For some time now, Israeli policy has been built on the principle, perhaps the wish, that Yasser Arafat is "irrelevant." At the same time, our officialdom is increasingly arguing that he is the key obstacle to any meaningful fight against terrorism. These two ideas are irreconcilable.
There is another tension in our current policy. When it comes to Hamas and Islamic Jihad, Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz says that no leader, whether "political" or "military," has immunity. This is a new policy and, if carried out, certainly overdue. But again, if there are elements of the Palestinian Authority leadership that are currently preventing a crackdown against terrorism, why are they being held immune?
On Israel Radio yesterday, former OC Southern Command Maj.-Gen. (res.) Yomtov Samia said that either Israel should eliminate Arafat, who is "preventing Abu Mazen from operating," or end its practice of targeted killings completely. Samia argues that Israel must choose between depending on the PA to fight terror and doing so itself. What makes little sense, he argues, is to attempt to straddle both options.
Similarly, Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee chairman Yuval Steinitz argues that the PA leadership, including Arafat and Mahmoud Abbas, should be shipped back to Tunisia, with an eye toward holding new internationally supervised elections in a year.
In response to such pressures, including from government ministers who advocate getting rid of Arafat now, Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's inner circle reportedly suggests that such measures will be considered if there is another major suicide bombing.
There is a certain air of surrealism to this discussion. Is Arafat responsible for the continuation of terrorism or is he not? If he is, do we have to wait for another bus attack to address the problem? If last week's slaughter and maiming of so many children is not enough, what would be?
Every day that we argue that Arafat is responsible for terrorism and do nothing about it, we are saying one of two things: either that we are lying, or that the terrorism against us is acceptable. Hints that we are being restrained because of American pressure do not help make this picture more intelligible. Avoiding what sort of American pressure, if it really exists, would be worth sacrificing Israeli lives?
It would not be surprising if elements of the American government were in fact urging Israel to give the PA one "last" chance. Ultimately, however, the US cannot be more concerned for and a better judge of our security needs than we are. The more likely scenario is not that Israel is under American pressure, but that our political/security leadership believes that the time is not ripe for choosing between eliminating the leaders it blames for terrorism and pretending that someone else will.
There never will be a moment in which the world will say to Israel: Yes, we agree, you have suffered enough and given the PA every possible chance to redeem itself. Or: Yes, we agree, this attack is so horrific that you have no choice but to attack not just the foot soldiers, but those who give the orders and fan the flames of hate.
On Sunday, PA television broadcast a music video intended for children. It opens with a young girl rushing home to her mother with flowers, but as she approaches, an Israeli rifle appears at the corner of the screen and murders her mother in front of her eyes. In the next scene, the girl places the flowers intended for her mother on her mother's grave. The rest of the five-minute music video is the girl's song of mourning and longing for her mother, which she sings over the grave. This video, according to Palestinian Media Watch (www.pmw.org.il) was broadcast almost daily from January to July, and stopped being broadcast two weeks ago. Now it is back to incitement as usual. This, we must remember, is not coming from Hamas or Islamic Jihad, but directly from the PA.
It is time we adopt a policy that reflects our declarations. If, as the government claims, the PA has failed to meet its primary commitments under the road map an end to terrorism and incitement then it has not only ceased to be a "partner," it has become an enemy. And if, as the government again claims, it holds Arafat responsible for harboring terrorists, then he is a terrorist and must be treated accordingly. Anything short of that means our policy is a charade. And we can be certain the international community, not to mention to PA itself, will draw the appropriate conclusions and act accordingly.
See Also: Arafat, Again
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One of the most horrendous bus bombings that Israel has ever seen just occurred recently in Jerusalem. Jews were returning from evening prayers at their most holy site, the Western Wall of the Temple Mount. Twenty-one people were murdered, including seven children; over 130 were injured, including 40 children. That's two-year-olds, and three-year-olds, and six-year-olds, and nine-year-olds, and 11-year-olds. Of the children uprooted from their families and life, one was only three-months-old, another was only 11-months-old, and one lived to the ripe old age of three. Pure souls returned to their maker intact. A one-month-old infant and an 18-month-old baby girl were among the wounded. Who can fathom the depths of evil that perpetrated this, truly man's inhumanity to man?
This murder-suicide bombing - joint credit was enthusiastically claimed by both Hamas and Islamic Jihad - took place when officially there was a "hudna" - cease-fire - that both groups had agreed to with the Palestinian Authority. The last bus bombing in Jerusalem, two weeks before the hudna started, killed 17 people.
In fact, since the hudna "started", 28 people have been killed and over 160 injured. There have been 210 shooting attacks in Judea, Samaria - the West Bank - and Gaza. During the 49 days that the hudna had been in effect, before the bus bombing, there were no fewer than 180 terrorist attacks, and 40 others that were stopped in time by Israeli security forces. The security forces arrested 19 would-be terrorist bombers since the PA’s unilateral hudna - cease-fire - that began on June 30th, 2003.
An Israel Defense Force spokesperson announced - two days after the Jerusalem attack - that a suicide bombing in Haifa was thwarted the same day as the bus bombing in Jerusalem. The would-be suicide terrorist - who was only 16-years-old - was arrested only a few hours before the planned detonation. He had already made his "goodbye" video. The three Islamic Jihad members planning to carry out the attack were arrested near Araba - southwest of Jenin - and a 10 kg explosive device was seized. Some cease-fire huh? I'm not sure I see the difference, do you?
After the bus bombing, the Israeli government decided to halt contacts with the PA "temporarily" and begin military operations in Jenin, Nablus (Shechem), Tulkarm, Ramallah, etc. They went looking for more wanted terrorists, arms depots, and bomb factories. No sooner did Israel's mini-security cabinet decide that leading terrorist figures were fair game again, Israel Air Force attack helicopters shot five rockets at the car of one of the most murderous terrorists of all - Ismail Abu Shanab. Killing him as well as his two bodyguards.
Abu Shanab was a senior Hamas terrorist who was in close contact with Hamas leader, Sheik Ahmed Yassin and acted as deputy Hamas leader when he was abroad. Abu Shanab, in his position as one of the Hamas leaders, was responsible for policy decisions, directing and approving terrorist attacks. Top Hamas and Islamic Jihad terrorists are reported to be running scared and have gone underground, for fear of Israel's long arm of justice.
Predictably, Hamas, Islamic Jihad, and the Fatah related Al-Aksa Martyrs Brigades - Arafat and Abbas' group - announced that the cease-fire was off; it was supposed to last three months, till September 30th. It's not much of a threat. I hadn't noticed it was on.
Hamas "spiritual" leader Sheikh Ahmed Yassin said his organization would take revenge for the assassination. "This [assassination] crosses all red lines," Yassin said. Addressing the Israelis, he said,"You will pay the price for these crimes." Following the strike, senior Hamas official Ismail Abu Haniyah called on PA Prime Minister Abbas to resign and leave the Palestinian territories if he wanted to end the intifada or wished to extend the temporary cease-fire. "The assassination of Abu Shanab... means that the Zionist enemy has assassinated the truce, and the Hamas movement holds the Zionist enemy fully responsible for the consequences of its crime. We consider ourselves no longer bound by this cease-fire," Abu Haniyah told reporters in Gaza.
It's almost laughable, their threats, as if they hadn't been doing all they could to kill Jews till now. It reminds me of the failed Israeli attack on Abdel Aziz Rantisi back in June, where speaking from his hospital bed after the attack, Rantisi - political head of Hamas - threatened revenge, "We will continue with our holy war and resistance until every last criminal Zionist is evicted from this land. By G-d we will not leave one Jew alive in Palestine. We will fight them with all the strength we have. This is our land, not the Jews," he told the Arab TV satellite station Al-Jazeera.
Just after that incident, I had to pay a "Shiva" call - a condolence visit after someone dies - for thank G-D, someone who died of old age. Speaking to one of the mourners - I wanted to try and cheer him up - I said, "I have two jokes to tell you, I heard today". In my most deadpan delivery I said, "First, I heard Rantisi threatened, that now no one is immune, Hamas will target every man, woman, and child in Israel". I stared at him waiting, and then he got it. A smile started to break across his face. I joked, "As if they weren't already trying to kill everyone, with their indiscriminant suicide bombings? Gee, I'm scared now!" He agreed.
"The second joke," I said, "is that I heard on the radio that one of the top Hamas officials was on a live telephone interview with Al-Jazeera TV, when he heard something outside, the sound of helicopters in the distance. He immediately told the reporter, 'I am sorry, this interview is over, I have to go now'. Click went the phone."
I told him, "The good news is that all the top Hamas and Islamic Jihad terrorists are reported to have gone into hiding. They're all running like rats. Those so-called "holy warriors" who send off others to murder and die, they're terrified." That cheered him up, and it should cheer us all up. Imagine what Israel could accomplish against the terrorists and their infrastructure, if it only kept up a sustained offensive? Think about it.
It's not only Hamas and Islamic Jihad who are frightened but still indignant. When PA Prime Minister Abbas heard of the "targeted killing" of Abu Shanab, he condemned the assassination. "There is no doubt that what the Israeli troops carried out today is an ugly crime," said Abbas from outside his office in Ramallah. "We condemn such acts. This is against peace and the peace process." He said the same thing after the failed Rantisi strike. Abbas's office said in a statement issued then,"Palestinian Prime Minister Mahmoud Abbas condemned the criminal and terrorist Israeli attack today." Notice that killing terrorists is now "criminal", although Abbas himself committed the PA to fight the terrorists and uproot them, in the roadmap.
PA Prime Minister Abbas, it was reported, telephoned Hamas leader Sheik Ahmed Yassin to express his condolences over the death of Abu Shanab. The Palestine Media Center - an official arm of the PA - reported that about 150,000 people in Gaza attended Abu Shanab's funeral. Earlier, it had been reported that fireworks celebrations were set off over the Arab part of Hebron and Palestinian radio stations began broadcasting upbeat, happy music when news of the bus bombing reached them. Who said that Hamas and Islamic Jihad terror against Jews doesn't have popular support amongst the Palestinians?
Raed Abdel-Hamid Mesk - the bomber - was a 29-year-old teacher and prayer leader, the father of two. His wife was five months pregnant with their third child. He was finishing his master's degree at A-Najah University in Nablus (Shechem). Again, disproving the model promoted by pro-Palestinian propaganda and repeated ad nauseum in the media. It is not only single, desperate, impoverished, or troubled young Arab men who are killing Jews, but women from "good" families - one was almost a medical student - and happily married men with jobs and families as well. After the bombing an Israeli journalist went to his hometown, Hebron. During all the interviews not one single person expressed sympathy for the victims of the bombing or their families.
Nabil Mesk, Raed's first cousin was supportive of him, "It was his decision. He was a faithful Muslim who taught the Koran and knew it by heart; he knew what a sin was and what was not." When the journalist asked, if they were shocked by the enormity of such a bloody attack on civilians, Nabil casually denied that those killed were civilians. "In Israel, people are soldiers from the age of one to 100."
At the Polytechnic technical college (where they learn to make bombs?) none of the students interviewed, admitted that Israel was anything but 100 percent at fault for the escalating violence. Information technology major Ashraf Tamini didn't see anything wrong with the attack. He also was not convinced that the victims were all civilians. "In Israel, plenty of people carry guns. How can we tell who is in the army and who is not," he said. I guess, he thinks that some 50-odd children including one, three, and 11-month-olds, were going to terrorist summer camp, like his friends' little brothers.
But on a better note...
Most of the passengers on the bus were religious Jews, returning from prayers as I said before. There hasn't been such a high concentration of religious Jews killed in a bombing before. But they usually are at the scene, involved in the aftermath of these atrocities anyway. See, most of the volunteers of ZAKA - the emergency service and victim identification organization - are religious Jews as well. ZAKA responds to terrorist attacks, car accidents and the like. Their volunteers search for body parts and human remains at every terror attack, regardless of who is killed and injured, ensuring burial for all human remains in complete accordance with Jewish law. ZAKA also deals with non-Jewish victims of terror attacks, helping to accommodate other religious customs when necessary.
There has been a huge outpouring of love and support for the victims of the bus bombing within the religious community in Israel. Even Israeli television and newspapers has given it unusual coverage. The next day after the attack, Israeli television showed scenes of people returning to the place of the bombing, thousands, reciting Tehilim - Psalms - and praying for the well being of the injured and all the Jews in Israel. The injured and their families, who were interviewed on television at the hospital that night and the next day, exuded a strong faith in G-D, expressing trust in the way He runs the world, thanking the security and rescue services, and praying for the full recovery of all involved.
When asked by reporters how they felt about the fact that it was a busload of believing Jews who were killed this time [as opposed to Russian immigrant teenagers at a disco, or more secular Israelis out shopping in Tel-Aviv or Haifa] everyone without exception answered that there is no difference between Jews and prayed that G-D should help them all. Such an outpouring of spirituality and love in the midst of tragedy, I'm sure, was a refreshing relief to "Joe Israeli TV viewer", glued to his set, as many people are during these trying times.
Life in Israel goes on, beyond the politics, murder and mayhem all around. In the end, people are just trying to live normal lives; Jews in their redeemed ancient homeland. Nothing will change that. So, again I challenge Hamas defiantly, "Gee, I'm scared now!"
Ariel Natan Pasko is an independent analyst & consultant. He has a Master's Degree in International Relations & Policy Analysis. His articles appear regularly on numerous news/views and think-tank websites, in newspapers, and can be read at: www.geocities.com/ariel_natan_pasko
Back to the war, please.By Michael Ledeen - National Review Online - August 27, 2003
For the second time in as many years, President Bush has fallen into a trap designed to prevent an American victory against the forces of terrorism in the Middle East. The original trap — sprung in early 2002 after the decimation of the Taliban and al Qaeda — was the so-called "Saudi peace plan," according to which the United States was not entitled to liberate Iraq until and unless the Palestinian question was "solved." It should have been obvious that this was merely an effort to stall our war against the terror masters, since many of the finest diplomatic and strategic minds in the world had failed to "solve" the problem for more than half a century, and the Saudis themselves were actively funding the very Palestinian terrorism that guaranteed the failure of any solution. But every Arab country, virtually all of Europe, and our own diplomats, from Secretary of State Colin Powell on down, urged the president to go for it.
This delayed Operation Iraqi Freedom for many months, until President Bush realized that nothing could be accomplished with a Palestinian tyranny, whereupon he abandoned the Saudi plan, declared Yasser Arafat persona non grata, and pressed ahead with the war. But the long delay proved very costly. Had we proceeded quickly against the terror masters in Baghdad, Tehran, and Damascus (with explicit warnings to Riyadh that they would be next if they did not stop financing both terrorist organizations and the network of radical jihadist schools and mosques that inculcated fanaticism around the world), we would have had considerable international support, especially if our war employed a mixture of military and political tactics (Iran, for example, required no military action at all, but modest support for a democratic revolution already under way). But the delay enabled the major opponent of the war — notably France, Russia, China, Saudi Arabia, Libya, Iran, Syria, and Egypt — to drag us into the quagmire of the United Nations for even further delays, and sabotage our support in Turkey and elsewhere.
Moreover, by stalling the second battle in the war, our regional enemies in Iran and Syria had plenty of time to plan their response to our pending occupation of Iraq. As they unhesitatingly and publicly proclaimed to anyone who cared to listen, they organized a terror war against us, accompanied by jihadist propaganda, mass demonstrations, and hostage seizures, just as we experienced in Lebanon in the 1980s. And they were true to their word. The mounting terror campaign speaks for itself, and, at last count, more than ten Iranian-sponsored radio and television stations were broadcasting in or into Iraq.
In other words, we cannot win in Iraq without defeating the other terror masters as well. Simple common sense required that we do what President Bush proclaimed shortly after September 11: move forcefully against the terrorist organizations and the states that sponsor and support them. But we did not do that. Instead, the president permitted himself to be dragged into the same trap he fell into after Afghanistan: delaying any further action until the Israel/Palestinian problem was "solved." This time it was called a roadmap, but, both in concept and consequence, there was no meaningful difference between this scheme and the earlier Saudi trap. Just as it was folly to believe that peace could be achieved in any part of the Middle East merely because Afghanistan had been freed of the grip of the terror masters, so it was a mistake to expect terror to end simply because Saddam Hussein had been overthrown. Just as the delay after Afghanistan permitted our enemies to organize their political, diplomatic, and terrorist forces against us, so our current defensive stance enables them to intimidate and indoctrinate the Iraqi people, murder our own men and women on the ground, and galvanize the president's critics and opponents, both at home and abroad.
The president gave voice to a welcome revolutionary doctrine when he refused to deal with Yasser Arafat: He said that just as only free Middle Eastern countries could be expected to abandon terrorism and join us in fighting it, only a free and democratic Palestinian people could make a durable peace with Israel. But he has ignored a key corollary to that axiom. There can be no peace anywhere in the region so long as the terror masters are free to operate. In recent weeks many of the recent attacks in Israel have been tracked back to Iran, at the same time that numerous Iranian terrorists have been arrested by Iraqi police and turned over to American forces.
So long as President Bush remains entrapped by the false vision of the "peace process" and plays defense in Iraq, initiative passes to the terror masters. He often speaks as if he understood his peril, but his diplomatic and military policies remain paralyzed by false vision. Iran, Syria, and Saudi Arabia organize, fund, and support the terror war in Iraq, but instead of supporting freedom fighters in Iran to topple the world's major sponsor of terror, we plaintively implore the mullahs to hand over some al Qaeda leaders so we can get on with lifting sanctions and "normalizing" relations. Instead of bringing real pressure to bear on the Baathist regime in Syria and the cunning Wahhabis in Saudi Arabia, we plead with the tyrannical leaders of those countries to behave better, so we can have better relations.
This is unworthy of a serious country, and the peoples of the region — whose destiny is at stake in this matter. Understand that while we say we're at war, we're certainly not waging it at the moment. Unless we escape from the trap, it is only a matter of time before our soldiers and diplomats in Iraq fall prey to the terror masters on a greater scale.
The longer we delay the inevitable reckoning, the more costly it will be. It's time to get out of the trap and resume the war.
— Michael Ledeen, an NRO contributing editor, is most recently the author of The War Against the Terror Masters. Ledeen is resident Scholar in the Freedom Chair at the American Enterprise Institute.
Several days ago I received a phone call from a Brazilian journalist who asked me to respond to the charge being made in her home country that Israel was at least indirectly to blame for the deadly truck bombing of the United Nations headquarters in Baghdad that killed, among others, a prominent Brazilian diplomat, Sergio Vieira de Mello.
I was not surprised at the question, considering its source. Among many South Americans, as among many Eastern Europeans, the knee-jerk response to nearly every evil is "blame it on the Jews." For example, Cardinal Oscar Andres Rodriguez Meridiaga, the archbishop of Tegucigalpa, Honduras, has blamed the "Jewish media" for the scandal involving Catholic priests having sex with young parishioners.
But the question got me to thinking: Who does share the blame with the terrorists themselves for the horrific explosion that killed and injured so many innocent people? Although the primary culprit is clearly the terrorist group that planned and executed the mass murder, the secondary culprit is the U.N. itself.
For more than a quarter of a century, the U.N. has actively encouraged terrorism by rewarding its primary practitioners, legitimating it as a tactic, condemning its victims when they try to defend themselves and describing the murderers of innocent children as "freedom fighters." No organization in the world today has accorded so much legitimacy to terrorism as has the U.N.
Consider the following:
• There are numerous occupied peoples around the world seeking statehood or national liberation, including the Tibetans, Kurds, Turkish Armenians and Palestinians. Only one of these groups has received official recognition by the U.N., including observer status and invitations to speak and participate in committee work. That group is the one that invented and perfected modern international terrorism — namely, the Palestinians.The bottom line is that the U.N. has served as an international megaphone for the perverse message that any people who feel that they are occupied have the right to resist occupation by randomly murdering innocent civilians anywhere in the world.
Now the chickens have come home to roost. Some Iraqis, who feel that they are now occupied, have taken the U.N.'s message to heart and are engaged in a "national liberation movement" of the kind long praised by the U.N. and are using the tactics rewarded by the U.N. against that very organization.
Now that the victims of "national liberation terrorism" are U.N. employees instead of Jewish babies, maybe the U.N. will finally come to its senses and understand that by legitimating and rewarding terrorism, they have created a Frankenstein monster that can be turned against any nation, organization or group. Unless there is a change, no one will be safe from this U.N.-created, -fed and -rewarded monster that threatens the entire world.
“If we find that Hamas and Islamic Jihad are indeed terror groups opposed to peace, we may have to change the EU’s stand. However, we mustn’t limit ourselves to one, clear cut, position.”—Diplomatic advisor to French President Jacques Chirac, Maurice Gourdault-Montagne, in a statement reportedly made to Israel’s Ambassador to France Nissim Zvilli. Mr. Gourdault-Montagne had been referring to France’s objections to placing Hamas and Islamic Jihad on the EU’s list of terror organizations. [Israeli Foreign Ministry officials expressed outrage at the French position, calling the attitude “one of criminal negligence.”] (Jer. Post, Aug. 25, 26)
“President Bush has become Islam’s biggest enemy.”—Hamas leader Abdel Aziz Rantisi, referring to the decision by the United States to freeze the assets of six Hamas leaders, including Rantisi himself. In the aftermath of last week’s Jerusalem suicide bombing which claimed the lives of 20 people and to which Hamas declared responsibility, President Bush ordered the assets frozen of five European-based organizations that raise money for Hamas. (A.P., Aug. 23)
“A Palestinian state will never be built on a foundation of violence. Now is the time for every true friend of the Palestinian people, every leader in the Middle East, and the Palestinian people themselves, to cut off all money and support for terrorists and actively fight terror on all fronts. Only then can Israel be secure and the flag rise over an independent Palestine.”—U.S. President George W. Bush, in a speech to the American Legion designed to defend his foreign policy, declared that American-led efforts in Iraq, hunting down Al Qaeda and bringing peace to the Middle East were all part of a larger struggle against terrorists. (New York Times, Aug. 27)
"Victory at all costs, victory in spite of terror, victory however long and hard the road may be: For without victory there is no survival."Sir Winston Churchill to the House of Commons on May 13, 1940
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