CONTROVERSY

Jewish World Review Sept. 12, 2002 / 6 Tishrei, 5763

There is only one way to establish
a humane Middle East

Arab protesters in Montreal


For those who missed it, former Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu attempted to give a speech Monday at a Montreal college calling for, among other things, democracy to be embraced in the Middle East. Before he arrived, Arabs showed their love of free speech and the open exchange of ideas by going on a rampage. Mr. Netanyahu's speech was ultimately canceled due to safety concerns. We have reproduced his intended remarks here.



By Binyamin Netanyahu

http://www.jewishworldreview.com | I have come here to voice what I believe is an urgently needed reminder: that the war on terror can be won with clarity and courage or lost with confusion and vacillation.

International terrorism depends on the support of sovereign states, and fighting it demands that these regimes be either deterred or dismantled. In one clear sentence, President George W. Bush expressed this principle in his historic speech a year ago: "No distinction will be made between the terrorists and the regimes that harbour them." Such strategic clarity was applied with devastating effect to the Taliban regime in Afghanistan that supported al-Qaeda terrorism.

But that is only the first step in dismantling the global terrorist network. The other terrorist regimes must now be rapidly dealt with in similar fashion.

Israel has not experienced a terrorist attack like the one the world witnessed on that horrific day last September. That unprecedented act of barbarism will never be forgotten. But, in the past two years, Israel's six million citizens have buried more than 600 victims of terror -- a per capita toll equivalent to more than half a dozen September 11ths. This daily, hourly carnage is also unprecedented in terrorism's bloody history.

Yet, at the very moment when support for Israel's war against terror should be stronger than ever, my nation is asked by many to stop fighting. Though we are assured by friends that we have the right to defend ourselves, we are effectively asked not to exercise that right.

But our friends should have no illusions. With or without international support, the government of Israel must fight not only to defend its people, restore a dangerously eroded deterrence and secure the Jewish state, but also to ensure that the free world wins the war against terror in this pivotal arena in the heart of the Middle East.

Instead of praising Israel for seeking to minimize civilian casualties through careful and deliberate action, most of the world's governments shamelessly condemn it.

For many months, many of these governments have rightly supported the war against Afghan terror. Yet their patience for the war against Palestinian terror ran out quickly. The explanations that are offered for this double standard are not convincing.

First, it is said that war on Palestinian terror is different because a political process exists that can restore security and advance peace.

This is not so. There can never be a political solution for terror. The grievance of terrorists can never be redressed through diplomacy. That will only encourage more terror.

Yasser Arafat's terrorist regime must be toppled, not courted. The Oslo agreements are dead. Yasser Arafat killed them.

He tore them to shreds and soaked them in Jewish blood by violating every one of its provisions, including the two core commitments he made at Oslo: to recognize the state of Israel and to permanently renounce terrorism.

With such a regime and such failure of leadership, no political process is possible. In fact, a political process can only begin when this terrorist regime is dismantled.

Second, it is said that waging war on Palestinian terror will destabilize the region and cripple the imminent war against Saddam Hussein. This concern is also misplaced.

Clearly, the urgent need to topple Saddam is paramount. The commitment of America and Britain to dismantle his terrorist dictatorship before it obtains nuclear weapons deserves the unconditional support of all sane governments.

But contrary to conventional wisdom, what has destabilized the region is not Israeli action against Palestinian terror, but rather the constant pressure exerted on Israel to show restraint.

It is precisely the exceptional restraint shown by Israel that has unwittingly emboldened its enemies and inadvertently increased the threat of a wider conflict.

I must also tell you that the charge that Israel, of all countries, is hindering the war against Saddam is woefully unjust. For my country has done more than any other to make victory over him possible.

Twenty-one years ago, prime minister Menachem Begin sent the Israeli air force on a predawn raid hundreds of miles away on one of the most dangerous military missions in our nation's history.

When our pilots returned, we had successfully destroyed Saddam's atomic bomb factory and crippled his capacity to build nuclear weapons. Israel was safer -- and so was the world. But rather than thanking us for safeguarding freedom, the entire world condemned us.

Ten years later, when American troops expelled Iraqi forces in the gulf war, then secretary of defense Richard Cheney expressed a debt of gratitude to Israel for the bold and determined action a decade earlier that had made victory possible.

That is why there is no alternative to winning this war without delay. No part of the terrorist network can be left intact. For if not fully eradicated, like the most malignant cancer, it will regroup and attack again with even greater ferocity. Only by dismantling the entire network will we be assured of victory.

But to assure that this evil does not re-emerge a decade or two from now, we must not merely uproot terror, but also plant the seeds of freedom.

Because only under tyranny can a diseased totalitarian mindset be widely cultivated. This totalitarian mindset, which is essential for terrorists to suspend the normal rules that govern a man's conscience and prevent him from committing these grisly acts, does not breed in a climate of democracy and freedom.

The open debate and plurality of ideas that buttress all genuine democracies and the respect for human rights and the sanctity of life that are the shared values of all free societies are a permanent antidote to the poison that the sponsors of terror seek to inject into the minds of their recruits.

That is why it is also imperative that, once the terrorist regimes in the Middle East are swept away, the free world must begin to build democracy in their place.

We simply can no longer afford to allow this region to remain cloistered by a fanatic militancy. We must let the winds of freedom and independence finally penetrate the one region in the world that clings to unreformed tyranny.

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Mr. Netanyahu is a former Israeli prime minister. Comment by clicking here.

Up

04/19/02: The litmus test for authentic 'freedom fighters'
04/11/02: 'The motivating force behind terror is neither desperation nor destitution --- it's hope'
09/24/01: 'Today we are all Americans'

© 2002, Bibi Netanyahu