The green light for Israel

Posted: Dec 05, 2001 12:00 AM
I wonder what it will take to make America and the rest of the civilized world understand that the Palestinian Authority does not seek peaceful coexistence with Israel. How about the series of suicide bombings over the weekend that killed some 26 people? Or that PA leader Yasser Arafat, when speaking to his people in Arabic, condones violence against Israelis? Or that the Palestinian schools teach their children to hate Israel and to deny the existence of the Israeli state? Or that former Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak offered the Palestinians an unconscionable amount of Israel's real estate and Arafat still rejected his offer (because he refused to recognize the legitimacy of the Israeli state)? Or the extensive list of other suicide bombings and other murders of Israeli people that have occurred since the 1993 Oslo "peace" accords, where Arafat pledged to renounce violence? Or the fact that under Arafat's reign, no terrorist has served a substantial jail sentence for acts of violence against Israelis? On the other hand, why should the Palestinians cease and desist from hostilities since their acts of aggression have consistently resulted in territorial gains or a greater receptiveness to them? Stated another way, why should they behave when it's more profitable for them not to? Many on the left (here and abroad) argue that Arafat's hostility is a direct result of Ariel Sharon and the hardliners in his Likud Party having acquired control. But one of the main reasons Sharon was elected was the failure of the soft-line Barak administration to bring peace to the region. The truth is that peace is going to be unattainable as long as the Palestinian authority is allowed to pretend that it will peacefully co-exist with Israel. Appeasement will no more work with Palestinian terrorists than it does with the al-Qaida. America, in its war on terrorism, certainly needs the support of other governments inside and outside the Muslim world. Western nations like Britain are anxious to help us – both because they are our long-term allies and they, too, are ongoing terrorist targets. The Muslim and other nations in closer proximity to Afghanistan have their own reasons for supporting us to a greater or lesser degree, or not at all. The military assistance of Britain and the limited logistical support of Pakistan have been very important in our rapid and powerful response against the Taliban and al-Qaida. But here's the point: If all of these nations chose to sit on the sidelines, we could go it alone. It would take longer, it would be riskier and might result in greater loss of American lives, but we could do it. Israel, though, as fierce and determined as she is, needs our support against the acts of terror against her, or, at the very least, she deserves that we don't pressure her not to defend herself. The Bush administration issued a statement today endorsing Israel's right to defend herself, but the endorsement was not unequivocal. A spokesman for Secretary of State Colin Powell cautioned that, "it's important all parties consider the repercussions" of their actions and how those actions may impact on prospects for peace in the region. Israel, with some exceptions, has been quite deferential to American wishes. I'll never forget the forbearance she demonstrated when Saddam Hussein, without provocation, launched numerous Scud missiles at Israel during the Persian Gulf War in an effort to ignite a large-scale holy war. But how much forbearance from Israel do we have a moral right to request? How can we demand that the nations sponsoring terrorist organizations targeting the United States cough up the bad guys or face our wrath while insisting that Israel turn the other cheek? The 26 people who were killed last weekend certainly won't benefit from such restraint. Mr. Netanyahu urges that America support Israel in giving Chairman Arafat an ultimatum: Dismantle your terrorist networks, or we will dismantle your regime. When pressed, Netanyahu refused to call for Arafat's assassination. Unlike some reporters questioning him, I believe he was being sincere. He's not after Arafat's assassination. He knows that this isn't just about Arafat, but his regime aiding and abetting terrorism. Our State Department spokesman, when asked whether we were giving Israel the green light to counterattack, said, "This is not a game of green light, red light." No, it's not a game, but it's time for the Bush administration to change the light from yellow to green. It is not right to let Israel continue to twist in the wind.