Israel Report

March 2003         

A Light Unto the Nations

By Reuven Koret - March 26, 2003
Yesterday, British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw commented that "there is a real concern too that the West has been guilty of double standards" by "on the one hand, saying the United Nations Security Council resolutions on Iraq must be implemented, on the other hand, sometimes appearing rather quixotic over the implementation of resolutions about Israel and Palestine."

Asked if he would plead guilty to double standards, Straw said: "To a degree, yes ... and we're going to deal with it."

Well, let's deal with it now. As the UK demonstrates such resolute adherence to UN Security Council resolutions, the timing couldn't be better. Let's talk about British double standards.

Yesterday, too, as reports first came in about the UK forces waiting on the edge of Basra, as a civil rebellions of Shiite enemies of the regime confronted Sunni authorities in the city, the Brits were giving us a demonstration of their resolve.

The word went out that Sunnis were suppressing the uprising with "horizontal" mortar fire at crowds. To avoid danger to their soldiers, the British waited outside the city and directed artillery at the mortar positions. Later they dropped what they described as a precision bomb on the Ba'ath headquarters, flattening it.

This morning, well, that uprising seemed to have petered out. No reports of civilian casualties, which one would certainly expect with all that mortar and artillery fire on civilian areas. But nobody seemed to be investigating this. How many were dead from Ba'ath mortars? How many were dead from British artillery and bombing?

I couldn't help thinking about Sabra and Shatila near Beirut, where in 1982 Lebanese Christians killed hundreds of Palestinian Moslems, after the Palestinians had assassinated the Christian leader Bashir Gemayel. I couldn't forget the Brits waiting with hands folded outside Basra, refusing to risk their own troops and get involve in Arab-on-Arab killing.

Someday we may know the death toll from this "civil uprising." Someday we may find mass graves. Will Fleet Street scream "massacre"? Will the UN demand an inquiry as they did when Israel cleaned the suicide bombers' nest called Jenin last spring?

When the truth comes out, will Belgium seek to put Blair or Straw on trial for war crimes?

Today, there was a misdirected allied "smart" bomb that hit a market. Sixteen killed, at least. Ooops, the allies say. We didn't target the market. Accidents happen. Compare to the outcry when an Israeli shell occasionally goes astray on anti-terror missions.

America proudly admits targeting the Iraqi leadership before the start of the war. Compare to the criticism when Israel targets terrorist leaders.

Suddenly the term fedayeen is bandied about to described the Arab irregulars. For Israelis that's a familiar term, once used to describe the terrorists who attacked Jewish communities before Israel was created, and then continued with murderous cross-border raids even when the "occupied" territories were in Arab hands.

They are now sniping at allied troops and civilian support personnel. They are planting roadside bombs which kill soldiers, civilians and journalists. They are exploding themselves next to army units, and trying to plant mines under APCs and tanks.

Sound familiar?

In less than one week, the allied forces have killed more Iraqis than Israel has killed Palestinians in anti-terror actions over the past thirty months.

It is as if the coalition of the willing is being willed to re-live the Israeli experience over the past fifty-five years of fighting Arab dictators and Islamic terrorists. In fast forward.

Israelis know what it is like to be taken prisoners of war, tortured by inhuman captors.

Israelis know what it is like to for soldiers to be lynched after taking a wrong turn, torn to pieces by screaming mobs, mutilated by bloodthirsty frenzied militias.

Israelis know what it is like to be faced with the cruel choice of fighting adversaries who use women and children as human shields, who snipe from hospitals, store weapons in schools and mosques, and make bombs in residential areas.

Israelis know what is like to be accused of illegal invasions, and occupations, and aggression. We are used to being outvoted at the UN and condemned by the Arab League and the European Union. And we are accustomed to not giving a damn.

There is scant satisfaction in knowing that our allies -- soldiers and diplomats and regular citizens -- now know better than ever what we face, and how we feel. We desperately hope that they will succeed in democratizing Iraq and even the Palestinian Authority.

But there is dumbfounded outrage at the thought that, after this sobering experience with a cruel and despotic Arab regime, the world will dare impose such a regime on Israel while Arafat still rules by proxy, while Palestinian terror still rages, and while the whole Arab world still screams for annihilation of the Jewish State.

Israelis, despite our hard experience with Arab despots and terrorists over five decades, are eternal optimists in pursuit of a stable and real peace with neighbors that will recognize our essential right to exist in our homeland.

We wish our American and British allies only the best as they tackle the evil of Saddam's regime and learn the hard way -- again -- how despotic Arab regimes fight. The allies must, and will, win.

But if the "coalition of the willing" imagines for a moment that we in Israel will be willing to pay the political price for this campaign by allowing a terrorist state to arise in our midst, that will threaten us from within, and that will allow Arafat or his henchman to pull the strings of the puppet state that will threaten our citizens, well, fugettaboutit.

Israel, more than ever, has become a practical light unto the nations, albeit not in the way that our prophets may have expected. We are living examples of coping with utter evil.

This is what we've been living with. This is how we fight it. This is how we keep our sanity, and humanity, despite the cruelty and hatred and primitive fanaticism we have come to know too well.

Dear allies: we don't want your credit. We don't want your praise. Don't list us among your "coalition of the willing" if it embarrasses you. You don't even need to learn from our mistakes. Just don't expect us to pay for yours.

Don't fight for us. Fight the evil that confronts you, and confronts the world. Just don't prevent us from fighting it ourselves. And don't even think of imposing a state of terror in our backyard or to divide our eternal capital, Jerusalem.

God knows we are willing, and ready, to defend ourselves, and to take reasonable and calculated risks for real peace. We've done it before. But, Mister Straw, don't expect us to sacrifice the security of our families on the altar of your foolish hypocrisy and your misplaced guilt.

I contrast the British double standards with the generally healthy attitude demonstrated, especially since 9/11, by the American people, and by the American President. But even George W. Bush may feel, post-War, compelled to compensate his British allies by heeding their wish to serve up Israel on a silver platter for the dining pleasure of the UN.

God willing, Israel will continue to serve as a light unto the nations, showing how to fight evil properly. Whether the nations like it or not.

©2003 - Israelinsider.com
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