Israel Report

July 2001         



Think Back - When and If Israel Moves, Remember This

By Seth Gitell, political writer of the Boston Phoenix
July 23, 2001

When it comes to ensuring its own security, the Group of 8 doesn't mess around. When it comes to the security of Israel, on the other hand, the G-8 looks to "third-party monitors" to call into question an embattled state's methods of defending itself.

In Genoa, Italy, police beset by protesters shot and killed a man, who had hurled a fire extinguisher at an official vehicle. More than 200 protesters have been injured in various melees. One day earlier, the G-8 leaders meeting in that same city, called for international monitors to be inserted into Israel to scrutinize that nation's response to attacks far worse than an errant piece of fire-fighting equipment. Nobody has yet called for international monitors to scrutinize the G-8 or the Italian police. Secretary of State Colin Powell did not criticize the Italians for the "excessive of force" as he has with regard to Israel in recent months. The aptly timed Genoa incident demonstrates why international monitors should not be foisted upon Israel, a democracy fighting for its very existence.

The days prior to the G-8 conference saw law-enforcement authorities conduct a massive build-up of might to combat anti-globalization protests. Expecting tens of thousands of demonstrators, police armed themselves with truncheons, tear gas, rifles, pistols, and more. Authorities constructed special metal cages and concrete gates to protect attendees. Members of the Secret Service kept a helicopter handy to whisk President Bush away at the slightest hint of danger.

As dangerous, violent and menacing as the armies of protesters were during the G-8, however, none had called for the taking or destruction of Genoa — or the death of the leaders attending the event — as some Palestinians have done in the "Jerusalem Jihad" in recent months. Members of the fearsome "Black Bloc" anarchists were not joined by M-16-carrying militia men firing at police. The protesters did not thrust small children into the center of crossfires to be the targets of danger. The anarchists did not launch mortar fusillades against the security forces or ordinary citizens. None of the protesters blew themselves up in crowded Genoa cafes — nor killed scores of innocent Italian teenagers. Even so, the police presence at the G-8 was rightfully strong and helped guarantee the safety of world leaders attending the event.

Yet when Israel calls upon its security forces to protect its citizens from sniping attacks outside of Jerusalem or suicide bombers from the West Bank, then the European nations and, too often, the United States, call for outside observers to study the use of force. But the Middle East violence didn't start until after the chairman of the Palestinian Authority, Yasser Arafat, decided against a peace agreement with Israel. At Camp David, Arafat refused Palestinian control of most of the West Bank and Gaza and shared control of Jerusalem. Instead, Arafat unleashed his Palestinian public and Tanzim militiamen in a violent onslaught that has barely abated since last October.

The Genoa conference, which inspired all the protests, lasted less than a week. Israel has been facing continuous violence since last fall.

The last time America faced a threat from a neighboring nation came in 1916 when Mexican General Pancho Villa lead 1,500 men into an incursion in New Mexico and killed 17 Americans. The U.S. promptly sent 6,000 men into Mexico to capture Villa. Israel has not yet sent its forces into the West Bank to capture Arafat. When and if it does, America and its allies would be wise to remember how they react if attacked. And before sending international monitors into a foreign conflict, it might be wise for them to examine how they act when their security is threatened first.

appeared in National Review


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