If there is one region in the world where US foreign policy invites more hostility and inept advice than Iraq, that place is Israel. On Wednesday, the Roanoke Times editorial staff mildly praised the Bush administration for hinting that the US might cut loan guarantees to Israel in order to entice Israel into removing its West Bank wall. The Times characterized Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon and his party as "religious and nationalist extremists" in a supercilious effort to paint Israel with the same broad brush as Palestinian terrorists. And this view is a popular one that dies hard in the minds of militant atheists and stubbornly obtuse liberals who are willfully and woefully ignorant of modern history. But the jig is up.
America has heard its wake-up call, and the world is finally beginning to turn its face from the indiscriminate murder of noncombatant Israeli civilians by Palestinian butchers. It should be noted that Palestine is not now, nor has it ever been, a nation of indigenous people, and that the disputed West Bank territory was, in 1948, Jordanian land. Therefore, the notion that through its West Bank settlements, Israel is stealing land that rightfully belongs to the Palestinians, is false. Some may choose to see the Israeli-Palestinian conflict as a struggle between the downtrodden little guy and a bellicose bully. But this too, is wrong.
Israel is a tiny nation surrounded on all sides by hostile Arab neighbors, many of whom, still call for the total annialation of the Jews. Over the past fifty years, every one of them has attacked Israel with military force fueled by Islamic extremism and anti-Semetic hatred. And yet, every one of these aggressors has been beaten back. So deep and blinding is this hatred of the Jews, that in 1981, Egyptian President Anwar Sadat was assasinated at home by Arab commandos opposed to an Egyptian-Israeli peace agreement that ended 30 years of war between the two nations.
Visiting Saudi Arabia, Egypt, and Israel, qualifies me to compare them. In the Arab countries, I found a palpable suspicion of Westerners and an air of oppression. Shady characters line the main streets and back alleys of Alexandria and Jeddah. In Israel, I found a warm and open society. The streets are clean and the people, prosperous and friendly.
On the day I arrived in Ashdod, Israeli Air Force planes practiced bombing runs nearby. Israel has known all along what Americans are just now relearning—that our only hope for peace lies in strength. While it may be a political concession for the Bush administration to dole out scorn to both Israel and the Palestinian Authority, there can be no doubt that the administration holds firmly to the truth that Palestinian terrorism is the primary obstacle to MidEast peace.
Since I don't suffer from selective anmesia, I still recall the Yassir Arafat who commanded his murdering thugs to attack Jews from inside Jordan and Lebanon. In 1979, the PLO sought to garner world attention by sinking an oil tanker in the Red Sea. A strong US Naval presence in the area foiled the plan. Former President Clinton and former Israeli Prime Minister Barak offered Arafat the best peace deal that the Palestinians could have hoped for. But he turned it down cold, and the Intefada began. Clearly, surrendering his penchant for terror is too high a price for Arafat. Now, out of frustration and civil demands for greater security, Israel hopes to shield itself from death and destruction by fencing out Palestinian suicide bombers.
It appears easy for Times editors to regurgitate an opinion formed in an ideological vacuum that rejects the facts, but the public interest is poorly served by it. Palestinias who truly want peace with Israel can have it. But those who follow the terror tactics of Arafat and the PLO will suffer the same fate of extinction as Saddam Hussein and the Taliban.