DON'T LOOK BACK
(An Open Letter To Ariel Sharon)
by Boris Shusteff
"The truth must be known that there is a wider Arab sanction for this terror. Thus it is that in the most autocratic and iron-fisted societies of the Arab world, Palestinian terror is endorsed, and the figure of the 'suicide martyr' endowed with heroic attributes"
(Fouad Ajami, September 2001)
The terrible events of September 11 - simultaneous and devastating terrorist attacks in New York and Washington - made it clear to the whole world that the battle against terror is moving into a different stage. Encouraged by the complacency of the international community, the world terrorist consortium reminded mankind that it is a force to be reckoned with. It demonstrated that nobody is immune to this evil.
Though President Bush declared that America will lead the war against terror, it is the duty of the Jewish state to show mankind how this should be done. The truth must be spoken. Allowing itself to be manipulated by the interests of other countries, in its fight against terror the Jewish state has demonstrating the miracles of fighting with one hand always tied behind its back. Though it has used its other hand with awe-inspiring results, its lack of resolve to completely defeat the enemy has led to a situation in which certain individuals and organizations started to believe that they could achieve any goal through terror.
It took the horrible September 11 tragedy for the world to realize that terror is a type of warfare, and the only way to defeat it is to lead an outright war against it. And in today's changed perception the way Israel is fighting this war is absolutely unacceptable. It creates the impression that the Jewish state has acquiesced to a certain level of casualties considering them unavoidable as long as she can keep this level under control. This dangerous approach not only encourages terrorist activity but at the same time makes Israel's friends believe that Israel is comfortable with perpetual terror.
Jed Babbin, former deputy undersecretary of defense in the first Bush administration, wrote on September 12 in the "Washington Times," "We have to confront - and defeat - the threat of the well-organized, well-financed terrorists who now bring their wars to kill our friends, neighbors and loved ones. That's one choice. The only other choice is to accept life of constant terror as it is in Israel or Northern Ireland. We are a free people. We deserve better."
Israelis are a free people as well, and they, too, deserve better. This is why the Jewish state must not fall into the trap of a false anti-terror coalition. For her own political reasons, America can afford piling Pakistan, Saudi Arabia and Egypt into this coalition - countries that in truth dream of Israel's destruction, though they don't always declare it too loudly. However, Colin Powell's words that "he had been impressed by statements from Iran and Syria after last week's terrorism strikes" clearly indicate that some American leaders do not really understand the full gravity of the situation. Even more abhorrent is America's silence after Arafat's announcement on September 18 that his administration is ready to participate in the anti-terror coalition.
If America still does not understand, the Jewish state hopefully realizes that it cannot afford to accommodate America's political desires anymore. Israel has already tried to make the United States happy by acquiescing to Arafat's terror. On September 11 the terrorist attacks on American soil demonstrated how short-sighted this policy was.
Israel must become a beacon for America, demonstrating how to fight against terrorist gangs. Sharon himself said in the Knesset on September 16, that "everybody that encourages terrorism - is guilty." It is time for Israel to realize that, by handling Arafat and his groups with kid gloves, she encourages terrorism and therefore is guilty herself.
Although it is not clear who was directly responsible for the September 11 attacks, due to the complexity of the operation it is quite obvious that a number of groups and organizations were involved in its preparation and enactment. It would be wise to remember that it is one of the PLO terrorist groups that has the most experience in hijacking airplanes. It is Hezbollah and its operational head Immad Mugniyeh, who was extremely successful in terrorist operations against American targets. It is Yasser Arafat who, as disclosed by Moshe Peled in 1997, had a direct link with the Sudanese terror network responsible for carrying out the February 1993 World Trade Center bombing.
Sharon said in his Knesset speech,
"It was Arafat who - dozens of years ago - legitimized the hijacking of planes. It was Palestinian terrorist organizations who began to dispatch suicide-terrorists. All extremist movements have received doubled legitimacy from Arafat since the murder of the Israeli athletes at Munich, and the murders of children at Avivim and Ma'alot."
Moreover, Mohammed Atta, named by the U.S. Justice Department as one of he September 11 hijackers, according to "Maariv" was a Palestinian Arab from Tul Karem. He was one of the organizers of the bus bombings in Jerusalem in 1996. Maybe if Israel had understood in 1996, in the midst of the "peace process," that it was time to eradicate terrorism and had destroyed the PLO, Hamas and Hezbollah, the beautiful Twin Towers in New York would still be standing.
Palestinian Authority Parliamentary Affairs Minister Nabil Amr said on September 15 that "Without quiet on the Palestinian-Israeli front, Arab states like Saudi Arabia and Egypt will not be able to join the coalition..." Nabil Amr is right. There should be "quiet on the Palestinian-Israel front." But this quiet can be achieved only through the eradication of the terrorist organizations and their infrastructures.
Israel must listen to the words of Jed Babbin and literally apply them to the PLO and her sister terrorist organizations. Babbin wrote,
"When America is attacked, as it was yesterday, it must strike back in a manner that is proportional to our strength, not proportional to the size of our enemy, large or small. Mr. Bush shouldn't listen to any talk of proportional responses. We have to be ruthless. We need to do whatever it takes to make the terrorists know that no matter where they go, no matter who helps them and no matter what they think they can do to us, we will hunt them down and kill them without mercy."
Terror declared War against the Jews and Israel long ago. On September 11 Terror declared War against America, as well. It is Israel's duty to demonstrate to America that Terror can be defeated. It must encourage America by destroying the PLO, Hamas, Hezbollah and the scores of other terrorist factions that have sprung from them. It must show to the world community that evil can be destroyed and not only spoken about.
Babbin made it clear, the battle must be ruthless. Writing about the way America should hunt for bin Laden he wrote, "we'll carpet bomb the area we think he's hiding in. And if he's not there, we'll try another place." Neil Kressel wrote on September 14 in a "New York Post" op-ed column "How to Fight the Coming War,"
"But, make no mistake: This war will involve many thousands of civilian casualties. We must be prepared for some allies to desert us. We should try to move with them - but, if necessary, be prepared to go it alone... We should attempt to carry out air attacks with as few civilian casualties as possible. But we should expect many such casualties."
Many commentators indicated that the terrorist attacks of September 11 were a wake up call for America and the Western world. However, first and foremost it was a a wake up call for Israel. The Jewish state must understand that if terrorists are ready to raise their hand against the world's only superpower, they will not hesitate to use weapons of mass destruction, and Israel will be their first victim.
The Jewish state must realize that it holds the keys to success in the coming war against terror. Nobody knows the enemy better than Israel. No other country in the world is as experienced as she is in fighting this brutal and merciless enemy. No country has a better chance than Israel of defeating it.
Perhaps this is why on September 13 Tom Ambrose gave the following advice to the Jewish state, writing in worldnetdaily.com,
"And to the Israelis, I say this: Use this opportunity while it is within your grasp and before more of your people die. Drive Arafat and his supporters out of the land God gave to you and never let them return. Give them notice to pick up and leave peacefully and destroy those who defiantly remain. And, as in the days of Lot, don't look back." 09/18/01
The Jewish state must do this. If not now, when?
Boris Shusteff is an engineer. He is also a research associate with the Freeman Center for Strategic Studies.