Israel Report

June 2001         

Mideast 'Moderates' ?

When a suicide bomber attacked a Tel Aviv nightclub, killing 20 Israelis and critically injuring others, most of the world cringed at the bloodiest terrorist assault in the eight-month war of attrition known as the "Intifida" – in which Arabs wage a hot, low-intensity conflict in the streets of Israel.

Most of the world was shocked. Most of the world expressed grief. Most of the world agreed this is not the way to fight for any legitimate cause. Most of the world ...

But that was not the case, necessarily, throughout the Arab world.

Even among many of the so-called "moderate" regimes, upon whom the West counts so heavily for achieving peace, what we heard sounded more like approval, rationale, support, endorsement.

Remember a decade ago when Americans, in particular, were appalled at the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait?

The U.S. organized a broad coalition of support among Europeans and even some Arab countries and sent its sons and daughters halfway around the world to chase the Iraqis out. Kuwait, Washington told the people, was different from Iraq. This was a "moderate" Arab state with close ties to the West – a trustworthy partner for peace and stability in the region.

But a couple days ago, Kuwait's acting premier and foreign minister, Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmed, characterized the terrorist attack on the beach disco as a legitimate act of self-defense and in line with the objectives and tactics of the Palestinian struggle.

The Kuwaiti official said this right after meeting with a visiting leader from the extremist group Hamas, which works in partnership with Yasser Arafat's Palestinian Authority.

Is this what we fought for in the Persian Gulf?
I fear so. And it's just one example of many which I could cite that illustrates that "moderation" in the Middle East has a far different meaning than it suggests to most Americans. Kuwait may be moderate with regard to relations with the U.S., but not with regard to its relations with Israel. Israel has no friends in the Middle East.

I heard Secretary of State Colin Powell on the weekend talking-head shows suggesting once again that the key to peace in the Middle East is talk. If only the Mideast neighbors would exchange views and negotiate, he said, we would have an opportunity for a breakthrough.

This is essentially the same argument made for the last 12 years by the U.S. And Israel keeps losing ground. The Jewish state has bent over backward and gone the extra mile. It has placed on the negotiating table possibilities once considered unimaginable by most Israelis. It has allowed a virtual state to be created within its borders against all common sense. It has permitted that hostile entity to arm itself. It has done all this without any guarantees in place. And the terrorism has only increased.

A sea change of opinion has occurred in Israel. Even those who long believed in appeasement of Arafat as the solution have grave regrets and second thoughts today. They have seen where such policies lead.

Israel is on the verge of striking back – not only for the massacre last weekend, but for the last eight months of sniper attacks, bombings, riots, etc. Patience is running out.

Frankly, I'm surprised at how long a coordinated counterattack has been delayed.

When it comes, the rest of the world needs to remember the horror of the attacks on innocent people over the last eight months. We should remember the lack of remorse from the so-called "moderates," who give legitimacy and encouragement to the senseless murder and mayhem.

Israel needs to show its force. It needs to re-establish some ground rules within its own borders. It needs to punish those responsible for the increasing level of violence.

Israel could, of course, do much more. But it won't. Because Israel is a civilized nation with a conscience, with a sense of right and wrong, with a notion of propriety.

Israel has, for too long, listened too much to the advice of foreign leaders in Washington and London and Paris. It has failed to protect its own interests – even to the point of defying common sense and national security.

Israel is an island in a sea of hostility in the Middle East. It has survived and will continue to survive only by defending itself. The time for appeasement is over. It didn't work. It never works.

Joseph Farah is editor and chief executive officer of and writes a daily column.

©2001 - 2001

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