TABLE OF CONTENTS
ISLAMIC FUNDAMENTALISM AND ISRAEL.....Bernard J. Shapiro
A SIGN ON THE ROAD.....Avi Davis
AFSI: APOLOGIES AND APPEASEMENT FEED TERROR!...Guest Editorial.....Helen Freedman and Herbert Zweibon
MORE ON OSLO, ARAFAT AND TERRORISM
WHO WANTED TO OCCUPY THE LAND?....Emanuel A. Winston
CIVILIAN CASUALTIES: NO APOLOGY NEEDED.....Ralph Peters
WE MUST STOP APOLOGIZING!.....Isi Leibler
PALESTINIAN PERFIDY, ISRAELI COUNTERTERRORISM AND THE LAWS OF WAR.....Louis Rene Beres
COMPLETELY UNACCEPTABLE..... Jerusalem Post Editorial
THE FOURTH DIMENSION OF AGGRESSION....Michael Yaniv
INVISIBLE NATIVES AND OCCUPIED LANDS....Barbara Lerner
STRIKING FIRST UNDER INTERNATIONAL LAW: ISRAEL'S RIGHTS....Louis Rene Beres
SYMPATHY FOR THE DEVIL...EYE ON THE MEDIA....Bret Stephens
THE MACCABEAN ONLINE [ISSN 1087-9404] Edited by Bernard J. Shapiro
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ISLAMIC FUNDAMENTALISM AND ISRAEL
By Bernard J. Shapiro
PART I: EARLY RELATIONS BETWEEN JEWS & ISLAM
Muhammad was born in Mecca around 570 C.E. and began having visions telling him that he was the Messenger of God when he was twenty five years old. Jewish traders and merchants lived throughout the Arabian peninsula and he had the opportunity to discuss with them in great detail their religion. Muhammad saw himself as the prophet of a new monotheistic religion, Islam. He felt that as the most recent prophet, his revelations took precedence over those of Moses and Jesus. In fact, he was quite critical of Christians for claiming that Jesus was the son of God, considering that a violation of the principle of monotheism.
Muhammad had a difficult time converting the Arabs of his home town, Mecca, to his new religion. He was abused there and actually became and outlaw and was literally force to flee. In the year 622 Medina had a thriving Jewish population, and it was here Muhammad sought refuge. He knew that the Jews believed in monotheism (in fact he learned it from them) and he felt that they would be fertile ground for his new religion. He found out, much to his displeasure, what the Christians of Europe already knew: the Jews were a stubborn lot and simply would not change their religion.
Muhammad felt betrayed by the Jews who rejected his new faith and preceded to fill the Qur'an with anti-Jewish passages. ( The early Christians did much the same thing turning some of their gospels into anti-Jewish diatribes.) This in a nutshell, is the origins of the Islamic antipathy to the Jewish people. The Qur'an often uses the word dhilla (humiliation or abasement) to indicate the status God has assigned to those who reject Muhammad, and in which they should be kept until they accept him. In the Qur'an (II,61) we read thus in a chapter on the Children of Israel, "They were consigned to humiliation and wretchedness: they brought the wrath of God upon themselves, and this because they used to deny God's signs and kill His Prophets unjustly and because they disobeyed and were transgressors."
During over 1300 years under Islamic rule, Jews were tolerated along with Christians as people who had revealed religions and prophets of God. Since they did not accept Muhammad as the final authoritative true prophet of God they were assigned to the inferior status of Dhimmis. In Moslem society there were three classes of the population that were inferior and had no rights: slaves, women, and non-believers. The Jews as Dhimmis were much better off that slaves or women, but they were inferior to every Moslem male in the country. For example, in Iran in the nineteenth century the law read "A Jew must never overtake a Muslim on a public street. He is forbidden to talk loudly to a Muslim. A Jewish creditor of a Muslim must claim his debt in a quavering and respectful manner. If a Muslim insults a Jew, the latter must drop his head and remain silent."
Christians were preferred to Jews in Moslem society because they had not opposed the Prophet actively as the Jews were claimed to have done. Christians , though ugly, were seen as less ugly than Jews, whose ugliness is accentuated by inbreeding. Al-Jahiz, a fourteenth century Arab commentator noted:
"The reason that the Christians are less hideous-though they certainly are ugly-is that the Israelite marries only another Israelite, and all of their deformity is brought back among them and confined with them ...they therefore have not been distinguished either for their intelligence, their physique, or their cleverness. As the reader certainly knows, the same is the case with horses, camels, asses when they are inbred."
The laws in Islamic countries used to debase an humiliate Jews were many and varied. In brief: Jews had to live in separate parts of town since they were considered unclean; they had no right to trade in stuff goods; if they entered a Moslem street they were to be stoned; they were not allowed to go out in the rain since the rain would wash dirt off of them that could sully the feet of Moslems; if a Jew is recognized on the street he must be insulted and beaten unmercifully, if a Jew enters a shop he is forbidden to inspect the goods and must pay whatever price the merchant asks; ad nauseam.
The reason for my historical outline of Jewish-Islamic relations is to set the stage for an analysis of what has become today a vicious conflict. The rise of Islamic fundamentalism in the Middle East brings the Arab-Israeli conflict to a new primal stage. It is important for Jews to understand reality when it comes to issues of Israel's security. Issues of war and peace must be discussed in a framework of knowledge and understanding. Too many people in the Western world fail to understand the meaning of Arab and Islamic history. Even worse they fail to understand the Islamic mind set and its deeply held beliefs. Israel is headed toward a cataclysmic confrontation with the Islamic world.
PART II: THE CONFLICT TODAY
In part one we learned how hatred and discrimination against Jews originated in the Islamic world. In part two we will see the conflict between Israel and the Islamic world in its modern day incarnation. When we speak of Islamic fundamentalism, we are talking about a state where political rule and religious authority are vested in the same entity. That entity is the supreme religious personality or Ayatollah as in Iran. Mohammed established the tradition of unified political and religious rule. After his death a series of Caliphs (e.g., Abu Bakr, Omar, Osman and Ali) ruled the Arabs as both religious and secular leader. The Qur'an was the source of all legislation and Islam was supreme in all aspects of life.
Today there are only three Islamic fundamentalist nations: Iran, Sudan, and Pakistan. The influence of the fundamentalists is much stronger than these few countries seem to show. Islamic movements are very strong in Algeria, where they recently won a democratic election. A military coup prevented them from coming to power, but their strength was demonstrated recently by their ability to assassinate the president of that country. The fundamentalists are gaining strength in Jordan, Libya, Tunisia, and Egypt. The conservative Arab monarchies of Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, and Oman are very vulnerable to the message of Islamic fundamentalism. The five republics of the former Soviet Union in central Asia have predominately Moslem populations and already have been penetrated by Iranian emissaries hoping to spread their brand of Islamic fundamentalism.
The problem for Israel is very simple, but also devastating in its impact on the possibility of peace with its neighbors. The fundamentalists have added the dimension of religion to the nationalist struggle between the Arabs and Israel. While there was no shortage of hatred for Israel and the fact that the Arabs were Moslems was always a factor before, now we have a xenophobic religious jihad (holy war). Recently, a group of Moslem clerics gathered in Jerusalem and issued a religious opinion or fatwa which bars any negotiated agreement with Israel. It also states that temporary agreements may be reached like taking over Judea and Samaria, if it is in the Arabs' interests, but permanent peace is forbidden and the battle to liberate all of the occupied Moslems lands (i.e. Israel) must continue. Let there be no misunderstanding, the message of Islamic fundamentalism to Israel and the Jewish people is: no compromise -- war until total victory over the infidels(Jews).
In pursuit of that aim, Iran hosted an International Conference to Support the Islamic Revolution of Palestine on October 19-22, 1991. The conference was held a few days before the Madrid Peace Conference and was mostly ignored by the press which focused on Madrid. It was attended by over 400 delegates from 60 Moslem countries including Egypt which is supposed to be at peace with Israel. A veritable who's who of the terrorist world, including Ahmed Jibril (Pan Am 103) attended. The conference hall had a 100 foot banner across the front proclaiming: "ISRAEL MUST BE DESTROYED."
Even today, Islamic forces are engaged in warfare against Israel. The battles across the Lebanese border are primarily with the Hizballah and Islamic Jihad, both supported and run by Iran. Inside Israel, especially in the Gaza Strip, the fundamentalists are organized under the name Hamas and are responsible for most of the stabbings and other attacks on Israeli civilians. Members of Hamas are responsible for many brutal murders of their rivals in the Palestinian community and so called "collaborators" with Israel.
The Algerian model is quite instructive of how the fundamentalists operate. They are perfectly willing to compete in democratic elections, but once in power all aspects of democracy would disappear. In much the same way as Adolf Hitler came to power in Germany in 1933 following elections, the Islamic militants would exploit the desire for democracy in many Arab countries. Once in power they would make the Qur'an the principle source of legislation with all the dire consequences for women and minorities. The fate of non-Moslem minorities would be similar to that meted out to black Christians and Animists of Southern Sudan: expulsion, forced starvation, and mass murder.
Israel faces an apocalyptic threat from the Islamic fundamentalist nations as they rush to acquire nuclear weapons. In Iran alone, some 25 Russian nuclear scientists have joined hundreds of Iranians, Pakistanis, Algerians, and Libyans in a "Manhattan" type project to develop nuclear weapons. There are un-confirmed reports that Iran already possesses four Soviet nuclear warheads illicitly bought from the Moslem Republic of Kazakhstan. It is widely known that Pakistan is well on the way to a nuclear bomb. Syria, Libya, Algeria, and Iraq could have nuclear weapons by the year 2000. It is important to remember that 75% of Israel's population and industrial base is concentrated along the narrow coastal strip from Tel Aviv to Haifa. Two to four nuclear bombs the size of the one dropped on Hiroshima (equivalent to 10,000 tons of TNT) targeted on this area would practically annihilate the Jewish state.
Israel's answer to this threat was spelled out a few weeks ago by OC Air Force Maj.-Gen. Herzl Budinger when he said, "Israel must create the greatest disruption, whether military or political, in order to prevent the introduction of nuclear weaponry in the region." (Translation: preemptive military action if political action fails.)
The Islamic threat is serious and no one should minimize its true nature. During WWII the chief Islamic leader among the Palestinians was Haj Amin al-Husseni, the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem. He traveled to Berlin to lend his support to Hitler. After viewing the death camps he petitioned Hitler and I quote,
"You should accord to Palestine and to the other Arab countries the right to solve the problem of Jewish elements in Palestine and other Arab countries in accordance with .....the same method that the question is now being settled in the Axis countries." At that time the extermination of Jews was in full swing, so there can be little doubt about what the Mufti meant by solving the Jewish problem.
Because of the victory of the Labor Party in Israel's recent elections, there seems to be an unrealistic, almost euphoric, feeling that peace is just around the corner. In the Book of Esther we find the story of Purim. You may remember that Queen Esther succeeded in foiling Haman's evil plan to kill the Jews of Persia. It is significant that Haman was hanged and the Jews were saved and not that King Ahashuerus negotiated peace between Haman and the Jews. The simple lesson is that there is no way to make peace with someone as evil as Haman who wants to destroy you. This might sound pessimistic, but a study of Jewish history would lead one to believe that only the pessimists were realistic. Consider this: The German Jews who were pessimists fled Germany in the 30's; the optimists went to Auschwitz in the 40's!
Shapiro's Rule #1: WE MUST KNOW THE TRUTH ABOUT OUR ENEMIES AND NEVER DROP OUR GUARD.
This article was published in the Jewish Herald-Voice on June 25, 1992.
A SIGN ON THE ROAD
By Avi Davis
There are times when an incident jolts us so powerfully that the aftershock leaves a permanent impression on our lives. A year ago, I was traveling with a driver and a friend along the road from Ariel to Kedumim in the West Bank. As we passed by the entrance gate to a settlement called Emmanuel a violent crack shook the roof of the car.
It was followed, within a split-second, by two further thumps and an immediate shattering of glass. The wind-shield had been smashed by two rocks thrown within yards of the jeep. We braked and then jumped out of the car to scour the nearby brush for a sign of the attackers. They had fled. We returned to the car but not before I noticed that a small sign at the side of the road bearing the name Emmanuel in Hebrew had been defaced.
After the attack on Emmanuel this week I remembered that event and relived the sensation of being under attack. I remembered how the rocks pounded with such speed that there was no time for reaction. I recalled how I flinched as the final rock hit and only then did I uselessly raise my arms to shield my head.
It must have been a similar experience for those on Bus 189 assaulted by terrorists on the road to Emmanuel. Nothing this time so 'benign' as rocks. The bus tripped two 20 kilo roadside bombs and as it staggered to a halt was strafed by three Palestinian terrorists hidden nearby who jumped on the roof and then mercilessly gunned down men, women and children. They killed seven including a nine month old baby and wounded eight .
It is almost axiomatic that no terrorist incident is like any other but what Emmanuel bears uniquely is that it is the only Jewish settlement to witness a mass slaughter of its residents - not once, but twice. Only nine months ago terrorists launched an identical operation which claimed the lives of 11. As in the first incident, mothers and their babies, fathers and their sons, and this time even a fetus, numbered among the victims of the assault.
The biographies of the dead victims is once again heart-breaking. Ayellet Shikon, 29, who ran Emannuel's day care center, was returning home her twin 9 month-old daughters, Tiferet and Galia and 2 year-old son, Ohr Chaim. Tiferet died in the arms of her murdered grandmother, and Galia was severely injured by the bullet that exited her sister's brain. Yehudit Weinberg, 22 was returning home from a graduation ceremony with her year-old baby when she was fired upon by the terrorists. In her eighth month of pregnancy, she was rushed to ICU and gave birth via an emergency C-section to a son, who was sent a few miles away to a neo-natal unit, where he died. Galila Adas, 46, was heading home to be with her 4 children, one of whom was seriously ill. The nurse, who had been up the entire previous night caring for invalids, had her life ended with three bullets to her head.
As harrowing as these stories are to relate, they do not begin to convey the extent of suffering in such a small community. It is not just the absence of a mother, father, brother or sister that is so agonizing. It is the loss of the bagel maker, the man who delivers the mail or who serves behind the counter of the community store. It is the loss of the children's nursery teacher or the community doctor. The devastation it leaves rakes a hot comb across the heart of the community leaving it damaged for years.
This, of course, is the aim of Arafat's terrorist campaign as it has been in the persecutions of Jewish communities for generations. It is an attempt to destroy the spirit of Jewish life by making that life intolerable. But the people of Emmanuel are unbowed. The name of their settlement may offer some explanation. It translates simply as God is with us. This declaration might be hard to accept as body bags of the community's residents are loaded onto gurneys. But as I watched television footage of the scene on that tragic day, I noticed something that made my heart beat hard. The defaced sign by the side of the road had been restored. Upright, it seemed to be screaming to me a defiance of history; there, before the cameras, it proclaimed that despite the dangers Jews face, the compass of Jewish history remains fixed on a providential destiny, ensuring that hope survives.
So finally I understood how insignificant are the differences between us all. The rapid rise of hostility toward Jews in Europe and in other countries is an ominous wind from the past now blowing in unison with Palestinian terror. In one way or another, Jews everywhere are still embarked on a perilous journey between safety and danger. For some, the peril may be less obvious than it is to others. But as for me, I now appreciate that my own road, as certain and secure as it has always seemed, travels onward with the knowledge that the fury of Jew-hatred is only a stone's throw away.
Avi Davis is the senior fellow of the Freeman Center for Strategic Studies and the senior editorial columnist for the on-line magazine Jewsweek.com.
AMERICANS FOR A SAFE ISRAEL/AFSI
1623 Third Ave., Suite 205, New York, N.Y. 10128
Tel: 212-828-2424; Fax: 212-828-1717
July 26, 2002
AFSI: APOLOGIES AND APPEASEMENT FEED TERROR!
Americans For a Safe Israel/AFSI believes that the brilliant pinpoint attack on Sheik Salah Shehada, terrorist leader of Hamas and organizer of more than half the suicide bombings that have been launched against Israel, claiming hundreds of Israeli lives, and wounding thousands, should be applauded throughout the world, rather than condemned. By killing this mastermind of terrorism, the worldwide terrorist network has been damaged, making life safer for innocent people everywhere. Herbert Zweibon, Chairman of AFSI, states, "The Israeli government is wrong to apologize for the unfortunate collateral killings that took place during the operation against Shehada. During war time, the way to save innocent civilian lives is not through apology and appeasement. Such action will only confirm that terrorists are right in surrounding themselves with "innocents", as they've always done, to win world sympathy . Instead of encouraging this tactic, Israel, the U.S., the EU and the UN should stand by the Fourth Geneva Convention which holds that 'The presence of a protected person (civilians) may not be used to render certain points or areas immune from military operations.' In this particular case, Shehada and Hamas bear the direct burden of responsibility for loss of life and property.
Zweibon continues, "It was less than a year ago that thousands of innocent civilians were shockingly murdered and maimed in the Bin Laden organized attack on the World Trade Center. President Bush declared war on terrorists and those who harbor them. The U.S. went after Bin Laden and is still tracking him. Sheik Salah Shehada, head of the Hamas military wing Izz a-Din el-Kassam, was just another Bin Laden. He was directly responsible for the bloody bombing of the Sbarro pizzeria in Jerusalem, the double suicide bombing in Jerusalem's Mahane Yehuda market, and the attack in Atzmona. Under his command, commuter buses were blown up in Jerusalem, Hadera, Tel Aviv, Ramat Gan and Haifa. The Park Hotel in Netanya was bombed during the Passover seder, the Dolphinarium disco in Tel Aviv was attacked and three suicide bombings took place on the BenYehuda pedestrian mall in Jerusalem. There were countless other attacks going back to Feb. 18, 1989 which murdered and maimed hundreds and thousands of Israelis, Americans, and people of other nationalities, all innocent civilians. All of this was aided and abetted by Arafat and his PLO."
"It must be understood," AFSI's Chairman concludes, "that there is no difference among Hamas, the PFLP, Fatah, DFLP, PLO, Hizballah, Islamic Jihad, Muslim Brotherhood and Al Queda. They are all part of the same network whose ultimate goal is militant Islamic takeover of the western world. Apologies for eliminating any of the terror masterminds and their networks simply feed their appetites for more blood. Appeasement, in terms of turning over millions of dollars of frozen PA tax funds is misguided. That money should be given as compensation to the victims of their heinous acts. Easing border restrictions, IDF pullouts from PA areas, and dangling the promise of a PA state in the future are all dangerous actions that will encourage rather than discourage terrorism. We applaud the Israeli action and wish them more such successful strikes. Let the terrorists take care of safeguarding their people."
WHO WANTED TO OCCUPY THE LAND?
by Emanuel A. Winston
Middle East analyst & commentator
In 1947-48, leaders of the Arab countries pledged to push the Jews of the developing State of Israel into the sea and occupy the Land of Israel which had been partitioned by a U.N. Resolution in November 1947. The Arab leaders attempted to keep that pledge by occupying historic Judea and Samaria until the 1967 War but what they called "the West Bank" (of the Jordan River), large parts of Jerusalem, the areas called Gush Etzion - all formerly settled by Jews who were evicted or killed - plus the Sinai desert which was virtually empty.
There was one phase of their plans that I have not seen thoroughly explored by historians. That was the part where the Arab leaders called upon the local peasantry to abandon their villages on the pretext that it would clear the way for the advancing armies to attack the Jews. And so, out of a total population of 800,000 Arabs, 650,000 fled - despite calls from the Jews to stay and live together in peace.
This call to abandon the area is very peculiar since these villages would not impede the advancing Arab armies. In fact, hordes of people on the move would only clog the roads - not to mention the logistical problem of setting up temporary camps (which became permanent), feeding, providing fresh water, sanitary facilities, schools, etc.
Why did the Arabs want to clear the Land of Arabs who had mostly immigrated in from the surrounding Arab countries for better jobs and medical care provided by the Jews?
In retrospect, it appears that the intentions of the Arab countries were to lay claim to whatever land the advancing armies could conquer - each for themselves. They certainly expected to get it all - since their opposition was merely a 650,000 poorly armed, non-military Jewish population. With the local Arab population gone, the 7 invading armies had only to slaughter the Jews and claim their booty.
Incidentally, that booty of houses, factories, farms of the Jews was promised to the fleeing local Arabs when they returned after the Arab armies conquered the new Jewish State. They fled, feeling certain that they would return to not only their own homes but that all the properties of the Jews would also be theirs.
Of course, the Armies of the 7 Arab countries (Egypt, Syria, Jordan, Lebanon, Iraq, Saudi Arabia and Yemen) failed and the fleeing immigrant Arabs ended up in permanent refugee camps because the invading Arab countries refused to absorb their brethren into their own societies.
Although urged to abandon their homes, nevertheless, those who fled were kept on permanent display, in festering slums (called 'refugee camps') and used as cannon fodder for the next 53 years. They were treacherously tricked by the invading Arab countries - each of whom wanted to occupy a segment of the newly born Jewish State of Israel for their own people. The idea of supposed concern for what came to be known as the "Palestinian people" turned out to be a cruel and intended joke. What Arab leader ever showed concern for the lower classes of his own people, let alone a peasantry who squatted in Israel for better paying jobs and improved health care?
The historians have never paid much attention to the overall goals and motives of the 7 invading Arab armies. Before the partition vote by the U.N. in 1947, the area of Israel, including Jerusalem, did not have much attraction for the Muslim Arabs. After the partition vote, the Land of Israel suddenly became 'indispensable' for Islam.
Egypt claimed the Gaza Strip and Trans-Jordan attached to its kingdom 'the West Bank' (Judea and Samaria) as well as all of Jerusalem that they had 'conquered' during the 1948 War of Independence. But, these claims were only recognized by 2 countries in the world. Not insignificantly, between 1949 and 1967, when the Jordanian King ruled peacefully in Judea and Samaria, some 400,000 Arabs packed their belongings and left for other parts of the "Arab World".
So, the cleaning out of the Land of both Jews and Arabs became a high priority. In succeeding years the Arabs gambled away both land they had seized in the 1947-48 War and areas they consider part of their nations.
Now they want it back. Too bad. No other sovereign state has ever given away land won in a war from an aggressor - especially in a war of self-defense. Why should the Jewish State of Israel give anything to the Arabs who have only and always declared their intentions to take over ALL of the Jewish State of Israel as part of their plan of world domination for Islam?
Editorial, The Jerusalem Post, July 24, 2002
Predictably, a wave of intense international condemnation. "Completely unacceptable," says Danish Foreign Minister Per Stig Moeller about yesterday's IAF strike on Hamas military chief Salah Shehadeh, that left him and 14 others dead, reportedly including several children.
"Unacceptable and counterproductive," adds the British Foreign Office.
"Heavy-handed" pronounces White House press secretary Ari Fleischer.
"The Secretary General calls on the government of Israel to halt such actions and to conduct itself in a manner that is fully consistent with international humanitarian law," intones Kofi Annan spokesman Fred Eckhard at the UN.
All of which is fair enough - up to a point. Though few of the above-mentioned have stooped to notice, throughout the conflict Israel has consistently distinguished itself for the extreme care taken to avoid civilian Palestinian casualties. Even by Palestinian counts, fewer than five percent of all Palestinian fatalities in the current conflict have been women, which gives a sense of just how "indiscriminate" Israel has been in its reprisals.
In yesterday's bombing, both Defense Minister Binyamin Ben-Eliezer and Prime Minister Ariel Sharon approved the operation only after they had received assurances that the likelihood of collateral damage was low. That the opposite proved the case is both tragic and deplorable, and possibly reflects an intelligence failure that the government would be wise to investigate so as not to repeat.
But that is about all Israel owes its Palestinian foes, and about all the "international community" is entitled to demand of Israel. If responsibility is fairly to be assigned for the death of innocents yesterday, it lies heavily on Palestinian shoulders.
Begin with the responsibility of the Palestinian Authority. Following the attack, the PA released a statement condemning "these criminal military attacks against our unarmed people" by "this Nazi army." But what of the fact that Shehadeh had earlier been released from a Palestinian prison by Yasser Arafat, who also had repeatedly refused requests from both the Israeli and American governments to have him rearrested? Plainly, no Palestinian civilians would have been wounded in an attack - indeed, no attack would have been necessary - had Shehadeh been properly imprisoned.
Yet we do not hear international condemnation of the PA for its failure to meet its obligations to arrest, isolate, and punish known terrorists. On the contrary: Israeli attacks against the PA security apparatus are now taken as the cause of Palestinian nonfeasance in combatting terror, leading to efforts to rebuild that apparatus.
Nor do we hear much by way of EU, US, or UN finger-pointing about the man who brought such ruin both on himself and his neighbors. "We recognize and understand Israel's need to take action against suspected suicide bombers and their accomplices," said British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw in the preamble to his condemnation of Israel's actions. Plainly, however, he does not understand. Shehadeh operated from a densely populated Gaza City neighborhood precisely because he knew the children on the street served him as a shield against assassination. For Straw to condemn Israel, and not Hamas, in the wake of the attack serves only to reward Shehadeh's cynical tactics in the first place.
Finally, there is the moral responsibility of the Palestinians themselves. We have great sympathy for the suffering Palestinians have endured at Arafat's hands, as we do for the innocent victims of yesterday's attack. But we have no sympathy for the Palestinians who joined in spontaneous pro-Hamas rallies that erupted in the Gaza Strip following the attack. Before Palestinians can be entrusted with self-rule, they must show themselves equal to the task, first of all by ostracizing and expelling the terrorists in their midst. That they have not only means that they must accept the consequences, including future Israeli attacks.
Meanwhile, we note that the Pentagon now accounts for its killing of dozens of Afghans celebrating a wedding earlier this month as an accident that took place while US forces were in hot pursuit of Taliban leader Mullah Muhammad Omar. We await Messrs. Straw, Annan, Moeller, and Fleischer's pontifications on that score, as well as any insight they might have on how to conduct an accident-free war on terrorism.
Commentary, July 25, 2002
NO APLOGY NEEDED
By Ralph Peters
Earlier this week, Israel succeeded in killing Salah Shehada, a savage Hamas mastermind, and one of his top aides. A dozen Palestinian civilians died in the attack, including members of Shehada's family. The civilian deaths may be lamentable, but they also were justifiable. A terrorist leader used his relatives and neighbors as shields, and they died with him. Their deaths were Shehada's fault, not Israel's.
Once again, much of the world has applied a double standard, accusing Israel of barbarity for inflicting civilian casualties as part of a legitimate military operation, while overlooking the hundreds of Israeli civilians killed intentionally by Shehada and his subordinates. For Europeans, especially, Jewish lives count no more today than they did in 1944.
Why are Palestinian terrorists allowed to target civilians without exciting an international outcry, while every accidental civilian death inflicted by Israel is a crime against humanity?
Europe's reflexive anti-Semitism doesn't really matter much, since today's Europeans lack the power, will and courage to act upon their bigotry. But the Bush administration needs to stop pandering to corrupt Arab regimes and to recognize that Israel is fighting for its life; that Israel is fighting with great restraint; and that Israel's pursuit of terrorists is every bit as legitimate as our own. Instead of criticizing Israeli policy, we should be studying it.
Recently, our own forces were demonized for causing civilian deaths in Afghanistan. Some Afghan factions, with their intricate agendas, claimed we had attacked an innocent wedding party. Of course, the global media were only too willing to deplore American evil (despite the fact that we overthrew a monstrous regime and conquered an "unconquerable" country while causing, at most, a few hundred civilian casualties). Though combat videos proved that our aircraft was fired upon first, we nonetheless stumbled through witless apologies and promised to impose greater safeguards in the future.
As with the Israelis, our military response was justified. It is the apologies that make no sense. The war against terrorism must be prosecuted judiciously, but the terrorists themselves must be pursued without remorse.
When terrorists attempt to hide amid the civilian population, we must pursue them without hesitation. They cannot be allowed a single safe haven. If they use their neighbors as shields, it is the terrorists who are to blame should civilians die. If they attempt to use their families as cover, they will be responsible for the deaths of their own loved ones. The world must learn that, when civilians allow terrorists to use them, the civilians become legitimate military targets.
This is not about diplomatic table manners. It is a fight to exterminate human monsters.
Earlier this month, the Israelis were attacked for a plan to deport the families of terrorists from the West Bank to the Gaza Strip. Of course, the Europeans and our own tattered left began comparing the plan to death trains bound for Auschwitz. While Europe's incurable nostalgia for the Wannsee Conference makes their hatred of Israel understandable on some level, the enthusiasm American leftists show for equating the Holocaust's survivors with the Holocaust's perpetrators is as dishonest as it is tasteless.
The fact is that the Israelis have begun to make a crucial link in dealing with terrorists: their families. In the Middle East, Arab armies fight ineptly because the soldiers feel no deep loyalty to their states. In the Arab world and in related cultures, earthly loyalties are, above all, to family. If left with no useful alternative, the Israelis -- and we Americans -- must be willing to pursue the terrorists through their relatives.
Of course, our outdated conventions make this proposition anathema to us. Thus, when dealing with a culture in which only faith and family matter to our enemies, we insist on making war on governments and negotiating with political organizations that are no more than mobs with diplomatic representation. We are punching thin air.
Meanwhile, few of Israel's critics complain when Palestinian mothers and fathers praise the gruesome suicides of their children or accept blood money from Riyadh and Baghdad. If you want a stark indicator of the power of family in the Middle East, consider that of the many suicide bombers to date, none has been a close relative of a Hamas leader or of the leadership of any other Palestinian faction. Suicide bombers employed to inflict mass murder on Israel are always drawn from marginal families. The terrorist leaders would no more send their own sons and daughters out as suicide bombers than they would go themselves.
If you cannot kill your enemy, threaten what he holds dear. Force him to come out and confront you in desperation. Today, we do not have the stomach for this. Tomorrow, we may find it a necessity.
In the meantime, as the U.S. slowly learns the real meaning of a war on terror, the Israelis continue to struggle against the Arab vision of Jewish annihilation. Israel will do what must be done, as humanely as possible. And Israel must accept that no matter what it does or fails to do, no matter how much success it achieves and how few civilian casualties it inflicts among its enemies, it will be hated by those who cheer on the enemies of mankind from the safety of Strasbourg, Stockholm or Harvard Yard.
Critics persist in claiming that attacks upon terrorists do not work, since results are not instantaneous. But the war against terror is a war of attrition and can only be won over decades. We may not know the real effects of Israel's current efforts for several years. But there is no course worse than cowardice and inaction.
The same critics will tell you that by killing civilians in their attacks, the Israelis -- or the Americans -- simply turn other civilians against them. This is nonsense. Civilians who shield the enemies of Israel or the U.S. are already anti-Israel or anti-American. But if our strikes against the masters of terror come to seem inevitable, those same civilians will turn against terrorists who try to use them as living shields -- as villagers in Afghanistan already have done.
Terrorists and their supporters must learn that they will be allowed no hiding places. Not in their homes, not in churches or mosques, and not in foreign countries to which they might flee. This is a war that must be fought without compromise. It is, above all, a contest of wills. Every apology is a surrender.
Mr. Peters, a retired Army officer, is the author of "Beyond Terror: Strategy in a Changing World" (Stackpole, 2002).
WE MUST STOP APOLOGIZING!
By Isi Leibler
We have every reason to be distressed, angry and disgusted. We are distressed at the accidental deaths of Palestinian civilians, children included, in a military operation against a cruel and evil mass murderer. But Salah Shehadeh was aware that he topped Israel's hit list and deliberately chose to shield himself among civilians in a densely populated area. The deaths and injuries in Gaza City are his responsibility.
We have reason to be angry that Gideon Meir, head of Israel's Foreign Ministry Information Department, rushes to tell CNN and the BBC that the strike was "indefensible," and that Foreign Minister Shimon Peres follows with an outright apology.
Apology for what? Given the carnage orchestrated by Shehadeh and his gang of savages, such apologies - which are tantamount to an acknowledgment of guilt - are a form of masochism. They are even more grotesque in view of our desperate efforts - unlike those of any other nation - to try to minimize civilian casualties, frequently at the cost of the lives of our own soldiers.
What are we expected to do when we locate the Palestinian counterpart to bin Laden brazenly organizing new, large-scale terror attacks? Are we to stand by with folded arms until more of our children are blown to pieces? The chorus of hypocritical international bleeding hearts with their usual double standards is beneath contempt. Their condemnations contrast starkly to their muted responses to the suicide bombers and terror attacks targeted against Israeli civilians.
None of our detractors questioned why a mass murderer could be permitted to live and work among civilians while actively plotting to kill more Israelis. Instead, we are informed that Sheikh Ahmed Yassin, head of an organization whose goal is the destruction of Israel, and who is one of the chief instigators of suicide martyrdom, was allegedly on the point of agreeing to a cease-fire.
This report comes from Reuters, which quoted Yassin as saying that Hamas would "consider" a cease-fire if, among other conditions, Israel evacuated the West Bank and released Palestinian prisoners. The timing of this report is transparent as psychological warfare to create the impression that the killing of Shehadeh was a Sharon conspiracy to kill the negotiations.
THE GALL of tyrants who inhabit the United Nations, who condemn Israel while remaining silent over bestial acts of genocide which take place among their own members, defies belief. Kofi Annan sanctimoniously lectures Israel about international law in the knowledge that Shehadeh brazenly continued recruiting, planning, and manufacturing bombs for suicide martyrs right until the moment of his elimination.
No word from the UN secretary-general regarding the international legal implications of a regime enabling mass murderers to carry out their activities in the full light of day.
The shameless Europeans are of course again targeting Israel for war crimes. In this context it is noteworthy that Javier Solana, the European representative to the Middle East - a biased and hostile critic of Israel - crossed all red lines some days ago by holding a personal meeting with none other than Hamas leader Yassin.
Yet paradoxically, Solana was secretary-general of NATO three years ago during the 78-day aerial bombardment of Yugoslavia which resulted in the deaths of hundreds of innocent civilians. He himself approved the use of cluster bombs on crowded cities and densely populated areas, including the botched effort to assassinate Slobodan Milosevic by bombing his bunker which was located in a residential neighborhood. Contrast that to Israel.
According to Ha'aretz correspondent Amir Oren, out of more than 100 assassinations of terrorists in the territories, innocent bystanders were killed on fewer than half a dozen occasions. Yet despite this, Europe is one of the leaders in the campaign to demonize Israel.
Naturally the Third World joins in, too, particularly the Africans for whom practicing genocide against one another is almost de rigueur. Then there are the Chinese, whose respect for human rights in Tibet and elsewhere is fully on record. And of course the Russians, whose handling of the Chechen insurrection hardly reflects the humanitarian considerations they demand of us.
Regrettably, even our friends the Americans this time felt sufficiently pressured to join the pack. We have been reprimanded for being "excessive" and "heavy handed."
Yet in 1986, after an American soldier was killed by terrorists in a German nightclub, president Ronald Reagan ordered an air strike on the residence of Libya's Muammar Gaddafi. He escaped, but 37 civilians, including his daughter, were killed.
There were no condemnations by the United Nations or the Europeans on that occasion.
A FEW months ago, referring to casualties incurred among non-combatant family members of al-Qaida, US Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld told The New York Times that the women and children were in the battle zone "of their own free will, [and] know who they're with and who they're supporting and who they're encouraging and who they're assisting."
Even more recently, the Americans acknowledged that the killing of 400 Afghani civilians in a bombing raid was an accident. The implication was that what was an "accident" for the Americans is for Israel targeted killing with malicious intent.
It would indeed be stretching the imagination somewhat to visualize the United States standing aside and passing up an opportunity to eliminate bin Laden out of concern for the welfare of civilians living with him.
We are at war and Israeli civilians are being murdered every day. In such circumstances, the primary obligation of any government must be to defend its citizens. The government has no choice but to intensify its efforts to dispose of all who threaten the lives of its populace.
It is therefore high time that we stopped apologizing for civilians killed because they live in proximity to leading terrorists who openly plot to kill Israeli civilians. As John Podhoretz noted in a recent New York Post article - reprinted in these pages on Sunday ("Living Camouflage," July 28) - the Fourth Geneva Convention (Part 3, Article 1, Section 28) states explicitly that "The presence of a protected person may not be used to render certain points or areas immune from military operations."
Thus, Arab civilian communities should be clearly warned that they risk their lives if they choose to live in proximity to those trying to kill us. They should understand that the days are over when they could, without risk, indulge in public demonstrations of embracing martyrs, and hold street celebrations every time an Israeli civilian is blown up.
There are those who claim that our actions will only bring about reprisals and intensify the terror. That is not so. The Palestinian terror machine has certainly not exercised restraint these past three months and it is no secret that if they could kill more of us they would do so irrespective of how many terrorists or civilians we harmed.
It is not as though we have not endeavored - with unilateral cease-fires and other efforts - to "break the cycle of violence." We tried again and again and the response was always more terrorism and more suicide bombings.
THERE ARE no simple solutions, but the killings could end overnight. Almost all Israelis are appalled at the thought of indefinitely ruling over the Palestinians. The Palestinian Authority has only to announce an end to terror, arrest the killers, and make a genuine effort to enforce law and order. Israel would respond immediately. Negotiations would follow, and the bloodshed would be halted.
But as long as the murderers carry on business as usual, with the PA looking on approvingly, Israel has no choice.
We take pride that despite the provocations and the broad support for suicide bombers by the Palestinian people, we have retained our humanity and Jewish moral standards. While Palestinians express joy at every Israeli civilian killed, we remain genuinely distressed whenever innocent Palestinians - men, women, or children - are harmed in a war we do not seek.
But if a mass murderer is killed and innocent civilians die with him because they are living in proximity to the area in which he plots the killings, then they are the inevitable victims of war.
This - not apologies - is what Israeli spokespersons should be conveying to the world.
The writer is senior vice president of the World Jewish
30 July 2002
PALESTINIAN PERFIDY, ISRAELI
COUNTERTERRORISM AND THE LAWS OF WAR
by Louis Rene Beres
Professor of International Law
Department of Political Science
The recent Israeli bombing of a building in Gaza succeeded in killing a principal Hamas terrorist, Salah Shehadeh, but it also killed and wounded a number of Arab civilians. Normally, according to international law, any such bombing that strikes noncombatants could be a clear case of "unjust means." In this instance, however, full legal responsibility for the harms done to civilians must fall upon those Palestinian leaders who deliberately placed terrorists in the midst of ordinary populations. These leaders are guilty of the long-established crime known as "perfidy."
Deception can be legally acceptable in armed conflict, but the Hague Regulations clearly disallow placement of military assets in densely populated civilian areas. Further prohibition of perfidy is found in Protocol I of 1977 additional to the Geneva Conventions of 1949, and it is widely recognized that these rules are also binding on the basis of customary international law. Indeed, it is generally agreed that perfidy represents an especially serious violation of the Laws of War, one identified as a "grave breach" at Article 147 of Geneva Convention IV. The legal effect of perfidy committed by Palestinian terrorist leaders is to immunize Israel from any responsibility for counterterrorist harms done to Arab civilians. Even if Hamas had not deliberately engaged in perfidy, any Palestinian-created link between civilians and terrorist activities would have given Israel full legal justification for full military action.
All combatants, including Palestinian fighters, are bound by the Laws of War of international law. This requirement is found at Article 3, common to the four Geneva Conventions of August 12, 1949, and at the two protocols to these Conventions. Protocol I applies humanitarian international law to all conflicts fought for "self-determination," the stated objective of all Palestinian fighters. A product of the Diplomatic Conference on the Reaffirmation and Development of International Humanitarian Law Applicable in Armed Conflicts (1977), this Protocol brings all irregular forces within the full scope of international law.
Israel has both the right and the obligation under international law to protect its citizens from criminal acts of terrorism. Should it ever decide to yield to Palestinian perfidy in its war against Arab terror, Israel would surrender this essential right and undermine this fundamental obligation. The net effect of such capitulation would be to make victors of the terrorists, a result that would doubtlesly increase rather than diminish the overall number of noncombatant victims in the region.
Interestingly, the reciprocal obligation of Israel's citizens to the Government in Jerusalem is dependent upon the Government's assurance of protection. Many major legal theorists throughout history - notably Bodin, Leibniz and Hobbes - understood that the provision of security is the first obligation of the state. "The obligation of subjects to the sovereign," says Thomas Hobbes in Chapter XXI of LEVIATHAN, "is understood to last as long, and no longer, than the power lasteth by which he is able to protect them."
Just wars always arise from a love of the innocent. Now in the midst of such a war against Arab terrorists, Israel must continue to use all necessary military force in order to avoid further mass killings of its citizens. Although perfidious provocations by Hamas or other Palestinian terror groups may again elicit Israeli reprisals that bring harms to Arab noncombatants, it is these provocations - not Israel's defensive responses - that would be in violation of the Laws of War.
In the final analysis, Israel will have no alternative to launching periodic self-defense attacks against terrorist targets. Such operations need not be injurious to noncombatant Palestinian populations so long as the terrorists do not seek to hide amongst these populations, using them as human shields. Bound by the Laws of War of international law, these terrorists - whenever they choose to commit perfidy - will be legally responsible for all harms done to Arab civilians.
LOUIS RENE BERES was educated at Princeton (Ph.D., 1971) and is the author of many books and articles dealing with international law.
July 26, 2002
THE FOURTH DIMENSION OF AGGRESSION
by Michael Yaniv
Israel's air strike against Hamas mastermind terrorist Saleh Shehadeh, which also killed 14 others, women and children included, was expectedly condemned by the Arab world as a horrible, inhumane act of terror and as a war crime. Saudi Arabia and Egypt called for the UN to protect the Palestinians against such acts which "have no ethical, moral or even military justification." Obviously, there was no mentioning that Shehadeh and his cronies sent hundreds of Israeli men, women, children and babies to their death and a lot more were maimed and severely injured.
How can one explain this ridiculous farce and mockery of ethics, which is on the borderline of a macabre joke? How can people with minimal common sense accept or understand the frequent reoccurrence of Arabs' systematic distortion of reality and blaming others for the consequences of their own, blood thirsty aggression?
Aggression and cruelty are common human traits. Just as humans can reach high levels of compassion, generosity and kindness, they can also be ferociously cruel to fellow human beings. History has ample examples of aggression and cruelty on a national level, which occur when an entire nation attacks one or more other nations. The Japanese and the Germans in World War II and the ethnic wars in the former Yugoslavia are vivid reminders. Yet the aggression of Arabs towards "infidels" in general, and towards Jews and Israel in particular, has another element of hostility unmatched in any other case. As much as vivid and full-fledged (hence, dubbed "three dimensional") the brutality and cruelty of the Nazis and the Japanese were, the Arabs have added an extra "oomph." They have created the "fourth dimension of aggression."
When the Romans, the Huns, the Barbarians, the Japanese, the Nazis, and so on and so forth encountered resistance to their unprovoked attacks, they understood the validity of their enemy's armed resistance. Although they fought this resistance ferociously, they accepted it as a valid form of self-defense by the other side. The hunters understood that the prey didn't want to be eaten. The resistance was legitimate and by itself it did not constitute a casus beli - a cause for war. The resistance of the attacked did not provide another "legitimization" of the attack. The predators didn't need it. The goals of their attack provided all the needed justification of their aggression towards the victim.
When it comes to Muslim Arabs, it's totally different.
When Israel decided to build a "security fence" in order to protect itself against terror attacks emanating from Judea and Samaria, Arabs unanimously condemned it, calling it a "racist act" and a form of hostility against Arabs. When Israel decided to unilaterally pull out of Lebanon, the Arab League unanimously voted against it and condemned it as an act of aggression. How can a person with average intelligence, middle of the road moral standards and minimum integrity not be totally appalled, repelled and bewildered by these outrageous, ridiculous and farfetched allegations? How could the Arabs attach a tag of violence and animosity to these Israeli acts, which bore no shred of violence and whose sole purpose was to protect the Israelis from the murderous violence of the other side?
The answer is embedded in the word "defense" and Islam's historical attitude towards it, since the time of Mohammed. Mohammed and his thugs established the Muslim axiom that the other party's defense efforts against Muslim aggression is itself considered aggression by definition. The attacked side has no "right" to protect itself. When the people of Mecca did not accept Mohammed's new religion and defended themselves against his attacks, staged from Medina, their defensive measures were considered as casus beli. When Medina's Jews refused to convert, their refusal was considered as an act of violence against Islam. Hence, both history and the Koran are infested with vivid acts and attitudes of cruelty and animosity towards Jews. The Jews are the enemies of Islam not because the Jews waged war against Islam, rather because the mere fact of their resistance to yield to Islam was considered an act of war. The war against the Jews has become Muslim "self defense".
Obviously, Mohammed and his warriors had to do some special "moralistic gymnastics" in order to make this absurdity appealing to any conventional standards of common sense. After all, Mohammed portrayed Islam as the compassionate way of the Lord of the Universe, who had supposedly conveyed His Word by other prophets prior to Mohammed. His Word meant justice, peace and compassion. How could these clear dilemmas and clashes of morality and common sense be reconciled? How could Mohammed suppress the innate barbaric qualities of the desert dwellers who had lived by the sword for ages?
Mohammed had a brilliant idea. All laws and standards of morality, compassion, fairness, justice, and integrity were valid and true and should be followed to the tee, provided they are exercised and followed within the world of Islam, within the Followers. However, as far as the non-believers, a.k.a. "infidels", were concerned, it's Total War. It's Jihad. If the infidels are not conquered, subjugated, or converted, any action they take that is not in tandem with the Muslims' goals and aspirations was considered an act of war against Islam and, therefore, legitimized a full-fledged war by Islam against the "perpetrators". The resistance to Islam could even have included passive, non-violent defense.
Today's Muslim Arabs continue this tradition, which has become imbedded in their heritage and national psyche. Anything that the Jews would do, no matter how non-hostile it is, will be considered as an act of aggression against the Arabs if it doesn't serve their goals. Therefore, such an act will justify counter-measures of terrorism and murderous attacks to the best of the Arabs' ability. If the attacked Jews exercise self-defense through force of arms and, moreover, inflict severe punishment on the Arab perpetrators, then the Arabs immediately develop a "selective amnesia", considering themselves innocent victims of the vicious enemy. Therefore, they see future hostile measures as immediately justified.
This is the only way to understand the scope, complexity and most importantly, unrelenting intensity of the Muslim aggression, as it has been unfolding recently both in Israel and in the war of the al-Qaida against the United States. Only when the victims and targets of Muslim aggression understand the true meaning of the "fourth dimension" of Arab hostility will they find the power and means to defeat it.
The author is a freelance writer who lives in Massachusetts.
He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.
(c) Copyright: Michael Yaniv
July 15, 2002, 10:45 a.m.
INVISIBLE NATIVES AND OCCUPIED LANDS
By Barbara Lerner
Why does everyone in the West - Israel's friends no less than her foes - assume that the West Bank and Gaza are "occupied lands"? Don't look for answers in U.N. resolutions. At best, they establish Israel's right to exist, in some form, under international law. Moral rights are something else; and here, native rights - the rights of the people indigenous to a region - loom large. In the Middle East, as we know, Arabs are the only natives. Sure, Jews lived here in biblical times, but we know that's irrelevant because they all left after the destruction of the Temple in 70 A.D. - right? Hopped on jets - whatever - and went West for 2,000 years, returning only in the 20th century. They are therefore the latest colonial oppressors, unjustly occupying Arab lands. Israel's friends reject the colonial label (sort of), arguing that it was only right, after the Holocaust, to give Jews a state. But we want to be fair to the natives too, and so we embrace "the two-state solution."
But there's a problem with this bottom-line consensus - and the solution that flows from it. It ignores the rights of Israel's other, invisible natives. Another oppressed minority? No, these natives are a majority - there are some three million of them, and they've been there, in Palestine and all through the Middle East, from time immemorial: a non-Arab, non-Western people, persecuted in the East, unknown in the West, and, too often, condescended to by Israel's Western Jews, the Jews we all know, the Jews who are just like us - the Ashkenazi elite. Ignore them, for once.
Meet the Mizrahi, the Jews of the East, the Jews whose ancestors never left. A small Mizrahi offshoot - the Sephardi - did go to Muslim Spain in the 8th century, contributing to the Renaissance there. But most Mizrahi never joined them, never left their ancient homelands. And when Christian Spain expelled the Sephardi in 1492, some escaped to other European lands, others to Turkey; but most went back to the Middle East and stayed there. Where?
Well, start with the census the Emperor Claudius took in 48 A.D. He counted 7 million Jews on his turf: 2.5 million in Palestine, and more than a million each in what are now Iraq, Syria, Egypt, Iran, and Asia Minor. When the Romans sacked Jerusalem 22 years later, some Jews hung on in Palestine; the rest were driven back to their ancestral lands. In the 7th century, when Muslims conquered their lands, things were sometimes better, sometimes worse. Even in the best of times, though, under Muslim rule, native Jews were dhimmies - tolerated minorities - forced to humble themselves and pay special taxes. But life within those constraints could still be sweet, in between the recurrent waves of slaughter and chaos.
The fighting was brutal when the Ottoman Turks conquered the Middle East in the 16th century; but they imposed order and stability, and prosperity often followed in their wake - theirs was a strikingly meritocratic order (even for slaves). Beyazit II 's response when Spain expelled the Jews exemplifies the Turkish approach; he appraised Sephardi skills, then offered them refuge in Turkey, commenting: "they say the Spanish King is wise, but I think him dull; he impoverished his country, and enriched mine." Many Sephardi accepted his offer; 25,000 are still there, living as equal citizens now.
But the bulk of the Mizrahi remained in the Middle East; under Turkish rule, they were usually better off than Jews in the West. The relative superiority of life in the East only waned in the 18th century, when the Ottoman Empire began its slide into decadence, corruption, and disorder. Meanwhile Europe was rising, and the fortunes - and the population - of Western Jews rose with it. In the 17th century, two-thirds of all Jews still lived in the East; by 1900, only about 10 percent did - post-Holocaust, about 20.
Then, in 1948, Israel became a modern state, with an initial population of 650,000 mainly Ashkenazi Jews. It was a great moment for them, but it was terror time for the Mizrahi. Given a choice, many might have come to Israel eventually, but few were given a choice. Mobs all over the Middle East vented their fury on their Jews; Arab governments stripped them of their possessions and expelled them from the lands they had always lived in and, in spite of everything, mostly loved. Altogether, almost a million Mizrahi flooded into Israel.
It was not an easy transition. Arabic was their mother tongue, or Farsi. (It still is, for many.) Hebrew was considered a language of prayer - about as useful in everyday life as Church Latin to American Catholics. Yiddish, the common language of the European Jews, was incomprehensible to them. And the raw, new country they came to was at war from the day of its birth. Living at first in primitive, hastily erected tent camps, they were later sent to development towns - though these, too, were grim, at least at first. Some still are. Moshavs - communal farms - were tried as well, but the Mizrahi had been mainly craftsmen and merchants, not farmers. Moreover, while most Ashkenazi pioneers were secular and many were socialists, the Mizrahi were neither. Still, there was adequate food and excellent medical care. Their souls were unsatisfied, but their health improved, and their fertility rates mirrored those of their Arab peers - making them a majority by 1968. Numerically, the Mizrahi have been dominant from that day to this.
Politically, however, they were and still are anything but. They remain invisible to the West - few Western reporters speak Arabic or Hebrew and, unlike Palestinian Arabs and Ashkenazi Jews, few Mizrahi speak English. In Israel as in America, their native rights and their claim to "Arab lands" have never factored into the thinking of the ruling elites - with one great exception, the man the Mizrahi elected in 1977, toppling the Ashkenazi Labor party that had ruled Israel since 1948: Menachem Begin. A Polish officer and underground fighter who did as much as any man to create the state, he led the loyal opposition in Israel from the start.
Begin was no socialist, though, and he wasn't a secular Jew either; he was, always, a true, small-d democrat. Western elites reviled him, in Israel and America, but the Mizrahi called him "malkanu": our king. He understood that they had rights too - not just legal rights like the Ashkenazi, but native rights like the Arabs. It's time for the rest of us to consider those rights too.
21 July 2002
STRIKING FIRST UNDER
by Louis Rene Beres
Professor, Department of Political Science
Israel, facing certain Arab attacks in June 1967, opted to strike first itself. Today, with the winds of war blowing again in the Middle East - winds substantially more ominous than those of 1967 - Israel may again have to consider a strategy of preemption. Significantly, such a strategy could be entirely consistent with international law.
Where it is understood as "anticipatory self-defense," the customary right to preempt has its modern origins in what is known as the CAROLINE incident. Here, during the unsuccessful rebellion of 1837 in Upper Canada against British rule, it was established that the serious THREAT of armed attack may justify militarily defensive action. In an exchange of diplomatic notes between the governments of the United States and Great Britain, then U.S. Secretary of State Daniel Webster outlined a framework for self-defense which did not require a prior attack.
Military response to a threat was judged permissible so long as the danger posed was "instant, overwhelming, leaving no choice of means and no moment of deliberation."
Strategic circumstances and the consequences of strategic surprise have changed a great deal since the CAROLINE. Today, in an age of chemical/biological/nuclear weaponry, the time available to a vulnerable state could be notably very short. From the standpoint of Israel, now facing multiple adversaries endowed with developing weapons of mass destruction and ballistic missiles, there is every reason to believe that a future resort to anticipatory self-defense would be well-founded in international law.
Some legal scholars argue that the right of anticipatory self-defense expressed by the CAROLINE has now been overriden by the specific language of the United Nations Charter. In this view, Article 51 fashions a new and more restrictive statement on self-defense, one that relies on the literal qualification of a prior "armed attack."
This narrowly technical interpretation ignores that international law cannot compel any state to wait until it absorbs a devastating or even lethal first strike before acting to protect itself. Significantly, both the Security Council and the General Assembly refused to condemn Israel for its 1967 preemptive attacks against certain Arab states, thereby signifying implicit approval by the United Nations of Israel's lawful resort to anticipatory self-defense.
The right of self-defense by forestalling an attack is well established in classical international law. In 1625, Hugo Grotius, in Book II of THE LAW OF WAR AND PEACE, indicated that self defense is to be permitted not only after an attack has already been suffered, but also in advance, where "...the deed may be anticipated." Or as he said a bit later on in the text: "It be lawful to kill him who is preparing to kill...." Similarly,in his famous text of 1758 known as THE LAW OF NATIONS, Emmerich de Vattel affirms that "The safest plan is to prevent evil," and that to do so a nation may even "anticipate the other's design...."
Appropriately, because we are here concerned with the prospect of Israel's preemptive strikes, both Grotius and Vattel - the founding fathers of international law - parallel the Jewish interpreters. The Torah contains a provision exonerating from guilt a potential victim of robbery with possible violence, if - in self defense - he struck down and even killed the attacker BEFORE HE COMMITTED ANY CRIME (Ex: 22:1).
In the words of the Rabbis, "If a man comes to slay you, forestall by slaying him." (Rashi: Sanhedrin 72a). Although these arguments speak more generally of interpersonal relations than of international relations in particular, they are assuredly valid for the latter by extrapolation.
Israel's right to preempt under international law is strengthened further by the ongoing nature of belligerency with enemy states.
According to Grotius, citing to Deuteronomy in THE LAW OF PRIZE AND BOOTY, the ancient Israelites were fully exempted from the issuance of warnings in dealing with existing enemies (what we would call today "protracted war" - exactly the formal condition that now obtains between Israel and all Arab states except Egypt and Jordan). The Israelites, recounts Grotius, had been commanded by God to "refrain from making an armed attack against any people without first inviting that people, by precise notifications, to establish peaceful relations...." Yet, he continues, the Israelites "thought that this prohibition was inapplicable to many of the Canaanite tribes, inasmuch as they themselves had previously been attacked in war by the Canaanites."
There is much to be studied here by Israel's military planners and by its legal advisors in the Ministry of Defense and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The most menacing enemy states in this regard are now Iraq and Iran. It may or may not be operationally infeasible to preemptively destroy pertinent Iraqi and Iranian military targets, but the Israeli decision on preemption should not be inhibited for solely legal reasons. International law is not a suicide pact.
LOUIS RENE BERES was educated at Princeton (Ph.D., 1971) and publishes widely on international law and Israeli defense issues. His work is well- known to the current Prime Minister and to Israel's military and intelligence communities.
Eye on the Media:
SYMPATHY FOR THE DEVIL
By Bret Stephens
Suddenly, a wave of charitable coverage of Israel. "Israel's crack Palnat Company is on the front lines of the war against terror," writes Newseek's Joshua Hammer about the reserve unit with which he spent three days on patrol earlier this month. Hammer offers a broadly flattering picture of "Haifa bakers and Tel-Aviv software engineers" taking extraordinary personal risks in the service of their country and united in the conviction, as one soldier is quoted as saying, "that what we're doing is necessary."
Even the article's title is telling: "A Shark Hunt in the Night" leaves little room for doubt as to just who the real sharks are.
Then there is Ian Fisher's remarkable piece in the July 8 edition of The New York Times: "For Israelis Wounded in Bomb Attacks, Recovery Is a Battle." Fisher tells the stories of five terror victims, of the doctors who treat them, and of the family members who watch over them. Efrat Ravid, 21, a "pretty young woman" who was caught by the Moment Cafe bombing, still fears losing the leg the doctors saved. Motti Mizrahi, 31, also at Moment that night, very nearly had his left hand severed, and now lives in constant pain. Maya DaMari, 17, injured in the Karnei Shomron pizzeria bombing, has a 1.5 inch nail lodged in her brain. Ilona Shaportova, 15, a victim of the Dolphinarium attack, had part of her head blown off and today can utter about 30 words. And Ronit Tubul, 30, wounded in the June 18 bus bombing, had her skull broken and has shrapnel in her brain.
"It took two weeks before she could speak again," Fisher writes. "In a small nation like Israel," he adds, "the wounded produce a ripple effect through society that partly explains the strong support Israelis give to military measures like the recent retaking of practically the entire West Bank... That is because unlike the dead, the injured do not disappear. They go on, publicly, and painfully, battling wounds often far worse than those seen in a nation at peace."
But the Times and Newsweek stories are as nothing next the extraordinary show of contrition put on by CNN in the form of its "Victims of Terror" five-part series.
"The people of Israel have faced the daily prospect of suicide bombings for more than 20 months since the start of the new Intifada," reads the show's publicity sheet. " CNN focuses on the human suffering and psychological ramifications that 71 bombings have placed on the Israeli population as they attempt to carry on their daily lives."
And then on to segments about those who'd lost loved ones, the work of emergency service personnel, the disruptions of ordinary routine, and so on.
WHAT ACCOUNTS FOR this apparent shift in emphasis, if that indeed is what it is? Three factors: First, a public outcry, combined with the threat of boycotts; second, President Bush's speech of June 24; and third, a large dose of editorial guilt.
The first of these is easily documented. US media watchdog groups like CAMERA and honestreporting.com have been unrelenting, and increasingly successful, in raising awareness of media bias against Israel. Eason Jordan, chief news executive at CNN in Atlanta, reports being flooded with as many as 6,000 complaining emails per day. In Washington, DC, a group called BoycottThePost.org organized a subscription-cancellation campaign. It garnered several hundred cancellations. Much the same went for The Los Angeles Times, The New York Times, the San Francisco Chronicle, and the Chicago Tribune.
In Minneapolis, a group called Minnesotans Against Terrorism took out a full-page, $16,500 ad to protest the Minneapolis Star-Tribune's characterization of the Pessah Seder bomber as a "militant." (The paper's editor, Jim Boyd, called the ad's signers, which included the state's two US Senators, "craven.")
And at National Public Radio, ombudsman Jeff Dvorkin reports receiving 9,000 emails over three months concerning the station's alleged pro-Palestinian bias. "No one has ever seen pressure like this before," he says.
The pressure is having an effect. Boston's NPR outlet, WBUR-FM, has lost between $1- $2 million in cancelled individual funding, or about 7% of its usual revenues. CNN's Jordan has promised never to air interviews with the families of suicide bombers, and has offered loud mea culpas for mishandling an interview with terror victim Hen Keinan. Washington Post ombudsman Michael Getler has been forced publicly to address the issue of anti-Israel bias in some 10 columns. The New York Times, Chicago Tribune, and Boston Globe have all featured lengthy news stories concerning the issue of anti-Israel bias, including their own.
The cumulative impact here is twofold. There are financial considerations: CNN's record of shoddy coverage of Israel is at least one reason why Rupert Murdoch's FOX news channel has pulled ahead in the ratings battle. The New York Times, too, cannot well afford to be too much at odds with the views of American Jewry, usually its most captive audience.
But the larger effect has been a certain amount of consciousness-raising in the news room. Until recently, the problem with much of the news media's coverage of the conflict is that it has been intellectually complacent, playing the story as one pitting a Palestinian-Israeli peace camp against "extremists on both sides." Terror attacks and Israeli reprisals were routinely taken as attacks against "the peace process," rather than for what they most obviously were: wanton aggression versus self-defense.
Now that complacency has somewhat been shaken. Cautiously, editors and producers are taking a second look.
NEXT THERE IS the Bush speech.
The effects of political rhetoric are usually underestimated, in part because so much of it tends to be overblown. But the president's speech was unlike any other delivered on the subject of the Middle East in recent memory. It replaced the land-for-peace doctrine, which had governed mainline thinking on the Middle East for 35 years, with a democracy-for-statehood doctrine.
In doing so, Bush shifted international focus from what Israel was failing to do to get peace - concede land - to what the Palestinian Authority wasn't doing - reform its institutions.
Willy-nilly, the news media was forced to play along.
Thus, on the day after the president's speech, we had The Washington Post editorializing that the president's "one-sided approach might be appropriate if Israel's government were committed to the two-state vision... [but Sharon's] government has shown no inclination to modify the settlement policy that makes an ultimate agreement ever more difficult."
But three weeks later, the editorial stress had shifted to the other foot, with the Post carping that "the administration's spokespeople have not made it clear how they intend to promote the democratic selection of a new Palestinian leadership."
The New York Times, too, seemed to change its tune.
"However queasy Bush's approach may make internationalists," wrote New York Times reporter Serge Schmemann in a July 1 news analysis, "it seems not entirely unreasonable to set a high standard for the Palestinians, since they are seeking to join the community of governments and clearly need help from Washington to do so."
The president, said Schmemann, had offered the Middle East "a brave new approach" - a truly remarkable concession, coming from the Times.
But perhaps the most telling indicator is also the crudest. An Internet search of virtually every English-language news report published in the first 18 months of the "Al Aqsa Intifada" reveals that the words "Arafat" and "democracy" appeared in the same story a mere 155 times. By contrast, in the past three months, as Bush increasingly stressed the need for Palestinian reform, the figure rose to 528 - 279 times in the past three weeks alone.
FINALLY - and this on a hunch - guilt.
Among reporters and editors alike, the old saw, typically proffered near deadline, is that today's newspaper is tomorrow's packaging paper. But nobody in the news business really believes it.
Decent journalists, covering important beats, live with the healthy dose of fear that they may be getting the story wrong, that a more knowledgeable posterity will hold them partially culpable for leading the public of their times down a disastrous road. So it is, at least, with the fate of the Jews.
Consider this: On July 2, 1944, The New York Times reported that 400,000 Hungarian Jews had been murdered by the Nazis, and that another 350,000 were to be exterminated within weeks. A useful item of information, obviously - and one the editors of the Times chose to run at four column inches, and that on page 12.
Much the same went for the paper's editorials. According to Susan Tifft and Alex Jones, authors of The Trust: The Private and Powerful Family Behind The New York Times, from 1941 to 1943 the Times made editorial mention of the fate of the Jews under Nazi Germany exactly nine times. "Editorials concerning the Warsaw resistance and subsequent ghetto uprising... referred obliquely to 'the Poles' and 'Warsaw patriots.' "
None of this was for lack of better information. As with today's media critics, in the early 1940s the Times found itself under a barrage of criticism from Jewish media watchdog groups, "most of whom disagreed violently with the Times' coverage." Yet, almost defiantly, the Times persisted in underreporting the fate of European Jewry, mainly because its publisher, Arthur Sulzberger, feared being accused of "special pleading" on behalf of the Jews and felt he had to "lean over backwards to be objective and balanced in its stories about Jews."
Sulzberger, at the time also a vehement anti-Zionist, "was vigilant about correcting any suggestion that he or the paper might represent Jewish interests," write Tifft and Jones.
In his memoir, The Times of My Life and My Life With The Times, former Times editor Max Frankel notes that this "past hung over us for decades."
Never again would the paper fail to forewarn of impending massacre (although that is largely what happened in its coverage of the Indochina wars), or obscure the plight of the oppressed. Still, in its coverage of the Middle East over the years, the Times remained remarkably skeptical of Israeli actions and intentions, as if its postwar endorsement of Zionism was issued on a probationary basis.
And then: The lynching of two reservists in Ramallah. The Dolphinarium attack. The Sbarro massacre. The Seder massacre. The attack on the Egged 32 bus. Seventy-odd suicide attacks in all. Whispers, growing ever louder, that Palestinian terror was not instrumental in its purposes but actually genocidal in its aims.
It remains to be seen whether the new sympathy for Israel's plight, not just from the Times but for other news media as well, reflects a gradual change in attitude, a momentary aberration, or a calculated exercise in covering one's tracks. Still, one wonders whether America's leading editors and producers aren't casting glances, both backwards and forwards, to get out from under the haunting mistakes of the past, and the searing judgment.