Former Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu gave a remarkable speech before the United States Senate last week.

Pointing out that a schizophrenic United States is unlikely to win the war against a single-minded terrorist enemy, he called eloquently for America to think clearly and act nobly. And he limned the absurdity of the half-witted and craven Euro-Powell demand for Israel to accept a cease-fire in the war against terror.

“Though we are assured by friends that we have the right to defend ourselves,” said Netanyahu, “we are effectively asked not to exercise that right.”

Netanyahu reminded Americans of the spirit of our first response to the Sept. 11 outrage – we saw with certainty then that “the war on terror can be won with clarity and courage or lost with confusion and vacillation.”

President Bush, said Netanyahu, laid out a vision “that had the moral and strategic clarity necessary to win the war on terror.” Terrorism was defined as “the deliberate targeting of civilians in order to achieve political ends,” and it was “never justified.”

Netanyahu praised the president’s strategic judgment that “international terrorism depends on the support of sovereign states, and that fighting it demands that these regimes be either deterred or dismantled.”

“No distinction,” the president said, “will be made between terrorists and the regimes that harbor them.”

To these two clear principles, Netanyahu added what he called a “seemingly trite” third – that the best way to defeat terror is to defeat it. Permitting terrorists to hope for ultimate success of their evil project by concessions and weakness is the surest way to encourage terrorism’s continued existence. But decisive action against terrorists will crush such confidence, and reduce the incidence of terror.

Americans understand all this. So why, our Israeli friend asks, is the Bush administration suggesting that the path to peace is for Israel to abandon its legitimate operations destroying the mechanisms of Palestinian terror? Why is it, Netanyahu asks, that “when it comes to terror directed against Israel, the moral and strategic clarity that is so crucial for victory is being twisted beyond recognition[?]” Indeed, “the imperative of defeating terror everywhere is being ignored when the main engine of Palestinian terror is allowed to remain intact.”

Netanyahu is circumspect enough not to ask why American policy has become so confused. But is it not obvious that the source of pressure to limit Israel’s ability to defend itself against terror comes chiefly from those Muslim Arab regimes whose cooperation is thought essential to the war against terrorism’s roots in Iraq and elsewhere? It is our “allies” in the war against terror that are demanding that the U.S. call a halt to that war in Israel.

But have we forgotten that the human and financial instruments of the Sept. 11 attack came from Saudi Arabia, and that the Saudi government and other “moderate” Arab states are the chief supporters of Palestinian terror? Is it reasonable to slacken our support for Israel’s war on terror, in deference to regimes implicated in the very evil we are fighting?

We can, and must, hope that a genuine Arab moderation will emerge in the region. But we cannot seek to purchase that moderation at the price of breaking faith with Israel, our most faithful ally in the war on terror.

As Netanyahu understands so well, weakness in principle or action will encourage the terrorists of Palestine and elsewhere to press harder, to strike more brazenly, to be more confident in ultimately defeating America. There is no better way for us to demoralize the world’s terrorists than to make clear by words and actions that terror is our enemy wherever it is practiced.

I hope and pray that in this fight against terror, America will stand – unapologetically and unequivocally – with Israel. Netanyahu’s concluding words to the Senate illuminate what should be America’s special role in that war:

“History has entrusted this nation with carrying the torch of freedom. And time and time again, through both war and peace, America has carried that torch with courage and with honor, combining a might the world has never known with a sense of justice that no power in history has possessed.

“I have come before you today to ask you to continue to courageously and honorably carry that torch by standing by an outpost of freedom that is resisting an unprecedented terrorist assault. I ask you to stand by Israel’s side in its fight against Arafat’s tyranny of terror, and thereby help defeat an evil that threatens all of mankind.”

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