by Avi Davis
Donald Rumsfeld couldn't have had better timing. On the day before the most calamitous attack in United States history, the U.S Secretary of Defense told CNN how fortunate the world had been that, in 1981, Israel had bombed and destroyed the Iraqi nuclear reactor in Osirak. He was talking ostensibly about preventative attacks that might spare the world the devastation of a rogue nuclear assault. But he was also plainly referring to Israeli measures to counteract terrorism and the justification for pre-emptive strikes.
In the light of what occurred on September 11, it could be stated with certainty that there are few Americans who would now disagree with him. Pre-emptive action would have saved the lives of thousands of Americans and could unquestionably save even more now. With this in mind, the regular condemnation of Israel by the State Department and the incessant media outcry against Israel's surgical elimination of terror cells, now seem like ghostly murmurs from a distant past. They in fact belong to a different world - a world more engaged in moral relativism and one far less willing to draw the stark distinctions between good and evil that Israelis have been required to make for years.
But while the world has changed in ways still unknown, a regressive blind spot remains lodged in the world's consciousness. The French ambassador to Israel, Jacques Huntzinger, told Israeli reporters on Thursday that there could be no comparisons drawn between the acts of terror perpetrated in the United States and Palestinian terrorism in Israel. Such a view reveals how unwilling are many of the world's statesmen to make the association between acts of Islamic terror in Israel and those occurring elsewhere. But as mounting evidence links Yasser Arafat's terror campaign against Israel with other Islamic terrorist campaigns in Sudan, Lebanon and Afghanistan, that unwillingness will suffer decisive challenge. It will underscore the cold reality that the only difference between an Islamic fundamentalist who blows himself up in a Jerusalem restaurant and another who deliberately rams the World Trade Center, is that one of them knows how to fly a plane.
Similarly, anyone looking for the ideological underpinnings of the attack on the United States or anti-Americanism articulated with true socio-pathic bile, need look no further than the Palestinian Authority. Reports that an Associated Press cameraman was threatened with his life, as he dared to record the sight of 3,000 Palestinians celebrating the American tragedy in the streets of Balata refugee camp, are now ubiquitous. But who needs videotape? These recent quotes, fresh off the press from official Palestinian organs, should suffice:
"[The Palestinians must] harm American interests in the Arab world, with all possible means, in all places, at all levels, because the United States does not understand the language of logic and wisdom, but only the language of interests and force." [Omar Helm Ghul, Al-Ayyam, Aug. 30, 2001]
"The suicide bombers of today are the noble successors of their noble predecessors...the Lebanese suicide bombers, who taught the US Marines a tough lesson in [Lebanon]... These suicide bombers are the salt of the earth, the engines of history...They are the most honorable [people] among us..." [Al Hayat Al Jadida - Official Palestinian Authority daily, Sept. 11, 2001]
While it may well have been disarming to see a shaken Yasser Arafat muttering his condolences after the terrorist attacks, no one should forget that this is the man who wrote the manual on international terrorism and built a thirty year career on killing innocent civilians. For several years there had been hopes that Arafat would reform. In vain. The terrorist strain within him may well be implacable. Indeed, the past 12 month resort to violence and suicide bombs have revealed him to be no more a statesman than a ruthless overlord of a drug cartel. But Arafat's recidivism and anti-Americanism needs only drive one imperative home for the United States: that his recognized links with Osama Bin Laden, Saddam Hussein, the Sudanese and the Iranians converts Palestinian terror from a home product into one manufactured for export. There can be no greater warning for American security interests.
Many Israeli supporters recall bitterly how George Bush Snr. formed the Gulf War coalition by bowing to Arab pressure and excluding Israel. In that war the Israelis were asked to absorb multiple missile attacks and millions of dollars worth of damage without the ability to respond in any practical way. How reckless it would now be for that president's son, as he pieces together a new coalition, to fail to recognize Palestinian terror as also a war against the United States. How imprudent to disavow, not only Israel's seasoned capabilities as a combatant in that struggle, but its unenviable role riding shotgun in the world's risk-laden journey from Osirak to the ruins of the World Trade Center in New York City.
Avi Davis is the senior fellow of the Freeman Center and the senior editorial columnist for Jewsweek.com