Linda Chavez
In March, Israel sustained twice the equivalent loss of life as the United States incurred in the World Trade Center bombings. One hundred twenty-five Israelis have died in attacks that have come in unrelenting waves, the most recent occurring every day for a week. That is 125 dead in a nation of 6.4 million. It is as if we were to lose approximately 5,617 Americans out of a population of 288.2 million. We know what the United States' response was to the attack on our people on Sept. 11. President Bush did not hesitate to drop thousands of bombs on Afghanistan and to send our troops into a half-dozen countries around the globe to eliminate the al Qaeda network. By comparison, Prime Minister Ariel Sharon has shown remarkable restraint in responding to the assaults on his people, by sending in only tanks and soldiers to root out the terrorists in the West Bank. Why, then, not wholeheartedly endorse Sharon's actions? President Bush seems on the verge of doing so every time he speaks -- but his advisors caution him not to. They are worried that the United States might lose Arab support for our own war on terrorism. And what have we gotten for our efforts to appease so-called Arab moderates? Precious little. The Saudis, who have bankrolled terrorists for decades and continue to do so, export the fanatical brand of Wahhabi Islam that provides the ideological underpinnings for the assault on Western values and lives. Their newspapers -- which are controlled through strict government censorship -- print "blood libels" against the Jewish people, which encourages the killing of Jews, all the while pretending to promote a Middle East "peace plan." Even the Pakistanis -- who have been among the most reliable "allies" in our war -- have allowed Taliban and al Qaeda leaders to escape into their country unharmed, whether because of bribes or sympathy with the terrorists' cause is unknown. The terrorists who are attacking Israel are morally indistinguishable from those that attacked the United States. These are not Palestinian "freedom fighters" but cold-blooded murderers. Their specific targets are civilians -- women and children, teen-agers and old men. What's more, these Palestinian terrorists are comrades-in-arms with those who attacked the United States. They are funded by the same sources, have trained in the same camps and share the same motivation as those who killed some 3,000 Americans on Sept. 11. It is in the United States' interests -- not just Israel's -- that these Palestinian terrorists be destroyed. We will not win the war on terrorism -- and there will be no peace in the Middle East -- so long as Islamist fundamentalists command the loyalty of millions, including thousands who are willing to blow themselves up in order to kill Jews and Christians. There can be no peace or justice in the region so long as despotic regimes foment hatred and export violence in order to deflect the Arab masses from the corruption and oppression endemic in their societies. They foster a culture of terrorism to keep their own populations in line and maintain their own power and wealth. President Bush should stop listening to his "experts" and follow his own instincts. He articulated a clear position when he launched the war on terrorism. Any nation that supports or harbors terrorists will be subject to the same treatment as terrorists themselves. Yasser Arafat and the ruling Palestinian Authority meet that definition. The United States should stop trying to discourage Israel from fighting Palestinian terrorism. We are in the same war against the same enemy. We should choose our coalition partners based on common values and a common commitment to fight terrorism wherever it exists. The so-called moderates in the Arab world have yet to demonstrate such commitment. If the United States is left with only one ally in the Middle East -- the democratically elected government of Israel -- so be it. Better one consistent ally than a dozen "friends" who support and fund our enemies.

Linda Chavez

Linda Chavez is chairman of the Center for Equal Opportunity and author of Betrayal: How Union Bosses Shake Down Their Members and Corrupt American Politics .

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