Evil triumphs when good men do nothing

Posted: Apr 10, 2002 12:00 AM
Just before he left for the Middle East, Secretary of State Colin Powell went on "Meet the Press" to say, "I'm going to consult with our Arab friends to reinforce to them that they have a role to play. They have to do much more in the future, with respect to encouraging Palestinian leaders to take more responsible action to bring this kind of violence under control, to speak of peace, not incite people to violence." Although President George W. Bush is asking Israel to cease its military operations in the West Bank, he and Powell also understand there is absolutely no moral equivalence between that operation and the Palestinian suicide bombings that provoked it. Before he left for the Middle East, Powell said of the Palestinian bombings, "Violence of this kind is not justified, no matter how aggrieved the people may feel, no matter how humiliated they may feel, no matter how much they yearn for a political solution, no matter they want to have their own state." Edmund Burke, the great 18th-century Scottish philosopher and British parliamentarian, said, "Evil triumphs when good men do nothing." Last Friday, Saudi Arabia's Ambassador to the United States, Bandar bin Sultan, demonstrated his willingness to let evil triumph in the Middle East when, in a Washington Post op-ed, he refused to condemn targeted Palestinian suicide bombing attacks against innocent Israeli civilians and failed to call for their immediate cessation. The day before the prince's op-ed, Bush had the moral clarity to call suicide bombers of innocents "murderers," not martyrs. He also called on all governments in the region to "do everything in their power to stop terrorist activities, to disrupt terrorist financing, and to stop inciting violence by glorifying terror in state-owned media or telling suicide bombers they are martyrs." Bandar did just the opposite. He ridiculed as "senseless" Bush's call on Arafat to insist that his people end the suicide bombings and to do whatever else he can to stop the violence. The ambassador did so much more in his column, though, than simply "do nothing" to stop the intentional killing of innocent Israelis. He leveled an unambiguous threat to America when he labeled Israel a "burden" to America, proclaimed that "America's worldwide interests are victims of the Israeli occupation" and foresaw a disruption to the war on terrorism unless the United States turns against Israel. Bandar's column is both confusing and confounding. He professes to justify the unjustifiable by drawing a false "moral equivalence" between the intentional Palestinian murder of innocent Israeli civilians and the accidental and unavoidable deaths of Palestinian civilians that result when careful Israeli military responses to those murders attempt to root out terrorists and uproot their infrastructure. He condemns Israel's refusal to allow itself to be destroyed as "Israeli oppression of Palestinians." The ambassador labels Israeli acts of self-defense as "terrorism," and he condones cold-blooded Palestinian murder of innocents as legitimate "resistance" to Israel's so-called occupation of Palestinian territory. Bandar and others in the Arab world fabricate a false image of a "cycle of violence," contending that Yasser Arafat cannot be expected to call for an end to Palestinian violence until Israel ceases its own military response to the violence, which he neglects to acknowledge is always in direct response to violence that the Palestinian terrorists began in the first place. But this notion of a "cycle of violence" is nothing but the handmaiden of "moral equivalence." There is no "cycle" of violence; there is "perpetual" violence kept in motion by radical Palestinians intent on driving Israel into the sea, and screeds like the Bandar column are the fuel that keeps the perpetual violence in motion. To appreciate just how disingenuous and calculated this endless string of excuses for Palestinian violence is, recall that just a few weeks ago, when the Israelis had imposed a unilateral cease-fire on themselves and were calling on the Palestinians to respond in kind, the response was then that Palestinian violence could not be stopped until the Israeli "occupation" ended. No matter what Israel does, the Palestinians, and now Bandar, have an excuse for why Palestinian violence cannot stop. And remember, when Arafat says, "... until the occupation is over," he means not just until the West Bank and Gaza are given over, he means until all of that territory identified on Arab and Palestinian maps as "Occupied Territory" is given over, and that means all of Israel. This kind of distorted and belligerent rhetoric is carefully conceived within a pretense of friendship for America to stir up Arab hatred against Jews and the United States and to whip up a whirlwind of confusion among non-Arabs everywhere. Nobel Prize-winning author Elie Wiesel once pondered how "Shoah" -- which means whirlwind or confusion in Hebrew -- comes about in the affairs of man. It happens, Wiesel concluded, "When good and bad are put on the same plane, and the evil receive the approval of the just."