If you (still) read The New York Times, pretty much all you know about the bedside interview of Abdel Aziz Rantisi, the Hamas arch terrorist and pediatrician who escaped an Israeli missile assault this week with a minor leg injury, is that he "vowed revenge from his hospital bed."
However, this Dumas-like description doesn't quite fit Rantisi's hospital-room rant as reported elsewhere. Knowing what the Hamas leader actually said makes Palestinian government insistence on all "dialogue" and no action regarding Hamas (or, in the words of Prime Minister Mahmoud Abbas, "the brothers of Hamas") seem even more like the dangerous sham that it is.
Here are some of the Hamas leader's choicer words: "I swear we will not leave a single Jew in Palestine" -- which, in terror-speak, means "not a single Jew in Israel." This statement appeared in the Washington Times. "I am telling Sharon and all the Israeli murderers, you don't have any security unless you leave the country" (i.e., leave Israel), the Washington Post reported.
Such statements strike me more as conversation-enders than dialogue-openers. These sentiments don't promise "revenge" as much as they reaffirm the same old strategy of annihilation by terrorism that imperils Israel in the modern age -- now to a calamitous degree. Indeed, Internet news service IslamOnline.net characterized Rantisi's words as having "reaffirmed" the strategy of "resistance and rifle" -- terror-speak, it seems, for donning Orthodox garb and self-detonating a bus filled with office-bound commuters. That's exactly what a Hamas terrorist did the day after Rantisi spoke. Sixteen Israelis were killed during the afternoon rush hour on Wednesday, leaving scores maimed and wounded on a sunny Jerusalem thoroughfare.
"You have no option but Jihad and martyrdom," Rantisi told IslamOnline.net. "By Allah Almighty, we will pursue Jihad until we bring back all Palestinian refugees to their homeland and restore every inch of our usurped land" -- terror-speak, of course, for every inch of Israel. This wasn't Rantisi's first rant (and, regrettably, won't be his last). A few months back, Rantisi justified the loss of the space shuttle Columbia as "part of the divine punishment of America and, together with it, Zionism." Before that, the good doctor was calling for "thousands of squads of martyrs" to be equipped with "thousands of sophisticated explosives belts" to kill themselves, along with as many Americans and British troops as possible, for the greater glory of Saddam Hussein.
"In order to defend the homeland from the terrorist Crusader attack," he wrote, according to MEMRI's online translation, "there is a need for people who yearn for Paradise, and the shortest way to Paradise is death for (the sake of) Allah."
Suicide killers haven't materialized in Iraq by the thousands, but a scattered few have murdered American soldiers. And, according to the grim tally of the Zionist Organization of America, 29 of the 39 Americans killed by Palestinian Arab terrorists since 1993 were murdered by Hamas. Such statistics make all the more distressing the fact that George W. Bush, a big-game terrorist-hunter himself, would be "deeply troubled" because the Israelis took aim at a big-game terrorist following post-summit terror attacks that left five Israeli soldiers dead.
Almost worse than the hypocrisy, however, is the illogic behind the president's stated reason: Mr. Bush was concerned, he said, that the Israeli action would impede official Palestinian efforts to fight terrorism. How it could be that drying up a poisonous source of terrorism could be a drain on any legitimate fight against terrorism is an argument for the mentally double-jointed. Without engaging in dangerous gymnastics, it's still easy to see that such thinking, taken seriously, would require the United States to cease all efforts to target Osama bin Laden.
Prime Minister Abbas has declared himself unable or unwilling to act against Palestinian terror groups; Israel, attacked again, must defend itself. In so doing, it is helping defend every other country threatened by Islamist terror.
The accelerated road map to a Palestinian state comes not as a hopeful result of any Palestinian reform; it comes as a weary concession to Palestinian terror. This is a dangerous precedent for the entire Western world. Even worse would be an Israeli concession on the right to self-defense. Look again to the maniacal words of Rantisi: "The enemies of Allah ... are cowards. They crave life, while Muslims crave martyrdom. The martyrdom operations (suicide murders) that shock can ensure that horror is sowed in the (enemies') hearts, and horror is one of the causes of defeat."
Life vs. martyrdom: an easy choice in the West. But in choosing life, we must defend it everywhere -- the only triumph there can be over Dr. Rantisi's horror.