Published in The Kansas City Jewish Chronicle
This summer’s high gas prices and blackouts are a picnic compared to what will happen if Iran and Iraq succeed in their attempt to develop nuclear weapons and subsequently invade and take over Kuwait, Saudi Arabia and other Persian Gulf oil producers. This would enable them to hold the Western world hostage to daily price increases and political blackmail. Experts believe that Iran and Iraq, if they are not stopped now, will possibly be able to develop nuclear weapons within one to six years.
Sadly, once again, the world media and western governments have allowed themselves to be manipulated by Arab propaganda into believing that the root of Middle East instability is the Palestinian problem and that peace will prevail in the region only with Israeli concessions. Now a reluctant Bush administration, led by Secretary of State Colin Powell, is being drawn into Yasser Arafat’s calculated strategy of martyring his public through continuous violence against Israel. Following the failed policy of the Clinton administration, it is getting directly involved in the conflict by rewarding the Palestinians for their terror tactics and pressuring Israel for concessions like settlement freezes and military restraint.
This preoccupation is short sighed and dangerous to American interests because it will obscure Iraq and Iran’s feverish buildup of their weapons of mass destruction and missile program and serve as a cover for the Europeans, Chinese and Russian who make huge financial profit by supplying that increasing arsenal.
Appeasing Iran and Iraq
Since December 1998, free of United Nations weapons inspectors and monitors and with sanctions eroded by the Europeans and the Arab world, Iraq has rebuilt destroyed weapons facilities that were used to produce weapons of mass destruction. It certainly retains stockpiles of lethal biological and chemical agents and production equipment as well as a small operational force of mobile missiles that can reach population centers in Israel and Saudi Arabia.
Experts believe that if Iraq were to acquire fissionable material – most likely from the former Soviet Union – it could perhaps produce an operational nuclear weapon within a year.
Since the end of the Cold War, Iran, has, with the assistance of the Chinese, North Korea and Russians, acquired and produced missiles capable of reaching Israel, South and Central Asia and southeastern Europe.
Illegal Russian groups are selling Iran nuclear technology, and in 1998 and again in February the Russian government signed a multi-billion dollar military trade contract with Iran to supply missiles and build a civilian nuclear reactor at Bushehr.
However, despite the threat, the Clinton administration conducted a policy of appeasement toward Iran by easing sanctions against it and waiving penalties against Europeans who violated American sanctions. And it engaged in a policy toward Iraq that abandoned the inspections two years ago and permitted travel and economic sanctions against Iraq to be shredded daily by Russia, France, Turkey and Arab nations. Now the Secretary of State proposes to alleviate sanctions against Iraq by lifting restriction on imports of civilian goods, which sadly, will only help Saddam Hussein to better manage domestic pressure and dissent.
In the absence of American or Western will to implement tough policies, in the face of European greed and the misguided anger by the moderate Arab countries (which ironically, will be the first victims of aggression), it is only Israel with its strong army, nuclear weapons and common democratic Western values that can and will prevent such tragedies from unfolding. Weakening Israel by restraining or tying the hands of its military in its fight against the Palestinian military forces is not in the best interest of the United States. There is a small window of opportunity of up to two years to eliminate these weapons of mass destruction, and Israel is in the best position to do it.
On June 7, 1981, Israel destroyed Saddam’s nuclear reactor at Osirak, which was primed to produce nuclear bombs, despite the condemnation of the entire international community, including the United States.
A military solution
Secretary of State Powell repeatedly stated that “It is clear now that there cannot be military solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict” and called for the return to the negotiating table. However, a military solution is the only solution left to Israel.
At Camp David last July, Israel’s then Prime Minister Ehud Barak offered Arafat a Palestinian state in Gaza and 97 percent of the West Bank, an additional 3 percent of territory inside Israel, a capital in the entire Arab area of East Jerusalem, including in the Old City and Temple Mount, plus the dismantling of over 100 Jewish settlements. Israel asked in return only that Arafat declare an end to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict. Tragically, Arafat rejected these generous concessions and orchestrated violence instead. For the last eight months, the Palestinians have been conducting a guerrilla war of attrition against Israel, emulating Hezbollah after the Islamic guerrilla group’s perceived success in forcing Israel’s withdrawal from South Lebanon a year ago. Arafat’s aim is to bring Israel to its knees and get it to agree to all his demands, including the “right of return” of 3.5 million Palestinians into Israel, which if accepted, will lead to the ultimate destruction of the Jewish state.
Arafat in a speech broadcast by the Palestinian media on May 15 commemorating Israel’s independence as Catastrophe Day, confirmed that his ultimate goal is still the destruction of Israel. He declared that “there would be no peace or stability in the Middle East until Israel consented to the right of return.” Hamas military leader Abdel Aziz Rantisi stated in May that “the mainstream Palestinian leadership now agrees that armed conflict is the only way to deal with Israel” and that “Hamas and Arafat now see eye to eye.” The Chief of Staff of the Israeli Army agrees that there had been a clear cooperation between the Palestinian Authority and Hamas and Islamic Jihad with the latter two organizations carrying out suicide bombings against civilians inside Israel and the Palestinian Authority, with units such as Fatah and the paramilitary Tanzim carrying out attacks against soldiers and settlers in the territories.
While Israel was preparing for peace the last few years, the Palestinians have been preparing for war. They have been smuggling through secret tunnels under the border between Egypt and Gaza, via the sea and by senior Palestinian Authority officials with VIP status hundreds of anti-tank and anti-aircraft missiles, Katyusha rocket launchers, rocket-propelled grenades, land mines and rifles. They have been holding sniper combat and weapons training and “offensive” drilling and have established bunkers and factories for manufacturing mortars, hand grenades and ammunition.
The Palestinian terror will never stop and inevitably will escalate in its intensity to include the shelling of Israeli cities with rockets and missiles and attempts to take down airplanes. Arafat’s promises of cease-fires are meaningless, especially in light of his record of broken promises to prevent violence under the Oslo agreement and regarding his agreements to more than 100 cease fires in Jordan and Lebanon in the ‘70s and ‘80s. They were always broken.
The United States should let Israel defend itself by reentering the Palestinian-controlled areas and removing the Palestinian leadership as well as its military and terrorist infrastructure, as became necessary in Jordan and Lebanon. Israelis cannot afford to be demoralized by a prolonged daily loss of life or let its military and human resources be drained through a continuing policy of restraint.