By Any Means Necessary

Posted: Apr 02, 2002 12:00 AM
This year marked the first time as a columnist that I did not write an Easter commentary. I have been distracted and distraught over the situation in the Middle East; rarely do I possess hope for peaceful solutions. I have spent time in Israel talking to military leaders, scholars and members of the Knesset (Israeli parliament), and I am deeply sensible to the violence that threatens to pull apart the birthplace of modern religion. Just the thought of the destruction that is going on there now saddens my spirit. We are witnessing the end of what has been known for centuries as the Holy Land. For this destruction, there is no shortage of blame. Israeli officials shake their fists at Yasser Arafat for engineering the violent outbursts as a bargaining device for future peace talks. Palestinians regard the Israeli soldiers who retaliate on civilians as devils - an image that permeates their textbooks. Let me say emphatically that Arafat is a terrorist, no different from the terrorists who smashed their planes into the World Trade Center on Sept. 11. He funnels state resources into the wanton murder of Israeli civilians. Arafat is the Palestinian's Osama bin Laden. When Ehud Barak was prime minister of Israel, he offered to relinquish most of the land Israel acquired in 1967, thereby uprooting thousands of Israeli citizens, in exchange for peace. It was a generous offer. Arafat balked. Why? Because Arafat and the Palestinians will not be satisfied until Israel ceases to exist. That is their only understanding of a peaceful resolution. Their suicide bombers give the game away. What, after all, does appeasement mean to a suicide bomber? Plainly, the Palestinians are engaged in an all-or-nothing proposition. And so the peaceful offerings of Barak have again devolved into an all too familiar scene: Cars smashed, rubble burning, mourners dragging themselves across the sands in grim funeral processions. Palestinian children chant, "I want to be a martyr." Families on both sides of the conflict prepare daily to kill strangers. Geographically removed from the situation, it is easy for American media to talk of the need for restraint. But can you imagine any U.S. political or media figure using the 9/11 attacks as a platform to tout peace and restraint? Of course not! Our political and military leaders have decided to eradicate those terrorists who attacked our country, with the hope that by removing their anti-human agenda, we might vindicate those societies that respect basic human rights. By securing those social orders that are bound up in basic human rights, our war on terrorism shows a very real commitment to peace. It is no surprise that Israeli leaders are now considering a similar stance. That is, they are considering using their considerable military might to eradicate the Palestinian's ability to wage this terrorist war. Given our own recent experiences with terrorists, why should the United States expect Israel to stand pat and endure continuous terrorist assaults? How dare we pressure them to sit back and watch as their mothers, father and children are murdered? The Israelis know all to well that measured responses - like temporary agreements - will not procure peace. Just as American leaders knew that measured responses to the terrorists who attacked us on Sept. 11 would only embolden our enemies. It is time for Israel to take a page from America's book, and defend themselves by any means necessary.