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Sept. 24, 2002

Contact: Helen Freedman, Executive Director


Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, in addressing the House Armed Services Committee on September 19, was quoted as saying in response to a question about Iraq attacking Israel with a 'dirty bomb' "that it would be in Israel's overwhelming best interests not to get involved." Senator Richard Shelby (R-Alabama) and Senator Joseph Biden (D-Delaware) have weighed in with the opinion that an Israeli response would anger the Arab world. Of course, there is general understanding in the Congress that if Israel is attacked and there are "massive" numbers of casualties, there might be tolerance for Israeli retaliation. But short of that, Israel is expected to do a re-run of its performance in 1991. Then, Israelis remained locked in their "safe" rooms with their babies and children "protected" by gas masks, while 39 scud missiles landed on Tel Aviv. There was no retaliation, at the demand of the U.S. government.

AFSI maintains, "It is our understanding that the United States has assured Israel that it will eliminate all scud launchers so that Israel cannot be attacked as it was in the Gulf War. If the U.S. fails in this guarantee, it is the belief of AFSI that Israel must retaliate. To do less would feed the appetites of the Arabs committed to Israel's destruction. The 1991 experience merely served to weaken Israel in the eyes of the Arab world. To repeat that fiasco would simply legitimize Arab claims that Israel has no right to exist and as such has no right to defend itself.

"It is absurd for the U.S. and Israel to be guided in their policy against Iraq by considerations of whether or not the Arab world will be "angered." It is clear, following Sept. 11, 2001, that the Muslim world views America and Israel as the Satans that must be destroyed. This despotic world will be "angered" by any action that brings success to "infidels" and failure to Islam. It is the task of America and Israel and all democracies to stop worrying about what will please or displease our enemies. Instead, wee must work at changing the nature of the Middle East from a terrorist training ground into an area where democracy can begin to grow. The first step in the process is recognition that if Iraq attacks Israel, it is in Israel's overwhelming best interests to get involved."

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