New York – The Zionist Organization of America (ZOA) has praised President George W. Bush for supporting Israels counter-terrorist strike in Lebanon, saying Israel has a right to defend itself, following recent attacks by radical Islamist terrorist groups, Hezbollah and Hamas, from southern Lebanon and Gaza which have resulted in the deaths and kidnappings of Israelis. However, the ZOA also criticized Secretary of State Dr. Condoleezza Rice for making statements calling for restraint by Israel. Following an attack upon Israel from Lebanon on Wednesday by the Islamist terrorist group, Hezbollah, that resulted in the death of 8 Israeli soldiers and the kidnapping of two more, Secretary Rice said, It is extremely important that Israel exercise her restraint in its activities of self-defense (New York Times, July 13) rather than expressing support for legitimate Israeli military responses.
Recent examples of the US government calling on Israel for restraint and moderation instead of backing its military retaliation against terrorists:
- Tony Snow, Presidential Spokesman: … we have urged and continue to urge the Israeli government to proceed with moderation (July 10).
- Tony Snow, Presidential Spokesman: In any actions the government of Israel may undertake, the United States urges that it ensures that innocent civilians are not harmed, and also that it avoid the unnecessary destruction of property and infrastructure (June 28).
- Sean McCormack, State Department Spokesman: … what we would urge is that all sides exercise restraint and avoid steps which further escalate the situation (June 26).
ZOA National President Morton A. Klein said, President Bush is to be applauded for defending Israels legitimate military response to the assaults from Hezbollah. We urge Secretary Rice to give Israel the support to which it is entitled as a fellow democracy being attacked by vicious terrorist organizations that appear on the U.S. terrorism list. If Secretary Rice or other Administration officials are not reflecting the President position, the President should publicly say so.
It is important to understand that both Hezbollah and Hamas are anti-American terrorist organizations. Hezbollah leader, Sheikh Hassan Nasrallah, has plainly stated, Our motto, which we are not afraid to repeat year after year, is: Death to America (Al-Manar TV, February 18, 2005, translation courtesy of Middle East Media Research Institute). Nasrallah has also called for a jihad against the US in Iraq, urging his supporters to adopt the Iraqis to our hearts so that they will be able to unify their choice: opposition in the form of a war of jihad (Haaretz, August 8, 2003).
Hamas has explicitly threatened the US, saying, Hamas considers the US as an enemy and as an accomplice to the Israeli enemy aggression against the Palestinians … The US will face responsibility for its position as an accomplice with Israel to the animosity (Hamas press release, October 6, 2004, translation courtesy of Israels Institute for Counter-Terrorism). Only weeks ago, Hamas greeted the recent US success in eliminating Al-Qaeda master terrorist Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, by lamenting the loss of a brother fighter who was martyred at the hands of the savage crusade campaign (Jerusalem Post, June 8).
As an ally of Israel concerned to see the defeat of the forces of terrorism that are hostile to both Israel and the United States, the US should be encouraging and supporting Israeli counter-terrorism, not making calls for restraint which automatically imply that Israel has over-reacted, regardless of the facts.