Op-Ed: Bush’s Pressure On Israel Rewards Terrorism by Morton A. Klein, National President of the ZOA
April 10, 2002

Just days after the Passover massacres, in which Palestinian Arab terrorists slaughtered 49 Israelis during the first four days of Passover week, President Bush initiated a new policy of publicly pressuring Israel to make concessions to the terrorists. This policy undermines America’s worldwide fight against terrorism and compromises the security of America’s ally, Israel.

In his March 31 speech, Bush demanded that Israel withdraw its forces from areas where they are pursuing terrorists, and halt all construction activity in the Judea, Samaria, and Gaza territories (yet Bush ignored the more widespread Arab construction activity there). President Bush also praised the Saudi Plan, which would force Israel to retreat to the suicidal nine-mile-wide 1967 borders, surrender half of its capitol, Jerusalem, and flood Israel with millions of Arab “refugees.” In addition, he dispatched Secretary of State Colin Powell to the Middle East, to rescue the terrorist dictator Yasir Arafat and pressure Israel to make concessions leading to the creation of an Arafat-led state.

The president’s call for creating a new Palestinian Arab state directly contradicts his previous pronouncements on terrorism. In the aftermath of the September 11 attacks, Mr. Bush pledged to eliminate terrorist states; yet here he is proposing the creation of what will certainly be a terrorist state. Arafat, after all, is the world’s most senior terrorist. He is the one who invented the tactic of airplane hijackings. He masterminded thousands of terrorist attacks against Israel over a span of three decades. He has promoted a culture of hatred and violence against Jews and Israel, in the official Palestinian Authority media, school textbooks, summer camps, PA officials’ speeches, and sermons by PA-appointed clergymen. And Arafat is the leader of the renewed violence against Israel, which he launched in September 2000 and has already resulted in the murders of more than 400 innocent Israelis. The groups Arafat personally controls —Fatah, Force 17, and the PA security forces— are the ones carrying out the majority of the terrorist attacks. If he is given his own sovereign state, he will have the ability to organize terrorism without interference, to build up a huge army, and to bring in troops from his allies such as Iraq.

The Bush policy of pressuring Israel to cease its anti-terror actions is also blatantly inconsistent with America’s own anti-terror policies. After all, the U.S. fighting terrorists across the world in Afghanistan, more than six thousand miles from America’s major cities. Why can’t Israel go across the street to fight terrorists who are just miles from Israel’s major cities? American forces have been in Afghanistan for more than seven months; how can Bush demand that Israel withdraw from Judea-Samaria after just seven days?

Ironically, Secretary Powell’s declared philosophy of how we, the U.S., should respond to its enemies is rather different from the advice he is giving the Israelis. He advocates what he calls “The biggest s.o.b. on the block’ rule,” which he defines in these terms: “America should enter fights with every bit of force available or not at all.” (Time, April 19, 2001). He has also said: “Overwhelming U.S. force assures success at minimum risk to Americans in uniform.” (Boston Globe, Jan. 19, 2001). And here is how he described his strategy for fighting the Iraqi army in the 1991 Gulf War: “Our strategy to go after this Iraqi army is very very simple. First cut it off, and then we’re going to kill it.” (Defense Department Briefing, Jan. 23, 1991)

Powell also oversaw the December 1989 invasion of Panama; in his autobiography, Powell said the operation conformed to his doctrine of “Use all the force necessary, and do not apologize for going-in big if that’s what it takes.”

For President Bush and Secretary Powell to tell Israel to withdraw sends a message to Arafat’s terrorists that there are no negative consequences to terror, but in fact rewards, in the form of the U.S. demanding more concessions from Israel. It is an attempt at appeasement of a terrorist dictator. It is a victory for terrorism. And it could encourage future terrorism, because it signals terrorists everywhere that their actions can change American foreign policy.

On September 11, America got a taste of the suicide bombings that Israel suffers almost every day. Americans understand that the time has come to send a message to suicide bombers everywhere that terrorism doesn’t pay. Appeasement of terrorist dictators like Arafat sends the opposite message, and will encourage terrorists to target our own streets, malls, and restaurants, in the hope of changing any American policy they dislike. As Winston Churchill said, “Those who appease the crocodile will simply be eaten last.”

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