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September 27, 2002 - Image 19

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 2002-09-27

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Saddam Hussein or by America's not being able to
topple the Baath regime in Baghdad.

excuse to end the decade of relative tranquility
that followed the 1993 Oslo peace accords.
In the wake of last week's attacks, there have
been renewed calls to augment pressure on the
Palestinians. The Jerusalem Post went as far as say-
ing the closures, curfews and incursions have
now been proven a failure and that Israel must
do whatever is necessary, including flexing its full
military muscle, to "bring Yasser Arafat and the
Palestinian Authority to their knees, and put an
end to their terrorist onslaught."

Back To Routine

Insulated America

Yet even for Israel, this clarity did not come eas-
Security men guarded Israeli opposition leader Ariel Sharon,
ily, and so it is not surprising that many
center, as he left the Temple Mount compound in Jerusalem's
Americans have also failed to grasp the extent
Old City on Sept. 28, 2000. Palestinians used the visit as a
of the threat to America posed by international
pretext
to begin their intifada (uprising).
terrorism.
In the aftermath of more than 3,000 . civilian
Lebanon in 1983, of the American embassies in
casualties and the destruction wrought by the
Sept. 11 attacks, Americans reeled with shock, anger Kenya and Tanzania and the attack on the destroyer
Cole in harbor in Yemen were incidents abroad
and sadness. In the months that followed, however,
aimed at military or official targets. Thus they never
there have been only a few arrests of individuals
reached the level of a civilian threat that has been
linked to Al Qaida and the fate of Osama bin Laden
remains unknown. Airports are more of a hassle, but the fact of life in Israel for more than a century since
the first settlers were attacked and murdered by
there have been no major terrorist incidents in the
marauding Egyptians.
United States in the past year.
Like Americans, Israelis believe that they mean no
The massive assault on Afghanistan, thousands of
ill
to the larger world and that they only wish to be
miles away, succeeded in dislodging the Taliban
left alone to prosper without the need for territorial
regime, but Americans saw and felt only as much as
expansion. They note how ready they were to return
their televisions would divulge. The anthrax scare has
baffled investigators who have failed to offer an expla- the Sinai to Egypt and that the government of Ehud
Barak was willing to turn over to the Palestinians vir-
nation of how the substance was obtained and who
tually all of the West Bank and Gaza and a portion of
was disseminating it. And the FBI wouldn't qualify
Jerusalem,
even if that might compromise its security.
the attack at an El Al counter in Los Angeles as ter-
But
the
viciousness
of the last two years — the
rorism. Because the perpetrator was Arab and- the two
lynching of two reserve soldiers who made a wrong
victims Jewish, that attack is viewed as a fleeting
turn into Ramallah and the murder of 29 seniors
extension of Arab-Israeli violence onto American soil,
observing Passover are but two examples — has
but certainly not a direct attack on America.
forced Israelis to reconsider the likelihood that they
By and large, post 9-11 America has remained a
will
ever be able to convince the Palestinians to accept
world of speculation about who is the enemy and
the
Jewish
state. They have come to believe that far
how to defeat it. President George W. Bush is con-
too many Palestinians are ready and willing to seek a
vinced of the need to neutralize additional terrorist
threats, beginning with Iraq, but much of the nation martyrdom that means more Jewish lives lost.
Americans, on the other hand, still largely do not
and many staunch U.S. allies do not agree.
believe
that a substantial portion of the world would
Americans-were aware, of course, of the threats
rejoice
in
their anguish and would be glad if
against them. With the notable exception of the
American
power were frustrated either by a United
World Trade Center bombing in New York City in
Nations'
refusal
to authorize use of force against
1993, the bombings of the Marine barracks in

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It's a part of human nature to deny our mortality, to
gravitate to the familiar and comfortable, and to get
there as quickly as possible. Moments after a terror-
ist strike in Israel, details of the attack, accompanied
by a wave of sadness, reverberate throughout the
population. There is a scramble to communicate
with loved ones, sort out the damage to your own
life, and then find, as soon as possible, the path back
to routine and normalcy.
So, too, have Americans sought a path back to the
familiar. Yet after having witnessed the previously
unthinkable, Americans have also relapsed to the
kind of thinking that made them vulnerable to
attack in the first place: a belief that the evil that
struck on 9-11 does not exist.
America learned on 9-11that Islamic terrorist
organizations are more powerful, more organized and
more motivated than previously imagined. They also
learned that Islamic terrorism is not a backlash against
American solidiers camped out in Saudi Arabia, but
an all-out effort to destroy Western civilization.
Israel was duped into giving the Palestinians
weapons and looked the other way throughout years
of illegal arms accumulation by the Palestinian
Authority, in gross violation of the Oslo Accords. Is
there any reason to believe that anti-American
incitement spewing forth from the Arab world is
any less serious?
America can also learn from Israel not to be afraid
to act to pre-empt a threat. Twenty-one years ago,
Israel understood the threat posed by Saddam
Hussein developing a nuclear reactor that could be
used to manufacture an atomic bomb. Prime
Minister Menachem Begin sent the Israeli air force
on a dangerous mission, which crippled Iraq's ability
to manufacture a nuclear weapon. The world con-
demned Israel at the time, only to heap praises on
Israel's foresight 10 years later during the Gulf War.
Most importantly, however, is the sad lesson that
Israel must continue to absorb: its enemies remain
implacable. The Palestinians have squandered 50
years and thousands of lives fomenting hatred
against Israel instead of building a future. There is
no reason to believe that militant Islam will be any
less patient in its war to destroy America.



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