At this writing, it has been over four days since Israel was forced to endure a major suicide terrorist atrocity deliberately aimed at innocent civilians. Still the funerals have continued as four more wounded victims of the Passover massacre in Netanya passed away this week, along with a man severely injured in last Saturday’s attack on a coffee house in Tel Aviv and another who was wounded in the Haifa restaurant blast on Sunday.
Why the relative quiet? It is unquestionably the result of the massive Israeli army operation against the suicide terrorist centers in Yasser Arafat’s autonomous zones. Hamas, Islamic Jihad, the Al Aksa Martyrs Brigades and Tanzim terrorists are simply too preoccupied with basic survival at the moment to lash out in their all too customary, ugly manner.
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That is the main point of the Israeli military operation dubbed “Protective Wall” in English, but actually called “Shielding Wall” in Hebrew. The clear design is to shield Israeli mothers and children, and of course men, from sudden death and destruction. (I am thinking at present of a young woman literally blasted to bits here in Jerusalem two weeks ago. She and her slain husband were not able to go home and tell their two youngsters the joyous news that an ultrasound test had just revealed their mother was pregnant with twins).
Israeli leaders hope to deal such a powerful blow to the various Palestinian terrorist organizations that they simply will not be physically able to undertake significant terror operations for some time to come, if ever again. However to accomplish that difficult goal, military leaders estimate they will need at least a few more weeks of sustained army action. Under enormous international pressure himself, President Bush seems determined to rob them of this vital time.
It is quite understandable that the American commander in chief would call for a quick end of the Israeli army incursion into Palestinian urban centers. He is being called on the carpet by all the Arab states, the wider Muslim world and even by America’s erstwhile allies in the European Union to “do something” and to “give peace a chance.” Madeleine Albright and other former Clinton officials have joined the critical chorus, afraid that the United States will make additional Muslim enemies if the Great Power is seen to be taking Israel’s side too overtly.
But Bush would not be “siding with Israel” if he looked the other way while the Jewish State dealt a massive blow to the wide web of terror that Arafat has sponsored, encouraged, or at the very least not seriously attempted to dismantle or control. He would be taking America’s side. For until kamikaze terrorism is dealt a deadly blow, it will continue to thrive, and ultimately not only against tiny Israel.
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Bush and company wisely realized that the only way to deal with the likes of Osama bin Laden and fellow terrorists who glory in the deaths of innocent civilians (the more the better) is to destroy their ability to carry out heinous suicide assaults. Yet Israeli leaders (who include Nobel peace prize winner Shimon Peres and the daughter of the late Yitzhak Rabin, who is Israel’s deputy Defense Minister), are told just days into their own campaign – designed to halt identical attacks upon their civilian population – that they must put a premature end to the operation.
Is Colin Powell going to convince Yasser Arafat to wipe out the terrorist infrastructures when Anthony Zinni, CIA chief George Tenet, and indeed Albright and other Clintonites repeatedly failed to do so? What magic wand is the congenial former general wielding? Indeed, Arafat has demonstrated time and again that he only responds to a big stick, not a tasty carrot. Israeli leaders – including Labor party stalwarts like Peres, not just Ariel Sharon – were finally wielding that stick despite the knowledge that it would produce fierce howls of protest from people living in regions not subject to daily suicide outrages.
Before giving the Israeli stick a chance to achieve its necessary, if distasteful goal, Bush is throwing Arafat another carrot. This action can only encourage the veteran PLO leader, along with the world’s other would-be terrorists who are eagerly watching and waiting in the wings, to believe that their methods will eventually win out over the Wimpy West.
George Bush surely has the best of intentions in mind. He is trying to prevent a wider Middle East war with its broad political and economic ramifications, and protect America’s vital interests in the Arab world. But the current While House occupant, who has dealt rather well with the unwanted terrorist war thrust upon him during his first year in office, needs to be careful that he does not fall into a trap that undermines his own battle against terrorism. Because like it or not – and he would undoubtedly rather be fishing – his war is the same one being waged, with the same reluctance, by tiny Israel.