The Al Qaida Factor
etting it right after 9-11 has been the most impor-
God knows that we as a nation need more friends.
tant pursuit confronting the U.S. over the last 5 1/2
I was intrigued by Feingold's assessment that Israel should
years, the lone U.S. senator to vote against the
be considered the "Britain of the Middle East" — our only
Patriot Act in 2001 told a Detroit Jewish community audience
true friend in the region.
Critics call Israel a liability to U.S. security. "But as
"We must get it right for the United States and we must
Americans learn more about Iran, Saudi Arabia and Syria,"
get it right for Israel, both in terms
Feingold said, "they realize that having a country like Israel
of security and the hope for peace;'
in the Middle East is of enormous benefit to the security and
said Sen. Russ Feingold, D-Wis., who
future of the United States."
keynoted the Jewish Community
It's nonsense to think that America no longer would be a
Relations Council's Activist of the Year
terrorist target if it only cut its ties with Israel. America is
program honoring Richard Bernstein
the face of the West — the devil in Al Qaida's eyes. Israel's
on May 20 at the Jewish Community
existence or non-existence would not affect that. But to have a
Center in West Bloomfield.
strategically placed close friend like Israel should make every
Feingold is a Rhodes Scholar, a
American sleep better at night.
Harvard law graduate, a member
In return, President Bush would be wise to consider
of the Senate Judiciary Committee
Feingold's suggestion and appoint a special envoy to solving
and co-author of the landmark
the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Secretary of State Condoleezza
McCain-Feingold campaign finance
Rice works hard and is capable but just doesn't have the time
reform legislation. But I also learned in JCRC President
or talent to solve the riddle that will bring enduring peace to a
Wendy Wagenheim's introductory remarks that he is a first
cousin to Robert Aronson, CEO of the Jewish Federation of
The senator spoke for just 20 minutes but his message
As different as three of the key leaders in the region are
echoed: We can debate the merit of invading Iraq and how
— Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, Israeli
to end the ensuing civil war. But we must agree uncondition-
Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and Lebanese Prime Minister
ally on the threat posed by Al Qaida,
Fuad Siniora — they, in theory, could
its affiliates and its sympathizers,
at least inch us nearer to peace if they
who operate from at least 80 coun-
really focused on it. The harsh reality is
tries. I count Hamas, Islamic Jihad,
that, like Feingold says, "there are forces
Hezbollah and other Israel-haters in
in every one of these countries that do
that select group.
not want peace." And I question the skill
For the civilized world, it's a matter
of any one of the three to truly effect
of self-defense against very real and
dangerous foes and ideologies. Islam
To counter the regressive winds,
isn't the danger; radicalized Islam is.
the U.S. and Israel indeed must look
A secure, peaceful world will remain
more broadly and be seen as attrac-
a pipe dream as long as Islam's
tive, equitable world leaders. A new U.S.
exploiters have the edge. Both the U.S.
military command in Africa stands to
and Israel have put up some amazing
bring together Algeria, Morocco, Tunisia
defenses to fight terror, but the terror-
and other lands that, although not pro-
ists continue to hold the upper hand
Israel, have been open to positive ties
thanks to the element of surprise they JCRC President Wendy Wagenheim and
with the ancestral homeland of Jews.
U.S. Sen. Russ Feingold at the West
As Sen. Feingold put it, "There are
"Together we must face this:' said
alliances in that region with critical
Feingold, one of the U.S. Senate's voices of independence and
countries that fear Islamic extremism in the form of Al Qaida
insight since his election in 1992.
as much as we do. It endangers everything that they have
I found Feingold's comments informative, thought provok-
fought for since they finally defeated colonialism. Let the U.S.
ing and disturbing.
and Israel work with these countries to turn things around
and begin to move the Israeli-Palestinian situation toward
As a student at the University of Wisconsin, Feingold wrote
Such groundbreaking work, with the capacity to repel ter-
a paper on the evolution of the dominant themes behind
rorism, not only would be in the interests of America and
U.S. support for Israel through the years. In 1948, the feeling
Israel, but also the entire world.
was that Jewish statehood was necessary in the wake of the
Holocaust. The Middle East wars in 1956 and 1967 affirmed
Israel's budding democracy despite the aggression of its Arab
0 • Who can the U.S. truly count on other
and Muslim neighbors. The 1973 Yom Kippur War affirmed
than Israel and Great Britain?
that Israel was our ally and was critical to our strategic inter-
ests in the region and around the world.
What will it take to fundamentally
0 neutralize the Al Qaida network?
Says Feingold: "I think we've come to the point where
Americans most likely look at Israel as a friend."
JIM vlY 0- 100
271 WEST MAPLE
May 31 • 2007