Jewish World Review Oct. 29, 2001 / 12 Mar-Cheshvan, 5762
Israel cannot be asked to sacrifice any more of its people merely to please Colin Powell and the Saudis
http://www.jewishworldreview.com -- IT was a year ago this month that two Israeli soldiers wandered into the Arab town of Ramallah in the area controlled by the Palestinian Authority. They were lynched by an Arab mob after being taken into custody by Palestinian "police," who watched as the men were brutally beaten to death. Their abused bodies were then thrown out the window of a Palestinian police station while the mob cheered.
That incident symbolized the collapse of the peace process that months earlier had seemed on the brink of success.
Over the next 12 months, other horrific images of Arab violence against Israel have taken the place of those pictures, including the mangled corpses of teenagers at a Tel Aviv disco and the empty baby carriages of Jewish infants who were blown up at a pizza parlor in Jerusalem, both the result of Palestinian suicide bombers.
Last week's entry into this album of horror was the murder of a member of Israel's Cabinet by Palestinian terrorists. Though some would rather focus on the victim than his murderers, the political stands of the late Rehavam Ze'evi are, at this point, as irrelevant as the old Jewish arguments between right and left over the future of the territories.
In response to this escalation of the conflict, Israel's government has taken limited military steps to secure Jewish targets against ongoing terrorist threats. It has also given the P.A. and its leader, Yasser Arafat, a choice: hand over Ze'evi's murderers or face the consequences.
The ultimatum should sound familiar. President Bush used similar language to demand that the Taliban government of Afghanistan hand over Osama bin Laden and the rest of the Al Qaeda terrorist network after the atrocities of Sept. 11.
But rather than identifying with Israel, the United States appears to have lost patience with its sole democratic ally in the Middle East.
The Bush administration harshly condemned Israel's military incursions into Palestinian areas that serve as launching pads for terrorist activities against Jews. Calling the moves "unacceptable," the United States said it "deeply regretted and deplored" Israel's actions.
Though it issued simultaneous calls to Arafat to control the violence and halt Palestinian terrorism, the impact of the U.S. stand was to further isolate Israel even as attacks on it have increased.
Obsessed with creating an Arab coalition to aid in America's war on terrorism, the Bush administration wants the noise emanating from the Israeli-Arab conflict to be reduced to a hush.
The fact that Arafat's autonomous fiefdom is as safe a haven for terror groups (including some under Arafat's own command) as Afghanistan is just an annoying complication to Washington. The fact that America's Arab "allies" like Saudi Arabia are actually obstructing investigations into the Sept. 11 terror attacks as well as not helping America's military efforts in the region isn't something anyone wants to talk about. The State Department 's attitude is clear. It doesn't really matter what the Palestinians or the Saudis do; all Washington wants right now is a little peace and quiet from Israel.
The truth is, there is nothing the Jewish state would like to do more than quietly sit back and watch as the United States brings bin Laden to justice. As was the case in the Persian Gulf war a decade ago, Israel has placed all of its considerable intelligence resources at America's disposal. It is patiently prepared to wait on the sidelines so as to not offend the sensibilities of Arab leaders that can't bear the thought that they depend on Israel and the United States to rid the Islamic world of evil men who threaten their own regimes.
But when placed in a situation where he must act to defend the lives of his people, Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon has little choice. Just as Bush had no option but to use America's might to avoid any repetition of the attacks on the World Trade Center or the Pentagon, Sharon must act.
The events of the past year should have made it clear to anyone who was paying even the slightest attention to the Middle East that the Oslo peace process was dead and buried. It was slain by Arafat's refusal to make peace at Camp David a summer ago, and then buried by the yearlong Palestinian war of attrition against Israel that was Arafat's answer to Israel's peace offers.
But the administration - egged on by the Europeans and Arab dictators who need the conflict with Israel to seal their own dubious legitimacy - is determined to revive the peace talks via Israeli concessions, no matter what. All of this has placed Israel in an impossible position. If it defends itself, it faces American opprobrium and possibly endangers an alliance that is essential to its security. If it does not, the result will be even more carnage and suffering for both Jews and Arabs.
Israel is prepared to sacrifice much for peace. But it cannot be asked to sacrifice any more of its people merely to please American diplomats.
In the last month, as the United States has declared war on bin Laden and his Taliban allies, American Jews, along with the millions of non-Jewish Americans who are friends of Israel, have rallied behind the president and American troops. Along with that commendable surge in patriotism is an understandable reluctance to criticize our government as it prepares for war. But that desire for unity cannot trump our obligation not to be silent as Israel is backed into a corner. False accusations of "dual loyalty" and fears of alienating Bush should not deter us from vocal advocacy aimed at convincing the president that there must be a limit to how far he can go to placate the Arabs at Israel's expense.
Nor can we allow ourselves to let our support for Israel's justified measures of self-defense be hamstrung by distaste for Sharon personally or the predilection of some American Jews to self-righteously criticize Israel from abroad.
Supporting Israel may be inconvenient for those locked into the mindset of appeasing Arab potentates, as well as for those who fear sticking their necks out in the middle of a war. But it is, in fact, an integral expression of the American values of democracy that bin Laden and his Palestinian terrorist allies wish to destroy.
Along with all Americans, we must never forget Sept. 11 or lessen our resolve that the murderers of so many go unpunished.
At the same time, we must keep the images of Arab terror against Israel
similarly fresh in our minds. Just as the goal of America's offensive on
terror is to ultimately save lives, so, too, is Israel's war of