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August 28, 2014 / 2 Elul, 5774
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Posts Tagged ‘President Bush’

Israel And Its Enemies: Future Wars And Forceful Options (Second of Three Parts)

Thursday, November 17th, 2011

The following originally appeared in The Jewish Press in March 1992. Today, nearly twenty years later, its arguments remain timely and valid.

At the conclusion of the recent [Editor’s Note: the first] Gulf War [Operation Desert Storm], the Bush administration announced plans to sell Saudi Arabia, a country of six million inhabitants, an arms package including over 500 tanks, 48 F-15 fighter planes, Apache helicopter gunships, more than 30 Patriot batteries, tens of thousands of armored vehicles, multiple rocket-launchers and command/control systems.

Rationalizing the Saudi demand for this vast arsenal by pointing to the “growing danger from Iran,” the Bush administration ignored the reality that such American arms can be used for direct or indirect aggression against Israel. While a Saudi Arabia that joined in the coalition to defeat Saddam now appears relatively benign, this monarchy has been busily compensating the Assad regime in Syria with billions of dollars in aid – money to be used entirely for Syria’s ongoing military buildup.

During the past several months, Pakistan has received new M-11 missiles from China; Brazil may have concluded a secret deal with the Libyan Air Force to provide technical assistance to service Libyan warplanes; China entered into a reactor project with Algeria that may well have nuclear-weapon related implications; China exported missile- or nuclear-weapons related technology to Egypt, Algeria, Libya, Syria, Saudi Arabia, Iran and Pakistan; Iran tested a modified version of the Soviet SCUD-C intermediate range ballistic missile and has reportedly spent, since March, 1990, at least $200 million annually on a nuclear weapons program aided by Pakistan, Argentina and China.

Last May [1991], President Bush [the first President Bush] called for restraint in weapons sales to the Middle East. Since then, this country has transferred approximately $6 billion in arms to the region, according to the Arms Control Association. Figures compiled from Pentagon, congressional and other government sources reveal that the United States spent $19 billion in weapons to the Middle East in the seventeen months since Iraq invaded Kuwait. Saudi Arabia was provided with $14.8 billion worth of arms (much of it now being trans-shipped to Syria) while Egypt, which coexists in an increasingly cold peace with Israel, received $2.17 billion in weapons.  Other advanced U.S. weapons have been sent to Kuwait, Morocco, Oman, Bahrain, and the United Arab Emirates.

What is Israel to do? Recognizing that its principal (and only) powerful friend has also become the principal benefactor of its sworn enemies, Israel should understand that the vaunted peace talks can never succeed, and that perpetual self-reliance is all that stands in the way of extinction as a state. Faced with the prospect of Iranian missiles capable of counterforce attacks upon airfields of the Israeli Air Force and later counter value attacks upon Israeli civilian populations, Jerusalem will soon have to decide whether it would be better to absorb enemy first strikes and then confront a possible end to the “Third Temple Commonwealth,” or to strike first defensively (preemptively) itself.

It should not be a difficult decision. If it waits too long to decide, Iran will systematically multiply, disperse and harden the core elements of its developing nuclear infrastructures. If this happens, preemption will ultimately no longer be an operational option.

International law is not a suicide pact. The right of self-defense by forestalling an attack was established jurisprudentially in the seventeenth century. Today, in an age of uniquely destructive weaponry, international law does not expect Israel to wait calmly for its own annihilation. How could it?

What does the plausible convergence of strategic and jurisprudential assessments of preemption suggest about Israel’s prospective consideration of striking first? Above all, it suggests that Israel need not necessarily be deterred from appropriate forms of preemption out of fear that its actions would be correctly described as “criminal.” Although, predictably, a substantial number of states will condemn Israel for “aggression” under any circumstances, this charge – if Israel’s preemptive strikes meet the expectations of jus ad bellum (justice of war) and jus in bello (justice in war) – could be countered authoritatively and effectively by pertinent references to international law.

Israel And Its Enemies: Future Wars And Forceful Options (First of Three Parts)

Saturday, November 12th, 2011

The following originally appeared in The Jewish Press in March 1992. Today, nearly twenty years later, its arguments remain timely and valid.

As the continuing flow of new missiles to Iran reveals, the Bush administration [Editors Note: This refers to first President Bush] remains committed to misconceived policies in the Middle East. Even if Israel were to yield West Bank and Gaza to create a new state of Palestine, with East Jerusalem as its capital, the government in Tehran would persist in its planned aggressions against the Jewish state. Altogether unconcerned with the fate of the Palestinians, this government can be satisfied only by Israel’s disappearance.

Ironically, by its public declarations and by its deeds, Iran is remarkably open and honest about its objectives. In the words of Sheik Hassan Nasrallah, new leader of the pro-Iranian Party of God, “The only way to achieve a lasting peace in the Middle East is the return of all the Jewish occupiers to the lands from which they originally came.”

Israel’s “crime,” in the eyes of Iran, is that it exists. Short of ceasing to exist, an option that would be made much more likely by the creation of a state of Palestine, Israel can do absolutely nothing to remove the threat of another major war. To a considerable and growing extent, one that Washington still refuses to acknowledge, the problem is religion. More and more, as Islamic fundamentalists wrest control from secular forces in Iran and the Arab world, the declared enemy is no longer “Zionists,” but “Jewish occupiers.”

Throughout the Islamic world, fundamentalists are now challenging incumbent regimes, competing for power and calling for a new assertiveness. Unlike more moderate Muslims, these fundamentalists are disinterested in political compromise and are willing, in many cases, to place the obligations of “submissions” (Islam in Arabic means submission to the will of God) above all requirements of personal or collective survival.  Moreover, their power grows daily as a number of Arab states are increasingly unable to surmount substantial social, medical, and economic problems.

In Egypt, the palpable reassertion of Muslim piety is directed toward a day when all irreligious leaders are deposed, and the Ummah (total community of Muslims) is united under a universal Caliphate, an allegedly legitimate government ruled by an elected leader of irreproachable integrity.

Whereas Iran’s faith is drawn primarily from the minority Shi’a branch of Islam, Egypt’s fundamentalists look forward to an alliance with over 130 million Sunni Muslims in the rest of the Middle East and North Africa (there are now nearly one billion Muslims in the world). Such an alliance, led by the so-called Jaamat Islamiya (Islamic societies) and including al-Jihad (Holy War) could lead to a position of “no compromise” with infidels, especially if it is heavily informed by the Manichean type dualism of Sayyid Qutb (1906-66), a leading ideologue of the Brotherhood who was hanged by Nasser.

The problem of Islamic fundamentalism is already an internal problem for Israel.  Although fundamentalists ordinarily view Palestinian nationalism as inherently contrary to Islamic universalism, they are increasingly trying to gain control of the Palestinian resistance, both in Israel proper, and in the territories. Calling for an escalation of the uprising, and a denunciation of all compromise with Israel, the groups Hamas and Hizbullahcertain to become more widely known and recognizable in the years ahead  – see only one strategy of confrontation: underground cells serving as military units “to challenge Satan’s schemes and strike at Zionist interest.”

In a recent memorandum offered to the Palestine National Council, Hamas demanded of the PNC:  “The military option should be confirmed, and jihad considered the proper way to liberate Palestine and achieve independence.” Should the West Bank and Gaza become Palestine, groups such as Hamas and Hizbullah would likely wield enormous power, and possibly act as surrogates for hostile (to Israel) Arab states.

Jews Mostly Comfortable With Obama’s Early Appointees

Wednesday, November 26th, 2008

WASHINGTON – Barack Obama’s “team of rivals” is turning into a collection well known to the Jewish community, which should comfort those who expressed apprehension about the president-elect’s possible Cabinet choices.


  Obama is fulfilling pledges he made during a grueling election campaign by reaching out to notables in both parties with deep wells of experience.


  While Obama has yet to announce his foreign policy team formally – he publicized his economic team Monday – a welter of leaks has lined up U.S. Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.) as secretary of state and former NATO commander Gen. James Jones as his national security adviser.


  Some Jewish observers are uneasy over who might prevail in a rivalry between Clinton, who is seen as pro-Israel, and Jones, about whom some Jewish observers have expressed reservations.


  Steve Rosen, the former AIPAC foreign policy chief who now writes a blog hosted by the Middle East Forum, has raised concerns about Jones that have redounded in the conservative Jewish world through e-mails. Rosen’s piece on Jones was titled “Jones to be National Security Adviser; wrote harsh report on Israel.”


  Condoleezza Rice, the current secretary of state, added Jones last year to her team of generals monitoring the “road map” peace plan launched by President Bush in 2003. Jones reportedly wanted to publish a report that was harshly critical of Israel’s failure to facilitate the creation of a Palestinian security force and to allow more freedom of movement for the Palestinians.


  But the report, which was never published, also was tough on the Palestinian force, expressing doubts about its readiness to meet Israeli expectations that it would contain terrorism. And in public forums and as NATO’s commander in chief, Jones has been friendly to Israel and its regional security concerns.


  As for Clinton, her deep ties to the pro-Israel community date back to her days as the first lady of Arkansas, when she gained an admiration for the Jewish state after introducing Israeli early childhood programs in Arkansas.


  She endured some criticism from pro-Israel groups while her husband was president – for her infamous embrace of Yasser Arafat’s wife and for being a stalking horse for Palestinian statehood, floating the idea without President Clinton’s administration formally proposing it – but as a U.S. senator Clinton has been solidly pro-Israel, emphasizing the need for Palestinians to temper incitement against Israel as a precondition for peace.


  Her likely deputy will be James Steinberg, a deputy national security adviser under President Clinton. Deputy secretaries of state often serve as day-to-day point men in dealings with the Middle East, and Steinberg’s record is reassuring to the pro-Israel establishment. He has advocated an increased role for Arab states in helping to create conditions for a Palestinian state, long the position of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee.


  Some in the pro-Israel community have expressed concerns about others who might make it into Obama’s inner circle, noting that after the election it emerged that Obama had been speaking frequently with Brent Scowcroft, the national security adviser to the first President Bush who supports making eastern Jerusalem the capital of a future Palestinian state and advocates putting an international peacekeeping force in the West Bank.


  In the Washington Post of Nov. 21, Scowcroft, in op-ed article co-authored with Zbigniew Brzezinski, President Carter’s national security adviser and a longtime critic of the pro-Israel lobby, argued in favor of those positions.


  But Steven Spiegel, a UCLA political scientist who advises the Israel Policy Forum, said the fact that Scowcroft and Brzezinski felt they needed to make their case in a newspaper rather than privately to Obama demonstrates that they don’t have the president-elect’s ear when it comes to the Israel-Palestinian conflict.


  “If Scowcroft was sure the president-elect was on his side, he wouldn’t be taking this public,” Spiegel said.


  Seymour Reich, a former chairman of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, said Obama’s deliberative style means that he’s unlikely to press Israel into an accelerated peace process, especially with Hamas terrorists still controlling the Gaza Strip and making a comprehensive deal unworkable.


  “He’s very pragmatic, during the campaign and in his appointments,” Reich said of Obama. “For those who want him from day one to put two feet in the peace process, it’s not going to happen. It’s going to be deliberate; nothing’s going to happen overnight.”


  Obama’s emphasis will be the economic crisis, Spiegel said. On foreign policy, he said, Obama is deliberatively choosing people who will have the independence to handle the international stage, but without drama: Clinton as diplomat, Jones as a tough-minded coordinator.


  “What these appointments suggest to me is that he’s got to solve his economic problems first and foremost,” Spiegel said.


  It was “ridiculous” to worry about Jones, he said, with a Cabinet that includes Clinton and a White House that has as senior advisers Rahm Emanuel and David Axelrod – both of whom are deeply pro-Israel.


  Meanwhile, Obama’s domestic choices have been widely praised among Jewish groups.


  The United Jewish Communities federation umbrella organization has issued several news releases hailing Obama’s appointments, including the selection of former Sen. Tom Daschle as secretary of Health and Human Services and Arizona Gov. Janet Napolitano as chief of Homeland Security.


  By contrast, over the past several years the UJC criticized the Bush administration for starving federal entitlement programs such as Medicare and Medicaid. Obama also pledged during the campaign to move away from Democratic Party dogma when it comes to church-state issues, favoring, for instance, vouchers for families who send their children to private schools, including parochial schools.


  The Jewish community is divided on the voucher issue and is waiting to see what Obama’s education appointments augur.


  However, the Orthodox Union already has praised two appointments announced Monday to the White House’s Domestic Policy Council: The incoming director of the council, Melody Barnes, and her deputy, Heather Higginbottom, are both former Senate staffers who helped author legislation protecting religious rights in the work place and in federal institutions.                                          

(JTA)

And The Losers Are…

Wednesday, April 16th, 2008

The Media Research Center dispensed its 2008 DisHonors Awards last week in Washington. Needless to say, the “honorees” – those whom a panel of 16 media observers deemed the country’s “Most Outrageously Biased Liberal Reporters” – were not on hand to accept accolades from presenters such as columnists Cal Thomas and Ann Coulter and radio host Mark Levin. The winners were selected by a panel of 16 media observers including Levin, Rush Limbaugh, Laura Ingraham and Steve Forbes.

A full list of categories, runner-ups and winners can be viewed at www.mrc.org. Meanwhile, here are some of the Monitor’s favorites:

● “As Violence Falls in Iraq, Cemetery Workers Feel the Pinch” – Headline over an October 16, 2007 story by McClatchy News Service reporters Jay Price and Qasim Zein.

● “I’m just saying if he did die, other people, more people would live. That’s a fact.” – Host Bill Maher on his HBO show “Real Time,” March 2, 2007 discussing how a few commenters at a left-wing blog were upset that an attempt to kill Vice President Dick Cheney in Afghanistan had failed.

● “This is going to result in racial profiling. If, in her America, in Michelle’s America, when you look, ‘Is that Hispanic guy an illegal or is he legal?’ It reminds me so much of when they used to pull down the pants of Jews to see if they were circumcised or not. It is, it is so, so pathetic. It’s so un-American…. I want you to know, ladies and gentlemen, that what they are doing is using the police force of the United States to break up families and sow horror and pain.” – Geraldo Rivera rejecting columnist Michelle Malkin’s suggestion that citizens report illegal immigrants to the authorities, Fox News Channel’s “The O’Reilly Factor,” June 8, 2007.

● “Everything you said about [withdrawing some troops from] Iraq yesterday, and everything you will say, is a deception, for the purpose of this one cynical, unacceptable, brutal goal: perpetuating this war indefinitely. War today, war tomorrow, war forever! And you are playing at it! Playing! A man with any self respect, having inadvertently revealed such an evil secret, would have already resigned and fled the country!… Mr. Bush, our presence in Iraq must end, even if it means your resignation, even if it means your impeachment…. This country cannot run the risk of what you can still do to this country in the next 500 days.” – MSNBC “Countdown” anchor Keith Olbermann addressing President Bush in a “Special Comment,” Sept. 4, 2007.

● “He’s come from a white family and a black family, and he’s married to a black woman, and they’re cool people. They are really cool. They are Jack and Jackie Kennedy when you see them together. They are cool. And they’re great looking, and they’re cool and they’re young, and they’re – everything seems to be great…. He may not win this thing because everybody in America is not going to be in a room with him somewhere. And it doesn’t quite – it worked with you on TV but, I tell you, when you’re in the room, it’s just like one of those things like Hillary Clinton, if you’re in the room you understand what a likable person she is. If you’re in with Obama, you feel the spirit. Moving.” – MSNBC’s Chris Matthews talking about Barack Obama on NBC’s “Tonight Show,” January 16, 2008.

● “There he [Bill Clinton] goes again. The man often called the most gifted politician of his generation is once again at the center of American politics, taking over the 2008 Democratic campaign. And he’s clearly loving every minute of it…. He lectures and jokes around and feels your pain and implores you to believe…. It’s so unprecedented, this personal and political partnership, so fraught with history and Baby Boomer melodrama. They have already made history, and they are out to do it again, together, through it all.” – ABC’s Terry Moran after spending the day with Clinton for a report on “Nightline,” January 24, 2008.

● “When I watched him [former President Bill Clinton] at Mrs. King’s funeral, I just have never seen anything like it…. There are times when he sounds like Jesus in the Temple. I mean, amazing ability to transcend ethnicity – race, we call it, it’s really ethnicity – in this country and, and speak to us all in this amazingly primordial way.” – MSNBC’s Chris Matthews, February 28, 2007 “Hardball.”

Fundamental Errors In U.S. Middle East Policy The (Still) Multiple Dangers Of ‘Palestine’

Wednesday, November 14th, 2007

One must wonder: Is current U.S. policy on the “Road Map” merely the result of a foolish consistency, or is something much more sinister going on? After all, President Bush and Secretary of State Rice remain determined to birth a viable Palestinian state, one that would be part of an altogether mythical “two-state solution.” The official maps of the Palestinian National Authority (an “Authority” currently with no proper electoral basis and no clearly fixed territory) still include Israel only as a part of Palestine. This illegal inclusion refers to all of Israel proper – not merely to Judea, Samaria (West Bank) and Gaza.

The Road Map detours from peace do not end with a devious cartography. Absolutely everything about the Palestinian National Authority, including its president, is a transparent legal fiction. What is certainly not fictive is the irreconcilable and bloody division between warring Palestinian factions, and the unquestionable commitment of all these factions to Israel’s complete demolition.

Each and every competing Palestinian branch remains loyal to a codified strategy for “the liberation of all Palestinian territory.” This “Phased Plan” was formally adopted by the Palestinian National Council in Cairo in June 1974. Also incontestable is the idea that any Palestinian state, no matter what Washington promises, would be hospitable to penetration by and interaction with assorted Jihadist terror groups, including al-Qaeda. A new state of “Palestine” controlled by Hamas and/or Islamic Jihad would, of course, be especially vulnerable.

Ironically, by every conceivable measure, a Palestinian state would be contrary to the overriding security interests of the United States and its allies. Most perilous of all would be the inevitable competition for control of such a fragile and anarchic state by the various Sunni Arab regimes now being armed by Washington, and by Shiite Iran, now being armed by Russia. A Palestinian state carved from the still-living body of Israel would most plainly endanger the Jewish State, creating new opportunities for both conventional and unconventional acts of aggression. Regarding the latter, some of my earlier columns in The Jewish Press have systematically explored the ominous and plausible linkages between a Palestinian state and regional nuclear war.

Major wars could be launched against Israel by enemy states directly, or by proxies from both Lebanon and Gaza. In either case, the attackers might assume the posture of suicide bombers, thus immobilizing the normal security bases of rationality and deterrence. Under even the most optimistic assumptions, therefore, a Palestinian state – any Palestinian state – would spawn an increasingly unstable balance of power in the region.

From the standpoint of sensible American geopolitics, a Palestinian state would seriously undermine our national interests. Significantly, such a state would also have no proper authority under international law. This 23rd Arab country could not even satisfy the minimal expectations of statehood. Our leaders should recall that every state must satisfy four explicit requirements of the 1934 Montevideo Convention: 1. a permanent population; 2. a defined territory; 3. a government and 4. the capacity to enter into relations with other states. Although the PA could actually satisfy none of these formal criteria, it will surely argue otherwise, citing smugly to certain allegedly fundamental and immutable rights of “self‑determination” and “national liberation.”

For better or for worse, the right of statehood under international law is not contingent upon goodness. Whether we like it or not, there are no moral or ethical considerations that must ever be taken into account in the granting of sovereignty. This means that the openly declared and indisputable Palestinian goal of Israel’s forcible destruction will have absolutely no legal bearing on creating a Palestinian state. Nor will the unending and general Palestinian acceptance of terrorism against Israel affect US-supported declarations of sovereignty. International law does not insist upon any standard of decency for aspiring states, not even the most rudimentary rejection of intended crimes against humanity.

Jurisprudentially, all that ever matters in establishing statehood are certain identifiable demographic, geographic and political facts. It is these particular facts on the ground, defined at the Montevideo Convention – not the vile and far-reaching Palestinian indifference to civilized rules of engagement – that would now make any Palestinian declaration of statehood illegal. While President Bush and Secretary Rice would like to hide these facts, there is nothing they can do to correctly override the obvious expectations of international law.

As Americans, we should note some special imperatives. International law is an integral part of the law of the United States. According to Article VI of the Constitution, which incorporates treaties into our own law, these expectations are always nothing less than “the supreme law of the land.”

A Palestinian state remains fully contrary to our national strategic interest, and to the binding claims of both national and international law. It should not be supported by President Bush and Secretary Rice on the basis of faulty strategic logic or shortsighted domestic politics. Is anyone listening?

Copyright © The Jewish Press, November 16, 2007. All rights reserved.

LOUIS RENÉ BERES was educated at Princeton (Ph.D., 1971) and is a long-time expert in international relations and international law. He is Strategic and Military Affairs columnist for The Jewish Press, and the author of ten major books and several hundred journal articles in the field.

The Iraq Tragedy And The Death Of Idealism

Wednesday, December 20th, 2006

     The failure of the noble American effort in Iraq marks the death of modern political idealism. Those of us who supported the war dared believe that our Arab brothers and sisters might finally have a better alternative to benevolent despotism, that Israel might finally have a long-term future in the Middle East based on the spread of human liberty and democracy, and that human nature might finally triumph in its eternal desire to live and breathe free.
 
      Sadly, all those conclusions have turned out to be uninformed wishful thinking. Now we’re back to most people believing that Arabs are too primitive for democracy, Israel is the source of all conflict in the Middle East, and that the idea that people want to be free is an ignorant dream of discredited neocons.
 
      I spend most of my time around people who hate President Bush – a legacy, I assume, of my many years at Oxford and my work in the TV industry, both of which are very liberal. Most of them gloated at Bush’s thumping in the mid-term elections. I explained to them that we had all lost, not just the Republicans.
 
      Does anyone believe that America, or any other country for that matter, is going to even consider invading another autocracy whose dictator is murdering his people? With the failure of the Bush Doctrine, we are back to Clintonism – the practice of countries standing by and watching as genocide after genocide decimates innocent people. Three genocides occurred while President Clinton was in office – in Srebrenica, in Kosovo, and in Rwanda. When it came to the latter, not only would the United States not send troops to end a slaughter that was killing four hundred Africans every hour, but Clinton refused to have a single meeting with his senior staff about the killings through its three-month duration. Only in Kosovo was he finally pressured to act.
 
      This is not to say that Clinton is an uncaring man, only that he did not wish for America to get involved in messy affairs from which it could not disentangle itself. Well, after Iraq you’re going to see this kind of thinking become so entrenched among the West’s political leadership that I shudder for the world’s future victims.
 
      And the biggest victim of all is going to be Israel. Just wait for the kind of pressure that Israel is going to face in the push to fix Iraq. How is it that Shi’a and Sunnis are killing each other in Baghdad, but James Baker and the Iraq Study Group highlight the Israeli-Palestinian conflict as one of the points that will bring peace in Iraq? Is there any connection? Shi’a and Sunni have been killing each other for centuries. Yet even “friends” of Israel, like King Abdullah of Jordan, are telling President Bush that the only way to fix Iraq is to pressure Israel. So once again, the pressure will be taken off Arab dictators to democratize, and placed instead on Israel to give up what little land it has left.
 
      I’m amazed that my liberal friends are cheering Bush’s failure. Do they not realize that the failure of the war in Iraq has set back the cause of Arab democracy by fifty years, at least? Do they really want to join the ranks of Egypt’s Mubarak, the House of Saud, Bashir Al Assad, and Adolph Ahmadinejad of Iran with their chorus of “I told you so”?
 
      Our failure has emboldened all of these cruel autocrats. Do we really want to gloat with them?
 
      And how did we get here? It hurts me to say it, but the failure must be placed squarely on the shoulders of President Bush. I take no pleasure in criticizing a really good man when he is down, and President Bush is the ultimate idealist who ought to be supported rather than criticized. I still remember listening to his incredible second inaugural speech and his stirring words about freedom and democracy.
 
      But Bush knew what the stakes in Iraq were. He said it a thousand times. If Iraq succeeded then this would prove the ultimate victory of idealism over pragmatism in our time. A victory in Iraq would have been the deathblow to other cruel dictators like Assad and Ahmadinejad. And yet here we are, just a few years later, with James Baker and Co. pushing Bush to involve these abusers of human rights in the effort to repair Iraq.
 
      Given what the stakes were, why did Bush fight the war on the cheap? Why did we not go in with overwhelming force? If we sent 500,000 troops to fight Saddam in the first Gulf War, which did not involve an occupation, why did we send a fifth of that when we had to rebuild an entire country?
 
      I do not know the answer to these questions. Less so do I know how Iraq can be fixed. What I do know is that this is a difficult time to be an idealist. Which is why I turn back as my refuge to religion, with its eternal belief that man is created in God’s image; that he has no master other than the Creator; that he is born, and inwardly yearns, to be free; that even if he is unaware of that fact today, he will awaken to it tomorrow; and that one day, as the prophet Isaiah promised, the wolf will lie down the lamb.
 
      Our Arab brethren, who today prey on each other just as they prey on Israel, will one day return to their own religious idealism and choose to live in peace with their neighbors.
 
      In times like these we have to remember that there have always been times like these. And it is idealism rather than pragmatism – belief in the future rather than reconciliation to the past – that has gotten us through the dark times and brought us to the light.
 

      Rabbi Shmuley Boteach is the host of TLC’s “Shalom in the Home” and the author of seventeen books, most recently “Parenting with Fire: Lighting Up the Family with Passion and Inspiration” (Penguin).

Open Letter To President Bush From The Israeli Left

Wednesday, June 14th, 2006

Dear Mr. President,
 
         We, members of Meretz, Israeli Professors for Palestinian Liberation, Peace Now and Tikkun, are horrified. We are simply outraged.
 
         What a tragic sabotage of peace!
 
         We refer to the latest provocation by the United States in Iraq. How dare your occupation forces conduct an air raid and targeted assassination against the peace activist and Islamic patriot Abu Musab al-Zarqawi? He was the best key to achieving a just and lasting peace in the region, and even to eventually restoring the inalienable rights of the landless and eternally suffering Palestinian people.
 
         Do you not realize that behavior such as yours just contributes to the cycle of violence in the Middle East? You are no better than the Israel Defense Forces, which with its own targeted killings has time and again disgraced the ethics of Judaism as expounded in the teachings of Gandhi and His Eminence Bishop Desmond Tutu.
 
         Mr. President, are you not aware of the mantra we’ve been repeating for years? One can only make peace with one’s enemies! Your unprovoked murder of Mr. Zarqawi was nothing short of symbolic genocide of the Iraqi people.
 
         Now that you have conducted this crime against humanity, things will only get worse. Zarqawi has been senselessly murdered, and the conflict in Iraq now will be be run by the realextremists and terrorists. You blew it. Holding talks with Mr. Zarqawi instead of bombing him would have been the wiser course of action, the courageous step for people truly seeking peace.
 
         As Shimon Peres and Jimmy Carter have been teaching us for years, there is no military solution to the problem of terrorism. The only way to handle the situation in Iraq is to end the illegal occupation of Iraq, which can only be achieved through an immediate unilateral removal of all American and British soldiers and settlers there.
 
         After all, Mr. Zarqawi was a legitimate representative of his people. He enjoyed popular mass support. Just because you do not like his opinions was no reason to kill him. And whatever happened to the notion of the right to a fair trial? If you really believed that Mr. Zarqawi was guilty, why did you not just capture him and give him a fair trial, in a courtroom, with adequate legal counsel?
 
         The only way you can partially make up for this American war crime is to open negotiations at once with the remaining leadership of Iraqi Al Qaeda and conduct talks with them in good faith. You must also provide American funding to all activist groups and parties in Iraq, including the local chapter of Al Qaeda.
 
        Meanwhile, here in Israel, peace-loving post-Zionists and friends of the Iraqi people are taking steps to make the Middle East a better place. The Zarqawi Memorial Committee already has 75 university faculty members as charter members. Motivated by outrage at the senseless murder of Mr. Zarqawi, a new course at Tel Aviv University is already being taught entitled “Psychology 409: The Psychology of Resistance by the Iraqi People to Brutal Amerikan Oppression.”
 
         Officials at Tel Aviv University describe the course as balanced and in-depth. The university’s spokesman has also announced that a new multi-disciplinary program will begin operation next year, in Zarqawian Studies, with courses taught by professors from the departments of history, philosophy, sociology, and, of course, women’s studies.
 
        Meanwhile, at Ben Gurion University, a new building to house the department of political science is to be named the Abu Musab al-Zarqawi Pavilion, and will have a sign at its entrance warning that no Zionist may enter to teach there.
 
         A petition is being collected among caring Israeli leftist activists to condemn the irrational assassination policy of the United States and to demand that Washington replace it with an energetic commitment to returning Israel to its 1947 borders. The petition’s call to arms: “All occupations must end! From Baghdad to Nazareth!”
 
         Many members of progressive Israeli peace groups are demanding that Americans stop serving in the U.S. military for as long as President Bush refuses to implement policies advocated by progessive thinkers like Dennis Kucinich and Cindy Sheehan.
 
         We think military service in the U.S. should be conditional on a decision to remove all U.S. troops from Iraq, while restoring Saddam Hussein to power. We have been extraordinarily successful with a similar campaign in Israel, urging soldiers to refuse to serve in the army. This is Israeli democracy at it finest. The American peace movement could definitely take some pointers from us.
 
         President Bush, please understand that the peace-loving Left in Israel is as much in solidarity with the legitimate resistance of the Iraqi people as it is with the social service work and nationalisitc aspirations of Hamas. Only by entering into talks with these bona fide representatives of their respective oppressed nations can peace be achieved.
 
         Mr. President, peace is what must be sought. Like the Prophets in the Bible say, pursue peace! Stop the cycle of violence. End the occupation. Self-determination and freedom for the Al Qaeda movement of Iraq.
 
         All we are saying, to quote the excellent and incomparable sage John Lennon, is give peace a chance!
 

         Steven Plaut, a frequent contributor to The Jewish Press, is a professor at Haifa University. His book “The Scout” is available at Amazon.com. He can be contacted at steveneplaut@yahoo.com.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/opinions/open-letter-to-president-bush-from-the-israeli-left/2006/06/14/

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