Jewish World Review Dec. 5, 2001/ 20 Kislev 5762

Wesley Pruden

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When it's difficult to stay horrified -- President Bush is "horrified" and "saddened" by the latest atrocities against Israel. Secretary of State Colin Powell regards the atrocities as "despicable" and "cowardly."

Of course they do. So does every other decent, ordinary man or woman in the West, North, South and East. Maybe even the Middle East.

The test will come next week or the week after, when, if the past is a guide, the statesmen of the civilized world will reckon it's time once more to return to that obscene fiction called "the peace process," and demand that Israel make nice with those who have sworn to destroy Israel and kill the Jews. Someone, though next time probably not the president or his secretary of state, will suggest that the proper punishment for the terrorists should be a state of their own.

The bombs in Jerusalem and Haifa over the weekend, as horrific and as despicable as they were, were nothing new. The Palestinians have for years been at the gruesome task of dismembering women and children to burnish their reputation as a race of mighty warriors. Every time there's something particularly hideous, we get a momentary spasm of outrage in the West - and then it's back to the same old same old.

This is because some people purely don't like Israelis. Maybe some of the other critics of Israeli self-defense actually believe that wearing a little lace on your drawers is effective against AK-47s and car bombs, that love is the answer. But mostly what drives the peace-at-any-cost-to-Israel claque is the idea that you can buy peace on the cheap at the expense of friends who live a convenient distance away. This is finally seen as a high-risk enterprise in the wake of September 11, when a taste of the violence Israel has lived with throughout its existence at last came to our own shores. Everyone but the class dunce finally gets it.

Colin Powell, who appears to have been chosen by George W. to play the thankless role of the administration's slow learner, now concedes what everyone beyond Foggy Bottom has known all along, that (in the secretary of state's words) "these despicable and cowardly actions must be brought to an end through immediate, comprehensive and sustained action by the Palestinian Authority against both the individuals responsible and the infrastructure of the groups that support them."

Only his boss could have said it better, and, last week, did: "If you harbor a terrorist, you're a terrorist. If you feed a terrorist, you're a terrorist."

The president was speaking of the terrorists who aimed their terror at America, of course, but his formula, with which no reasonable man can argue, fits the Palestinians perfectly.

No one but the Palestinians, and this includes Yasser Arafat, knows whether the Saturday night and Sunday morning suicide bombers were encouraged to do their dirty deeds by the rewards held out by Washington, but what we do know is that human nature is universal, and it's only human to figure that if violence begets rewards, bigger violence will beget bigger rewards.

Two dozen or so diplomats of the Muslim world, thinkers of heavy thoughts one and all, got together the other day in New York, Geneva and Vienna to celebrate the "International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People" and to admire at length their own innate sensitivity and goodness ("you show me yours and I'll show you mine"), and of course to call once more for the establishment of a Palestinian state.

"At the start of the new millennium, the Palestinian people should finally be allowed to exercise their inalienable rights," said Kofi Annan, the secretary-general of that giant hot-air factory on Manhattan's East Side, "including the right to self-determination and to a state of their own." With spectacularly unfortunate timing, Mr. Annan relieved himself of a statement chastising persons he did not identify (but who were clearly Israelis) for "murders of Palestinians in Gaza."

Barely 24 hours later, the suicide bombers struck Jerusalem and Haifa, murdering 25 mostly young people. The scenes of fire and blood, as captured by the cameras, ought to be transferred to videotape so that the images of dismembered bodies of children could be replayed in the lounges in Foggy Bottom whenever Mr. Powell's Arabists feel a good bullyrag of the Jews coming on.

Prime Minister Ariel Sharon reckons the toll measured against the population of Israel would be the equivalent of 2,000 dead in the United States - about the equivalent of one of the two World Trade Center towers. Israel, Mr. Sharon told President Bush just before he flew home, will fight terror in its own way. The suggestion was that the rest of the world won't think it's pretty. And if so, tough. It's about time.

JWR contributor Wesley Pruden is editor in chief of The Washington Times. Comment by clicking here.

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