PERSPECTIVE: DANGEROUS FRIENDS

As she stood alongside Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and talked into the television cameras during her first official visit on September 10, US Secretary of State Madeleine Albright reached out to win Israel's heart. She spoke with deep compassion and feeling about the Jewish nation's long and painful past, and with moving sincerity pledged unstinting American support for Israel in the fight against those committed to perpetrating violence against the Jewish state. Afterwards, she visited victims of the September 4 bomb attack at the Ben Yehuda pedestrian mall, and later wiped away tears as she stood at Yad Vashem, memorial to the most horrific unleashing of Jew-hatred in 3000 years of anti-Semitism.

Where Israel had anticipated thunder, Albright's words and actions were sunshine. Evaporated in an instant were the weeks of dark foreboding about the intense pressure she would apply on Israel to push the disintegrating Oslo process ahead. In Albright, said a senior source in the prime minister's office, Netanyahu had encountered "more understanding than we have ever known".

How quickly Israelis have forgotten the similar things said about President Bill Clinton, who visited Israel repeatedly during his first term of office, on each occasion cementing his image as the most Israel-friendly president in history.

It was Clinton who told the Knesset during his first visit in October 1994: "So long as Jews are killed because they are Jews ... the plague of anti-Semitism lives, and we must stand against it. It is God's will that Israel, the biblical home of the people of Israel, continue forever and ever."

Seventeen months later, visiting Israel again after a wave of suicide bombings ravaged the nation, he stated: "No nation on earth knows [better] that the path of trial often passes through tragedy. No people knows better, through millennia of exile and persecution, inquisition and pogroms, and the ultimate evil of the Holocaust, that you must deny victory to oppressors, that you must flourish--indeed flourish, not just endure--against all odds."

Moist-eyed, Clinton urged Israelis to trust America. "We stand with you in a determination to bring this terror to an end and to bring to justice those responsible for the senseless violence that has afflicted the Land of Israel and taken the lives of innocent peopleDaughters and sons, husbands and wives, brothers and sisters, mothers and fathers, friends murdered--murdered solely for the blood running through their veins, solely because of where they live, solely because they wish to live in peace..."

How instructive that it is this same Bill Clinton who has overseen the lethal (to Israel) Oslo Process; that during his presidency, more Israelis have died at terrorists' hands than ever before.

Just as with Clinton, Albright's strong and positive declarations in support of Israel only make her more dangerous, because she believes herself to be a friend of Israel's who knows--better even than Israel's leaders -- what the Jewish state needs to do to survive. Having established her credentials as pro-Israel, she is already proving to be anything but.

Witness her round chastising of Israel for permitting two Jewish families to move into Jewish-owned property on the Mount of Olives, and her strongly voiced criticism of Netanyahu for reaffirming to the Jews in Efrat that their city would continue to expand.

But this is Israel's history. The only way the Jews ever reclaimed their land was by moving in and setting up home--in defiance of international, opinion. Jews who bought land from Arab landowners and erected fences and towers on them, turning them into the first kibbutzim--they too were seen as trouble-makers.

The houses on the Mount of Olives were legitimately bought and paid for. They are in Israel's capital, Jerusalem. The Jewish families which moved in posed no danger to anyone. They were not threatening to kill their new neighbours. On the contrary, owner Irving Moskowitz stressed his desire to live peacefully, as good neighbours, with the Arabs.

The fact is that it is not this or that piece of land, or construction upon it, that could trigger a conflagration across the Middle East. The trigger is the hatred in the hearts of those who will not allow what happens on this land to proceed without responding with violence--a violence fostered and fed by the leaders of all the Arab-Islamic states.

This is the danger. This is the threat to world peace. And it is this that must be addressed, head on and unequivocally, by Madeleine Albright and others who claim true concern for Israel.

If America, the only nation on earth with the God-given ability to oppose this true evil --and not the "evil" of building Jewish homes--persists in playing "fair broker" between those with legitimate rights to this land and those who use violence to stake illegitimate claims, then America will fail. And, by appeasement for the sake of politics and finance, these "friends" of Israel will have strengthened the might of the Islamic world which will one day, as assuredly as the rising of the sun, be unleashed against the US in all its fury and hate.

STAN GOODENOUGH


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