efforts to eradicate the roots of terrorism." And Yasser Arafat was no less shameful, telling the conference that "while the world is busy with the American tragedy, the Israeli government is using its military might to escalate its aggression against our people and to reoccupy our land."

    It is therefore particularly ironic that on the day that the OIC issued its final communique, President Bush gave a nationally-publicized press conference in which he said, "56 Islamic nations issued a statement strongly condemning the savage acts of terror and emphasizing that those acts contradict the peaceful teachings of Islam. All is strong and united on the diplomatic front." That, to put it mildly, appears to be little more than wishful thinking. While Bush has thus far demonstrated impressive leadership in the war on terror, rallying the American people and the free world to join together in a just and noble cause, it is unfortunate that he continues to allow the Arab and Islamic states off the hook so easily. 

    Many of those professing to oppose terror, such as Syria, Iran and even the Saudis, are among the biggest bankrollers of anti-Western and anti-Israel violence in the world. Moreover, Bush also saw fit to lavish some highly undeserved praise on Yasser Arafat, saying, "I was pleased to see that Mr. Arafat is trying to control the radical elements within the Palestinian Authority. And I think the world ought to applaud him for that." 

    Now is hardly the time for applause. Over 200 Israelis have been murdered in the past year in the Palestinian campaign of terror, and mortar shells continue to target Jewish communities in Gaza, Tekoa, and elsewhere. For the current American campaign to succeed, it must be sure to preserve its moral clarity and vision. Extolling the virtues of those who engage in and support terror is hardly  the best way to do so. (Jerusalem Post Oct 14)

Sharon's Valid Analogy    By Martin Sherman

The storm of protest created by the recent comparison that Prime Minister Ariel Sharon drew between the circumstances of Czechoslovakia in the 1930s, and those in which Israel finds itself today is more than a little puzzling. Indeed, if the analogy is to be faulted in any way, it should be because it did not go far enough in underscoring the disconcerting similarities between the two cases.

    Although there are obvious differences in detail between the two cases, there also appear to be a significant number of striking similarities that relate to the general nature of the causal processes in both instances. For example, both events relate to beleaguered democracies located in inherently inclement regions, beset by hostile authoritarian regimes, which coveted areas within their borders.

    Both events involve democracies confronted with demands for territorial withdrawal from strategically important highlands on their frontiers (the Sudeten Mountains in the case of Czechoslovakia and the highlands of Samaria and Judea in the case of Israel) - highlands that constitute a formidable natural barrier against invasion.

    Both events involve democracies being pressured to forgo these highly significant strategic assets in order to acquiesce to demands from antagonistic ethnic group (the Sudetens of German origin on the one hand and the Arabs of Palestinian origin on the other), closely associated with tyrannical regimes in the regions, to remove "alien rule" over them in their long-standing historical homeland. Both events involve democracies being subjected to intense pressure by their self-professed allies, the leading democratic powers of the day, to comply with these demands - in the name of regional stability and world peace, in a transparent bid to appease unappeasable dictators.

    It would be possible to carry on in this vein and continue to catalogue the points of congruence between the situation of Czechoslovakia in the past, and Israel in the present; the former under threat from a dictatorial German regime and pressure from its Western allies, the latter under threat from dictatorial Arab regimes and pressure from its Western allies. It would also be possible to draw further comparisons between the events that took place on the eve of World War II and those taking place today, with the world poised on the brink of new global conflict between the libertarian West and the propagators of a doctrine of intolerant, aggressive, and expansionist tyranny.

    For example, one might point to the striking similarities between the demands for self-determination in the German enclave of Danzig and those for self-determination in the Palestinian enclave of Gaza (including the notion of a connecting corridor via sovereign territory of another state for "safe passage" to kindred homelands). One might be tempted to point to the parallels between the German takeover of Austria, and the Syrian takeover of Lebanon. One might even warn of the ominously emerging resemblance between the German violation of the demilitarized Rhineland area and the huge Egyptian arms buildup which can but undermine the feasibility of continued demilitarization of the Sinai.

    IN THIS limited framework, it is perhaps most important to focus on the criticisms leveled at Sharon's remarks - and to rebut them.

    Firstly, those like MK Yosef (Tommy) Lapid, who alleged that one could not compare the supposed military "weakness" of Czechoslovakia with the might of Israel's IDF, are either genuinely misinformed or deliberately misleading. Indeed, before yielding the mountainous Sudeten region, Czechoslovakia had one of the strongest armies in Europe. It was precisely the surrender of this territory, together with the other provisions of the Munich Pact, that brought the country to its knees. 

    Thus, although Germany did have plans to invade Czechoslovakia before Munich, it refrained from doing so until the strategic terrain and its fortifications were yielded to its control. 

    Secondly, it would be inappropriate to take Sharon's remarks as an accusation that President George W. Bush is behaving as Neville Chamberlain did. Rather, it should be considered a warning as to the grave consequences that are likely to arise if he were to do so - as it seems some his administration officials would prefer. After all, it was not only Czechoslovakia which suffered the consequences of the cynical and myopic policy of appeasement, but the entire world - including the 40 million victims who paid the price of its failure with their lives.

    Thus the prime minister did well to force the world leaders to confront the unpalatable realities of the day. He will err gravely if, due to his misguided critics, he backs away from the bold line he has taken, if he allows the West to evade facing up to emerging threats, and if he meekly condones repetition of the mistake of appeasing adversaries and abandoning allies.

The writer is a senior research fellow at the Institute of Policy and Strategy at the Interdisciplinary Center, Herzliya.    (Jerusalem Post Oct 14)

Part of the Problem    By Michael Ledeen

Somehow, I’ve missed Arafat’s praise of the first stage of our war on terrorism.

In case you think that our State Department is right in viewing the terrorist horror in America as a great opportunity to push for a fine agreement between Israel and her peace partners, consider this: Just a few hours before our assault on the Taliban, the Voice of Palestine, Yasser Arafat's official radio station, "informed" its listeners that the FBI had discovered that Israel was behind the September 11th mass murder in New York and Washington, and had arrested several teams of Mossad agents.

This is the sort of thing that Arafat always says to his own people in Arabic, and gainsays when he talks to us in English.

Remember that the Palestinian Authority threatened violent reprisals against any news organization that broadcast pictures of Palestinians dancing in the streets upon learning about the events of September 11th. It tracks perfectly with his two-track policy on terrorism: simultaneously training and supporting terrorists, and lamenting their excesses when it serves his purposes to pose as a moderate. It's an old story, but our diplomats have never wanted to accept it, because the consequences are fatal to their dreams of negotiating yet another treaty and staging yet another historic handshake.

In his great book on Communist Romania (Red Horizons), Ian Mihai Pacepa, the former chief of Ceausescu's secret intelligence service recounts his conversations with Arafat about the deadly terrorist group headed by Abu Nidal. It turns out that Abu Nidal was an Arafat creation that served a double purpose. It enabled Arafat to feign moderation, and it gave him an assassination squad to use against anyone who challenged his authority. I have always suspected that Arafat's relationship to Hamas and Islamic Jihad was similar, and this latest lie is of a piece with his overall disinformation strategy.

When a terrorist repents, there is never any doubt about the transformation. One of the most remarkable public statements about our bombing of Afghanistan came from Tripoli, Libya, from the mouth of Muammar Qadaffi, for many years one of the world's leading sponsors of terrorism. Qadaffi said unequivocally that we were right to attack the Taliban, that it was a clear act of self-defense, and that it was entirely in keeping with international law.

Somehow, I've missed Arafat's praise of the first stage of our war on terrorism.

How did Libya's formerly radical Islamist leader come to change his mind? He crossed swords with a serious American president Ronald Reagan, who ordered the bombing of Tripoli after discovering that Libya was behind the bombing of a discotheque in which several American soldiers were killed. That bombing was carefully crafted to strike targets directly linked to Qadaffi's personal tyranny: his offices and residences (including his tents), the headquarters of his intelligence service, terrorist training camps, and so forth. Army barracks and the like were left untouched, thereby sending a message to the Libyan Army and the Libyan people: our fight is not with you, but with your leader.

If he goes — and you might like to consider how best to accomplish this — we'll get along just fine.

President Bush has carried this strategy one step further, simultaneously bombing things that have to do with the despotic oppression of the Taliban, and airlifting food and medical supplies to the miserable refugees fleeing for their lives.

It looks like some Afghanis understand, if early reports about insurrection near the Iran/Pakistan/Afghanistan border are right. So we've got a workable model: bomb the bad guys, support the people they've crushed under their murderous regimes, and go after the individual terrorists.

But don't be gulled by the likes of Arafat. He's part of the problem, not part of the solution.    (National Review Oct 8)

The writer is a National Review contributing editor & resident scholar in the Freedom Chair at the American Enterprise Institute.

What We Can Learn from Each Other    By Yosef Goell

            Ever since the September 11 terrorist attack on the Twin Towers and the Pentagon, those of us afflicted with the syndrome of Chosen People arrogance have been gloating at the naive Americans, who will now at long last understand what we Israelis have had to face over decades of fighting Arab and Palestinian terrorism. These overly vain Israelis are convinced that there is much that the naive, spoiled Americans will have to learn from us in confronting their new existential threat.

While there is undoubtedly a large kernel of legitimacy to that point of view, it is often embarrassingly exaggerated. Let me suggest, however, that we Israelis, in considering the major transformation that has come over that naive and spoiled America in the past five weeks, can learn a thing or two from the Americans. This is especially true of the vicious knee-jerk critics of Israel abroad and of our own home-grown self-flagellating critics, particularly those in our academe and the media.

In 1973, not long before the outbreak of the Yom Kippur War, a Libyan civilian airliner that strayed from its flight path and seemed to be heading for the Israeli nuclear reactor in Dimona was shot down by Israel. The order to shoot it down was given by top IDF commanders after the Libyan pilots failed to respond to repeated radio warnings to turn around and leave Israeli air space. All the crew and passengers aboard were killed. There was an outcry of indignation at the time, both from abroad and in parts of our own media: How did Israeli commanders, clearly callous to the value of life, dare commit such an outrage?

Within the last few weeks two US Air Force generals have been authorized by the president to order the shooting down of any American civilian passenger plane which seems to have been taken over by hijackers with the intent of crashing it into targets on the ground. The American order refers to the shooting down of hapless American passengers; the Israeli case involved the plane of a country that persistently declared its murderous enmity.

Yet, the post-September 11 American public, and the media, seem to have accepted these draconic orders with understanding.

One thing that some of us could learn is how an easy going, naive, spoiled democracy is prepared to transform itself radically when it senses that it and its populace are in existential danger.

And from the horrendous to the somewhat picayune: Israel has for long come in for sharp criticism in regard to the "ethnic profiling" that security scrutinizers at Ben-Gurion Airport apply to Israeli Arabs or visitors from abroad who fit those profiles. "Ugly Israeli racism," the critics cry.

Americans of Arab and other Middle Eastern descent have, since September, come in for some nasty racist treatment. That is one of the worst aspects of a profoundly racist American culture and should be fought by all well-meaning Americans, whether it is aimed at blacks, Latinos, Jews, Japanese or Arabs.

But The New York Times recently ran an article in which people waiting at airports were asked their opinion of "racial profiling" in airport scrutinizing. Nearly all those asked were adamantly opposed to such practices. But when asked whether they would have any qualms about getting on a plane that had also been boarded by a group of "Arab-looking" passengers, nearly all the respondents, including many blacks, said they would definitely have second thoughts in such a situation.

The ethnically selective screening conducted at Ben-Gurion indeed could be conducted with greater delicacy; but it is fully justified as long as Israel is threatened and is being actively terrorized by the kinsmen of our own Arab population. So is the similar practice now in America. It could be done there, too, with greater tact; but it should not be waived as long as radical Muslims who are so dominant in the Arab world continue to threaten America.

Constructive hypocrisy should enable us to oppose the idea while condoning the practice.

Where we can definitely take a page from the American book is in the positive response of the mainline American television networks to official requests not to run clear propaganda broadcasts by Osama bin Laden and his spokesmen. Perhaps that response will shame our own ostensibly state-controlled electronic and print media to refrain from providing a podium to Palestinian propagandists.

In America during World War II, the media - led by the liberal New York Times of "All the News That's Fit to Print" reputation - never thought of giving equal time to Hitler and Goebbels and the Japanese warlords. That is how a free press should behave when its country and its readers are at war.  (Jerusalem Post Oct 15)

West Seems Blinded by Arafat    By Lorne Gunter

He is again acting to form, and Israel is again being asked to give in     

How often does the West have to be fooled by Yasser Arafat before we realize the cagey old murderer is untrustworthy?

We don't even have to go back that far for ample evidence of his history of dishonesty in negotiations.

In the Oslo accords of 1993, Arafat was offered nearly 90 per cent of the West Bank and all of Gaza, an army of his own (euphemistically called a police force) and billions in no-strings-attached Western aid. All that was asked of him in return was that his Palestinian Authority formally recognize the state of Israel and cease its terror attacks. Arafat agreed to all of this in English, and behaved himself whenever he was in the gilt parlours of the developed world. But back home, in Arabic, he was as belligerent as ever.

When, after Oslo, the level of violent crime committed against Israel by Arafat's followers went up, not down, the West pressured Israel, not Arafat, to do more to bring about peace. So Israel agreed to give up even more land on the West Bank, and to withdraw from its towns and settlements even faster than agreed upon at Oslo. And still Arafat would not say "Stop" to his followers, in his own voice, in their own language.

Since then, there have been several further attempts at concession by Israel, all under pressure from the West, and particularly the United States, culminating in the Camp David negotiations in the summer of 2000.

There President Bill Clinton leaned on dovish Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak to give Arafat anything and everything he had ever demanded -- a homeland, with its capital in Jerusalem, control over sites holy to both Muslims and Jews, and more -- and Barak relented. Arafat walked away, though, and started the intefadeh that has been raging ever since.

Every time Arafat has violated an agreement, the West has acted predictably -- stupidly, but predictably. And Arafat has acted predictably -- deceitfully, but predictably. He has acted solely in his own political interests. We have taken the course of least resistance.

Arafat is a nasty bit of work. Forcing him to live up to his commitments would be costly, even deadly. So the prospect of doing so has scared western political leaders, who see no voter will for the expenditures and loss of life needed to reign in the PA.

The Israelis, on the other hand, are a relatively softer touch. If we lean on them, they don't send suicide bombers to our schools, offices and pizza parlours. So we make Israel make concessions when it is the behaviour of the Palestinians we wish to alter.

Now we appear to be acting predictably, again -- stupidly, but predictably.

The West wants the moderate Arab countries onside in the war on terrorism. But these Arab states are under threat from their own Muslim fundamentalists, who are resentful of U.S. support for Israel and who have significant support among the populous.

So the West is once again burdening Israel in order to modify Arab behaviour. George Bush earlier this month, and Tony Blair just two day ago, promised a Palestinian homeland (Blair while he was making nice-nice with Arafat in London) to blunt internal criticism of the moderate Arab governments wanted on board.

I have nothing against a Palestinian homeland. Sometime in the future when the Palestinians have proven themselves able to live in peace with Israel, they should have one, but only then.

I fear, though, the West may be abandoning Israel for the sake of having on board a handful of Arab allies whose contributions to the war will be trivial and whose friendship will be doubtful following the campaign's conclusion.

Arafat, too, is acting predictably. He is, once again, acting in his own self interest. He saw how much his support of Saddam Hussein in the Gulf War cost him in fundraising and international media support and decided not to back the Taliban this time. So he gave a pint of blood after Sept. 11. And he quelled some pro-bin Laden protests. This latter move should have proven to us that he could have stopped the violence anytime he wanted to in the past. It should also have made the West skeptical of his motives this time.

We should have seen right through his efforts to distance himself from bin Laden so as to preserve his push for a homeland with him in absolute charge.

I hope President Bush and Prime Minister Blair will set the bar high, that they will demand much of Arafat in return for a homeland at the conclusion of this war. But if they do that, they will be breaking the West's recent pattern of extracting the price for Palestinian co-operation from the security and sovereignty of Israel.    (Edmonton Journal Oct 17)

Could the Right Be Right?    By David J. Forman

It would be foolish, not to mention intellectually  dishonest, not to reevaluate one's political views in light of the recent assault by fanatic Islamic terrorists up the US. 

    This is especially true for those of us on the left of the political spectrum. This is not to say that those on the right should not also rethink their position, but the current reality does seem to justify an "I told you so" attitude on their part. However, while the Right's outlook may at present seem correct, the Left's notion of a negotiated settlement is still more realistic and hopeful. 

    A rightist view that we must fight the Palestinians at all costs because what they really want is all of Israel is a sure-fire guarantee of a never-ending conflict.

    In addition, in reexamining our political outlook, we must not alter our progressive attitude on matters of social concern: embracing concepts of social equality, economic justice, and human rights.

    A reassessment for us "lefties" is difficult because one of our enduring characteristics is that we are so self-righteous. But Osama bin Laden and his evil cohorts make no distinction between the Left and the Right. It is Americans, and particularly Jews, they are after. And it could very well be that the majority of Muslims around the world did rejoice at the tumbling of the Twin Towers - one major reason being that it would focus the world, in the most dramatic way imaginable, on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, with the countries of the world, or better yet, ordinary citizens of those countries, blaming Israel for provoking terrorism.

    Such an attitude has already been adopted by many European nations. America is beginning to swallow the argument as well, as evidenced by President George W. Bush's surprising call for a Palestinian state, something we leftists argue for. However, what was troubling about the president's statement was the timing and the circumstances under which it was uttered. Nothing can justify the horrific act of terrorism that was visited upon the US. There is no moral equivalency here. And so, Bush's new awakening to the Israeli-Palestinian stalemate not only makes a mockery of his claim that America will never give into terrorist demands, it also is a subtle admission that Israel is, indeed, partially responsible for the bin Laden phenomenon.

    Does any sane person truly believe that bin Laden and all his cheerleaders throughout the Arab world really want a negotiated settlement of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict that would tolerate even a truncated Jewish state? Will not the Muslim world now find encouragement to force the Jewish state into the sea, just as the Right in Israel believes?

    With Bush's seemingly quick capitulation, apparently all that is needed to achieve Israel's destruction is for a few more Muslim extremists to stage another devastating attack on America.

    There are limits to coalition building. But the world has been turned upside down. What should we leftists be thinking now? Why are we not protesting America's wooing of countries such as Iran and Syria, instead of praising Bush's call for a Palestinian state, which, under the present circumstances, is little more than sacrificing Israel so that even the Palestinian Authority, which has yet to arrest hundreds of Hamas and Islamic Jihad operatives, bin Laden's spiritual comrades-in-arms, will be part of the new American coalition?

    Imagine how it would be had prime minister Menachem Begin not destroyed the Iraqi nuclear reactor in 1981.

    Why are we afraid to entertain the possibility that, perhaps, America should bomb the Pakistani and Iranian nuclear reactors, or blow up Iraqi biological and chemical factories so that only the Iraqi people suffer President Saddam Hussein's menacing ways instead of we in Israel? Why should we again tolerate America going to war while we sit in sealed rooms?

    At what point should we leftists rethink our positions? When bin Laden sends 25 suicide bombers into 25 shopping malls all across America: from Sacramento, California to Portland, Maine? Or better yet, when he sends these crazies into Sbarros all across the United States to blow themselves up, so that by association, not only the American president, but every citizen in America will call on his government to abandon Israel.

    There is the story of the psychiatrist who told a patient that he does not suffer from an inferiority complex, rather he was indeed inferior. Israel is not paranoic; the Muslim world is against us, and if bin Laden has his way, as presently seems to be the case, so will be the rest of the world. 

    This new reality makes me wonder: Could it be that the Right is right? This better not be the case, otherwise, not only will we be continually threatened physically, but we will also be spiritually wounded. For should we follow the rightist view to its logical conclusion, all hope would be lost.

    Therefore, even in these uncertain and difficult times, being cognizant of the dangers that could await us, it is the leftists' hopes that must guide us, not the rightists' fears.  (Jerusalem Post Oct 16)

The writer is the spokesman for the Rabbis for Human Rights group.


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