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Jewish World ReviewOct. 17, 2000 /18 Tishrei 5761

Cal Thomas

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Moments of truth --
SUDDENLY the ancient prophecies that foretell Armageddon do not seem so strange and beyond comprehension, even to secular minds. The murder of 17 Americans in Yemen and two Israeli soldiers in Ramallah again reveal the futility of politicians and "leaders'' trying to make peace between people whose theology, politics and objectives are irreconcilable. For those who reject prophecy, how about Oscar Hammerstein, who wrote in a completely different context: "But it's coming, by G-d. You can feel it come; you can feel it in your heart; you can see it in the ground; you can see it in the trees; you can smell it in the breeze. Look around, look around, look around.'' War is bustin' out all over.

The threat of the past was communism. The threat of the present and immediate future is radical, fundamentalist, murderous Islam. Most Muslims, of course, are not radical, but, as in other trouble spots where religion is part of the political mix, it doesn't take many to destabilize a nation. Islamic radicals perceive the West, and particularly the United States, as militarily strong but morally weak. They correctly diagnose the shallowness of our lives and our preoccupation with material things. They observe our cultural pollution and regard it as an ozone hole in our souls. And they believe they have a divine mandate to destroy the West with its pretenses and secularized ways.

While President Clinton repeats the scenarios of the past by calling for another summit meeting, which will go the misguided way of the others, radical Islam continues to say exactly what it believes and proves it by fulfilling its promises. The West refuses to abandon its disproved doctrine that pacification can be won by giving the radicals most of what they want. Not even Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak's offer of 90 percent of captured land and some sovereignty over Jerusalem was enough when Allah demands all the land and has instructed his followers to take it by any means necessary.

The pictures from Ramallah of a Palestinian's bloody hands, stained by a beaten and broken Israeli soldier's body, and of flag-draped coffins coming home to America are not aberrations. They are fuel for radical Islam and its future martyrs who wait in line for their turn to give their lives for their cause. If ever there was an example of failed foreign policy, this is it. The state departments and presidents of several administrations were dead wrong (literally) when they accepted the notion of land for peace and believed in the proposition that only Israel's behavior determines Middle East climate.

The United States had better declare war on radical Islam. That means, among other things, strengthening the CIA, paying for information and infiltrating and undermining radical groups. It means special units that will destroy terrorist leaders and their weapons stockpiles. It also means exercising greater control over who may enter this country and who can become a citizen. The U.S. government is aware of terrorist sympathizers on our turf. Some are believed to have links to radical organizations in the Middle East. We lock up criminals in this country; we should look carefully at immigrants who have criminal records and criminal associations.

Radical Islamic Web pages celebrate the latest murders. If white supremacists similarly celebrated the killing of racial minorities, they would be rightly denounced and isolated. If they did the killing, they would be hunted down and prosecuted, even executed in some states. Not in radical Islam. Such thinking is promoted, even emulated. And emulated it will be, not just over "there'' but in this country.

In Chicago last week, a rabbi escaped injury in a drive-by shooting. He had just entered his car outside his home when a sport utility vehicle pulled up and four or five shots were fired. The police had no suspects, but they questioned three young Palestinians in two other attacks on Jews.

One doesn't have to be a prophet to see where this is headed. Our government's first obligation and a president's first promise are to preserve, protect and defend this nation and its Constitution from all enemies, both foreign and domestic. It's time for a new approach to an enemy that, unlike communism, is unlikely to collapse under its own weight. Rather it is intent on making sure we collapse and is willing to die by the thousands to ensure that happens.

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