Former Israeli Cabinet member Natan Sharansky writes in the Los Angeles Times (www.latimes.com) on Sept. 12 that terror-backers must be accountable:
“In the summer of 2000, Russian President Vladimir V. Putin told me a story that I have been unable to get out of my mind. We were meeting in the Kremlin, and I raised the grave danger facing the world from the transfer of missile technology and nuclear material to the Iranians. In Putin’s view, however, the real danger came not from an Iranian nuclear-tipped missile or, for that matter, from the lethal arsenal of any nation-state.
” ‘Imagine a sunny and beautiful day in a suburb of Manhattan,’ he said. ‘An elderly man is tending to the roses in his small garden with his nephew visiting from Europe. Life seems perfectly normal. The following day, the nephew, carrying a suitcase, takes a train to Manhattan. Inside the suitcase is a nuclear bomb.’
“The threat, Putin explained to me a year before 9/11, was not from this or that country, but from their terrorist proxies — aided and supported by a sovereign state that doesn’t want to get its hands dirty — who will perpetrate their attacks without a return address. This scenario became real when Al Qaeda plotted its 9/11 attacks from within Afghanistan and received support from the Taliban. It happened again this summer, when Iran was allowed to wage a proxy war through Hezbollah in southern Lebanon and northern Israel. But this time, the international community’s weak response dealt the global war on terror a severe blow.
“Five years ago, after 9/11, such a lack of culpability seemed inconceivable. That was when President Bush abandoned the conventional approach to fighting terror by vowing that the United States would henceforth make no distinction between terrorists and regimes that support them.
“In the pre-9/11 world, regimes were rarely held responsible for the actions of terror groups. Now, the Taliban regime was being held accountable. This was critically important for two reasons. First, it recognized that international terrorism relies on the support of sovereign states.
“Second, although shadowy terror cells are difficult to eradicate fully and suicidal fanatics impossible to deter, the regimes that support terror groups do have a return address and are rarely suicidal.
“Fast-forward five years. Hezbollah launches an unprovoked attack on Israel. It is clear that Hezbollah is a proxy of Iran. It is public knowledge that Hezbollah receives more than $100 million a year from the Iranian regime, as well as sophisticated weapons and training.
“Yet Iran has paid no price for its proxy’s actions. No military strikes on Iranian targets, no sanctions, no threat whatsoever to Iranian interests. On the contrary, in the wake of the war, there have been renewed calls in the democratic world to ‘engage’ Iran.
“The Iranian regime’s intentions are clear. It calls for ‘wiping Israel off the map’ and tells its followers to ‘imagine a world without America.’ It seeks to dominate the Middle East. By failing to hold Iran accountable for its brazen support of Hezbollah, the free world has undermined a central pillar in the war on terror and given the Iranian regime a huge weapon for achieving its ambitions. Now the mullahs know they can attack a democratic country with impunity.
“The road to a suitcase bomb in Tel Aviv, Paris or New York just got a whole lot shorter.”
Easier to Unite Through Hatred, Rather Than Shared Loyalty
Scholar Efraim Karsh writes in the New York Sun (www.nysun.com) on Aug. 29 about myths of the centrality of Palestine as a factor in Arab opinion:
“In discussions of the contemporary Middle East, few arguments have resonated more widely, or among a more diverse set of observers, than the claim that the Palestinian-Israeli conflict constitutes the source of all evil, and that its resolution will lead to regional peace and stability.
“While there is no denying the argument’s widespread appeal, there is also no way around the fact that, in almost every particular, it is demonstratively, even invidiously, wrong. For one thing, violence was an integral part of Middle Eastern political culture long before the advent of the Arab-Israeli conflict, and physical force remains today the main, if not the sole, instrument of regional political discourse.
“Nor have the Arab states ever had any real stake in the ‘liberation of Palestine.’ Though anti-Zionism has been the core principle of pan-Arab solidarity since the mid-1930s — it is easier, after all, to unite people through a common hatred than through a shared loyalty.
“If the Arab states have shown little empathy for the plight of ordinary Palestinians, the Islamic connection to the Palestinian problem is even more tenuous. It is not out of concern for a Palestinian right to national self-determination but as part of a holy war to prevent the loss of a part of the ‘House of Islam’ that Islamists inveigh against the Jewish state of Israel.
“In this respect, there is no difference between Palestine and other parts of the world conquered by forces of Islam throughout history. To this very day, Arabs and many Muslims unabashedly pine for the restoration of Spain, and look upon their expulsion from that country in 1492 as a grave historical injustice, as if they were Spain’s rightful owners and not former colonial occupiers of a remote foreign land, thousands of miles from their ancestral homeland.
“Within this grand scheme, the struggle between Israel and the Palestinians is but a single element, and one whose supposed centrality looms far greater in Western than in Islamic eyes.”
‘Never Again’ Means Safety’s First!
Columnist Sidney Zion writes in the New York Daily News (www.nydailynews.com) on Sept. 14 that relying on NATO to defend Israel is crazy:
“If you think Israel lost the Lebanon war, get thee to Bellevue. Or so says Thomas Friedman in The New York Times. Annoyed at the Israeli people for questioning Ehud Olmert’s handling of the war, Friedman yesterday told the Jews to ‘Get a grip on.’
“Sure, says Friedman, mistakes were made, and the Israeli army wasn’t prepared for Hezbollah. But the end of the fighting offers Israel and the Arabs ‘a whole new model for peacemaking.’
“How so? Land for NATO. If the U.N. force, with its components from France, Italy, India and maybe Turkey — in reality, NATO — succeeds in protecting Israel from Hezbollah on the Lebanese border, then it can allow Israel to leave the West Bank. Peace in our time, Q.E.D.
“So says this three-time Pulitzer winner. If Israel were to buy it, he’d have a Nobel. And Israel would be dead.
“Across 2,000 years, the Jews have learned one lesson if they have learned anything: Only Jews can protect Jews. That’s why there is an Israel.
“It happened too late to save the 6 million. But the Jewish state, from its inception, lived on the truth that ‘never again’ depended on an army that would keep its people safe.”