The Restraint Debate
Should Israel retaliate if attacked? Rif looms as talk of war increases.
MATTHEW E. BERGER
Jewish Telegraphic Agency
disagreement is surfacing
between the United States
and Israel over whether the
Jewish state should retaliate
if attacked by Iraq during an
For months, as talk of U.S. action
against Iraq intensified, Israeli officials
have said Israel can not hold its fire if
attacked by Iraq, as it did when show-
ered with Iraqi missiles in the 1991
Persian Gulf War.
Coupled with those statements was
the view that the Bush administration
understood and would allow Israel to
In the last week, however, as talk of
war increasingly occupies the interna-
tional community, U.S. officials have
been asking Israel to just sit tight if
Asked Sept. 18 if the United States
should restrain Israel during a war,
Secretary of Defense Donald
Rumsfeld told the House Armed
Services Committee that
Israel should hold its fire
even if attacked. There is
"no doubt in mind but
that it would be in Israel's
overwhelming best interest
not to get involved,"
Rumsfeld said. He reiter-
ated the comments to the
Senate the next day.
Secretary of State .Colin
Powell deflected similar
questions from Congress.
Powell said he felt Israel's
An Israeli military early warning racial; newly deployed
1991 decision not to fire
and designed for ground-based missile-to-missile defense,
back — made under
sits inside a cordoned-offarea in rural northern Israel.
intense U.S. pressure —
was the correct one." He
tion and this problem, and I think we
added that the Bush administration
would know how to deal with it
was "thinking about" available contin-
gencies if Iraq again tried to draw
The Bush administration is telling
Israel into the hostilities.
Israel the same thing privately, admin-
The United States would "be in the
istration officials said. The main U.S.
closest consultation with our Israeli
concern, emphasized by lawmakers on
friends and colleagues," Powell told
Sunday talk shows last weekend, is
the House International Relations
that Israeli involvement could turn
Committee on Sept. 19. "Both Vice
Arab countries against the U.S. effort
President [Dick] Cheney and I have
or even escalate the conflict into a
experience in dealing with this ques-
general Arab-Israeli war.
Siding With Israel
Activist rabbi fields concerns and urges Israel advocacy.
Special to the Jewish News
s the current Palestinian
intifada (uprising) rages on,
some Jews are confused
about which side to sup-
port. Rabbi Adam Frank sets the
record straight: Liberal Jews should
feel no guilt about supporting Israel.
The Conservative rabbi spoke Sept.
19 at an event titled "Making Sense of
the Crisis in Israel, Making a Difference
in Israel's Time of Need," sponsored by
Hillel of Metro Detroit and Atlanta-
based Impact Israel at the Jewish
Community Center in Oak Park.
Rabbi Frank, originally from Atlanta,
lives in Jerusalem and currently learns
and teaches at the Pardes Institute.
"There's a paradox in liberal think-
ing," he told the crowd of 50. "When
we're the victim, we try to understand
how we're responsible for the other
side hating us."
During his presentation, Rabbi
Frank maintained a strong stance that
Israel has done nothing wrong in
defending itself during the current
intifada. "While the Palestinians are
terrorizing citizens, Israel will not
negotiate, period," he said.
He reviewed controversial current
events that portrayed Israel negatively,
such as the Jenin "massacre," in which
Palestinians claim that up to 1,000
people were killed in the West Bank
town. In fact, Rabbi Frank said, only
52 Palestinian bodies were found, half
of them belonging to known terrorists.
He also took aim at the argument
that Palestinians attack Israel because
"I think we all recognize there is a
downside, that if the Israelis go in it
could just be a widespread war in the
Middle East," Sen. Richard Shelby, R-
Ala., said on CBS' "Face the Nation."
While the Bush administration is
hoping to win Arab acquiescence to
an attack on Iraq, as well as permis-
sion to use military bases in the Arab
world, some fear that an Israeli retalia-
tory attack against Iraq would move
the Arab states from bystanders to
active combatants against Israel.
The U.S. stance is "about building a
coalition, but it's also about prevent-
ing a coalition against" the United
States, one Jewish official said.
But the administration's statements
have rattled the Israeli government.
On the one hand, Israel hopes the
U.S. battle plan will include measures
to undermine Iraq's ability to attack
Israel. But many Israeli officials see the
decision not to respond to the Iraqi
attack in 1991 as a grievous strategic
error that undermined Israel's deter-
rent power and emboldened
Hezbollah and Palestinian terrorist
groups to attack the Jewish state.
While Israel hopes to stay out of the
war entirely, Israeli officials also hope
the United States will support Israel's
need to respond if it is attacked.
"If attacked unprovoked, [Iraqi
leader] Saddam Hussein cannot pre-
sume that we will automatically repeat
the restraint we exercised in-1991,"
ment had in 1967, when the West Bank
and Gaza Strip were won. "'Occupation'
was militarizing an area out of necessity
to defend itself," he said.
Become Israel Advocates
Rabbi Frank challenged audience
members, especially those in their 20s
they lack hope. "From 1993 to 2000
and 30s, to get involved on behalf of
was the greatest period of hope in
Palestinian existence, yet there
In speaking to Israel detrac-
were 18 suicide bombings dur-
tors, "Use simple messages," he
ing that time," Rabbi Frank
told the group.
instructed. "Say that Israelis live
with terrorism every day. Say
A short movie was shown,
that America and Israel both
'Arafat in His Own Words:
stand for the same thing: free-
1995-2000," including footage
dom of speech, freedom of reli-
from Palestinian television sta-
gion and the freedom to live
tions. It shows Palestinian leader
Rabbi Adam without fear."
Yasser Arafat, and young
He encouraged students on
Palestinian children, expressing
college campuses to think "out-
murderous sentiments toward
side the box." In Atlanta, he started
Israelis and Jews. The footage was taped
the organization called Impact Israel.
during a period of supposed peace
"We're not affiliated with any estab-
between the two peoples.
lished organization. We just want to
Rabbi Frank is familiar with Jewish
get together and say, 'How can we
concerns regarding the treatment of
support Israel and let's go do it.'"
Palestinians by the Israeli government.
For example, the group has held a
He reviewed options the Israeli govern-