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September 05, 2003 - Image 28

Resource type:
The Detroit Jewish News, 2003-09-05

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The Good Fight

wo years ago at about this
time of year, the entire
world was riveted to their
televisions and radios as the
tragedy now known simply by the date
9-11 unfolded before their disbelieving
eyes and ears.
At the time, commentators and
pundits were convinced that 9-11
would be remembered forever as one
of the most momentous events in
American history. In the same fashion
as earlier generations remembered
where they were when they heard
about Pearl Harbor or the assassina-
tion of President Kennedy, we would
always remember where we were when
we heard about 9-11.
But is it enough to simply remem-
ber 9-11 without taking into account
the changes both here in the United
States and around the world wrought
by 9-11? Unlike Pearl Harbor, which
propelled the United States into World
War II, or the assassination of
President Kennedy, which augured
seismic changes in Americans' belief in
our political system, there is no easy
way to summarize the differences
between the pre- and post-9-11 world.
Indeed, 9-11 has special significance
for the Jewish community. Prior to 9-
11, the overwhelming majority of
Americans had no personal exposure
to the scourge of international terror-


Steven G. Silverman is president
of the Bloomfield Township-based
Jewish Community Council of
Metropolitan Detroit.

ism, in any fashion and from any
group. For at least one day, Americans
felt the visceral shock, the initial help-
lessness and loss of control, the
instinctive emotional concern about
the safety of loved ones in the same
fashion as do our Jewish brethren in
Israel every single day. For at least one
day, Americans could understand the
stresses that daily tug at the fabric of
Israeli society.
And in the days and months that fol-
lowed, as the United States rallied to
confront the groups that masterminded
and funded the perpetrators of 9-11,
the Jewish community could only hope
that somehow Americans could also
understand that responding to the new
reality of terrorism at home required
the same type of resilience and strength
of purpose that Israelis have shown in
the face of suicide bombings that, as a
percentage of population, were even
more devastating than 9-11.

Jury Still Out

As it turns out, that understanding
has undermined the terrorists. No
longer do tortured rationalizations
based on a twisted spin of undisputed
events find acceptance among the
American public. They remember 9-
11. Americans understand that the
latest detour for the U.S.-backed
Mideast road map for peace was
caused by Hamas and Islamic Jihad's
targeted killing of innocent women,
children and babies and not anything
that Israel has done in response. •

UnnecessaryY Quagmire

ven good ideas have their
limits. The belief in a strong
American foreign policy
whose purpose is to spread
our values of freedom and democracy
to the Middle East is one I subscribe
to. But should the rationale that led to
the American liberation of Iraq neces-
sarily lead us to support the idea of
sending American troops into

According to a lot of the talking heads
on television, it should. The armed
might of the United States can, they



9/ 5



Jonathan S. Tobin is executive editor
of the Jewish Exponent in Philadelphia.
His e-mail address is

think, solve the Arab-Israeli conflict,
and simultaneously burnish America's
reputation in the Muslim world while
guaranteeing Israel's security.
They argue that only American
power can gnash the terrorist groups
that have turned President Bush's road
map into a nightmare of bloodshed.
Doing so would bolster the shaky
regime of Prime Minister Mahmoud
Abbas, and serve as a protective shield
under which Palestinian democracy
could flourish.
The only problem with this scenario
is that it is almost certainly completely
The virtues of our ousting Iraq's
Saddam Hussein notwithstanding, the
current difficulties American forces are
facing in Iraq should leave us more,
not less, cautious.

However, even acknowledg-
Staying Focused
ing that fact, can we say on
Today, Jews not only have the
this second anniversary of 9-
right, but also the duty on
11 that the groups behind the
behalf of future generations
perpetrators of 9-11 have
to assure that such a situation
failed to achieve their goals,
against any group does not
that the United States has
arise again.
withstood the worst that can
So we in the Jewish com-
be arrayed against it? I believe
munity must recognize that
it is still too early to say
in the third year since 9-11,
Community Jewish security must still be
because the fight against ter-
rorism, against those groups
protected on two, sometimes
that oppose the concepts that
conflicting, fronts.
underlie our way of life — liberal
As Americans and Jews, it is essen-
democracy, social diversity, political
tial that the war on terrorism contin-
pluralism, and a respect and tolerance
ue to be fought to safeguard
for dissenting voices in our midst —
Americans and Jews worldwide, espe-
can still be lost if we give up the
cially when we are specifically identi-
essence of the American dream in pur- fied and named as targets by
spokespersons for various groups that
conceive, support or perpetrate terror-
ism. Yet, we allow the terrorists to
prevail by default if we fail to fight to
maintain the American way of life, if
we fail to fight on behalf of any
American whose constitutional rights,
especially the right to due process, are
being deprived in the name of nation-
al security.
As it has in the past, the Jewish
Community Council of Metropolitan
Detroit will, in conjunction with like-
minded coalition partners within the
suit of the chimera of perfect security.
Jewish and general communities, con-
Throughout history, laws, edicts,
tinue to fight on both fronts to fulfill
and decrees enacted and promulgat-
its mission of maintaining and
ed with ostensibly benign, or even
improving the security of the Jewish
laudable, motives have, in the end,
community both here in Detroit,
been used as an instrument to perse-
throughout the United States and
cute Jews.
around the world. ❑

No longer do tortured
rationalizations based
on a twisted spin of
undisputed events find
acceptance among the
American public.

But even if the ultimate out-
come of the situation in
Baghdad is positive, injecting
American GIs into the Israel-
Arab conflict is another thing
Not only are we incapable
of creating a peace, the
attempt would undermine
Israel, the United States and
the alliance between the two

and Palestinian Authority head
Yasser Arafat's own Al Aksa
Martyrs Brigades.
Lugar told CNN, "If we're
serious about having a situation
of stability, a very direct action,
I think, is going to be required.
We ought to involve our
JONATHAN NATO allies. We ought to
involve others in the Middle
East. The terrorists have to be
Commentary routed out because they will -
ruin any possibility for peace."
He's right about the necessity
Wrong Premises
of getting rid of the terrorists. But he's
Senate Foreign Relations Committee'
wrong if he thinks American forces will
chair Richard Lugar, R-Ind., expresses
do the trick — wrong also if he thinks
the universal frustration that is felt by
their presence will advance chances for
supporters of the road-map peace plan
over the unwillingness of the Palestinian
The Palestinians have long advocated
leadership to rein in their terrorists.
the insertion of peacekeeping troops in
That has led him to think that outside
the area. The Arab motive was always
intervention can eradicate the terrorist
clear. By bringing in foreign military
threat posed by Hamas, Islamic Jihad
forces, they hoped to neutralize Israel's

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