Published in The Kansas City Jewish Chronicle
In H.G. Welles’ classic, “The Time Machine,” the time traveler encounters a future inhabited by underground beasts who prey on the peace-loving humanoid creatures above. Periodically, the beasts emerge from underground and slaughter some humanoids to satisfy their hunger. The astonished time traveler realizes that this situation, in which several members of the humanoids are slaughtered periodically, is accepted by them as a normal way of life. They never fight back to defend themselves. The humanoids believe that the sacrifice of some of them will satisfy the beasts and protect the rest of them and that defending themselves would be fruitless.
For the last three months, the situation in Israel reminds me of this futuristic nightmare. The Israeli government’s behavior seems to indicate the existence of an unspoken, unwritten agreement with the terrorists: as long as they slaughter only about 20 Israelis a month, Israel will not fight a real war against them. Otherwise, it is impossible to explain why Israel has been making believe it is fighting a war against terrorists, but as a practical matter has been unwilling to take the steps needed to win this war.
In August, 23 Israelis, including eight infants, were murdered riding on a bus returning from the Western Wall. Also in August, Israel attacked a Gaza apartment building in which top Hamas leaders, including their spiritual leader Sheikh Yassin, were meeting. Amazingly, it was decided to use a smaller bomb than military experts recommended, in hopes of reducing civilian casualties. All the Hamas leaders escaped with their lives. In September, 15 Israelis were murdered, including a daughter and a father on the eve of her wedding, in a pair of suicide bombings in Tel Aviv and Jerusalem. Israel reacted by deciding to pass a resolution that Arafat should be removed, but not specifying how or when. The Israeli army was ordered to surround but not to storm his headquarters. In October, 19 Israelis were murdered in a restaurant in Haifa, including several whole families. Israel’s reaction was to bomb empty buildings in Gaza as well as an empty terrorist training camp in Syria.
Sharon’s strategy seems to be to placate the United States and world opinion, as well as his own supporters, who still believe that we are fighting a real war against terrorism. Such a strategy is fruitless and only demonstrates to our enemies our self-imposed limits and our sense of frustration and helplessness. It only strengthens our enemies’ determination and conviction that we are weak. It weakens our perceived deterrence power as well as our sprit and morale. In the end, we will pay dearly for this phony war.
Take off the gloves
Exactly 30 years ago, it was Israel’s reputation as an undefeated, invincible, proud military power that halted the Syrian and Egyptian armies’ advances in the 1973 Yom Kippur war long enough to give Israel time to recover and win. Attacking Syria while the PA regime is still standing next to the heart of Israel does not send a warning signal to our enemies. Bombing an empty terrorist training camp in Syria, rather than hitting any of a dozen other real targets, including currently operational terrorist group headquarters in Syria, gives the impression to our enemies that we know we cannot win. Warning Arafat repeatedly for three years that the next time a terrorist attack occurs, he will be held accountable and be removed, and then repeatedly not following through makes us a laughingstock in the Arab world. In the Middle East, perception of power is a survival tool.
But much worse is the effect of this violence on the psyche of the Israeli people, who are already suffering from mental exhaustion, economic stagnation and unemployment. Now it seems they are being asked by their leaders to accept a way of life in which some of them will be murdered every month to satisfy the hatred in Palestinian society. They are being told by the U.S. and the world and by those Israelis who still didn’t wake up from their Oslo delusions that there is no military solution, and there will be worse consequences to an Israeli escalation.
The world has a tradition of condemning us no matter what the magnitude of our response. After Israel’s cabinet voted to remove Arafat, 133 nations voted in the U.N. to condemn Israel, rather than the man who has fomented terror against the Jewish state for over 40 years. Just three countries voted with Israel – the U.S. and two island nations under American control.
Fearing the loss of U.S. support should always be an Israeli consideration, but acting as a sovereign state that defends its citizens must be the prime consideration. Because of U.S. pressure, Israel has been restrained in its war against Palestinians terrorism for the last three years. While the U.S., in response to terrorism against its own citizens, has already removed two regimes in Afghanistan and Iraq, Israel still is not given the permission to remove the evil regime of Arafat or to dismantle the terrorist infrastructure. With a looming re-election campaign, now is the time to hold Bush accountable to follow his own doctrine that if you harbor terrorism and commit terrorism, you should be removed.
Those who still believe that establishing a Palestinian state and dividing Jerusalem will bring the ultimate peace forget that peace cannot come so long as Palestinian society is being indoctrinated through daily brainwashing in the media, schools and mosques with hatred and incitement to violence against Jews.
For the last 10 years of Oslo, a culture glorifying martyrdom, death and depravity has been developed by the Palestinian Authority and has permeated the daily life of Palestinian Arabs. Palestinians walk down streets
named after suicide bombers and drop off their children in a school that uses textbooks that praise suicide bombing and then walk in the streets or to a store whose walls are plastered with portraits of suicide bombers. Soccer teams and U.N.-sponsored summer camps are named after suicide bombers. Teachers distribute candles if a student becomes a “martyr,” children collect martyr cards and parents and families cry from joy and thank God for choosing their son or daughter to be a martyr. The female suicide bomber who killed 19 Israelis in Halfa was a 27-year old apprentice lawyer whose 15-year old brother celebrated her death by saying on TV “We are receiving congratulations from people. Why should we cry? It is like her wedding day, the happiest day for her.” If they were able to brainwash an attorney that blowing herself to pieces to kill Jews would be the happiest day of her life, then how can we expect that peace can be achieved, no matter what Israel offers politically?
As long as Arafat and the Palestinian Authority exist in the territories, the terror and incitement will continue, and any new leadership that wishes to coexist with Israel will have no chance to emerge.
Just as the world dealt with another evil regime after World War II, Arafat and all other Palestinian leaders tainted with terror must be expelled, killed or caught and tried for war crimes. Of course, the terrorist infrastructure of the Palestinian Authority, Hamas, Islamic Jihad, Fatah and other groups must be dismantled through military action. The reoccupation of the territories and the “de-nazification” of Palestinian society must take place by purging all elements associated with terrorism and martyrdom glorification from public life, including civil servants, teachers, educators, legal officials, religious leaders and the media. This should be followed by autonomy, a new education system devoid of hatred, an economic Marshall plan, the creation of new political parties and democratization. It will take time for a new society to emerge which would then breed a new generation of leaders that will hopefully wish to coexist with Israel.
But first Israel has to make the decision to win the war on terrorism.