If there was any doubt that Yasir Arafat & Company consider our national tragedy as anything but an opportunity, a September 21 Associated Press dispatch should dispel it. As has been widely reported, soon after the events of September 11 Arafat announced a cease-fire with much fanfare and agreed to halt attacks against Israel. Israel promptly announced that it would ease restrictions on the movements of Palestinians and would suspend offensive operations against them. Of course, Palestinian attacks continued. Yet here is what the AP reported:
Once again, America is at war. Make no mistake. The coordinated sneak air attacks and car bombing that levelled the World Trade Center and damaged the Pentagon, killing untold numbers of Americans, is of a piece with the attack on Pearl Harbor. And just as our earlier enemies learned to their great dismay that we have the capacity to rise from any adversity and make any sacrifice required of us, so the perpetrators of this atrocity will also learn. Today's events are the culmination of a widespread but lunatic fringe who abide by a seething Muslim fundamentalism that has long viewed the United States as the evil incarnation of infidel secularism. It is most recently what drove the third world savaging of America at the Durban Conference and it is what has motivated attacks ? albeit of lesser magnitude, like the bombings of the U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania, the Air Force base in Saudi Arabia and the assault on the USS Cole.
In many respects, the Durban Conference on Racism presented Israel with one of its most critical challenges in its 53 year history. Had Arafat and other Arab leaders succeeded in hijacking the conference and having Israel branded internationally as an outlaw state, members of its government, diplomatic corps and military would be subject to arrest and trial around the world as war criminals. Moreover, had Zionism been equated with racism, the very basis of the Jewish state would have been delegitimized and it would have assumed the role of international pariah. So the statements and actions of President Bush and Secretary of State Powell in dramatically disassociating the United States from the parley and thereby blunting its anti-Israel mission, were the latest evidence that President Bush's election last November was providential. Indeed, the contrast with the reaction to events in Durban by the Democratic Party leadership is striking.
September 13, 2001 marks the 8th anniversary of the greatest swindle ever perpetrated on the Jewish people. That is the date President Clinton announced the Oslo agreement on the White House lawn to the fawning applause of countless heads of Jewish organizations. And it is poetic coincidence that the expected meeting between Foreign Minister Shimon Peres and Yassir Arafat is to take place at this time. Even more so than the late Prime Minister Rabin, Peres is identified with the failed Oslo "peace process." This is not only because he emerged as its chief proponent and intellectual patron ? he said it reflected the millennial economic driven intersection of Israeli and Arab interests. It was also because he led the worldwide suppression of any dissent and the demonization of anyone who sought to point out that the Emperor really had no clothes.
Israel's targeting terrorist leaders in order to thwart attacks against its citizens continues to draw criticism around the world. Some of it, of course, is from those who are acting viscerally out of a deep anti-Israel or anti-Jewish animus. But there are some who are disturbed over the fact that those marked by Israel have not been convicted in a court of law, and that Israel sometimes operates in territory under the jurisdiction of the Palestinian Authority to get at them. What followed last week's helicopter attack against suspected terrorists should be illuminating.
This week the Monitor hands the ball to The Weekly Standard, which in its Sept. 10 issue featured a transcript of a conversation between a caller identified as "David from Minneapolis" and Diana Nyad, the host of "Savvy Traveler," a Minnesota Public Radio show.
President Bush and his Secretary of State are certainly deserving of all the praise that will be heaped on them in the Anglo-Jewish media over the United States' withdrawal from the Durban Conference. The proposed anti-Israel resolution was an outrage and it was entirely correct for our government to say that this sort of thing would not be dignified by being the subject of debate or negotiations by us. It was also an important message to the Arab world that the United States has no intention of being part of any gang-up on Israel no matter how popular it is, and that we plan to act on principle.
Last week, Time magazine weighed in on Israel's practice of targeting leaders of the Palestinian wave of suicide bombings. To its credit it ran an article by nationally known columnist Charles Krauthammer who cogently ? and with great logic ? presented the issue in terms of whether it is a reasonable and reasoned response to a significant problem. However, a Time staff writer also focused on the Palestinian Authority's summary treatment of those Palestinians accused of providing Israel with intelligence about the comings and goings of the terrorist leaders.
One expects to see harrowing pictures of Palestinian civilians caught in the middle of the crossfire between Israeli forces and the Palestinian Authority terrorists chosen as illustrations for stories about the intifada. These instances certainly abound, especially since the Palestinian leaders cynically place their own people in harm's way to elicit sympathy in the world media. And the media, in any event, seem hell-bent to spin the story of Palestinian provocation and Israeli response in terms of the hardships visited on Palestinian civilians. Thus, although Israeli territory is far more open to journalists than Palestinian controlled areas, it is rare that pictures of Israeli civilians under fire ever accompany any of the stories. But last Thursday, The New York Times "picked a beaut" to illustrate a story about Jews under fire in Gilo.
Sounding a theme recurrent in these pages, Fiamma Nirenstein has penned an article, "How Suicide Bombers Are Made," appearing in the current issue of Commentary magazine, which concludes that the problem with Yasir Arafat and company is not that they can't seem to keep their word or that they disagree with this or that Israel imposition, or indeed that they have a recurrent violent bent. It is that they reflect a fundamental difficulty among Arabs with the notion of a Jewish state in the Middle East.
If you were to hook up Israel's left-wing journalists to polygraph machines and inject them with rivers of truth serum, you would no doubt find that many are more than mere ideological poseurs blankly parroting the latest bit of "progressive" dogma. A substantial number really do believe the myth that Israel is a nation of racist imperialists who ruthlessly robbed the Palestinians of their ancient homeland.
Understandably, Monday's State Department rebuke of Israel over the death of senior Palestinian leader Mustafa Zubari and its policy of restricting the movement of Palestinians generally, has led to sharp statements in the Jewish community. There is a general concern that the United States is wavering in its appreciation of the Sharon government's need to get at those who are directing the terror against its citizens and to impede terrorist infiltration. Yet, while the State Department's statement was not at all welcome, we urge that matters be kept in context.
We are certainly gratified by the apparent meeting of the minds between the Jewish and Black communities in Crown Heights. Although we are not as sanguine as some as to how far along the process is, anything that will serve to heal the terrible breach that was revealed in the pogroms there in 1991 against Jews by rampaging blacks is to the good. The apparent rapproachment between the families of Yankel Rosenbaum and Gavin Cato is certainly a good start. But we were dismayed at the take of some in the media.
As readers may recall, several weeks ago, in an Editor's Note accompanying a letter we published, we expressed our displeasure with the writer for seeking to draw The Jewish Press into a local campaign for New York City Council by claiming that we had erroneously reported that one candidate, Samuel Spirgel, had received his support. As we said, we had it right and the writer was plainly changing his mind, doubtless as the result of pressure from one or more formidable supporters of a competing candidate. We were not amused by this attempt to make a political point at the expense of our reportorial reputation.
The criticism of Israel's policy of targeting the terrorist infrastructure to thwart assaults on its citizens continues to grow in leftist circles, particularly in Israel. One also finds news articles and editorials sharply condemning Israel for acting as prosecutor, jury and executioner. It seems that they are all quite willing to disable Israel from addressing the cynical strategy hit upon by Arafat and his colleagues to kill Jews without risk through the tactical use of nondescript terrorists and suicide bombers. That is, the terrorist infrastructure must remain untouched because its members, not being turned over by Arafat, were not convicted in a court of law. Happily, the government of Israel is not cowed by this sophistry.
There is no question that many everyday Palestinians experience disruption in their daily lives because of Israeli security measures against infiltration. It could not be otherwise but that Israel's need to restrict terrorist access to its citizens would also impact on the mobility of those workaday Palestinians. There also can be no question that the overhanging Palestinian terrorist threat is the reason for the stringent Israeli security measures. So, although we have come not to expect too much objectivity these days from The New York Times, the "paper of record" outdid itself on Tuesday. For The Times, the only story to be told about Israel's security measures was the impact they are having on Palestinian civilians.