On his latest video release, Osama bin Laden says that what got him thinking about striking back at the "American-Israeli alliance" on September 11, 2001, was Israel's attack on terrorist sites inside Lebanon in 1982. I know something about that venture, called Operation Peace for the Galilee, because I was in Lebanon with the Israeli Defense Forces at that time.
Far from an "American-Israeli alliance" aimed at harming the Palestinian people, the Israeli invasion had at least two objectives: (1) root out terrorist positions from which rockets were launched against civilians in Northern Israel and (2) stop a Palestine Liberation Organization reign of terror in Southern Lebanon, which, according to Lebanese Christians, consisted of torture, rape and extortion, the mutilation of dead bodies and the confiscation of public buildings and private homes whose residents were either driven out or murdered. Anyone interested in learning more about the atrocities of the PLO in Lebanon, which bin Laden fondly recalls, can visit the Web page www.eretzyisroel.org/~samuel/lebanonwar.html.
PLO terrorists had holed up in apartment buildings, hospitals and mosques in Southern Lebanon, knowing the Israelis would be reluctant to strike where civilians lived, but also knowing if they did, the PLO would have a propaganda victory.
While in Tyre, Lebanon, I saw uniforms that had been made in China and weapons manufactured in Czechoslovakia and other Soviet bloc countries. During the Cold War, communists supported the Arab and Muslim side against the Israelis. The two worldviews - socialism/communism and radical Islam - fit well together. Osama bin Laden has said, "The interests of Muslims coincide with the interests of the socialists in the war against crusaders."
All totalitarians, whether religious or secular, need scapegoats for their failure to produce better lives for their people. For bin Laden, it is Jews, Christians and Westerners who are at fault for keeping Arabs and Muslims "down."
The bin Laden tape blames President Bush and his father for many things. Bin Laden complains about the killing of "innocents" by American and Israeli forces, although he ignores the attacks on innocents by his PLO and other terrorist friends.
Israel is the main culprit in his mind, and he suggests that if the U.S. would stop supporting Israel (which would allow her enemies to invade and eliminate the nation as they have attempted to do many times), America might expect to remain safe and secure. This is a Neville Chamberlain-Hitler bargain with the devil.
Nothing can be said or done that might pacify, mollify or ameliorate the decades of venom preached, taught and practiced by Jew-hating Middle Easterners, and not a few anti-Semitic Westerners.
Secretary of State Colin Powell said last week that the withdrawal of Israeli "settlers" from Gaza was part of the "road map" that should lead to the withdrawal by Israel from other territories it has held to bolster its security. Israel has withdrawn from land it has held for its own security under U.S. pressure many times before. In return, Israel has received nothing except more death and destruction from those who will be satisfied with nothing short of its elimination.
In Palestinian schools and in Muslim schools in Pakistan, the curriculum continues to be about "jihad" and martyrdom. In a Sept. 10, 2004, sermon carried on Palestinian TV, Sheikh Ibrahim Mudeiras, who is said to be a young cleric identified with the terrorist group Hamas, said, "There is no one in the world who loves the Jews . because they destroy everything and everyone wants to take vengeance on the Jews, to take vengeance on those pigs. And that day will come when we are victorious over them."
Such language shows that nothing short of the extermination of all Jews and supporters of Israel will satisfy Osama bin Laden and his followers. There can be no negotiations and no accommodation with such people. The objective of the West must be to defeat and eliminate them.
One potentially positive development is the signing of a petition by more than 2,500 Muslim intellectuals from 23 countries calling on the United Nations to ban the use of religion for incitement to violence. Why only the U.N.? Why not petition the Arab League and the governments of the petitioners? Still, it's a start and a serious counterpoint to Osama bin Laden's latest taped pronouncements.
Cal Thomas is co-author (with Bob Beckel) of the book, "Common Ground: How to Stop the Partisan War That is Destroying America".
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